Drafting rulers are produced in a large range of sizes, shapes, and materials. The first variety ever produced were crafted exclusively in wood, preferably hardwoods that were not only extremely durable, but that were sufficient enough in weight that they could secure and hold drafting paper in place. Plastic rulers were produced as soon as plastic was created, and today this is the most common material used to create them. The plastic drafting ruler scaless are generally created out of special molds, giving them pinpoint precision and highly accurate measurement markers. Metal rulers are also widely available and highly popular, particularly due to their extreme durability. Metal rulers are ideal for on-site engineers that regularly carry them around in construction zones and on building sites
Drafting rulers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes; however, the most common shape is the three-sided triangular version. This type of ruler is generally regarded as the industry-standard featuring a 3-face design and a variety of measurement graduations. The furrows on these rulers are usually color coded for high readability and quick information processing.
High end rulers are produced by special architectural and engineering firms, and the fabrication processes involved in creating them are highly complex. Most high end rulers are produced in titanium, stainless steal, or aluminum. The furrows and measurement graduations on these high end pieces are usually laser etched, ensuring that no amount of use or rubbing will fade or diminish the readability of the markers. Expensive hardwoods are also occasionally used as well, especially oak, bamboo, cherry, and mahogany.
Aside from the industry standard triangular ruler design, there are also many other versions that are commonly used. These include the beveled, transparent plastic template rulers, and many more. The specific ruler used will depend on the type of drafting or engineering being done, or the type of drafting board or design surface being used. They all have a specific range of function compared to one another, and highly skilled architects and engineers are required to be able to use and read them all.
As more advanced computerized drafting tools are introduced into the market, more traditional drafting tools such as rulers and design boards are gradually being used less. This is particularly the case in off-site drafting facilities, where draft designs are composed away from the production, construction, or fabrication of the designed object itself. Highly advanced computer programs are used to replace the ruler, and the measurement calculations of these programs is substantially more precise. On construction or building sites, however, rulers are still commonly used. Although this is even changing as well, as drafting technologies coming out of Japan and Germany are making it possible to use small laser guided digital devices that act as ruler replacements. These devices, like drafting software programs, are far more accurate than tradition drafting tools, and they even have auto-calculation features which in turn remove the need for manual calculation processes.