Bates National Rule ruler

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 08-03-2016 09:34 PM 2389 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5090 posts in 3393 days

08-03-2016 09:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: measuring tool

I have a Bates National Rule ruler bnr-24 which is a thin stainless steel rule 24” long. It has a cork non-slip strip on the back. I don’t know much about it or where I got it. I’ve had it for around 30 years and it was tucked away in a drawer until recently. I found that the non-slip cork backing made it ideal for drawing lines on wood and metal. It is graduated in inches and centimeters, but I never relied on them for measurements. The markings appear to be “engine” divided rather than “etched” or “printed”, so I compared it to my starrett 18” rule and found the divisions to be perfectly aligned. I tried looking it up on the internet and found a place called Textronic that offers calibration services on Bates rules. Apparently the company (Bates) no longer exists. Furthermore, it is regarded as a “vintage” tool by those that are for sale. This rule is now my go-to measuring tool in my arsenal of measuring tools that include micrometers, digital, dial and vernier calipers. I thought the rule was sold by office supply stores. Does anyone know more about this rule? When I use it for drawing lines, it doesn’t slip like steel rules do. I would recommend for anyone who is looking for a good straight and accurate rule to try and find one on E-Bay. I’ve seen them selling for under $20 and may be a good alternative for more expensive Starrett or other precision rules. So far they seem to come in 6”,12”,18” and 24” lengths.

An additional search came up with some stainless steel rules sold by Office Depot and others under the brand name of Westcott and Staedler. They have cork backings and appear similar to the bates; might be worth looking intoasr an inexpensive straight edge rule.

3 replies so far

View AZWoody's profile


1404 posts in 1373 days

#1 posted 08-03-2016 10:15 PM

I’ve been using those kinds of rulers since I was a child for drawing and other things I needed a straight edge for.

I never thought about using them in the shop. I even have one in my office and use it for drawing up plans of furniture I am making. It’s funny how we get into this thought process of only certain things for dedicated applications when they can be used for many other things.

Thanks for that reminder.

View 01ntrain's profile


257 posts in 1219 days

#2 posted 08-03-2016 10:38 PM

Years ago I worked for a company called GBC and we bought out Bates, as well as a few other companies. I remember some of their products. Now GBC is owned by another corporate conglomerate. sigh….

View doubleDD's profile


7710 posts in 2192 days

#3 posted 08-04-2016 12:23 AM

I have 2 of the 18’’ and one 24’’ bates rulers. My first job (part time ) in the office supply business is when I got them. I’ve had them approximately 48 years now and they are my go to ruler for woodworking. You are correct in saying they are accurate and they will outlive both of us.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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