Re-Filling in a Ruler Etch

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Forum topic by Ripthorn posted 05-07-2013 09:50 PM 769 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1045 posts in 1858 days

05-07-2013 09:50 PM

I won a Starrett 12” rule on ebay and it was pretty dirty. I gave it an evaporust bath and cleaned it up, but the etch is fairly devoid of any color. Have any of you filled in a ruler etch before? What would you suggest? Paint? India Ink? I figure I can just hit the whole thing and then lightly sand at fine grit to remove the stuff off the face, leaving only the stuff in the etch. Sound reasonable?

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

10 replies so far

View Deycart's profile


431 posts in 1130 days

#1 posted 05-07-2013 10:41 PM

I assume it is metal. I have used a thin paint and then scraped GENTLY with a razor to get some fill in. Post some pics when its done.

View crank49's profile


3733 posts in 1844 days

#2 posted 05-07-2013 10:44 PM

There are probably as many ways to do this as there are people reading about it.

If it were mine I’d spray it with flat black rattle can paint.
Then immediately wipe it off the high surfaces with lacquer thinner.
May have to try several different materials for the wiping part to get something that cleans the high parts, but leaves the paint in the valleys. Maybe a piece of denim wrapped around a block of wood? Leather? Paper towel? Squeege?

-- Michael :-{| Don't anthropomorphise your tools, they hate it when you do that.

View TobyC's profile


509 posts in 748 days

#3 posted 05-07-2013 11:45 PM

Cold blue, and then face down on some 400 grit.


-- Cigarettes and squirrels are completely harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it up.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 911 days

#4 posted 05-08-2013 12:00 AM

+1 on the blueing. Next time, if it’s a Starrett it’s probably hardened and you can skip the evaporust and go straight to rubbing with 400 or 600 grit. It will take the bad stuff off and polish the hardened metal underneath without scratching. That also works for non-Starrett rules that are hardened of course – they usually have a big H at the end of the model #.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View Don W's profile

Don W

16117 posts in 1440 days

#5 posted 05-08-2013 12:09 AM

or you could go for the gold

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View DocBailey's profile


577 posts in 1232 days

#6 posted 05-08-2013 01:53 AM

Great idea Don—but this (from the site you’ve pointed out) may well be a better choice [scroll down to find the black version]

View mtenterprises's profile


865 posts in 1566 days

#7 posted 05-08-2013 09:37 AM

One machine shop I worked in an old guy told me that all they used to do was rub the rule with a crayon to fill in the marks and wipe off the excess. I can see it working but for how long. Just a story from the machine shop.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Don W's profile

Don W

16117 posts in 1440 days

#8 posted 05-08-2013 11:05 AM

I’ve read that gunsmiths used to use crayon.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View GrandpaLen's profile


1606 posts in 1145 days

#9 posted 05-08-2013 06:49 PM


Black shoe polish works well on my carpenter squares and it’s fairly water proof. Buff it out lightly so as not to transfer to the wood.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View mtenterprises's profile


865 posts in 1566 days

#10 posted 05-08-2013 09:55 PM

I like the shoe polish idea.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

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