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7 hours ago, druxey said:

Many old rulers were made of 'Bermuda boxwood', aka Castello, not European boxwood, buxus. It's very good quality wood, but creamier in color than true boxwood.

Castello imo is easier to work than European/English boxwood

I'm using both at the moment and the English boxwood pen blanks are noticeably hardstanding the ruler wood, which as druxey stated is very good quality wood, and if you are lucky with the prices, very good value.

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2 hours ago, bruce d said:

how do we tell the difference? Is it only by comparing the hardness against Castello?

 

In terms just of the rulers which could be one part of the question, some of them clearly state 'BOXWOOD' on one of their faces, especially some of the old Rabone ones which say 'WARRANTED BOXWOOD', and I think every one of those that I have bought are quite different from the others. The trouble is that without that statement they all look alike from the outside because of the varnish coating; but they're still nicefor detailed shaping and cutting with sharp edges. If others know of a better way to spot the difference, I'm all ears. I'm quite happy with castello as it is cheaper and more available, as well as being in almost any size you would want (rulers are very limiting in that respect); but I prefer the look of boxwood and its hardness (not that I'm at all expert with either).

 

Apologies if I've misunderstood the question, which I am wont to do!

 

Tony

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36 minutes ago, tkay11 said:

Apologies if I've misunderstood the question, which I am wont to do!

 

Hello Tony, you did not misunderstand my question 👍 but I am not the original poster. I think the OP wanted to know the same thing as me: if I am looking at an old ruler, how do I know if it is boxwood? It sure helps if it says 'boxwood' on the ruler, but otherwise, as far as I know, it is the hardness of the wood that distinguishes it from the softer Castello, and it is the grain that tells you it is an unamed hardwood. Both of these points say what it is not, neither is a way of confirming what it is.

I have a stash of rulers. All the ones I got pre-lockdown, when I was able to fondle them in a shop, are the real deal. Most of the ones I got off fleabay are also proper old boxwood but a couple have sneaked through. One of them is hard, practically without a visible grain and very nice to cut/carve. However, the wood once exposed is a pink-ish colour and I just don't believe it is boxwood.

So, to get back to @Smile-n-Nod's question and with apologies for the hi-jack, what is the feature of boxwood that distinguishes it from the rest of the woods and made it so popular with modelmakers in times gone by?

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When i was very young, I wrote to Rabone and asked for any rejects from them for my models. Not only did the kid get an answer, the man at the company actually sent me a complimentary package of blanks! They were, looking back, definitely Castello. boxwood. It's lovely to work, except the odd piece can be brittle, so don't turn down using it.

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So you guys are the ones responsible for the disappearance of all the antique boxwood rules and scales! :D 

 

Time was, one could scrounge around and amass a collection of traditional boxwood scales and a nice classic folding carpenter's rule without a lot of trouble. Then they started disappearing. I recalled someone said people were buying them because they wanted the boxwood they were made of. I was skeptical, but I'm not skeptical any longer. Realize that the boxwood rules and scales you're cutting up for modeling stock may well be worth a lot more than you think. Not so much plain old "rulers," but be aware of what you've got in your stash. Leave some for those of us who have a use for them. :D 

 

Antique Architect's Folding Rule

https://garrettwade.com/product/antique-architects-folding-rule

 

 

 

deliveryService?id=NMAH-AHB2012q05568&max=1000

https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_904792

 

set-of-architect-s-scale-rules_30452_pic3_size1.jpg

https://www.antiquesboutique.com/antique-barometers-instruments/set-of-architect-s-scale-rules/itm30452#.YGPHTVVKgdU

 

 

 

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My stash is complete, I can't see how I will need more. I know some of these old measuring sticks are collectable and steer away from them. The ones that really should have been thrown out because of wear & tear are good enough for harvesting.

8 hours ago, druxey said:

They were, looking back, definitely Castello

Oh boy, things ain't what they used to be. He sent you blanks?!?! Nowadays I would expect the response to be a law suit for snooping into trade secrets.

 

The wood in my rulers marked 'boxwood' is harder than Castello. A broken yardstick from around 1900 is the hardest of the pieces I have so far cut.

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8 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

Realize that the boxwood rules and scales you're cutting up for modeling stock may well be worth a lot more than you think.

 

That's why eBay prices can go very high, the more so over the last few years; which leads to their cost per cubic metre being much higher than getting castello, and even higher than buying boxwood blanks.

 

Tony

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Posted (edited)
On 3/31/2021 at 5:08 AM, druxey said:

To Bob Cleek: I have never destroyed a real vintage or antique boxwood rule! I still have my father's Stanley 2' 0" folding rule, complete with level, as well as a set of scale rules similar to the ones you show in post #8. So, rest easy!

I'm so relieved. Be still my heart! :D

 

I'm still looking for a boxed set of scale rules. They don't come cheap! 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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When I was a pup and in grade school, I had a 1 foot wooden ruler with a metal strip in a slot on one edge.  When boxwood ruler blanks and old rulers are being proposed as a material to be repurposed for blocks and deck furniture, I immediately imagined that it was these old elementary school rulers, and not a carpenter's folding ruler.   Even in the 1950's, I think Boxwood had been replaced with a less expensive hardwood species on this side of the pond.  The school rulers are much thicker.  The carpenter's rulers are generally  not thick enough to be worth the effort as well as having inherent worth on their own.

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