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Coloring calibrations on metal ruler

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IrnHed

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I pulled a perfectly good steer ruler from the scrap bin at work. Only problem seemed to be that the (stamped) calibrations had lost any color & were very difficult to read.
There must be a simple way to get colored paint into the grooved calibrations without coloring the face of the ruler. I've tried paint, paint sticks, acrylic pastels, felt pen, kids paint, house paint, etc. I've tried laying on paint, then trying to wipe off the face while the paint is still wet. And the same when the paint was dried. Removing the face paint by filing off the dried paint. And block sanding. And scraping. And putting it into service so normal use would make them more visible. all have been less than satisifying or didn't work at all!
Frustration has put this lot back on the shelf. What a waste!
Plus there are framing squares, and calibrated hand wheels and angle vises and . . .! All of which need a bit of help in this department.
Hopefully, someone knows the trick & can help out all of us! Please!

IrnHed
 

pabird

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IrnHed, I've never tried it on a metal rule but as a kid who liked to build model cars I used to thin down testors paint and with a loaded brush touch the edge of the groove and the paint would wick into it. This worked on the chrome plastic grills on the cars.
 

gld

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plain old crayon rubbed over engraved lettering works well. Try it on the ruler.
 

10K Pete

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Tire marking paint sticks have always been my go-to for filling engraved markings. Rub in then rub off the extra with a paper towel backed by a wood block. No block and the fill will be rubbed out especially shallower markings.
 

Ken I

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A technique I have used to replace the embossing infill on an AMi "A" model jukebox is to paint it - then once dry use a razor sharp chisel to shave off the paint from the flat surface.
This leaves the embossing filled with the paint. A quick wipe with solvent for a final clean up.
A PITB job but it does work.
I had previously tried all sorts of method that didn't work.
Regards, Ken
 

delalio

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In the past I've seen people use all sorts of shellac, to nail varnish. once dry, lay down a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface, and lightly rub away the paint/coating from the body.
They key really to several of these methods is that you need to rub the ruler on whatever you are using to wipe, not the other way round. (Like fine wet/dry on a flat workbench.)
Don't put the workpiece/ruler on a surface and rub it with a cloth/sandpaper, as it's far more likely to get into the grooves, and remove the small amounts of paint/coating in the grooves.
I'm not sure I've worded that very well, but I hope you get the idea.

You can also use something like a razor blade. Put the ruler flat on a workbench/surface plate, and rub the blade against the ruler. If you have lots of groves (like on a ruler, sometimes it helps to hold the blade at 45degs to the grooves, as it will slide over the grooves easier, instead of catching and digging in.
 

HMEL

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I pulled a perfectly good steer ruler from the scrap bin at work. Only problem seemed to be that the (stamped) calibrations had lost any color & were very difficult to read.
There must be a simple way to get colored paint into the grooved calibrations without coloring the face of the ruler. I've tried paint, paint sticks, acrylic pastels, felt pen, kids paint, house paint, etc. I've tried laying on paint, then trying to wipe off the face while the paint is still wet. And the same when the paint was dried. Removing the face paint by filing off the dried paint. And block sanding. And scraping. And putting it into service so normal use would make them more visible. all have been less than satisifying or didn't work at all!
Frustration has put this lot back on the shelf. What a waste!
Plus there are framing squares, and calibrated hand wheels and angle vises and . . .! All of which need a bit of help in this department.
Hopefully, someone knows the trick & can help out all of us! Please!

IrnHed
I was taught how to restore steel squares by my father. If the rule lines are indented so you see the markers up close you can polish the ruler and clean it. A paint is applied and then quickly wiped off so that it fills the indentations. On dark steel use white. You might be able to choose another color with todays paint. I suggest you look for a paint that can also act as its own primer. And on the outside chance you can reach the manufacture maybe they will tell you what technique they use. They may laugh at your question but sometimes I have had luck in getting good answers to restore stuff. I believe the key in your case is finding the right paint and getting the metal clean. And the other place to ask is a gunsmith they are pretty good at engraving and marking. I so wish I had paid more attention when I was young. I have some older books I will search and maybe there will be something in them. If so I will post it.
 

Ken I

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You might also try using "armature dye" - a very thin paint (like water) that drys to a durable solid colour used to prevent rust on polished high speed armatures - you can get it in small bottles from any Slotcar parts supplier. (Comes in Black, Red, Green, Purple & Yellow)
Use a rubber squeegee to wipe the dye into the embossing - allow to just dry - then a quick wipe with solvent to clean up. Use a cloth wrapped around a block so as not to aggressively penetrate the paint in the embossing.
Regards, Ken
 

dave43

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why not use chalk its worked for me for the last 40 odd years cheap and easy to do and can do it on a regular basis. rub on the chalk and wipe on overalls usualy and the chalk will fill the indentations.
 

Drawfiler

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You could try and find the black wax used to fill the engraving on brass clock dials, you warm the dial (rule) and wipe the hard wax on, allow it to cool down then rub off the excess with abrasive paper and finally warm again to remove scratch maris.
 

f350ca

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When I make graduated dials, I use cold blueing to coat the surface, then lightly sand the surface leaving the engraved parts blued. Seams to be a very robust and clean method.
Greg
 

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