Proportional Dividers. A Very Useful Tool.

A mid 20th century Alvin 450, a triangle and engineers square, and some one sixth scale miniatures.

Proportional dividers are ancient tools, dating back to Roman era, though as late as 1955 some thought they were a Renaissance invention.  The Alvin 450 is really handy when making miniatures, like the triangle and engineer’s square above, that I made for Fritz Otto Buchbinder.  They allow you to quickly see and measure what a reduction in the actual reduction size would be.  Using one is a much more intuitive than having to divide 100ths of an inch into something. But don’t get me started on numeric measuring!

 

Instructions for how to use a proportional dividers. http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/draftingsteals-store/proportional-divider-use.pdf

Other uses are to convert a given length of line into equal parts, divide a circle into equal parts, and even generate angles. All of which are useful for bookbinders. The 450 can generate proportions down to 10:1 for lines, and 20 :1 for circles. A regular dividers can do these things, but it takes some set up time.

They make a great addition to my  dividers collection.  I found them at a flea market, still in a fake leather covered wooden box, with a nifty sliding pin latch, all for $10. They originally sold for $9.75, so they have held their value. New ones are still available, though considerably more costly, having a list price of $216, though commonly found for $132.

Obviously, though, one can never have too many tools. I’m still looking for a used 458 (10 inches long) and a 950 (stainless steel)….

2 Replies to “Proportional Dividers. A Very Useful Tool.”

  1. Using the bosses’ email.
    Thank you for being able to make tools that are truly appropriate for my slightly smaller hands. They fit and feel as if they were natural extensions of me. I will certainly recommend them to my friends.

    I also completely agree on using units to measure. Other than direct, my favorite measuring device is my eyes. Wie sagte mein Meister, “Augenmaß eichen!”

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