I found a gem at a car boot sale last weekend. Just look a those beauties! Only £6! What a score! And here is our topic today, ladies and gentlemen: Do you know what these are? (If your answer is yes, you may go to another corner of the internet.)
I ask because just this summer I was hanging out with some high power book arts ladies (you know who you are) and it came to my attention that out of the four of us I was the only person to have a set. I was shocked. I don’t mean in a “you wore that to dinner with the queen?” or “you use that word in public?” or “she said what to who?” kind of way. I was honestly shocked, as in my mouth was open for a while, as in it took me a few minutes to really wrap my mind around it, I could not believe what I was hearing, I must have misunderstood, but no, no, this is real, they really don’t use dividers, but how? But what?
Dividers. If I were to compose a poem about dividers, it would be an epic poem. If I were to write a song, it would be a monster ballad. If I were to write a blog post, this would be it.
I advanced toward that set of dividers like a bull, barreling past older gentleman as I hurtled toward the tool table. As those startled bystanders picked themselves up off the ground and dusted off their clothes, they probably never imagined that I already had five pairs.
Do you see the new set? Third from the right? Look how dainty they are, how delicate. I am a dividers aficionado, a hoarder, a devotee. I use dividers every single day. Until that car boot sale, my go-to set was that beauty second from the left, but I’m taking the new pair out for a ride because they fit into my tool box like a dream.
You don’t use them? Shhhhh, stop talking. Go here. Here are some cheap ones in the UK. Starrett are my favorite, but any set will do in a pinch. Don’t think. Just buy. Wait by your mailbox. . . and now keep reading.
The first and most obvious reason to have a pair of dividers is to take a measurement quickly. Say you needed to measure the thickness of 114 sheets of drafting film.
Not only can I get this measure, but I can store it by piercing my dividers onto a scrap of paper:
And quickly pick up that measurement whenever I need it just by adjusting the dividers back to that set of holes. Life is full of measurements:
Those scraps of paper soon start to look like this:
When I am working on a project (or three) there are sheets like this hanging on lines where I can get at them quickly. See, look, here’s another one:
Oh, but that’s not all. Let’s say you want to center a label on a board. You can break out your ruler like a dweeb, or you can simply make quick adjustments to your dividers until you find the same amount on either side, like so:
And then, and here’s the kicker, score a beautiful and reliable straight line by hooking one side of the dividers on the board edge and putting a little pressure on the other side.
Pure dividers satisfaction. Do you see? Do you see why I was shocked about those ladies? I do this about a hundred times a day, and you can’t do it without dividers! You just can’t. Look, here I’m doing it again:
Sometimes, because I have so many pairs, I keep them all at different settings that I need for a project Like this:
Then I don’t need to measure anything at all. It’s just score, score, score. Do I sound hysterical? Good. I’m glad. That is how SERIOUS I AM.
I could go on, I really could. I could tell you how you can also use dividers to, yes, divide a board into five pieces. I could tell you how I even use them for letterpress, for god’s sake, by scoring a line where I know I want a baseline of type. Keep those dividers on your feedboard and you can score the same baseline over and over and over again. PUT THE PICA RULER DOWN! It’s as if someone designed a tool just for me, just for all the things I like to do. A tool that does a dozen things I need to do every day. It’s like that.
I’m getting a little too worked up. I am teaching at West Dean College this week and this is what it looks like here:
I’m out of sync with my environment and I think I need to take a few deep breaths and calm down. But I just had to get all that off my chest. Thanks, everyone.
UPDATE: Jeff Peachey posted a photo on his blog that puts my collection to shame. Have a look at his ridiculous collection of dividers.