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This week’s Hand Tool Thursday entry is a few hours late – but I’m sure you will forgive me!

A few weeks ago (33, according to Instagram!) I did a post on the Rabone 1190 combination folding rule, level and inclinometer – a marvel of boxwood and brass sorcery that converts unwary viewers into rule collectors in the blink of an eye. In that post, I made reference to the Lufkin 863L as being a near-identical rule, probably manufactured for Lufkin by Rabone. At the time, I did… not own the Lufkin variant – and I still don’t, not exactly…

Further research revealed that Lufkin offered not one, but two rules in this category, the aforementioned 863L, and its more expensive sibling, the 873L! Whether Rabone made this or not – and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, although if they didn’t, Lufkin does a superb job of copying Rabone’s design – what is unarguable is that the 873L is the superior product… Because, it is half bound. The outer sides of the rule have a brass binding that protects them from wear or damage when the rule is closed. This relatively small change makes a huge difference to the esthetics of the tool, and also to its durability. I’m so pleased a great example of this wonderful tool came into my possession!

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