Call me Roman, but I use a lot of circles and arcs in my work. And while I have a bunch of compasses, they aren’t great for the small stuff – like a 1/8″-diameter circle. I also have some plastic circle templates, but they aren’t easy to center on my drawings.
Enter the Helix Angle and Circle Maker (here’s the Amazon link; I prefer to buy from Dick Blick). It’s about $5 to $6 and is a fantastic little tool for making all manner of circles. For the really small circles – 1/8″ to 1″ diameter – the Helix has traditional holes in the clear part of the tool.
For bigger circles – 1″ up to 2″ – the Helix really shines. You place the centerpoint of the tool on your work. Then you choose a hole for the radius you desire – they are graduated in 1/16s. Then you inscribe the outside of the circle by spinning the clear disc in the middle of the tool. (It works like an old Spirograph, but more boring.)
The Helix also does some other cool tricks. It allows you to measure the radius of a circle easily, which is handy. And it works as a traditional protractor – the degrees are marked on the colored plastic ring.
I’m sure it does other tricks as well, though I have yet to find its bottle opener.
Yes, it’s a piece of plastic from China. But you can use its powers for good by building wooden furniture that lasts forever. (Ya know, using the tools of your oppressors and all.)
— Christopher Schwarz
Read other entries from The Anarchist’s Gift Guide here.