An straightedge is used in rulerandcompass constructions. It may be used to:
It is possible to do all straightedgeandcompass constructions without the straightedge. That is, it is possible, using only a compass, to find the intersection of two lines given two points on each, and to find the tangent points to circles. It is not, however, possible to do all constructions using only a straightedge. It is possible to do them by drawing one circle and its center, then using only the straightedge.
A realworld straightedge is a practical tool that approximates the idealized mathematical object described above.
Making a practical straightedge without access to a preexisting straightedge or modern machine tools is an interesting problem in mechanical engineering. One way of doing this is to make a highquality flat surface first, engineer's blue and polishing techniques, then to shape the straightedge so as to lie flat along the flat surface.
The method of producing accurate flat surfaces using three trial surfaces was invented by Sir Joseph Whitworth in 1830.
Another way of doing this is described in the link at the end of the article.
References:
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