I have recently found out about slide rules from a Scientific American article and I like them very much. However, I have never got access to a real slide rule. So I made my own slide rule using my printer with the help of this pdf. However, the slide rule that I have made does not have many scales whereas real slide rules like this one, have a lot of scales.

So I thought that maybe I will be able to make a better one using TikZ. I started making it and got stuck here:




\draw (0,0) rectangle (14,20);
\draw (8.75,0) -- (8.75,20);
\draw [dashed] (1.75,0) -- (1.75,20);
\draw [dashed] (7,0) -- (7,20);
\foreach \x in {2,...,18}{\draw (0,\x) -- ++(0.15,0);}
\node [rotate=90] at (0.5,1.5) {C};


The problem is that I don't know how to make a logarithmic scale in TikZ. So please tell me just the basic syntax to create the logarithmic scale. I will do the rest.

  • 3
    They are a thing of beauty (and I can still use one). I inherited my Dad's slide rule, which he used to help design the original heat shield bringing the first object ever back from orbit: drexel.edu/mem/news/archive/… . Funny thing is, when I tutor kids in math, and sometimes bring one along to demonstrate, they look at it like a thing of magic, the way we did when calculators were first introduced. Perspective is an interesting thing. – Steven B. Segletes Jul 31 '14 at 11:32

Logarithmic ticks can be easily plotted by iterating the function f[n,x]=n+log(x) for n>=0 and 1<=x<=9 where both n and x are integers.



\pstVerb{/I2P {AlgParser cvx exec} def}

    \foreach \n in {0,...,3}{%
        \foreach \i in {1,...,10}{% 10 (instead of 9) is used here to make sure the last line is drawn.
            \pstVerb{/xxx {{\f(\n,\i)} exec I2P} def}%
            \psline(!xxx -1)(!xxx 1)}}

enter image description here

Translation to TikZ



    \draw[blue] (0,0) -- (4,0);
    \foreach \n in {0,...,3}{%
        \foreach \i in {1,...,10}{% 10 (instead of 9) is used here to make sure the last line is drawn.
            \draw[red] ({\f(\n,\i)},-1) -- ({\f(\n,\i)},1);}}
  • How can i do this in Tikz? – Kartik Jul 31 '14 at 11:18
  • 1
    I wasted much time to locate the log function in TikZ. It is actually named as log10. – kiss my armpit Jul 31 '14 at 11:39
  • Thanks for the answer. I have made most of it, but can you tell me what formula is used for the sin and cos scale? – Kartik Jul 31 '14 at 15:13
  • @Kartik: What does it mean? I don't understand your question. – kiss my armpit Jul 31 '14 at 15:40
  • I was asking that how can I make the "sin" scale on the slide rule. – Kartik Aug 1 '14 at 6:16

Regarding the sine and other scales, the International Slide Rule Museum has a page that shows the formulas to compute common slide rule scales.


Be careful with the Trig scales (S, T, ST) as they are for restricted domains. (For example, the S scale is between 5.7 and 90 degrees.)

  • 2
    Strictly speaking, this would be better as a comment than as an answer. – Arun Debray Jan 22 '16 at 16:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.