They consist of a number of small lengths of steel of different thicknesses with measurements marked on each piece. They are flexible enough that, even if they are all on the same hinge, several can be stacked together to gauge intermediate values. It is common to have two sets for imperial units (typically measured in thousandths of an inch) and metric (typically measured in hundredths of a millimetre) measurements.
The same device with wires of specific diameter instead of flat blades is used to set the gap in spark plugs to the correct size; this is done by increasing or decreasing the gap until the gauge of the correct size just fits inside the gap.
The lengths of steel are sometimes called leaves or blades, although they have no sharp edge.
A taper feeler gauge is a feeler gauge of tapered, as opposed to parallel, shape. The blade of the gauge is of a constant thickness, and the two types of gauge are used in a similar way.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Feeler gauges.|