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Yardsticks are often thin and rectangular, and made of wood or metal. Metal ones are often backed with a 'grippy' material, such as cork, to improve friction.
In countries in which the metric system is used (such as Canada and France), yardsticks bearing imperial units markings on one side (three feet with inch and fractional inch) and metric units on the other (one meter with 100 centimetres and 1000 millimetres) are common, and are sometimes referred to as "metre-sticks" or "metre rules". Sometimes the imperial units are not included. The folding carpenters' rulers used in Scandinavia are usually equipped with double measurements, metrical and imperial on both sides, also functioning as a handy conversion table, accounting for its Scandinavian term: Tommestokk (thumb (inch) stick), a term with the same meaning that is also used in Dutch: duimstok.
The yardstick is usually employed for work on a medium scale; larger than desktop work on paper, yet smaller than large scale infrastructure work, where tape measures or longer measuring rods are used. Typical applications of yardsticks are for building furniture, vehicles and houses. Modern carpenters' yardsticks are usually made to be folded for ease of transport.