One of my favorite pieces of drawing equipment is the Haff Hatching Machine. I’ve mentioned it before but since no one I know but me has ever used one I’ll describe it. It’s a straight edge (like a ruler) that attaches to a metal arm (a small metal dowel or pole). Also connected to that metal arm is a lever/switch and a dial. Set the dial to between one and five millimeters and every time you hit the switch it moves the straight edge that number of millimeters down the metal arm.

The whole point of this tool is to make perfect parallel lines. Parallel lines when used in a drawing context is called hatching, hence the name of the machine.

I originally bought my Haff back in 1991 or so. There were two models of it. One model had around a nine inch straight edge on it and the other around twelve inches. I think they sold for about $100 and $150 respectively. I opted for the cheaper one. I had no idea what I was going to use it for or if I was even going to use it so why spend the extra money for the larger one? I regretted that eventually.

I’m not sure how much time passed between me buying the Haff and me really using it but as soon as I used it I took to it quickly. As a cartoonist I used it for making tones out of parallel lines in my drawings, mostly for backgrounds. It added a nice design element to my drawing.

I also used it to draw parallel lines for lettering. Back before the digital age I used to hand letter my comic book pages just like everyone else. Though the whole comic book lettering world used something called an “Ames Guide” I found the Haff machine to be vastly superior to it.

But there was a problem. Here is where that regret comes in. A page of comic book original art is ten inches wide. With the straight edge on the Haff only being nine inches wide I couldn’t ever span the width of a page with a single line. It’s not like I had to do that very often but when I did it was an inconvenience. I wished I had bought the larger one but I never did see a Haff machine again.

The Haff got another life in about 2015 when I started making big ink drawings. I started using the Haff to make big patches of parallel lines in various spots of my big ink drawings. If I needed a pattern in the drawing I could count on the Haff to help me make one. I use it to this day whenever I make a big ink drawing. I still use it for other tasks too such as for the lettering on my cartoon art cards.

My Haff machine has been running a little rough over the last few years. The mechanism that moves the straight edge up the little arm sometimes sticks. I’m not sure why. I’ve taken the mechanism apart before to dust it out but that seems to do nothing. I usually end up washing the metal pole with some 409 and that stops the problem for a while but it still makes me nervous.

Over the years I’ve kept my eyes open for the larger Haff machine. Being that it’s a tool from back in the days before computers took over the business of drafting and mechanical drawing it’s not like they were making new ones. Plus it was made in Germany and I don’t think there was ever that many of them in the USA. The time I bought mine was the only time I’ve ever seen one in person.

As an aside I’ve showed off the Haff on my YouTube channel a few times over the years and one of my viewers recognized it. He said the his grandfather had one and mine was the only other one he had ever seen. That made me like his grandfather sight unseen.

I’ve checked eBay many times for the Haff Hatching Machine. Always to no avail. The regular internet had some traces of it but they were all years old sales at various auction sites. Nothing was ever current. I couldn’t even find it on a site called the Museum of Old Drafting Tools.

That changed this week. I hadn’t done a search on eBay in a while so I decided to give it a go. There was not only one of them there were three of them. That’s right there were three Haff machines on sale and they were all the big one. The prices varied: $135, $180, and $500. I have never seen one of them for sale before and now there are three.

The problem is that I just bought a new slider scanner. That ran me about $600 so I don’t have the money for a Haff machine at the moment. There is also no way that I’m spending $500 on one so one of the three is out of bounds anyway.

It’s funny because I often have buyer’s remorse when spending a lot of money on equipment. I like to ask myself “What new things can I do with this equipment?” and have a good answer to that question. Sometimes I don’t though. My new $600 slide scanner is replacing my old malfunctioning slide scanner. I had to spend the money just to do the stuff I could always do. That’s often disappointing.

With a new slightly larger Haff machine can I really do anything new? I don’t think so but I don’t really know. But if the old ones stops working correctly I’d like to have another. I might have to get one now.

As I’m writing this I checked ebay again and the $135 dollar one has been sold. Now we’re down to just one. So I just sent an offer of $100. That’s something you can do on eBay. He can accept my offer or make a counter offer. Look at that. He made a counter offer of $150. Now I’ll send one for $125. We’ll have to see what happens.

Epilogue: The seller didn’t go for my offer and that was the end of that. Maybe I’ll get one some other day.