10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Measuring Tape

The secrets of a measuring tape Stanley FATMAX 25in Tape Measure

The secrets of a measuring tape Stanley FATMAX 25in Tape Measure

Are you getting the most out of your tape measure?

That might seem like a silly question. After all, a measuring tape is a simple device with a simple purpose: to measure things. But there’s more to this tool than meets the eye. I am going to show you 10 things about your tape measure you may have never known.

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1. THE CURVE

Secrets of a tape measure the curve on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the curve on a measuring tape

Have you ever wondered why the blade on your tape measure is curved? The concave design helps keep the blade rigid when extended. This curve allows the blade to “stand out” while measuring and helping you read the measurement.

2. THE BLACK NUMBERS

Secrets of a tape measure the black numbers on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the black numbers on a measuring tape

There may also be a color change or graphical identifier at 12 or every 24-inch intervals that provides four supports in an 8-foot length. This helps you identify 12” spacing as well as were to place studs ever 24”. While 16” spacing is standard for studs in low weight situations some building codes allow studs spaced 24” on center which can save a bit of money because fewer studs are needed. But full plywood sheets can still be used without cutting. While 24 inch spacing provides four supports in the same space.

3. THE RED NUMBERS

Secrets of a tape measure the red numbers on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the red numbers on a measuring tape

Many tape measures add red numbers (or some other graphical standout) every 16-inches, a very common spacing for studs in house framing. This spacing allows for six supports in each 8-foot length. This spacing’s allow installing 8-foot-long sheets of plywood without cutting. Six supports can fit into an 8-foot space with 16” spacing.

4. THE BLACK DIAMONDS

Secrets of a tape measure the black diamonds on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the black diamonds on a measuring tape

The black diamonds which appear every 19 3/16” on metal tape measures are for spacing I-beam “timbers.” Several wood-product manufacturers offer I-beam “timbers” as a substitute for solid lumber floor joists.

The diamond marks on tape rule blades are for spacing these engineered floor joists in new construction. Because these beams can support more weight than their dimensional lumber counterpart, they often have different spacing requirements.

 Span tables for these beams provide ratings for spacings of 12”, 16”, 19 3/16”, and 24”. If you multiply these dimensions by 8, 6, 5, and 4, respectively, you’ll find each comes to 96”, the length of the plywood panels used for sub-flooring.

 Those diamond marks are there for builders who want to take advantage of the great strength of engineered I-beams by using fewer floor joists, with no loss of floor support.

 A standard concrete block chimney is two bricks by two bricks or roughly 16 inches square. That chimney won’t fit between studs that are installed on 16”-centers because there is only 14-1/2” between the studs. However, "Black Diamond Spacing" is ideal because the space between studs at that spacing is 17.7”.

5. THE NAIL GRAB

Secrets of a tape measure the nail grab on a tape measure

Secrets of a tape measure the nail grab on a tape measure

Tape Measure Nail Grab is on nearly every measuring tape, you’ll find a small slot on the end hook. It’s there to grab onto the end of a nail or screw.

 This way, if you’re measuring a flat surface and don’t have anyone to hold the other end of the tape, you just need to hammer in a nail or insert a screw and hook the end of the tape onto it to get a clear and accurate measurement.

6. THE TOP HOOK

Secrets of a tape measure the top hook on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the top hook on a measuring tape

Have you ever wondered why the end of your tape measure has odd-looking hook. Well there is a reason for that. The end of the tape measure is designed to hook onto anything in any direction. The odd shape hook provides you more opportunities to hook onto different services and angles.

7. THE SCRIBING TOOL

Secrets of a tape measure the scribing tool on a tape measure

Secrets of a tape measure the scribing tool on a tape measure

Did you ever notice that the bottom of the end hook of your measuring tape sometimes has a serrated edge? There’s a good reason for that. If you’re measuring something and don’t have a marking tool handy, you can use this serrated edge to make a mark by running it back and forth on whatever you’re measuring.

8. THE ADJUSTABLE END

Secrets of a tape measure the adjustable end of a tape measure

Secrets of a tape measure the adjustable end of a tape measure

Measuring Tape True Zero, The metal tip at the end of your tape measure is a little bit loose for a reason. The first inch of the tape is short by 1/16 of an inch. This isn’t an error: it’s meant to provide you with accurate readings whether you’re measuring the inside or outside edge of a surface. This feature is known as “true zero”.

The metal tip is exactly 1/16 of an inch thick. If you’re measuring the outside of a surface and hook your metal end on the edge, that metal piece will shift out and create a gap, so that you aren’t counting it in your measurement.

If you need to measure the inside of a surface – like in a window frame, you want to count the thickness of the metal piece in your calculations. Thus, the metal piece will shift back to fill the gap. Always take care to pull or push your tape so that it’s taut to take advantage of the true zero feature.

9. THE MAGNETIC END

Secrets of a tape measure the magnetic end of a tape measure

Secrets of a tape measure the magnetic end of a tape measure

Most all new tape measures have a rare earth magnet at the end of the tape measure. This is useful for many situations like picking up a screwdriver or wrench. It also helps hold the tape measure in place to provide accurate readings.

10. TAPE HOUSING

Secrets of a tape measure the tape housing on a measuring tape

Secrets of a tape measure the tape housing on a measuring tape

Very few people realize that your tape measure housing has its width printed on the back of the tape measure. This is very helpful when measuring inside a window or other areas where you may be confined. All you need to do is add the width number to your measurement and you have an accurate measurement with half the hassle.

Conclusion:

Now you are a tape measure expert and the secrets have been reveled. The tape measure I used and reviewed for this video and blog post is the Stanley FMHT 33865S FATMAX.  If you like this post and video be sure to give it a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe. Let me know if you have any questions by posting in the comments below. Till next time I will see you later.

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10 tape measure secrets and things you never knew about your tape measure that every woodworker should know.

10 tape measure secrets and things you never knew about your tape measure that every woodworker should know.

Philip MillerComment