Best Tape Measure For Woodworking Home Workshop And DIY

A tape measure is a tool used by DIYers, hobbyists, and professionals alike. It comes in many sizes, from small designs that measure six-feet or less up to 100-feet or more in length. The best tape measure for woodworking will be 25-feet or less, as most woodworking projects do not use lumber longer than this.

A long measuring tape uses a hand crank on the side of the tape housing to collect the ribbon after you take the measurement. That might be fine if you are a surveyor or taking readings across your property, but it is slow for the shop or around the house. I feel that the best tape measure designs use a spring-loaded return.

A spring-loaded return allows the housing to be more compact, a feature that leads to the alternative name of “pocket tape.” These designs have a lock button that keeps the ribbon extended until you are finished. When you are ready, the ribbon (which is under tension) is pulled back into the case by the spring.

The best tape measure products include extra markings that several tradespeople will find helpful. For example, carpenters have come to appreciate Stanley’s black diamond stud markings, which sit along on the tape at industry standard intervals. You will find that the best tape measure for woodworking will not need these types of markings but should mark smaller increments of an inch instead.

The best tape measure feature you should look for is accuracy. Today’s tape measure designs use laser-etched markings on the ribbon that are precise. You can expect errors of 1/32-inch or less for every six feet of ribbon, which will be negligible in most DIY or hobbyist shops.

The hooked tip of a measuring tape is standard, and it is loose intentionally. The best tape measure designs allow the hook to collapse when pushed against walls on interior measurements or to extend over the edge of materials as you take exterior readings. That provides the inside measurements from the end of the ribbon or outside readings from the ribbon’s end.

Large print and high-contrast markings that are easy to read are a must-have for my middle-aged eyes and are a feature found on the best tape measure for woodworking. The best tape measure ribbon colors are light, usually yellow or white. Most products use black lines and numbers for markings, but I have discovered that the best tape measure designs add red for specialized marks on the ribbon for quick referencing.

Before the measuring tape, folding rulers (or folding rules) were used by amateurs and professionals alike. Tape measures became more popular in recent decades, but the folding ruler has a place in my shop. I use the folding ruler more often than I do my tape measure with most projects.

The design is smaller and remains stiff during use. I can also place it on a board without a ribbon recoiling into a case.

One of the folding ruler tricks that makes it more accurate than a tape is its ability to measure interior spaces. It butts against both interior walls, something that a tape measure can not do.

Several folding ruler tricks increase the layout speed in a shop, including modifications that allow you to use the ruler as a compass or layout a circle.

Using a hinged section of the ruler to mimic an angle of two connecting boards is another favorite among folding ruler tricks and is useful for DIYers and carpenters. I also find the folding ruler easier to control than I do a tape measure.

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