How To: Use a Tape Measure

You ’ ve no doubt heard the carpentry proverb “ Measure twice, cut once ” and may evening have made it a mantra for your own projects. But unless you know how to use a tape measure and correctly read its markings, your best efforts can be slightly off—and, unfortunately, any amount of “ off ” just won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate do. What ’ s more, this apparently one-note creature can actually be used for tasks besides just measuring the length between item A and item B. therefore read on to explore this humble must-have implement and learn to employ it properly—for everything from measuring the inside width of a bookshelf to rapid stud localization to drawing a perfect circle .

Reading a Tape Measure

Don ’ t say, “ duh ! ” Plenty of DIYers and even some experienced professional carpenters may not be aware of all of the information on a retractable alloy tape measure. Below, a flat coat on parts and measurement increments you ’ ll find on a trustworthy videotape measuring stick .

Locate the housing, tang, lock, and blade.

  • Housing: The plastic or metal housing holds the tape. It can act as a quick measuring tool in itself by using the base of the housing to measure short distances (the length of the housing appears on its base for easy reference).
  • Tang: The metal clip at the end of the tape, also known as the clip or hook. When reading the tape measure, the tang indicates zero.
  • Lock: The button on the front of the housing locks the tape in place when pressed, preventing the tape from being pulled out further or retracting.
  • Blade: The technical term for the tape itself, the blade is used by pulling the tang, stretching the across the distance to be measured, and reading the numbers and symbols on the face of the blade.

Read a tape measure’s incremental marks for the imperial system.

In the United States, the imperial measurement organization is normally used on a tape measure, though some models may have both the imperial and the system of measurement arrangement. A tape measure with both inches and centimeters normally has the imperial measurements in red on the top of the sword, while the metric function measurements are in black on the bottom of the blade. ad

  • Foot or 1’: The foot measurement shows up on the 12th inch and is written as 1F. This measurement is normally in a black box with a small triangle or arrow pointing to the inch line that it falls on. Example: 1F=1’, 2F=2’, 3F=3’
  • Inch or 1”: The inch measurement is the longest vertical line on the imperial half of the blade. This line is indicated by a large number sitting to the left of the line. Example: 1=1”, 2=2”, 3=3”
  • Half or ½”: The second longest line is the half inch measurement. Some measuring tapes only show the line as a measurement indicator, while others will show the line and the fractional representation of the measurement. Example: ½=1/2”
  • Quarter or ¼”: The mid-size line is the third longest and the third shortest on the typical tape measure. This line measures a quarter inch. It may also be indicated with a fractional representation, similar to the half inch. Example ¼=1/4”, ¾=3/4”
  • Eighth or 1/8”: The second shortest line on the imperial measurements is listed as an eighth of an inch. This line may also be indicated by a fractional representation. Example: 1/8=1/8”, 3/8=3/8”, 5/8=5/8”
  • Sixteenth or 1/16”: The shortest line on the imperial measurements indicates a 16th of an inch and doesn’t normally have a fractional representation.

Read a tape measure’s incremental marks for the metric system.

  • Meter or 1m: The one-meter marking is located at the one 100th centimeter marking or 10th decimeter marking. It is indicated by a 1m. On some tape measures, the centimeters will begin at one following the meter marking. Example: 1m=1m
  • Decimeter or 1dm: The one-decimeter marking is normally shown at a red numeral of 10. This measurement is located at every 10th centimeter line. Example: 10=1dm, 20=2dm, 30=3dm
  • Centimeter or 1cm: This measurement is indicated by the longest line on the metric side of the blade and a large number. This measurement can be found at every 10th millimeter marking. Example: 1=1cm, 2=2cm, 3=3cm
  • Millimeter or 1mm: The smallest metric measurement on the blade is the millimeter. It is not indicated by a number or fraction, but simply by the smallest line on the metric side of the blade, with every fifth millimeter line being slightly longer to indicate the halfway point between centimeters.

Understand these important additional measurements.

  • Stud measurements: Red squares every 16 inches indicate on-center wall stud spacing. So if, for example, you’re installing baseboard trim, you can lay the measuring tape across the wall and use the red squares to locate the studs behind the drywall. Keep in mind that the second stud in a wall is installed 16 inches from the end of the wall, not from the center of the first stud.
  • Joist measurement: Black diamonds located every 19 3/16 inches indicate on-center joist spacing. This lets you quickly identify joists without using a stud finder, helpful when nailing floorboards.

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Using a Tape Measure

Follow these directions for how to use a tape measure effectively.

To use a tape measure, pull the relish out from the house and hook it on the boundary of the aim to be measured. Stretch the blade across the object, press the engage, and then observe where the blade meets the goal of the object. The nearest production line on the blade to the end of the aim is the concluding measurement. once you have noted it, unhook the sea tangle, holding the blade with your hired hand so that its kick back won ’ triiodothyronine cause injury, then press the lock to release the sword. slowly allow the blade to return to the house .

The true zero hook feature will keep measurements accurate.

The first edge on a tape measure is actually short by 1/16 of an inch, because the metal on the nip is precisely 1/16 of an edge. thus for measurements taken from the inside edge of an object, such as measuring the duration of a wall from corner to corner, the tang slides back against the blade and the alloy of the relish is added to account for the “ missing ” 1/16 of an column inch. however, this would leave you 1/16 of an edge short-change for objects that are measured from the outside edge, such as a deck board. To account for this, the sea tangle slides out 1/16 of an column inch when it is hooked onto an aim, allowing the true measurement to be taken. always ensure that the relish is in full extended when hooked onto an edge .

Round up to err on the side of larger.

When reading a videotape measure, the edge of the object may fall between two lines on the blade. To avoid cutting excessively short, always round up to the larger measurement. At worst, you will need to measure and cut again, but that is far better than wasting a part of substantial that ’ second 1/16 of an edge excessively short-circuit for your needs.

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Use the housing for inside measurements instead of bending the tape.

It ’ s a common err when taking inside measurements ( such as the inside width of a bookshelf ) to pull the blade out far than necessary and then bend it to fit against one side of the object while the sea tangle is pushed against the other english. Bending the videotape can lead to an estimate rather of an claim measurement. rather, sit the base of the record meter against one side of the object to be measured. Pull the nip out and hold it to the other slope of the bookshelf. Take the reading from the videotape and add it to the distance of the house ( noted on its base ) to get an accurate reading. This practice besides prevents the videotape from being crouch repeatedly, which causes damage and previous wear .

The curve of the blade improves tape rigidity.

tape bill blades are slightly concave to increase the blade ’ s inflexibility when in practice. This curl lets the blade be pulled out further without losing stiffness, helping take longer measurements with more accuracy .

Use the serrated scribing tool at the end of the blade when a pencil is not at hand.

The dull serrated edge on the end of the tang can besides be used as a marker. If you don ’ t have a pencil or marking instrument handy, run the serrated boundary back and forth across the material being measured to mark the spot .

Don’t mistake the nail and screw grab for a simple hole in the tang.

The sea tangle besides has a little hole in the end, precisely above the serrate border, specifically designed to be hooked onto a smash or screw—very helpful when measuring a flat surface and working without a partner. Simply insert a nail or cheat to the side of the surface, grab the head of the fastener with the hole of the sea tangle, and pull out the blade to take a agile, accurate measurement. ad

The hole in the relish can besides be used to make perfect circles, bang-up if you ’ re crafting a lazy susan, or round tabletop. Insert a pinpoint or screw in the middle of the fabric to be measured, then hook the serrated wrack to the mind. Pull the blade out to the desired radius ( half the diameter of the circle ) and press the lock. Using a pencil, mark the initial measurement and keep the tip of the pencil sitting lightly on the surface of the substantial at this period. Rotate the magnetic tape quantify in a full 360 degrees, keeping the relish securely attached to the head of the pinpoint or screw. Complete the rotation and you should have a perfect lap. ad

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