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Old 01-19-2011, 10:05 AM   #1
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Hello all,

My apologies if this has been posted before, but I couldn't find it. Just a quick FYI that I thought you might be interested in.

There was a brief sidebar in a woodworking magazine I got for Christmas which advised using the same tape measure for your entire project. The author claimed that they can by 'off' quite a bit. I just compared three of the many I own. Over a span of 24", the measurements differed by about 1/32". Naturally, over longer measurements, the difference would grow. In fact, all three of the ones I checked were different, by a noticeable amount. I assumed that the problem might be with end hooks wearing down so I took my experiment a little farther. I clamped the two tapes together lining up the 1" marks. At only 4' out, the difference was definitely visible, so it's not all in the end hook. If you compare them inch by inch, you can even see differences from one inch to another between the two tapes, and between two different inches on the same tape.

Up until now, I'd just grab the closest tape and use that. I've taken to labelling the measure I'm using for one specific project.

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Old 01-19-2011, 11:42 AM   #2
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Tape Measure Accuracy


I have heard the same advice. In the end I think it comes down to the type of job(s) you are doing. I think something like that would be highly appropriate to furniture makers and trim guys. Us WoodButchering Framers can get by pacing things off

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Old 01-19-2011, 12:51 PM   #3
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Tape Measure Accuracy


I agree with Cpl. Beyond that, I usually use a hook rule for critical measurements (laying out joinery details, etc) and a tape for other measurements (cut lengths on sheet goods). Tapes wear out and they're a bit clumsy. I don't care if a cabinet is 1/8" taller than planned (I may tape once and then use the cut piece as a template for the others), but the joints and detail work need to be much tighter than that.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:26 PM   #4
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Probably the best idea is to purchase 2 or 3 better quality tapes of the same brand and leave them lying around the show (assuming they have same measurements) ... and, if you are right handed and can find left had tapes, the numbers are even the right way up like this video shows.

video - measuring devices for woodworkers
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:33 PM   #5
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Tape Measure Accuracy


I was taught years ago to stay with one brand of tape. I have used stanley for years. Also for critical measurements always burn an inch and use the same tape for both measuring and cutting.
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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Tape Measure Accuracy


LMAO!

None of that really matters as long as you aren't calling out measurements to another worker using a different tape.

Think about it!

A tape could be a full inch out of whack and it wouldn't matter if YOU were measuring and cutting and measuring and cutting, or measuring and fitting, etc. What you read on the tape when measuring is what you use on the tape when applying what you read somewhere else.

The next day you could use yet another different bogus tape and it still wouldn't matter.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:50 AM   #7
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Used to buy "Lufkin" branded, left-hand tape measures when working construction/millworking. They laughed at me as I am right-handed, but they were so much easier for me to read and mark cuts. Hold the tape in my left hand, mark with my right as it seemed so natural. Then the supplier stopped carrying them due to low sales. Hard to find any left-hand tapes around here now. Strange thing: I still have my Granddad's old wooden folding rule and it's left-handed.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:29 AM   #8
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Tape Measure Accuracy


always heard that you should start your measurement at the number 1, not at the beginning of the tape. I have tape measures that are easy to read. The ones with the sizes marked in between each inch. Takes out the guess work.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:30 AM   #9
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Cline View Post
LMAO!

None of that really matters as long as you aren't calling out measurements to another worker using a different tape.

Think about it!

A tape could be a full inch out of whack and it wouldn't matter if YOU were measuring and cutting and measuring and cutting, or measuring and fitting, etc. What you read on the tape when measuring is what you use on the tape when applying what you read somewhere else.

The next day you could use yet another different bogus tape and it still wouldn't matter.
Totally agree.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:17 AM   #10
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Tape Measure Accuracy


That's one of the first things my Daddy told me when I started out helping him build houses and such. Use one tape measure and mark you pieces in the same manner always.

For cabinetry I rely a lot on templates, as already mentioned here.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:23 AM   #11
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Tape Measure Accuracy


There was a lengthy article in fine woodworking discussing techniques for measuring and marking without actually using a "measuring" device. The author was quite inventive in using layout sticks, distance transfer techniques, and repetitive cut devices. The idea was to improve repeatability rather than accuracy, on the theory that in cabinetmaking it was very important that all the pieces be exactly the same length, but not so important that they be a specific length, i.e. they could all be 11-15/16 inches rather than 12 inches, and it would be OK, as long as they were all the same. The author's point was that it was impossible to achieve this type of repeatability using a tape measure, regardless of how "accurate" the tape was, due to the problems in transferring measurements.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:06 PM   #12
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Tape Measure Accuracy


I would never use a tape measure for woodworking. I have several solid metal rules that I use. Tape measures are not accurate enough for furniture building.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:07 PM   #13
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Wow had no idea this was a common issue. I always assume if it says 10 inches it really is 10 inches. So when measuring for say, windows and doors that need to be fabbed, is it best to use solid measuring instruments? Or just give the brand of tape to the builder? lol

For small projects, if I need to make nn items the same size, I tend to make the first one then use the other as a template, that way if I was off in measuring or my line was off or w/e at least I'm consistent about it. If I'm going to fail I can at least be consistent about it.
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:39 PM   #14
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Tape Measure Accuracy


Framing squares, drywall squares and adjustable angle squares are all different (more than not right angles), also.
The worst one I used was when pinning a foundation for a spec. house with the "General'. I was laying it out using his 100' steel tape (fiberglass ones stretch), teaching him as we went. An hour into it I happened to check a footing board setback and length from pin to pin, within reach of my 25' pocket tape. It was short.... very short. Called him to me, looked at his (dumb) end of the tape and laughed. Where did get this tape? "My grandfather gave it to me." He watched as I pulled my tape and measured from hook/loop end to 12"...... it read exactly....... 8" Grandfather, to save money, riveted the hook back on exactly 4" short. At least he knew.... Always use my own tools since then.

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Old 02-14-2011, 07:37 AM   #15
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Tape Measure Accuracy


The biggest tape measure problem is a bent tip---Drop the ruler and bend the hook/tip---

You can be off by 1/8 inch easily----you will be accurate on inside measurements--but loose 1/8 when you mark your board.---Mike---

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