June 2009: Toolbox

June 2009: Toolbox

Measure for measure

Tape measure: The simplest, most idiot-proof tool in the universe, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because any schmoe can take a measurement for a couch or a rug. No, because if your numbers have to be at all precise, a little quality makes a big difference in a seemingly very basic tool.

Read product descriptions for tape measures online, and you’ll be amazed by the language: The tape is actually a “blade,” it has something called “standout” based on “cross curve technology,” and its “recoil” properties must be considered. The hook, lock and case are all vitally important too. Clearly, an inferior tape measure will not do.

Indeed, “standout”—the amount of blade that will stick straight out from the case before flopping over—can be crucial if you are working alone and measuring, say, horizontally along a wall. And when you’re locking, unlocking and recoiling that blade dozens of times in a day, you’ll certainly appreciate a better-made tool. So it makes sense to pay a little more, if you’ll be taking some serious measurements. For a tape that will really measure up, $15-20 isn’t too much to spend.—Erika Howsare


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