What Is The Anatomy Of A Tape Measure? | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

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What is the Anatomy of a Tape Measure?

infographic what is the anatomy of a tape measure People use tape measures all the time, but they probably don’t know a lot about how they’re made. You use a tape measure to make other things. So, why would you bother to learn about the details of this common tool? Measuring tape has many different parts, which can be made of metal or plastic. And all of them have a specific function. In fact, some of these features you may have never even heard about.

The Different Parts of a Tape Measure

Measuring tape is made up of many different parts, which can include:
  • Case— This serves as the housing for the tape measure, where it can be kept secure. The most durable models have metal cases, but plastic is more affordable.
  • Case Length— Many tape measures have the case’s length printed on the back, which can come in handy if you’re measuring around corners.
  • Thumb Lock— You can stop your tape measure from automatically retracting by pressing the thumb lock down, and you can push it back up when you need to put it away.
  • Blade/Tape— The measuring tape (also known as a “blade”) is what you use to make your measurements. Most tapes have imperial units (inches) on the top row and metric units (centimeters) on the bottom.
  • Hook— If you have ever measured a table or some other hard surface, you have most likely used the hook at the end of the tape. This metal piece is meant to be loose, because the first inch is 1/16th of an inch short. So, it needs to be pulled back tight to ensure the most accurate measurement.
  • Hook Slot—While a “donut hole” might be there for decoration, this isn’t the case with the hook slot. It allows you to attach one end of the measuring tape to a nail or screw, which can come in handy during a construction project.
  • Belt Clip— A tape measure won’t fit inside your tool belt or pants pocket without the belt clip. It’s the only way to look stylish and professional while you’re on the job site.
A tape measure can also come with the following features:
  • Scribing Tool— Most tape measures have a serrated edge, which you can use to scratch a mark onto a surface if you don’t have a pencil.
  • Black Diamonds— Some measuring tapes have a series of black diamonds that are spaced a little more than 19 inches apart. They’re meant for construction workers who need to mark the standard spacing of trusses while they’re building a roof.
  • Roman Numerals— Some tape measures have Roman numerals. They refer to different classes, with I indicating a more accurate measurement and III being the least. Most tape measure fall within Class 1 or 2.
  • Flipped Hook— Sometimes, it may be more practical to measure from above. That’s why most tape measures have a flipped hook.
  • Manufacturing Year— The “M number” printed at the bottom of your tape is the year in which it was manufactured.
  • Arrows or Stud— You might see a “double arrow” every 16 inches with a number marked in red or the word “STUD.” This helps you to locate every stud you may come across on a wall once you have found the first one.
  • CE Mark— If you see this mark, it means that the tape measure conforms to the regulations of the European Union. It’s not an indication of quality so much as it is a reference to the measurements set forth at a national level in Europe.
  • Testing Body— This four-digit number (which is usually “0126”) refers to the agency responsible for certifying the tape measure, which is the National Weights and Measures Laboratory in Middlesex.
A tape measure won’t be able to work as well if any of these pieces were missing. Every part is there to give you the utmost in accuracy and functionality.

How to Read a Tape Measure

To read measuring tape correctly, you need to know the difference between metric and imperial units. It also helps to remember the math lessons from when you were in third grade. Here is a brief overview of the different symbols and lines on a tape measure:
  • The top row of numbers are the imperial measurements.
  • The bottom row of numbers are the metric measurements.
  • The line that hits the blade right before the “1” is 1/2 of an inch.
  • The blade indicates zero inches or centimeters.
  • Every number on the top represents a whole inch.
  • The dashes in between each number on the top are 1/16th of an inch.
  • Every number on the top represents a centimeter.
  • The dashes in between each number on the bottom represents one millimeter. There are a total of 10 between each centimeter.
Now that you know how to read each line and you understand the math associated with all of it, you should be able to get better measurements. Be sure to include every dash in your final total, and don’t forget to double-check your work.

How to Determine Distance with a Laser Tape Measure

A laser tape measure can give you a simple way to determine distance with an incredible amount of accuracy. It can even record measurements up to 1/32nd of an inch, so it’s much more accurate than a standard tape measure. To use this tool for measuring distance, just perform the following steps:
  • Press the power button to turn the device on.
  • Choose the measuring reference position: front, rear, or corner extension piece.
  • Line it up according to the reference position you choose.
  • Point the laser beam toward your desired target.
  • Press and release the “measure” button.
  • Keep the laser tape measure still until the measurement has been recorded.
  • The laser beam will shut off once it has finished measuring.
  • Press and release the power button to clear the screen.
  • Press and hold the power button to shut the device down.
This process can give you more accurate measurements quickly. It can also be used in a variety of interior and exterior applications.

How to Calibrate a Laser Tape Measure

To make sure your laser tape measure is making accurate calculations, you’ll need to compare it with a physical measuring tape or yardstick. You can do this by performing the following steps:
  • Measure a specific length with the yard stick or tape measure.
  • Either make a mark or secure the measuring tape in place.
  • Place the laser tape measure at the exact distance that’s indicated by the tape measure. Make sure it’s set up to the correct measuring position.
  • Turn on the device.
  • Point the laser beam toward the target.
  • Press and release the “measure” button.
If the result is much larger or smaller than the actual measurement, send the laser tape measure back to the manufacturer so it can be readjusted.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are magnetic-tipped tape measures?

Tape measures with a magnetic tip make it easier for one person to take measurements and is the perfect measuring tool for people who work with metals. The magnetic tip will stick to iron or steel surfaces and is strong enough to keep the end hook secured whether the tape is strung horizontally or vertically. It also allows you to use the measuring tape as a pickup tool.

How do I read a tape measure?

Reading measuring tape isn’t hard, but there are a lot of marks and symbols with which you may not be familiar. A tape measure is just a flexible ruler that’s very similar what you used when you were in school, but it’s a lot longer and much easier to use when you’re measuring a larger space or piece of lumber.

What is the eight-foot rule on a tape measure?

Many tape measures have red numbers (or some other graphic) every 16 inches, which is a common spacing for studs in house framing. This spacing allows for six supports to be placed eight feet apart, which is allows you to install eight-foot-long sheets of plywood without the need for cutting. Six supports can fit into an eight-foot area with 16-inch spacing.

What is the maximum length of a tape measure?

The most common lengths for measuring tape are 12 feet, 25 feet, or 100 feet. A 12-foot tape measure is enough for most consumers. The 25-foot length is sometimes called builder’s tape and is marked in feet with 16-inch increments, which is the standard distance between wall studs. The 100-foot tape (which is usually made of reinforced cloth) is good for determining property boundaries and for making other exterior measurements.

Where can I buy a quality tape measure?

If you’re looking for one of the best places to buy a tape measure online, Engineer Supply has a broad selection from some of the best manufacturers on the market. Feel free to look at what we have in stock, so you can find a tool that will meet your specific needs.
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