How To Read A Tape Measure

How To Read A Tape Measure

Even though the tape measure seems straightforward, it is not unexpected that many people do not know how to read it. Reading the tape measure entails more than just drawing a few lines. To simplify, we’ve put up a comprehensive guide explaining what a tape measure is, its parts, and how to read a tape

What Is A Tape Measure?

The term “tape measure” refers to a roll-up, self-retracting tape measure developed for construction. The ‘ribbon,’ or real tape portion of the measure, is commonly made of a rigid metallic material that may stiffen when required but can also fold up for easy usage and storage.

Parts of A Tape Measure

How To Read A Tape Measure
  • Case: The case is used to protect the tape. This is also responsible for the tape’s durability and longevity of usage. Metal, plastic, and other rubber materials are used to construct the casing.
  • Thumb Lock: The thumb lock is intended to keep your tape in place at the length you choose. It prevents your tape from retracting back into its housing while taking measurements. To return the tape measure to its case, release the thumb lock.
  • Case Length: The case length may be found on the back of the tape measure. It is the case’s length, but it is an excellent addition to your tape collection. It comes in helpful when measuring around corners. Instead of bending the tape, use the housing for interior measurements.
  • Blade: The blade measure is the most significant part of your tape measure since it provides you with your measurements. Typically, imperial units are on the top row, while metric units are on the bottom. 
  • Hook: The hook at the end of the tape helps measure hard objects such as tables. You may note that the hook is a little slack; this is done on purpose to enhance accuracy. If the hook has a hole, it is designed to hold screws.
  • Belt Clip: The belt clip simply enables you to attach the measuring tape to your belt so you can always have it with you.

How To Read A Tape Measure

To read a tape measure, you must first understand what each of those black lines represents. In general, the line length determines the measurement’s length. Inches are marked by the longest mark, labeled with big numerals (typically black). 

How To Read A Tape Measure

Each smaller marker represents a smaller fraction of an inch. The line roughly half the length of the inch mark, for example, is 1/2 inch. The next lowest measurement is a quarter inch, and the length of the mark is around one-fourth of an inch. Look for a fractional read tape if you like your tape measure to have fractions of an inch indicated.

How To Read A Tape Measure In Inches

Tape measures, whether standard or SAE, clearly depict feet, inches, and fractions of an inch. A tape measure’s measurements are usually 16 markings to the inch. This implies that you may measure up to 1/16 inch. Some measuring tapes range from 32 to 64 markings per inch. Laser distance measurers are often precise to 1/16 inch.

  • Find the nearest whole inch to the endpoint while reading a tape measure. Then look at the remaining indicator lines to see how many fractions of an inch are left. Add them to the total inches to get the complete measurement.
  • Look at the huge numerals to read an inch. That number is frequently printed in large, black font. It is visible and refers to the longest lines around the edge. The number of lines between inch marks indicates how exact your instrument may be.
  • Locate the second-longest spot between the longer-inch markings to interpret 1/2-inch measures. Look midway between the 1/2-inch markers for 1/4-inch marks. Smaller fractions of an inch may be read in the same manner. Most cassettes will identify the fractions to make it simpler to discover them.

How To Read A Millimeter Tape Measure

Metric tape measures have ten markings per centimeter. The smallest markings on a tape represent one millimeter or one-tenth of a centimeter. Centimeters are shown by the broad, strong marks on a metric tape measure. The long mark shows a half-centimeter in the middle.

  • Find the closest complete centimeter to the endpoint to read a metric measuring tape. Examine the remaining indicator lines to see how many millimeters remain.
  • Using a decimal, add them to the entire centimeters. Assume you measure 2 centimeters, and there are 6-millimeter markings left over. Your total length will be 2.6 cm.

Special Notes For How To Read Measuring Tape

  • A wall’s stud spacing is typically 16 inches on center. Numerous tape measures have this indicated in red.
  • Every 12 inches on many tape measures, there will be a 1-foot mark. This removes the requirement for manual conversion of inches to feet. Some also have unique marks every three feet.
  • Black truss markings are tiny, black diamond or triangular forms and are often used on tape measures. They show truss arrangements spaced 19 3/16 inches apart. Some makers of engineered joists often utilize this spacing. For every 8 feet, there are 5 of these markers.

How To Measure Things Accurately With A Tape Measure

How To Read A Tape Measure
  • To acquire an exact measurement, make sure the tape is as flat on the surface as possible. Hook the pull tab on the surface’s edge or push it flat to the interior of the surface.
  • Then, if your tape measure has a lock, activate it or hold the tape in place with your hand to secure it. If you are in the planning phases, mark your surface with the measurement near the tape marking it as feasible, or write it in a notebook.
  • Allow the tape to coil back safely rather than snapping back in with too much force by slowly disengaging the lock.

Types Of Tape Measures

Tape measures, instead of rulers, are constructed of flexible fabric, metal, or fiberglass ribbon. They are available in a variety of lengths and include measuring marks. Tape measurements are classified into four types: case tapes, long or open-reel tapes, dimension tape (D-tape), and sewing tapes.

1. Cased Tape Measures

This traditional 25-foot measuring tape is suitable for both home DIYers and contractors. They are retractable, with a spring system that allows the blade to recoil. This tape measure type’s small and portable form makes it a must-have tool for a range of construction and craft tasks and the ideal tape measure for woodworkers.

2. Open Reel Tape Measure

An open reel measuring tape, often used by surveyors, lacks a spring mechanism to coil the blade. The blade is rolled up using a hand crank. A long tape measure is ideal for measuring great distances. Most experts will use a measuring wheel for vast regions or distances.

3. Diameter Tape Measure

A diameter tape measure (D-tapes), like a case tape measure, has an ultra-flexible blade that can readily wrap around pipes and poles. It calculates the circumference and diameter of a cylindrical object using pi (the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle).

4. Sewing Tape Measure

Sewing tapes, often known as tailor’s tape, are flexible and adapt readily to the body. They are used to get precise measurements for clothes design and adjustments. Their lengths vary from 60 to 120 inches. They are also marked with imperial and metric measurements.

Safety Advice

Whatever you do, never let the blade and hook rewind at full speed while uncontrolled. Even while it can seem like a handy feature to return the blade to the case, doing so swiftly can be risky as many individuals are hurt every year by violently flinging hooks. For precisely this reason, all manufacturers advise customers to use safety glasses or goggles whenever they do any task requiring a tape measure. Additionally, certain tape measures (regardless of price or quality) may have quite sharp steel blades. At first, they may not feel sharp, but things might change drastically when moving quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Centimeters are shown by the lengthy hash marks below the numerals on the ruler. Even smaller than a centimeter is a millimeter. Millimeters are represented by the tiny hash marks that separate each centimeter. Hash marks every 10 millimeters equal one centimeter.

A measuring tape’s most common length is 60 inches (152 cm); however, there are tapes available for purchase that are longer—for instance, 100 inches long (254 cm) or even 120″ (304 cm)—and may be used to measure larger distances (like curtains, quilts, and other home decor items).

The fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 of an inch are used to express measures that are less than an inch, which is usually the smallest whole unit of length measurement in the imperial system.

It takes 2.54 cm to equal 1 inch, indicating that centimeters are smaller than inches. There are 10 millimeters in each of the 100 centimeters that make up a meter.

A flexible ruler is referred to as a tape measure or measuring tape. Several materials, including fiberglass, plastic, and fabric, are used to make tape measures. They are some of the most widely used measurement devices available today.




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