Why are my board lengths different?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by RussellAP posted 11-03-2012 07:13 PM 1644 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2254 days

11-03-2012 07:13 PM

I’ve been working with a tape measure that stays put when you pull it out. That’s it’s only redeeming feature.
I compared it to my shop fox and my new new FastCap tape and found this.

The tape on the bottom is the offender.

I took the new FastCap and put it on the anvil of my vice and used a nail set to compress the three rivits with the claw pushed up against the end of the tape. It’s very tight and won’t move now. The other tape is fine if it is the only one you use, but I use the shop fox just as much, so no wonder my cuts need a little bit extra taken off.

Not many of you probably use the tapes that stay out and you press a button to release them. It always pulls on the tape to retract just enough to create that gap at the end. This is why for the tape I use primarily on my miter saw I peen those rivets tight. Because when I go to the bench, I’ll use the shop fox as much as possible from that point on. The boards come out perfect that way.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

20 replies so far

View bandit571's profile


19753 posts in 2651 days

#1 posted 11-03-2012 07:29 PM

The main reason those rivets are loose: When you go to measure an inside dimension, the clip gets push in. When you measure the outside dimension, the clip will slide out. The movement is so allow for the thickness of the clip. Now, with the clip immobile by peaning the rivets tight, one has to allow for the thickness of the clip.

Measure in-between to items, like a door jamb, say 35-3/4” wide. Now measure the door that goes into the opening with that same tape measure. Hmmm, what does it read? Fit the door using this same tape readings. Door will be a might loose in the fit, by the thickness of that little loose clip.

Tip: When I measure with a tape measure, I use the one inch mark instead of the clip. Subtract the 1” and there is the length. I’ve seen quite a few tape measures over the years, and some were “tightened” down, some had the clip bent to make a more secure grip on items (might have been bent the other way at one time, as well??) Rivets are loose for a reason.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3656 days

#2 posted 11-03-2012 07:32 PM

The hook end is supposed to move the thickness of the hook to compensate for it , depending if you’re doing inside or outside measurements.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2225 days

#3 posted 11-03-2012 07:32 PM

Russell, I always use the same tape from start to finish on all my projects. That way if is is somewhat inaccurate, all the measurements will be consistently inaccurate. YMMV

-- Art

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2254 days

#4 posted 11-03-2012 07:35 PM

Bandit. this tape will always try and retract just a bit which keeps it in constant gap mode. You have to push it to make an accurate measure. Mostly what I’ll be using the fastcap for is the miter saw, so it’ll work out.

What I’d really like is a solid ruler like the shop fox only expandable with a slide to extend it to about 4’. That would be nice. Is there anything like that out there?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2652 days

#5 posted 11-03-2012 08:20 PM

tapes are tapes! for rough construction that clip is “close enough”. but on finish boards I use the 10” mark as my “zero” (the math is easier!!!). I never use the 1” mark because there is still too much “junk” in the way with the tab and associated rivets.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3259 days

#6 posted 11-03-2012 08:39 PM

Not uncommon. I think it was on an episode of “How It’s Made” where they put all the new tapes on a long bed and compared them to a known master, like you did. The good ones would be sold as a higher grade, and the bad ones as the cheapies.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3448 days

#7 posted 11-03-2012 08:45 PM

I agree with Art. I always use the same tape from beginning to the end of a project. I also set up stop blocks to be sure all pieces are exactly the same length like on box sides for instance. I set up a stop block once the dimension is established for all cuts of that length so they are all exactly the same.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3076 days

#8 posted 11-03-2012 09:03 PM

+3 on using the same measuring device for a project from start to finish. Story sticks are useful also. Put your measurements on a piece of mdf or plywood, then use that piece to measure all parts of the project. The slop in a tape meaure is also why some folks prefer a wooden rule.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2652 days

#9 posted 11-03-2012 09:10 PM

+4 on using the same measuring device for a project from start to finish (although for fine work I would still not rely on the tab). As for “story sticks”, on multiple pieces, I always start with one and mark it…at the miter saw, that goes on top of the next piece. drop the non-running blade onto the stack for alignment, cut away (but save that top piece for the next cut).

View WoodyG's profile


33 posts in 3141 days

#10 posted 11-03-2012 09:39 PM

Hey Russell your tape isn’t the only thing giving you trouble with accurate markups. Go over to the office
supply and get a good pencil sharpner. The best measuring tools in the world are useless with a pencil that
that looks like that. It’s all fun now, isn’t it?

-- WoodyG

View Smallcrafter's profile


36 posts in 2066 days

#11 posted 11-03-2012 09:41 PM

Depending on what I’m doing, I use steel carpenter’s square, a 12” steel rule that is part of my combo square, and a wall board T-square. As mentioned, tapes will get me a rough measure, but for accuracy I use the metal rules. The tapes make me crazy as they slide all over, don’t lie flat on the wood, and are cumbersome to use for anything ‘cept measuring 2×4s.

-- 'The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.' - Chaucer

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3126 days

#12 posted 11-03-2012 09:51 PM

Yeah, you just screwed up that tape!

-- jay,

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2240 days

#13 posted 11-04-2012 04:53 PM

The ‘Right tool for the task at hand’

Tape measures;
I have good quality 30 ft. and 100 ft. Tape Measures, which I use for construction projects. These will keep you honest when building a deck or cutting plywood for sub-flooring and dimentional lumber.

I have good quality 12”, 24”, 36” rulers and a 6 ft. folding rule which I use in the shop for projects. There is no guess work as to where ‘zero’ is on a good ruler.

I don’t use my Dovetail saw for cutting 2×10s and I don’t use my Circular saw for cutting out Jewelry boxes.

If you take a ruler and measure your tape measure and peen the rivits tight you have created the same measuring implement as ‘hook’ ruler which can be used to stabilize the ruler by hooking the hook, at the zero end of the ruler, on the edge of the workpiece and take all your measurements in this fashion as ‘outside’ measurements, but then that tape will not give you an accurate inside measurement.
I believe you stated that you are aware of this limitation, but if it works for you and you can keep your tapes sorted for their ‘Russell’ disigned purpose then I see nothing wrong with your theory, my friend. :-)

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View ksSlim's profile


1274 posts in 2858 days

#14 posted 11-04-2012 05:10 PM

Well said Grandpa. You sound like my Dad 70 years ago when he said,

“you wouldn’t try to slice a tomato with an ax, would ya?”

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Willeh's profile


228 posts in 2307 days

#15 posted 11-04-2012 05:15 PM

Rule of thumb: Always use the same tape for one project.. i’ve got a few tapes and none are 100% compared to the other.. as long as you use the same one all the way around, you’ll be fine.

-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "

showing 1 through 15 of 20 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics