A tape measure takes up a lot less space than a yardstick.

At least one tape measure should be in the toolbox of every homeowner or renter. It is an inexpensive and handy device that has many uses when building, maintaining, and repairing a home or auto.

What a Tape Measure Does

A tape measure is a portable measurement device used to quantify the size of an object or the distance between objects. The tape is marked along the tape edge in inches and fractional inches, typically in quarter-, eight-, sixteenth-inch increments. Some tape measures are marked in millimeters, centimeters, and meters on one edge.

The most common tape measures are 12 feet, 25 feet, or 100 feet in length. A 12-foot tape measure is handiest for consumers. The 25-foot length is called a builder's tape and is marked in feet and at 16-inch increments to make measuring the standard distance between wall studs easier. The 100-foot tape, usually of reinforced cloth, is useful for determining property boundaries and other exterior measurements.

How to Safely Use a Tape Measure

Tape measures are relatively safe and easy to use. Extend the tape from point to point placing the end-clip at the location you want to measure from. Most tape measures have a clip that can be attached to a fixed object to measure spans easily. Many steel blade tapes have tension-control brakes that lock the blade in place for measuring spans. Longer tapes have a crank on the side of the case to retract the cloth tape.

To minimize injury, slowly retract metal blade tapes, keeping fingers away from edges.

How to Maintain a Tape Measure

Tape measures are virtually maintenance free. To extend their life, keep the measurement blade clean and don't retract the blade into the case too fast.

Tools Related to the Tape Measure

Other handy measurement devices include the rigid ruler and the square.

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