A Measuring Tape Trick so Simple it’s Genius

Draw more precise lines without worrying about splinters with this simple measuring tape hack.

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A Measuring Tape Trick so Simple it's Genius

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  1. Man John you are giving the tape industry a run for their money. I would usually wrap electrical tape around my finger to avoid getting splinters, but that wouldn’t last.

    1. Not… really. Milwaukee already incorporates this feature into their standard design. on their “stud” tapes. I don’t believe dewalt or craftsman do though. Just look at a picture of the milwaukeee stud tapes. They have a front edge to ride against your scribe reference edge, and then they have a notch in the body so you can pinch the tape with your index finger, and you don’t have to engage the lock every time.

      I got off to a bad start with milwuakee tapes when I started (I bought the auto lock just to try it, and it was complete garbage that I would never recommend anyone use), but their standard tapes are actually pretty well designed.

    2. @timmie timmins well, you must be confused. Sure Milwakee “Stud” tapes have a front edge (like every other tape measure) but they don’t have a removable finger guard like the one John makes. The notch for the finger to slow the blade is a nice addition, but unrelated though.

    3. @Un Perrier No.

      You butt your tape up against the reference edge. you pull until the desired measurement lines up with the reference edge of the material. You pinch the notch, to hold the tape in place. you now run the body of your tape along the reference edge as you scribe your line. You have a perfectly accurate lineup (as you lined the markings on your tape up against the reference edge, and you now have a reasonably stable reference surface to hold square to the edge), and at no point did your skin contact the material.

      The end.

      This is the exact same functionality, only it can be replaced when it wears out or breaks without modifying anything, it has no moving parts, and it takes up less space in a tool bag. And it works well while wearing gloves, as this level of accuracy is FAR more useful in framing carpentry than in a woodworking shop.

      Really, if you want to just watch someone who does this for a living do this yourself, check out awesome framers shorts, where he demonstrates this WITH the milwuakee tape I am referring to.

    4. @timmie timmins the notch for the finger is described as: “Finger Stop delivers Tape Retraction Control”. It replaces the brake.
      John mentionned you can butt any tape against the piece, and this Milwakee “Stud” tape has 2 ways to hold the tape in place, but you still butt the tape against the piece, whereas John doesn’t do that: he doesn’t have to block the tape in any way (brake or finger notch), he butt a separate metal piece against the piece. Milwakee doesn’t have such a separate metal piece, so it’s effectively different.
      Functionally you can do the same measurement, that’s also true with any tape measure (that has a brake).

  2. “so Simple it’s Genius”… yep… I love “elegant in it’s simplicity”. Real genius is the very simple that works very well. As they said in Star Trek “the more you overthink your plumbing… the easier it is to stop up the drain”. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I remember my days, a long time ago, framing houses. Used that method, without the metal insert, to make a line a million times. Yes, I believe it was a million. That metal insert would have made life a bit nicer.

    1. @dafeichu so true.
      It brings back memories of sitting around on the weekends with a knife in good light and cleaning out the spinters from my hands.

    2. @level Joe Yes, had to spend some time getting rid of them. What I use to do was wait a day or two so they would start moving out on their own a bit. Then I’d use nail clippers to cut around the dead skin at the opening and grab the sliver and pull it out.

    3. I think what’s missing on YouTube is a well made splinter extraction video. I’ve added it to my list 🙂

    4. @John Heisz – I Build It I’m a big fan of “Uncle Bill’s Sliver grippers”. And Twizzers with Magnifiers. (Although I use the magnifiers separately to see, and Uncle Bill’s to grip. Perhaps you could make a combination, LED light, magnifer and Uncle Bill’s grippers? Great Video

  4. Drill a hole in the finger guard centre to allow the finger clearance to withdraw the tape.

  5. Hmm. I haven’t used that trick in a long time. I got a fine line chalk line because I don’t like the risk of slivers. This is a great solution to that!

  6. John the problem solver, always nice to see how you can improve simple tools to be more efficient in the shop.

  7. Another great idea. I hang drywall in the process of small remodel projects, the tape method is used all the time using a utility knife instead of a pencil. You can get a surprising degree of accuracy, then when you shift to wood and pencil, you can accumulate enough wood to be accused of jobsite theft. Now we’ll see if any tool manufacturers steal the idea.

  8. Great idea. When I was framing my house and sheds I used a short piece of pvc pipe on my finger like a fat ring to avoid splinters.

  9. I like this idea a lot, especially since i have a permanent scar on my finger for a bad splinter. I might even try and make this, but possibly with a spring hinge so I can flip it forward or backwards rather than the magnet and insertion.

  10. All of your inventions and solutions to problems are great… I’m sure you have many more that you haven’t shared with us. Do you have any patents, or designs that could qualify for a patent, but just aren’t worth the hassle of going through the process? That would be a cool video if you did. Keep inventing John… love your videos!

  11. I’ll bet my next paycheck that this, or a slightly modified version winds up in the Fastcap catalog without credit going where credit is due…
    So damn smart, Mr Heisz! (as usual)

  12. John. I love this. I built houses for 20 years. I used this method thousands of times. I would typically use duct tape on my finger to prevent splinters. Plywood was the absolute worst for splinters. OSB the grain is every direction. I have had so much wood in my fingers over the years that I could build a small project from the splinters I took out daily. If this was around I would have bought one. Genius idea! Patent this before someone else does.

  13. Very neat idea. I think I’ll still be reaching for my combination square when it comes to something like this, but I’m certain there are others who will find this is the way they’d rather go.

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