5 Crazy Clever Features Hiding on Your Tape Measure

published Apr 6, 2018
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Engineers and industrial designers are the unsung heroes of the world, packing tiny but live-saving features into the products and tools we use every day. Take everything Reddit just taught me about my trusty old tape measure.

When I say I have my measuring tape within an arm’s reach around the clock, that is not an exaggeration. I am staring at it on the other side of my desk as I write this. It comes out for every project and every purchase as my husband and I work to decorate our loft (I measured our bed pillows yesterday). And yet a recent comment thread on Reddit made me feel like we just met. It turns out there are a ton of small-but-mighty features built in to a standard tape measure, and learning how to take advantage of them will make you a pro at wielding this hard-working tool around your home, or learn how to measure when your measuring tape isn’t around.

Reddit user FoxyBastard laid it all out for us:

(And go grab your tape measure—you’ll want to follow along.)

1. There’s a Notch for Solo Measuring

“The notch in the metal clip is so you can pop a nail into something and hook the tape onto the nail to measure on your own.”

2. It’s Designed to Draw Perfect Circles

“You can also hook [the metal clip] onto a nail, hold a pencil at a measurement you want, and use it to draw a circle.”

3. The Clip Can Replace a Pencil in a Pinch

“That metal clip is also serrated so that you can use it to scrape a mark in something like wood when you don’t have a pencil handy.”

4. The End is Loose for Super-Precise Measuring

“In relation to the metal clip, you may notice it’s loose. It’s loose by exactly the thickness of the clip so that you get a correct measurement whether you’re measuring from inside or outside.”

5. The Housing Has a Hidden Message

“If you look at the side of the tape, you’ll notice a measurement is written there, like 70mm. This is the length of the measuring tape housing itself. The reason for this is so that you can sit the tape against a window frame, for instance, and measure to the other end. Now just take the measurement and add the measurement on the housing. Most people seem to just bend the tape into the corner, but that’s just cumbersome and likely inaccurate.”

Tell us: Did you know any of these already? And if you know any secret tool tips, now is the time to share them!