Last Updated on 2020-12-23 by Harry Masterton
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- 1 The Best Tape Measure For Fine Woodworking
- 1.1 Stanley FatMax Tape Measures
- 1.1.1 Stanley Tools 33-725 25-Feet FatMax Tape Measure Review
- 1.1.2 DEWALT DWHT36225S 25FT Tape Measure Review
- 1.1.3 Milwaukee 48227225 HP8-26Mg/27 Magnetic Tape Measure Review
- 1.1.4 CRAFTSMAN CMHT37726S 26-Foot Tape Measure Review
- 1.1.5 Zabiki ZAB-BY-25FT Tape Measure 25 Ft Decimal Retractable Dual Side Ruler with Metric and Inches Review
- 1.1.6 Komelon SM5425 Speed Mark Gripper Acrylic Coated Steel Blade 25ft x 1″ Measuring Tape Review
- 1.1.7 PREXISO Laser PLT40LI 2-in-1 135Ft Laser Measure & 16 Ft Tape Measure Review
- 1.1 Stanley FatMax Tape Measures
- 2 Best Folding Ruler For Woodworking
- 2.1 Inside vs outside folding ruler
- 2.2 Folding ruler markings and materials
- 2.3 Benefits of a folding ruler vs tape measure
- 2.4 What Is a Folding Ruler Used For
- 2.5 Folding ruler tricks
- 2.5.1 Rocksteel RS-1001 Folding Ruler 6.5 Foot Wood Foldable Yardstick with Brass Slide Rule Review
- 2.5.2 Klein Tools 910-6 6-Foot Inside Reading Folding Ruler Review
- 2.5.3 Klein Tools 911-6 6-Foot Outside Reading Folding Ruler Review
- 2.5.4 Milwaukee 48-22-3801 Composite Folding Rule Review
- 2.5.5 Crescent Lufkin X48N 5/8″ x 8′ Red End Wood Rule Review
- 2.5.6 Getting The Measure of Rulers and Tapes
The Best Tape Measure For Fine Woodworking
We review the best tape measure for fine woodworking and the best folding ruler for woodworking in a folding ruler vs tape measure woodworking workshop shootout!
Few measuring devices are as flexible and underused in the woodshop as the measuring tape. From keychain trinkets to surveyor spools over 100-feet, this flexible ruler has become part of everyday life. You will find it in the hobbyist's shop, at home, and on the job site.
Not all products are equal, however. The best tape measure for fine woodworking provides accurate markings consistently. It also has the size to measure items that rulers or squares cannot.
- Spring return tape measure
- Long tape measure
The spring return measuring tape is also called pocket tape measures due to its size. A spring mechanism retrieves the ribbon and returns it to the case.
It is considered by many to be the best tape measure for woodworkers due to its 12-foot to up 40-foot ribbon length. That is a great size to have around the shop as most of your projects and the lumber you work with will rarely exceed that length.
Another type of device is the long tape measure. It is longer than spring return devices, ranging from 25 to 500-feet. A hand crank returns the ribbon instead of a spring mechanism.
Long tapes are popular with surveyors and construction workers, where longer measurements are required.
There are many tape measures on today's market that contain the long tape ribbons and the spring return mechanism. Professionals use these in various trades, including carpentry and roofing.
A tape measure can come in a variety of designs based on the work it performs. Measuring the human body requires flexibility. Sewing tapes come in flexible fiberglass that is resistant to stretching or tearing.
Construction trades like carpentry, drywalling, masonry, and roofing require stiffer tapes for measuring. Most products used in construction are ribbons of curved metal that stay stiff when extended but can roll up easily.
These make the best tape measure for fine woodworking. You can use it one-handed, allowing you to mark points on the wood. It also has a hook that keeps it in place, allowing you to use it by yourself.
These tools will also serve you around the home, helping you measure spaces or divide them up. Centering pictures on walls, spacing furniture evenly, as well as mapping dimensions for future renovations require the use of a measuring tape. A quality product will serve your hobby, home, and workplace for years.
Stanley FatMax Tape Measures
One of the most popular product lines in today's market is the FatMax by Stanley. The original company, founded in 1843, reached several milestones on its way to building what many hobbyists consider the best tape measure for woodworkers, including:
- 1854 – Begins to make boxwood rulers
- 1931 – The first steel tape rule
- 1963 – Produces the PowerLock Tape Rule
- 1999 – Introduces the FatMax Tape Rule
Today, Stanley has four major measuring tape groups that include FatMax, LeverLock, PowerLock, and its Long Tape Rule lines. The sliding lock Stanley introduced on its PowerLock in 1963 became the industry standard and was considered the best tape measure for woodworkers for years.
Stanely's FatMax is billed as “The exception to the rule,” as it modernizes the PowerLock.
Accuracy is king in this highly-competitive market, with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) setting the room for error at 1/32-inch per six-foot of tape. A True-Zero end hook and precise markings allow the FatMax products to meet the NIST's standards, one reason it is considered the best tape measure for fine woodworking.
FatMax measuring tapes use impact-resistant covers. That coating extends the lifespan of the housing. It also allows the tape measure to absorb the impact of falls on the job site (with several cases rated for drops of 50-feet on packed soil).
Stanley coats the tape with protective materials like Mylar or BladeArmor, adding durability to the markings and metal integrity. These coatings, along with the case protection, make FatMax tape measures ideal for woodshops where a cared-for tool could last a lifetime.
One feature that the best tape measure for woodworkers must possess is stiff metal tape. The ability to extend the ribbon allows you to take measurements by yourself in the shop, at home, or on the job. FatMax tape measures extend to 14-feet of reach without bending.
Consistent quality control in production and a limited lifetime warranty highlight Stanley's commitment to making the best tape measure for woodworkers, no matter where they might use it.
Stanley Tools 33-725 25-Feet FatMax Tape Measure Review
The blade is 1.25-inches wide and 25-feet long. Its easy-to-read marks include standard stud-markers. A reach of 11-feet without bend is handy for larger projects outside of the shop.4.7 out of 5.0 stars
Stanley Tools 33-725 – features
The ABS case and rubber grips make this the best tape measure for fine woodworking for many. A mylar polyester film is reinforced along several feet of the tip by a BladeArmor coating.
Stanley Tools 33-725 – What We Like
- BladeArmor coating on tip
- Heat-treated spring for smooth recoil
- Lifetimelimited warranty
Stanley Tools 33-725 – Not So Good
- Casing feels bulky to some users
- Its locking button can be stiff
DEWALT DWHT36225S 25FT Tape Measure Review
The 25-foot long blade measures 1.25-inches wide. Its markings are bold, but they do appear a bit dense. DeWalt rates the blade with a 13-feet reach without bending.
4.6 out of 5.0 stars
DEWALT DWHT36225S – features
The DeWalt might rate as the best tape measure for fine woodworking if you account for the PVC and ABS housing that can withstand drops of 60-feet. A removable clip and lanyard provide multiple carry options. An oversized hook holds materials securely while you work.
DEWALT DWHT36225S – What We Like
- Withstands 60-foot drops
- Built-in lanyard slot
- Reinforced and over-sized hook
DEWALT DWHT36225S – Not So Good
- Rounded body tips easily
- Belt clip not as solid as others
Milwaukee 48227225 HP8-26Mg/27 Magnetic Tape Measure Review
The blade on this model is 26-feet in length and has a width of 1 5/8-inches. Double-sided markings, including an architect's scale, increase its uses.4.6 out of 5.0 stars
Milwaukee 48227225 HP8-26Mg/27 – features
Those markings, and a 17-foot reach rating, makes this the best tape measure for fine woodworking with larger pieces. The magnetic hook increases hold on EMT or steel studs at construction sites.
Milwaukee 48227225 HP8-26Mg/27 – What We Like
- Two-sided print on blade
- Recoil control by finger
- 1/4 and 1/8-inch scale rule for blueprint conversions
Milwaukee 48227225 HP8-26Mg/27 – Not So Good
- Magnitization has limited woodshop uses
- Markings may confuse novices
CRAFTSMAN CMHT37726S 26-Foot Tape Measure Review
The blade on this Craftsman measuring tape is 26-feet in length and 1.25-inches in width. It provides standard markings, without the extras.
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
CRAFTSMAN CMHT37726S – features
Those beginning the hobby might find it to be the best tape measure for fine woodworking. A simple marking scheme provides accurate measurements without scales or marking points that have no use in the workshop. It is durable enough for your projects as seen with the lifetime warranty.
CRAFTSMAN CMHT37726S – What We Like
- Rubber overmold for more grip
- Pattened small dual-spring design
- Lock button at top of case
CRAFTSMAN CMHT37726S – Not So Good
- High-impact plastic not rated as highly
- Lock mechanism can slip
Zabiki ZAB-BY-25FT Tape Measure 25 Ft Decimal Retractable Dual Side Ruler with Metric and Inches Review
The blade is 25-feet in length, coiled in a 3.1 x 3.1-inch housing. It has markings on both sides in both inch and metric.4.8 out of 5.0 stars
Zabiki ZAB-BY-25FT – features
A lack of protective coatings on the blade and a cheaper case brings the price low for this measuring tape. Several extras found on the best tape measure for fine working designs are included, like a magnetic tip and a rubber grip coating.
Zabiki ZAB-BY-25FT – What We Like
- Very low price tag compared to the big brands
- Provides inches and metric
- Three-pin fastening for hook
Zabiki ZAB-BY-25FT – Not So Good
- Case has rough texture
- Only one-year warrant
Komelon SM5425 Speed Mark Gripper Acrylic Coated Steel Blade 25ft x 1″ Measuring Tape Review
Recommended for: Woodworkers who need help with fractional markings will appreciate the ribbon labeling and remarkable accuracy for the price.
The blade on the SM5425 is one inch wide and 25-feet in length. Its thin ribbon could be appealing for woodworkers wanting a compact design.
4.8 out of 5.0 stars
Komelon SM5425 – features
The rock-bottom price forces the manufacturer to produce this model with cheaper ABS. Its blade coating is also limited in protective properties, which may not matter for some woodworkers.
Komelon SM5425 – What We Like
- Fractional graduations on ribbon
- Thinner blade is more compact
- Lock button easy to push
Komelon SM5425 – Not So Good
- Blade surface can be marred
- Thinner blade breaks more easily
PREXISO Laser PLT40LI 2-in-1 135Ft Laser Measure & 16 Ft Tape Measure Review
Recommended for: Anyone looking to add laser measuring to their shop.
The ribbon is only 16 feet long, enough for most shop applications. The laser reaches up to 135-feet, putting it in the range of a long tape rule.4.8 out of 5.0 stars
PREXISO PLT40LI – features
The best tape measure for fine woodworking projects needs to include the latest in measuring advancements. Six measuring modes provide single, two-point, three-point, continuous, area, and volume measurements.
It charges through a USB and provides 5,000 measurements before it needs recharging. The color display provides easy viewing, and it is backlit so you can see under low-light conditions.
Three buttons provide controls for functions, lighting, and units. The features may prove more beneficial around the home or on the job, but cabinet-makers will find many of the functions useful on larger projects.
PREXISO PLT40LI – What We Like
- 135-foot laser measurer
- Six measuring modes
- Rechargable lithium-ion battery pack
PREXISO PLT40LI – Not So Good
- Laser accuracy drops with distance
- Added features increase the overall price
Best Folding Ruler For Woodworking
A folding rule consists of several sections of a ruler, connected at the ends of those pieces with hinges that pivot. The ruler pieces range from four to six inches in length, allowing you to carry the ruler in your pocket.
The best folding ruler for woodworking measurements locks in place to provide a rigid ruler that is usually six, eight, or 10-feet long when fully extended.
Inside vs outside folding ruler
The jointed rule opens with one section sitting on top of the edge of another. When the joints are face-up with the numbers marked from left to right, you are “Inside Reading.” Most zig-zag ruler users feel the best folding ruler for woodworking is an inside folding ruler (also called English Measure).
American Measure is the opposite, with the markings going from right to left. It is more readily available between inside vs outside folding ruler designs.
Folding ruler markings and materials
The first jointer rules were wooden. Other materials used for the ruler segments have included aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, and steel. Modern folding rulers use any of these materials in their construction.
Most products use round pivoting hinges made of brass or plastic. The best folding ruler for woodworking designs includes a sliding extension that extends from the top segment to make interior measurements on boxes or cabinets.
Zig-zag rulers use English or metric units. Marks are etched or burned by lasers, with stamping used on inexpensive models and older designs.
Benefits of a folding ruler vs tape measure
- Easier to control
- Naturally rigid when opened
- can be used for measuring interior dimensions
The folding ruler is compact and opens into short segments. You can open individual sections with one hand, allowing the other hand to mark your measurements.
The design is naturally rigid when opened. The sections are stiff, and the hinges lock each piece into place as it opens. Tape measures have more bend in them, making them more flexible when comparing a folding ruler vs tape measure.
The joint rule can measure the inside dimensions of boxes or furniture pieces. A sliding extension can extend the ruler to a wall or corner, offering more accurate readings than a bent blade tape forced into the same position.
What Is a Folding Ruler Used For
A folding ruler measures straight lines on surfaces. What is a folding ruler used for besides this? It can take interior measurements (described previously) and measure hard-to-reach points.
Folding ruler tricks
Over the years, tradespeople have come up with several folding ruler tricks that can save you time in the shop or out in the field, including:
- Scribing a line
- Scribe 90-degree line
- Scribe a circle
- Modify folding rule for circles
- Use as a protractor
- Transferring a bevel angle
Folding Ruler Tricks Video
Number One: You can place a ruler segment flat on the board. Hold it in place at the desired length with your thumb and index finger, resting your finger on the edge of the wood. Rest your marker against the end of the ruler as you move the support hand along the board's edge, scribing a line.
Number Two: The rule can fold so that the sections form a triangular-shaped square. Place one side of the 90-degree corner along the edge of the wood, and use the other edge from the 90-degree corner as your line guide.
Number Three: To make a circle, open the folding rule to the radius and hold the ruler at that point. Place your pencil or pen at the end of the folding rule and pivot it, creating a mark that circles the pivot point at the desired radius.
Number Four: If you make a lot of circles with your folding ruler, place a small hole (3mm or so) at the end of the first section to hold a pen or pencil. Make the hole in the center of the ruler, and note the location so that it is easy to calculate your radius using it.
Number Five: From the hole used for circles, measure back 57.3cm and make a hole (Use this to draw a circle). Place the ruler along the bend of the template, marking each cm as a degree along the edge. You now have a protractor that you can mark out angles!
Number Six: Hold the ruler so that the end will mimic the angle you are transferring. That angle can be kept accurate by folding the ruler and noting the point the angled section crosses the ruler. You can then mark the angle on your workpiece.
Rocksteel RS-1001 Folding Ruler 6.5 Foot Wood Foldable Yardstick with Brass Slide Rule Review
The RS-1001 folding ruler extends to 6.5-feet when opened completely. It has the metric scale printed “inside” English Measure (left to right) and the imperial scale printed “outside” American Measure (right to left).
Rocksteel RS-1001 – features
Rocksteel uses wood as the main component for this joint ruler. A brass extension and brass pivot hinges make up the rest of the design. Simple markings provide easy to understand readings, with no trade-oriented markings or scales included.
Rocksteel RS-1001 – What We Like
- Sliding extension made from brass
- Metric markings inside/imperial markings outside
- Segments hold in place once positioned
Rocksteel RS-1001 – Not So Good
- Wooden edges are rough
- Imperial markings read right to left
Klein Tools 910-6 6-Foot Inside Reading Folding Ruler Review
When completely opened, the 910-6 extends to six feet in total length. The imperial scale is marked “inside” English Scale on each side, and you should note that it lacks a metric graduation scale.
Klein Tools 910-6 – features
Klein Tools uses nylon components covered with glass fibers for reinforcement. The pivot hinges combine ruler tabs with pins as rotation points. Red marks at every 16-inches indicate the center of studs.
Klein Tools 910-6 – What We Like
- Has positive-locking joints
- Graduation of scales engraved on two sides
- Red stud markings at 16-inches
Klein Tools 910-6 – Not So Good
- Segments can be stiff for one-handed operation
- Imperial scale markings only
Klein Tools 911-6 6-Foot Outside Reading Folding Ruler Review
When completely opened, the 911-6 also extends to six feet long. The scale is imperial, and the marks are labeled “outside” American Measure on both sides. Like the 910-6, it does not include a metric.
Klein Tools 911-6 – features
Klein Tools uses fiberglass-reinforced nylon components for each sectional piece. The steel spring hinges lock tightly in place when deployed. It includes red marks at every 16-inches for wall studs.
Klein Tools 911-6 – What We Like
- Steel spring hinges
- Graduation of scales engraved on two sides
- Red stud markings at 16-inches
Klein Tools 911-6 – Not So Good
- Segments are stiff
- Outside American Measure
Milwaukee 48-22-3801 Composite Folding Rule Review
The 48-22-3801 measures 6.5 feet when opened fully. It has imperial graduation markings on both sides of the ruler, and each uses the “outside” (right to left) American Measure.
Milwaukee 48-22-3801 – features
The sections use composite materials, making them more durable than wood segments would be. These products use embedded joints that provide a more flat profile than traditional pivot hinges. Electricians will appreciate the common conduit bending angles marked on the ruler.
Milwaukee 48-22-3801 – What We Like
- Black markings on white is high-contrast
- Joints will not corrode or rust
- Composite segments are durable
Milwaukee 48-22-3801 – Not So Good
- Hard to lock one-handed
- Stamped markings can wear
Milwaukee 48-22-3801 Folding Rule Video
Crescent Lufkin X48N 5/8″ x 8′ Red End Wood Rule Review
The X48N by Crescent Lufkin opens to eight feet. It uses the imperial scale on both sides, and the graduations are visible from the edges. You can read from left to right in the English Measure (“inside”).
Crescent Lufkin X48N – features
Each section is wood, with brass pivot hinges and a sliding extension included. Red numbers indicate stud locations at 16-inch intervals.
Crescent Lufkin X48N – What We Like
- Brass end caps prevent splintering
- Stops prevent slide from falling out
- Eight feet in length
Crescent Lufkin X48N – Not So Good
- Moisture can effect materials
- Markings will fade over time
Getting The Measure of Rulers and Tapes
Several features go into the best tape measure for fine woodworking in your shop. The most important components are the length and scale used. The best tape measure for woodworkers might be shorter than what you need around the home or job site, though.
For a complete run down of woodworking tools ‘the secret essentials' check out or comprehensive article.
The best tape measure for woodworkers needs to be easy to use. Lock mechanism buttons that can slide with a finger are candidates for the best tape measure for fine woodworking, allowing you to use the other hand to mark.
Shopping for the best tape measure for woodworkers includes finding blade markings that save you time. Trade-oriented markings improve speed and proficiency on the job.
For some, the best tape measure for woodworkers is a folding ruler. Hand tool hobbyists enjoy the traditional feel of using a joint rule.
For many, the best folding ruler for woodworking uses a left to right graduation referred to as inside reading, as well as hinges that hold securely but can activate with one hand.
I would suggest trying out both. The key to finding the best folding ruler or best tape measure for fine woodworking is discovering a model that improves your confidence and fun in the woodshop!