Having a ruler or measuring tape handy is the best way to take exact measurements, but when those items aren’t available, you can still estimate lengths, heights, and distances.
Using several common items can make it easy to accurately estimate measurements without having to reach for an additional tool.
1. Your Hand
Using body parts to measure is simple and quick, and you don’t have to search for any other tools.
Your hand is an ideal way to measure, and you can use it in several different ways.
For example, the width of most adults’ palms just below the fingers is about 4 inches. In addition, most adults’ thumbs are about an inch long.
You can also use other body parts to help you measure.
The average man’s foot is about 12 inches, or 1 foot, long. Women’s feet are slightly shorter, but you can still use your foot as a good way to guess at length.
If you know your height, you can also use that to compare to taller objects.
Because everyone is a slightly different size, these measurements might not all be exact.
They’re still a great way to estimate lengths, though, and they can help you measure things in a pinch.
2. A Business Card
Business or credit cards are readily available and are almost always an exact, standard size, which makes them a great tool for measuring things.
These cards are 3.375 inches long and 2.125 inches tall, so you can simply hold the card against an item to measure.
3. Paper Clips
Paper clips are available in a few standard sizes, which makes them a great tool for measuring.
Small paper clips are about 1 inch in length, so you can simply grab one from your desk to measure something short.
Large paper clips are double that size, coming in at 2 inches in length.
Lining up a few paper clips can help you visualize a measurement with quite a bit of accuracy.
Paper clips can also be used to measure or estimate weight. A small paper clip weighs about 1 gram, which makes it an excellent tool for accurately calibrating a scale.
Most people have a few coins or a dollar bill in their pocket, purse, or hanging around the house, and these items can all be used to measure or estimate lengths or heights.
Money is an excellent item for measuring in particular because it all has to be a standard size.
For example, US quarters must be 1 inch in diameter, so you can use a quarter to get a very accurate measurement.
Pennies are 3/4 of an inch in diameter, so using them is a bit less accurate, but they can be handy for shorter lengths.
United States dollar bills are just over 2.5 inches tall and just about 6 inches long, so they’re the perfect size for measuring a variety of items.
In addition to measuring lengths, you can also use coins to measure weights, since they must also be a standard weight.
For example, nickels must weigh 5 grams, while pennies must weigh 2.5 grams.
Piling together coins is a good way to calibrate a scale.
5. A Piece of Paper
Printer paper is a standard size in the United States, making it a good choice to use as a quick ruler.
The width of a standard A4 paper is 8.5 inches, while the length is 11 inches, just shy of a foot.
You can mark out inches on the paper or fold it in half to accurately measure smaller items.
Most standard countertops are 1 meter tall, which is just over 1 yard or 3 feet.
This can help you measure taller or longer items.
You can also use the height of a doorknob which, in the United States, is also situated about 1 meter from the ground.
You can also use other kitchen items to measure.
For example, the standard depth of a cabinet is almost, if not exactly, 12 inches or 1 foot.
Sliding an object to the back of a cabinet can give you a good idea of just how long or tall it is.
7. Drinking Glasses
Drinking glasses and cups come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so their dimensions may all be a bit different.
However, on average, most drinking glasses have an opening that’s 3 inches in diameter.
Flipping a cup over and using the lip to measure can be quite handy and relatively accurate.
You can also use other dishes to measure.
For example, a standard dinner plate has a diameter of just over 10 inches, while large dinner plates have diameters between 11 and 12 inches.
Silverware is usually between 7 and 8 inches long, depending on the style and the piece.
Pens are available in a number of styles, so they can be different lengths.
However, most standard pens are about 6 inches long.
This is perfect for measuring feet, as you only need two pen lengths to measure or estimate a single foot.
9. Your Walking Stride
How long your walking stride is depends on a number of factors including the speed of your walk and your height.
However, many people find that their walking stride is right around 3 feet when one step is taken.
Knowing your walking stride length, or being able to estimate the average walking stride, can help you estimate longer distances or lengths.