Most people believe that a measuring tape is just a tool used to measure things.
And although that is true, a measuring tape has many other uses and stretches far beyond its simple numeric print and retractable blade.
A measuring tape contains a host of impressive features designed to make measurements more accurate, jobs faster, and life for the handyman, woodworker, or professional contractor a little bit easier.
Interested in learning these features that even pro carpenters seem to ignore?
Check out these 11 surprising measuring tape features that will turn you from a DIY enthusiast to a seasoned pro.
I have a personal favourite which I’ll mention below. Let’s take a closer look.
- True Zero Hook
- Scribing Tool
- Stud / Floor Joist Markings
- Built-in Pencil Sharpener
- Conduit Bending Tool
- Belt Clip
- Fractional Markings
- Lanyard Hole
- Double-sided Print
- Blade Armor
11 Surprising Measuring Tape Features Explained
1. True Zero Hook
The “True zero” hook feature will allow you to measure without worrying about hook thickness. People will often think this is a tape measure defect. But the true zero hook feature is intentionally built into the measuring tape.
The metal hook at the end of a tape measure is exactly 1/16″ thick and is designed to move back and forth and is a bit loose on purpose. This isn’t a defect; it’s so that the hook will give you accurate readings whether you’re measuring inside or outside edges.
If you are measuring the outside edge of a surface, the metal hook will shift to create a small gap. This will prevent you from including the 1/16″ into your measurement.
2. Scribing Tool
The metal hook on a measuring tape has a serrated edge which can be used to score a mark on a piece of wood or drywall, allowing you to mark without a pencil.
The serrated edge is opposite of the hook’s main gripping side and is intentionally designed into the measuring tape and serves the specific purpose of scoring a mark.
The scribing tool serves the following purposes:
When you’re measuring and need to mark a specific length, instead of reaching for a pencil, you can press the serrated edge of the hook against the material you’re measuring (like wood, drywall, or other relatively soft materials) and drag it across the surface to create a notch or line.
This feature is incredibly handy when you need to make a quick mark and a pencil isn’t within easy reach, or you’re up on a ladder and have only two hands. It streamlines the process, allowing you to measure and mark without switching tools.
Using the tape measure’s hook to scribe ensures that the mark is precisely where the measurement indicates, eliminating the potential for a gap between a pencil line and the actual measurement point, which can sometimes occur due to the pencil’s width or an unsteady hand.
This built-in scribing tool offers a multifunctional solution that enhances efficiency and precision.
As mentioned above, I have a personal favorite feature of a measuring tape. Although all of the items mentioned in this article are great, the standout feature is my favorite.
The standout feature refers to the maximum length the tape can extend horizontally before it bends, which is a sign of the tape’s strength and rigidity. Higher-quality tapes can stand out more, making measuring long spans easier.
How many times have you measured a longer length only to have the measuring tape bend and retract? As someone who does a lot of measuring, I can tell you I appreciate having a quality measuring tape that will measure longer lengths without bending.
If you are working alone, you will really enjoy having this feature. It can be very frustrating and sometimes impossible to measure long lengths with a poor quality measuring tape. If two people are working on a project, it’s not as much of a concern if the tape bends.
4. Stud / Floor Joist Markings
Many tape measures have small black diamonds or red squares every 16 inches or 19.2 inches, which align with the standard spacing for studs in wall construction.
Stud markings are provided to help users quickly identify the standard locations of studs in a wall. In the United States, for example, wall studs are typically placed 16 inches apart, center to center.
Some structures or specific walls might use a 24-inch spacing, and occasionally, for special purposes, there is an alternative 19.2-inch spacing.
The 19.2-inch spacing is used for floor joists and is marked with a black diamond shape.
The standard 24-inch stud spacing typically aligns with the usual inch markings.
No longer do you need a stud finder or knock on a wall to listen for hollow sounds if you have a measuring tape with stud markings.
5. Built-in Pencil Sharpener
If you are a carpenter, chances are you use pencils. Like alot of pencils. Some modern tape measures have a built-in sharpener for carpenter’s pencils.
Having a built-in pencil sharpener is very convenient and is a huge time saver. No longer will you need to take the time to look for a separate pencil sharpener that you may not have with you. Nor will you need to sharpen your pencil awkwardly with a knife.
6. Conduit Bending Tool
If you are an electrician, the conduit bending feature is very helpful as it will allow you to make accurate bends in conduit by using a single tool.
Not all tape measures have this feature but the more advanced ones do.
Electricians will love this feature as it allows for accurate and consistent bends in conduit without the need for additional equipment. Conduits must be bent at precise angles to fit correctly in construction and meet electrical codes.
The conduit bending tool feature reduces the number of tools an electrician needs to carry, allows for quick, on-the-fly bends, and ensures greater accuracy in bending conduits.
Check out: DXT10 3-in-1 Digital Tape Measure: The only tape measure you will ever need.
7. Belt Clip
Most tape measures will have a belt clip which is commonly used to attach the tape to a belt or pocket, but it can also be used to hook the tape onto the edge of a surface to measure without assistance.
The belt clip on a tape measure is a feature that enhances portability and accessibility for anyone who needs to take measurements frequently.
The belt clip is usually a sturdy, spring-loaded metal or hard plastic clip attached to the back side of the tape measure’s casing. It’s designed to be both durable and flexible, allowing it to be clipped on and off a belt or pocket edge with ease.
The belt clip feature is highly valued for the convenience it offers. Having the tape measure securely attached to your belt means you can keep your hands free for other tasks and quickly grab the tape measure with one hand when it’s needed.
Stop losing your measuring tape after setting it down on a table or the floor. Use the belt clip feature!
8. Fractional Markings
Some tapes have every fraction of an inch clearly marked, which is handy for those who aren’t as confident in reading measurements down to the sixteenth of an inch.
The fractional markings feature on a tape measure is designed to make reading measurements easier, particularly for those who may not be comfortable working with fractions or who need to quickly identify specific increments without making detailed calculations.
Fractional markings provide a visual guide to help users quickly read and understand the fractions of an inch, which are typically the smaller lines between the inch markers. This is useful in precision work where measurements may need to be accurate to the nearest 1/8, 1/16, or 1/32 of an inch.
On a tape measure with fractional markings, each line representing a fraction of an inch is usually labeled with a number that corresponds to that fraction. For example, a line halfway between the 1-inch and 2-inch marks may be labeled with a “1/2” to indicate half an inch. Smaller lines for quarters, eighths, and sixteenths of an inch may be marked with “1/4,” “1/8,” “1/16,” respectively.
The Craftsman 25′ tape measure uses fractional markings.
9. Lanyard Hole
The lanyard hole feature is simple but effective. For those working at heights or over water, there is a hole at the end of the tape measure which is designed to attach a lanyard to prevent dropping it.
The lanyard hole is typically a small, round hole located at the end or sometimes on the side of the tape measure’s case. It is designed to be large enough to thread a lanyard, string, or thin cord through but small enough to not interfere with the ergonomics or functionality of the tape measure.
10. Double-sided Print
On some tape measures, you’ll find measurements printed on both sides of the tape, which can be quite useful when measuring ceiling heights or other surfaces that are out of direct line of sight.
The main purpose of double-sided print is to allow users to take measurements from different positions without having to bend or twist the tape measure, which can be especially helpful in tight spaces or when measuring overhead.
Double-sided print helps make measuring convenient, efficient, and more accurate.
The HAUTMEC 25′ tape measure has double sided print.
11. Blade Armor
The final surprising measuring tape feature on our list is what is called blade armor. This is a protective coating on the first few inches of the tape measure to reduce wear and tear on the most commonly used section of the tape.
This protective coating is designed to increase durability and extend the life of the tape. The coating is usually made from a sturdy, low-friction material that can resist the impacts, scratches, and corrosive elements it might encounter on a job site.
Blade armor is also cost effective. While a tape measure with blade armor might be more expensive initially, the increased durability can lead to cost savings over time by reducing the frequency of replacement purchases.
Final thoughts: Surprising measuring tape features that are underused
Whether you are a professional carpenter or a DIY enthusiast, knowing these surprising tape measure features will be very helpful in everyday use. Although not all tape measures will have every one of these features, many of them will have at least a few.
As you start incorporating these features of the measuring tape into your workflow, you’ll find that your productivity significantly increases, often in ways that may surprise you.