The Art of Measuring

Anyone who’s been involved in home improvements or woodworking is probably well aware of the importance of measurements and its accuracy. Your tool of choice is probably your measuring tape, although they have other more fancy options like laser distance meters. Laser distance meters are great by the way – I have one myself – as long as you take good care of them. Anything with a laser in it will be delicate and any dropping of the tool or equivalent rough motion has the potential to dislodge or shift the laser causing inaccuracy or even failure.

I’ll explain more on the pros and cons of the distance meter later on, but let’s talk about how to get the most out of your measuring tape – as due to its durability and cost-efficiency, this will probably be what’s in your tool arsenal. These cute little rolls of metal are fairly easy to use and most of us probably know and understand well its main functions and techniques. But I’m sure some of you have wondered if there was an easier way to say, get accurate measurements within a closed distance where walls run high up on both sides.

In other words, you can’t get a very accurate measurement if you have to bend the tape right where you need to take your reading. Here in Japan we have this tool brand called Tajima, which makes the most awesome tools. They major on precision tools like laser levelers and distance meters, but they also make great measuring tapes and even saws. Why am I bringing them up? I have a Tajima measuring tape that has a totally wicked function on it! There is a rod that folds out on the opposite end of the tape exit that when added to the length of the main body comes to exactly 100mm.

You simply fold the rod out, butt it up against one end, and pull out the tape until it hits the other end, and add 100mm to whatever it shows on your tape. So this function solves the problem described above by providing an “adjustable tape” that can “stretch” – so to speak – into any space that needs to be measured. You simply add 100mm to whatever measurement it shows and that’s your measurement.

Distance Meter

Aside from its delicate nature this tool is absolutely AWESOME! measuring toolsYou just place, point, and press. There’s also a function which by the Pythagorean Theorem calculates the measurement of an unknown leg of a triangle if you input the other leg and the hypotenuse (done by pointing laser and pressing). Calculating the square or cube of an area is also possible by specifying this function, pointing and pressing 2 times for the square, and 3 times for the cube. You can also add measurements together and/or subtract them as well. And of course, you can specify whether you want to count the length of the tool body into the measurement or not. So as you can see, this is perfect for aggravating situations like the one I mentioned earlier as well, but whether you’ll go for this or the regular measuring tape is your choice. Both have their individual pros and cons.

Check out Amazon.com’s Fluke Laser Distance Meter

Out of the box measuring methods

And last but not least, when all else fails, there is a very simple, tried and proven method which I have yet to see anyone else use. You take 2, straight sticks of wood of appropriate length, and holding them side by side parallel to each other, slide them both away from each other in a longitudinal fashion. You should now be holding the part where both sticks are overlapping each other. Now without shifting the delicate position of the sticks, carefully remove them. I would recommend at this point to clamp them together so as to preserve the accuracy of the measurement. And to finish, you simply take a measuring tape and measure the 2 sticks from end to end!

Note: To ensure straightness and accuracy, the overlapping section should be at least one-third of the total measurement. Remember, the further your ends get from an exactly perpendicular angle with the 2 surfaces, the less accurate your measurement will turn out. In other words, if your 2 sticks are flopping around and aren’t forming a straight line together, as well as pointing from point A to point B at right angles to the adjacent surfaces, you will not get an accurate measurement.


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