In 40 years of construction and woodworking, the tools I’ve used most frequently are my Stanley PowerLock® tape measures. For one reason or another, I’ve used other tapes, but none have been as comfortable and easy to use as the PowerLocks. So, for me, the Stanley PowerLock is the best tape measure ever! On my construction jobsites, I used the 25′ model; around the house and shop, I use the 12′ model.
Here are the element of tape measures, as well as a list of the features of the PowerLock.
Elements of a Tape Measure
The case of a tape measure is the box that holds the blade and the spring. It should be comfortable to hold and should keep as much dirt and debris out as possible.
The blade (or tape) is the strip of metal, normally steel, that is pulled out to take a measurement. It is attached to a spring inside the case that keeps tension on the blade and retracts it when you are done measuring.
Measurement increments, either English, metric, or both are marked on the top of the tape measure blade. On tape measures using the English system, fractions are marked between the inch marks.
In cross-section, the blade is shaped like a smile. This give the blade stiffness when it is extended, upright, in midair (if you turn the tape upside down, it will bend at the case and flop down.) The distance from the case to the hook when the blade is extended is called ‘stand out’. When you exceed the stand out capability of the blade, the tape will overcome the curvature, bend, and flop down.
The hook serves two purposes:
- It protects the end of the blade when you butt it up against an object while taking a measurement
- It hooks onto an object when taking a measurement
Tip: When the spring is retracting the blade, use your thumb and/or index finger to apply some pressure to the blade to keep the hook from eventually snapping off.
The lock is a mechanism to hold the blade in a given position. Using the lock, you can butt or hook the tape to an object, then lock the blade and let it go. This allows you to make multiple marks on the material to be cut.
Tip: When taking a single measurement, pull the blade out a bit past the desired measurement and squeeze it between your thumb and your index finger. Make your mark, then let pressure off the blade to allow it to retract into the case.
Most tape measures have a clip attached to the case, so you can hang the tape from your belt, pocket, or tool belt.
Tip: If you are always going to carry your tape in a pocket of your pants or tool belt, you may want to remove the clip for comfort. Store the screw and clip somewhere, in case you change your mind later.
Great Features of the 25′ Stanley PowerLock
• The price. You can get this tape measure for not much more than $15.00!
• The PowerLock®. The yellow locking pad for this tape slides up and down easily, but firmly, with ridges to increase friction between it and your thumb. I’ve use tapes with toggle levers and found them to be not as easy to lock and unlock.
• The blade. The 25′ PowerLock blade is 1″ wide, which gives you a stand out of about 7′. It is bright yellow, with black markings, for great visibility, and is coated with Mylar® for durability. Markings go down to 1/16″, with progressively longer marks for 1/8″, 1/4″, and 1/2″.
• The hook. As seen in the picture below, the hook is triple-riveted. You have to work really hard and long to snap this baby off!
An ingenious feature of the hook (TruHook®) is that it moves in and out slightly, when hooked onto something vs being butted, so your measurement is always accurate.
To see the full line of Stanley PowerLock tapes, go to this Amazon Stanley link.
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