(Topic ID: 274956)

Tape measure - another broken one, is there anything good

By xsvtoys

1 year ago


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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by Jigs
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    #1 1 year ago

    My shiny green tape measure from Harbor Freight or wherever I got it has turned to crap, it’s all binding and has basically become useless. Geez it’s not like I abuse the thing or that I am the great measurer who is like measuring stuff all day long every day. I just use it every so often to measure stuff around the house. These things never seem to last, sometimes they last a month or two, sometimes a year or two if I am lucky.

    Before I buy another thought I’d check here and see if there are any recommendations for something that will actually last. I’m pretty much assuming that they are all cheap junk from China or wherever like most tools these days, and you might as well pick out a cheap one, use it til it breaks, then buy another. But hope springs eternal, maybe there is something that will actually work for a good while if taken care of.

    I don’t mind paying more if it is good. I do not want laser beams or ultrasonic sound or super precise markings. Just your regular everyday measuring tape, probably 25 feet.

    #2 1 year ago

    I've always used stanley tape measures. They aren't too expensive, most big box hardware stores have them, as well as the usual online outlets. Most of the construction guys around here seem to carry them.

    They're well made, can take a beating, and still work for years.

    [edit]: I meant the ones with the metal casing that have been around for decades. I'm not sure about the ones with the plastic casing.

    #3 1 year ago

    Stanley fatmax. Home Depot just had a double pack on sale at my local for $10! Best 25’ tape measure out there.

    #4 1 year ago

    Stanley, can't go wrong!

    #5 1 year ago

    25ft: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-25-ft-PowerLock-Tape-Measure-33-425D/100019154

    I like having the 12ft in my portable tool bag since it's a lot smaller and lighter: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-12-ft-PowerLock-Tape-Measure-33-312L/100123236

    I rarely seem to use my 25ft unless I'm measuring a room or something like that.

    #6 1 year ago

    Stanley Fat Max+++1

    #7 1 year ago

    Thanks, looks like it will be Stanley. I think I’ll get a short one and a long one, and try to conserve the long one only for the big jobs. The Stanleys seem to be well-regarded, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I had for years when it was the old-school metal construction. Apparently the new ones do look like they are the same as the old metal ones, but are actually made of chromey plastic.

    #8 1 year ago

    +1 for fatmax. It survived my stint in construction and i'm still using it 20 years later.

    #9 1 year ago
    Quoted from xsvtoys:

    Apparently the new ones do look like they are the same as the old metal ones, but are actually made of chromey plastic.

    I'm pretty sure the ones I have are metal. A magnet sticks to them.

    The 12ft I linked to is the same model I have and it's a metal one. I didn't have the 25ft at my fingertips to grab the model number off of it, but I'm pretty sure the one I linked to is metal too.

    That's the first time I heard about them using chromed plastic.

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from xsvtoys:

    My shiny green tape measure from Harbor Freight

    I think I might know why your current tape measure sucks........

    My general rule of thumb for HF: if the tool has moving parts, all bets are off.

    #11 1 year ago

    Hit a yard sale or garage sale. Pick up a real old used one that still works.

    Use that. It will out live you.

    LTG : )

    #12 1 year ago
    Quoted from xsvtoys:

    from Harbor Freight

    There's your problem

    Spend the extra few dollars and get a Stanley

    #13 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    The ones I have are metal.
    The 12ft I linked to is the same model I have and it's a metal one. I didn't have the 25ft at my fingertips to grab the model number off of it, but I'm pretty sure the one I linked to is metal too.
    That's the first time I heard about them using chromed plastic.

    I haven't seen a metal 25' Stanley in 20 years. I've purchased 70-100 of them in that time. Only 25' for me, for the 3" stock.

    #14 1 year ago

    I have probably half a dozen or more tape measures around the house (amazing the stuff people leave inside a pinball machine)but my two favorites are the old school 25' Stanley Powerlock 2, of which I have one here and one at work and I'd like to have another one here at the house. The second favorite is one I can carry in my pants pocket all day long, it's a Zippo (of those I have several just in case I do lose one someday) but what I like about is it's small and I don't even know it's there and it goes out to six foot which is hard to find one that goes out that long and is small enough to carry around. Back in the day Zippo would put a lifetime warranty on the tape itself, all you had to do was send it in and they would rebuild it and return it with a new tape inside of your original case. I bet you my case is at least from the Sixty's judging from the phone number on it. I can sometimes find them at flea markets from guys that collect Zippo lighters, they sometimes have one or two in there display case. I've carried this one 25 years easy, it goes everywhere with me just like my knife that I've carried 28+ years.

    John

    #15 1 year ago
    Quoted from Dayhuff:

    Stanley Powerlock

    Powerlock+++++

    #16 1 year ago

    Another vote here for Stanley Powerlock.

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from JWJr:

    Another vote here for Stanley Powerlock.

    Make that 2 votes. I also have a laser measuring tape, which is incredibly accurate. I used to hate it because you have to get the angle "just right", but it actually takes much better measurements on a straight line than my regular tape because you always get sag over long distances.

    #18 1 year ago

    Stanley powerlock. You can get the 25' for $9.99 or less. I like the fatmax for anything longer. We use these in our facility for measuring and cutting steel. They are very durable, have a good standout and hold up well to the grease and oil.

    #19 1 year ago

    Yes, Stanley power lock.

    However for precision work I prefer this brand

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    #20 1 year ago
    Quoted from nsduprr:

    Yes, Stanley power lock.
    However for precision work I prefer this brand
    [quoted image][quoted image]

    LOL that reminds me of years back when I was working as an electronic tech, I would ask the old-timers if I had something in a good position, and they would say, move it over just about an RCH.

    #21 1 year ago

    buy cheap ones and throw away when they break. I am building a house currently and every time I go out to the lot there is another handful of broken tapes. We counted 13 laying around the other day broke.

    #22 1 year ago

    I used to use Stanely, but have switched to the Lefty/Righty

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/16-ft-Standard-Lefty-Righty-Tape-Measure-FC-PSSR-16/301963620

    Best tape measure I've ever used, no more craning my neck to try and read measurements when they are on the wrong side of the tape.

    #23 1 year ago

    What are you measuring? I find the 25' Fat Max to be bulky and heavy. I keep a 25' in the tool bag, but the last few years I have a 16' on my belt, and I'm rarely going for the 25'. It's so much smaller and lighter. Go with a magnetic tip, especially if you are in metal stud construction. I'm not sure if they still do, but Home Depot was taking back Milwaukee tools and swapping in store. Here is the Milwaukee 16' magnetic tip I use.
    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-16-ft-x-1-in-Compact-Magnetic-Tape-Measure-with-15-ft-Reach-48-22-0316/311017121

    #24 1 year ago

    I just use a tape every so often for stuff around the house. Hanging pictures on walls, maybe measuring some boards for a project, etc. I might use it once or twice a month. Hardly heavy use conditions.

    This last one I bought did last for a decent while. It's definitely a cheap one. My dusty memory is that prior to that one, I had bought a better quality version for more money, maybe a Craftsman or a Stanley, and that one broke like in a month or two. So fed up I decided to just buy the cheap one if it's going to break anyway.

    After reading a lot more about it it looks like this is just basically a throwaway commodity item now. They are even offered in four packs 10 packs 20 packs etc. Reviews from contractor types who use them everyday seem to say that they last around a month or so and then they chuck them and get a new one out. Even the Stanleys. Since nobody wants to ever pay for anything anymore everything is cheaper. Cheaper case, cheaper and thinner metal for the tape itself, and who knows how the spring mechanism is constructed on the inside in comparison to how they used to be made.

    It's funny because I always thought of a tape measure as something that you would have by your side and it would last basically forever. Way back when I used to actually work a lot with those kind of things I remember having one metal tape measure, probably a Craftsman or a Stanley, and I would use it everyday and there was never a consideration that it would ever break. You always had it clipped to your belt and it had your name written on it so the other idiots wouldn't steal it. It got scratched up and banged up but it always worked. I kept that tape measure for years and years. They just seemed to last forever.

    Maybe tape measures are an indicator of the overall degradation of everyday life in general these days, who knows!

    #25 1 year ago

    These Self Centering Tape Measures Are All I Use .... Saves Time and No Mistakes.

    #27 1 year ago

    Many moons ago, the summers and winters I wasn't in college, I worked at The Stanley Works. (Their world HQ is about 5 minutes from my house).

    While they are only a shell of what they once were (I get it, diversifying their holdings to stay competitive), the stuff they still actually make in the USA either as Stanley or under a litany of their various companies (proto, bostich, mac, etc) are still good to go.

    That said, the cases of the tapes (one of the last things actually made in New Britain, CT at their hand tools division) have been hard plastic with chrome aplique for at least 30 years. The ones I made were all plastic cased. The plastic was found to actually be more durable than the old steel cased ones. The reason a magnet sticks to it is because of the high grade spring steel used to make the actual tape and winding, that attracts a magnet through the plastic case. A little fun fact, was that I spent a summer officially job titled as a "Hooker" with the company; you would load and unload the heat treating ovens used to put the springiness into the tape with a long hook, haha.

    Now don't be fooled by the non-usa made ones, they ARE junk. You can tell by pulling the tape out a smidge, and if there are 3 rivets holding the head on, it was made in the USA, and the tape is actually calibrated; the non-USA made ones only use two rivets and they don't account for the slack in the rivets, and can be off up to an 1/8 of an inch.

    #28 1 year ago

    Lufkin are decent and here they are made locally. Not Chinese rubbish.

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from Grandnational007:

    have been hard plastic with chrome aplique for at least 30 years.

    Cool story. I miss those metal ones.

    To the folks using non 3" stocks, you either don't do many inside corner measurements or just like adding fractions.

    #30 1 year ago

    Now a caveat to this, is that there are STILL tons of new-old-stock metal case ones sitting around in company warehouses. When you retire, they engrave your name and years of service in a case of them, and give them to you. It's no Rolex, but it's something, especially these days.

    These were (and to my knowledge) are also still being sold at the employee only Stanley Store that is on the grounds. Assuming you're not in the highest echelons of management, when you have 6 or so months to go to retirement, you can transfer to the store (at whatever pay band you were at too), as a cashier/clerk and essentially get first pick of any of the "seconds" that come through. A "second" could be a set of chrome Mac wrenches with a single blemished wrench in the set, and I'm talking microscopic/doesn't effect function at all, for basically the scrap weight of the metal used. One of the few "perks" left of working for an old school American company.

    I built up quite the assortment of tools when I worked there, many of which I still have to this day. The credit union was right next door to the store, so every payday, I'd grab a shopping bag or two of various screw drivers, wrenches, sockets, tapes, hammers, etc for about a sawbuck. Good times.

    Funny that I just remembered, about 10 years ago, a childhood friend of mine got married. His dad started at Stanley in the 70's (and I think still works there into his late 60's at this point) and rose through the ranks. The gift for guests was an engraved old-school metal tape measure with their names and wedding date at every seat. Pretty cool gift, probably the only one I ever had a use for, haha. I think it's in my chainsaw case...

    #31 1 year ago

    I did electrical work at stanley and at one time you could buy tools by the pound there. Also worked at Danaher Tool where you could fill up your 5 gal bucket put it on the scale and pay.

    #32 1 year ago

    I purchased 3 NOS Lufkin stick rules on eBay for $16. Surprising how often I reach for them over my tape.

    #33 1 year ago
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    #34 1 year ago

    I get a free tape measure every time I go to harbor freight, probably have a dozen of them. Ask me how many I can find when I need one?

    #35 1 year ago

    That upper tape must be special for contractors only so they can squeeze in an extra foot everywhere!

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    #36 1 year ago

    Thanks everyone, I figured if I asked here I would get some good information (vs the usual Googling and watching dumb YouTube videos), and as usual I was not disappointed. Pinsiders know their stuff about all sorts of things, and we even got some that worked in the factory on these things. Amazing!

    OK visited the local Home Depot and got myself a nice Stanley 25 footer and a 12 footer.

    stanley 25 and 12 in package (resized).jpg

    After half an hour or so to remove the absurdly difficult packaging, I got some shiny new tape measures. They aren't steel cases anymore as has been discussed, but its a great representation of it. The feel solid. They work well, especially the 25 footer which is just as smooth as silk brand new out of the box.

    stanley 25 and 12 (resized).jpg

    They seem to be somewhat close to measuring an inch, good enough for my work.

    one inch measure (resized).jpg

    Here's the 2 new Stanleys compared to the broken Harbor Freight cheapo.

    2 new one old (resized).jpg

    Finally, I took apart the old one to see why it was all jammed up. It was obvious enough when the case popped open. There is a circular bracket in there that is all busted up. Of course, it is made of the thinnest, most brittle-looking plastic that is available on the face of the earth. Maybe if that piece were made out of some solid metal the thing would last a lot longer, who knows.

    old one broken (resized).jpg

    #37 1 year ago

    I dug out what I thought was my 25ft tape measure--it's actually 35ft. And the case is obviously plastic. I bought that one a number of years ago, but haven't used it more than a small handful of times.

    My 12ft is metal. I've had it for at least 15 years--maybe more. I'm not sure where I got it from. But the case on that one is certainly metal.

    #38 1 year ago

    we really messed bitd staying with US standard measurement. we all know that metric system is simpler and fractions could sometimes be confusing we have lost space missions due to mixing up the 2 : NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched in oct 1999

    Because it's so much simpler and easier to use. The metric system is an improvement over the English system in three major points: One unit of measurement for each physical quantity. No matter from which other quantities of the SI system derived, yields always the same unit.

    #39 1 year ago
    Quoted from robotron:

    we really messed bitd staying with US standard measurement. we all know that metric system is simpler and fractions could sometimes be confusing we have lost space missions due to mixing up the 2 : NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched, space agency officials said Thursday.Oct 1, 1999
    Because it's so much simpler and easier to use. The metric system is an improvement over the English system in three major points: One unit of measurement for each physical quantity. No matter from which other quantities of the SI system derived, yields always the same unit.

    This isn't really the thread for that argument.

    #40 1 year ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    This isn't the thread for that argument.

    you gots the power to delete. not an argument its discussion in a tape measure post in a pinball forum

    #41 1 year ago

    I actually live a lot in both worlds (metric because of work), so I am used to either way. I looked at the tapes that are marked both ways while I was at Home Depot, but decided to keep it simple this time around because that's how most of the stuff around the house works. But I might buy the combo one with metric later if I think I need it.

    #42 1 year ago

    If you ever see vintage craftsman at yard sale buy it . I have trashed bunch of tape measure's over the years . My 40 year old Craftsman metal cased has outlived them all . That being said " Fat Max " a fine tool . Lots reach or " stand out " a plus when building deck or pole barn.

    Shane

    #43 1 year ago

    Fatmax is the best, use one daily, longest rigid stand out for deck work. But the Stanley Powerlock is also a great choice. I prefer the Fatmax in the locking variety, it holds till you push the button.

    #44 1 year ago
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    #45 1 year ago

    Nice one ForceFlow. 2” stock as well.

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