# Elementary carpentry question

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• posted on March 3, 2011, 5:38 am
Alright, so this is Carpentry 101, but I'm gonna ask it anyhow.
Question concerns taking measurements where there is an inside corner: how do you do it accurately? F'rinstance, say you're sheeting the inside of a closet and are measuring the wall height from floor to ceiling. You put the bottom of your tape against the floor, climb up on your stepstool or whatever, then wrap your tape around the top corner of the wall. What then?
I mean, it's really hard to know just what exactly the actual height is. It *looks* like 93 5/8--no, make that 11/16--maybe 3/4--WTF?
It almost makes me want to build myself a little "story pole", two long sticks grooved together with a little clamp to take exact inside measurements. (I think a sliding dovetail would work nicely here.)
How do you handle this? How did carpenters do this in the olden days? What tricks do you use? How many times do you just cut a piece oversize, then trim to fit?
--
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:16 am
David Nebenzahl wrote:

Run the tape from floor to ceiling. Make your best guess at the total length. Now put a mark 24" down from the ceiling. Measure up from the floor to the mark. add 24". Compare the actual result to your estimate. Learn to estimate accurately.
Put the end of the tape on the floor and the body of the tape measure against the ceiling. Take your reading at the point where the tape exits the body. Look on the body for an indication of the size of the tape measure case. (3" is common) Add it to the reading.
But why are you concerned with running sheeting all the way to the floor? You _want_ to leave it shy of the floor a bit, and baseboard will cover the gap.
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:26 am
On 3/2/2011 10:16 PM Mike Paulsen spake thus:

I like that; brain training. Will do.

Just an example. A better example would have been cutting studs to fit tightly betwixt floor and ceiling. Point is that it's good to know the actual height instead of just guesstimating it.
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The phrase "jump the shark" itself jumped the shark about a decade ago.

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• posted on March 3, 2011, 1:13 pm

This is largely because walls tend to be neither square nor straight, so trying to cut paneling or drywall precisely will just drive you crazy.

Use the technique others described in this case. Or if you want to be even more precise, measure and mark 12" from either end with a metal ruler or square (because the metal hook on the ends of most tapes is designed to measure outside) and measure between the marks with your tape. Of course, this is probably more precise than you can cut anyway...
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 2:09 pm
If the measuring tape doesn't have an 'add X inches' on it, tape a 3" piece of wood/metal to the bottom of the measuring tape. Take the measurement at the end of your wood, and add 3". Even if your measuring tape has an 'add X inches', this can still be a good idea, as it tends to give a more accurate measurement.
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 4:25 pm
On Thu, 3 Mar 2011 05:13:18 -0800 (PST), Larry Fishel

Metal square on both ends is good, then measure between those marks starting at the inch mark on the tape. Tape is flat then, without the end tab run out screwing up the measure. I nearly always cut a bit oversize then trim as needed when I want a tight fit. Like you said, the saw cut can present its own problems. Thought the laser on my new saw was unnecessary. But I like it when not using a stop for repetitious cuts. Another thing about tapes besides end tab run out is the tab can easily get you off by 1/8" if the rivets loosen up. I hate it when somebody snaps in my tape hard!
--Vic
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 5:59 pm

Yes, but the holes in the ruler get elongated by repeated snap closings.
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:20 pm
wrote:

The claim that the holes and therefore measurement would deform 1/8", easily, is off base. Tape measures are made from tempered steel and the tape would tear before the deformation would get so large.
If there's a bit of deformation, just bend the tab to tweak the measurement reading until it is correct.
R
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 8:45 pm
wrote:

Yes, but the holes in the ruler get elongated by repeated snap closings. ========================================== Ouch! Who in the world with at least half a brain would let a tape snap? Anyone who abuses a tape measure, doesn't deserve to have such a tool.
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:19 pm
On Thu, 03 Mar 2011 08:32:36 -0800, Smitty Two

Run out is the distance off a flat surface the tab causes. Just applied the term to it. Might be the wrong term. If the tab is 1/4" off the work you measure long. Some tabs are maybe 3/8" Might not be much, but even 1/32" misses a tight fit. I've had plenty of tapes that come with tight rivets in holes. And some with slots where the tab is meant to move. Doesn't matter if the hole/slot gets elongated from wear, like slamming it back in. The measurement is off unless you recalibrate and allow for it. Check this out.

I won't lend him my tapes. Ever hear of using body parts measuring? Read about it long ago, think by a carpenter. He knew the exact length of his fingers, arms, joint to joint. Could get to within 1/16" for anything less up to about 8'. Helps if you ain't fat and have sharp bones. Recalibrate with age and shoe wear. I measured my middle finger to wrist, different fingers, middle finger to elbow, etc. Then when I next had to measure something I had forgotten those measurements, so I just grabbed a tape.
--Vic
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• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:20 pm
On 3/3/2011 8:25 AM Vic Smith spake thus:

Fine, but how the *hell* am I supposed to get two metal squares to stay put, one of them upside-down at the top of the wall, plus juggle the tape measure between them? Upsidasium? Remember, this is a vertical measurement of wall height.
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The phrase "jump the shark" itself jumped the shark about a decade ago.

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• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:18 pm
David Nebenzahl wrote:

do you have a pencil?
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:58 pm
On 3/3/2011 10:18 AM chaniarts spake thus:

OK, I see; but it seems a whole lot simpler just to make ONE mark an arbitrary distance from floor or ceiling (say 12"), then measure from the mark to the opposite end. Why make two marks?
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The phrase "jump the shark" itself jumped the shark about a decade ago.

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• posted on March 3, 2011, 7:01 pm
David Nebenzahl wrote:

don't know. i'm not vic. i'd guess he's really saying to use a square to mark off 12" from the top, then use the same square from the bottom, then measure between the 2 marks. he just left off the use of making pencil marks, thinking that that may just be a little bit self evident.
i'd do it with 1 mark too since i can usually reach the floor with a tape.
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 7:19 pm
wrote:

Never actually did that 2 mark deal. But if I wanted to get within 1/16" as David seems to want, that's how I'd do it. Last time I measured floor to ceiling I think I stood on a stool, jammed the tape casing against the ceiling, and lowered the tape until it touched the floor without bending, locked it down, then added the case size. Close enough.
--Vic
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 8:23 pm
In : wrote: :: On 3/2/2011 10:16 PM Mike Paulsen spake thus: ::: But why are you concerned with running sheeting all the ::: way to the floor? You _want_ to leave it shy of the floor ::: a bit, and baseboard will cover the gap. : : This is largely because walls tend to be neither square nor : straight, so trying to cut paneling or drywall precisely : will just drive you crazy. : :: Just an example. A better example would have been cutting :: studs to fit tightly betwixt floor and ceiling. Point is :: that it's good to know the actual height instead of just :: guesstimating it. : : Use the technique others described in this case. Or if you : want to be even more precise, measure and mark 12" from : either end with a metal ruler or square (because the metal : hook on the ends of most tapes is designed to measure : outside) and measure between the marks with your tape. Of : course, this is probably more precise than you can cut : anyway...
Or get at least a 20th century tape where the metal hook on the end slips in for inside measurements and slips out for outside measurements, all by itself. I've never seen a current tape what didn't work that way unless some dumbo didn't know why the end was loose and beat it tight with a hammer, which I HAVE seen some dummies do!
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 9:10 pm
On Thu, 3 Mar 2011 05:13:18 -0800 (PST), Larry Fishel

Excuse me, but the metal hook is designed to measure inside AND outside. The rivets holding the hook to the blade are intentionally loose to permit the hook slide back and forth in the slots the amount equal to the thickness of the hook. Therefore, the hook can automatically compensate for it's thickness.
Not only that, but you will achieve accurate measurements if you are INSIDE your garage or OUTSIDE at your neighbors. :-)
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 8:34 am

The tape measure should be marked something like "Add 2 inches" on its case. Butt the end of the case into the corner and add it to the reading. Sometimes I cut a stick to exactly 10 inches or 1 foot and put that into the corner, then measure to the end of the stick with the tape. Don't forget to add the distance!
--
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation
with the average voter. (Winston Churchill)
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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 3:32 pm
snipped-for-privacy@but.us.chickens says...

One way is to use an extensions rule. Stanley made a full set of them. I have them up to the #510, which reaches 10 feet. They are one of the old rules I often reach for.
Extension rules have two overlapping rulers which are ruled such that they read directly at the end of each one. They have an extendable hook for reaching to the top of a piece. Here are some photos:
--
DT

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<%-name%>
• posted on March 3, 2011, 6:21 pm

I'm a plane guy, not a rule guy, and I have lots of Stanley stuff, but I never saw one of those Stanley extension rules before. Thanks for posting that.
R