Where to get accurate tape measure?

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Or maybe someone can tell me how to use the two I have. The hook at the end of the tape on both of mine (and every new one I picked up at Lowes) has about a 1/16th inch of play. In other words, measuring a board would be 1/16th longer than measuring the hole the board fits into.
I have just recently got into woodworking and am building some built-in bookshelves and facing in the shelves has been a pain due to this 1/16th. I doubt I've made a flush cut yet on the first try (not to mention my miter saw fence needs to be adjusted. Anyways, the project is proceeding, but for the drawers, I need to build them to fit each of the holes I framed fairly accurately. I do my scribing and marking with an exacto knife instead of a pencil, and for those cuts where I mark the piece against the project, the cuts turn out fine.
So far, the most frusterating parts of this project have been:
1) Ripping plywood on my small table saw (no telling how many safety violations I committed doing this). 2) Measuring for 1/16th inch accuracy. 3) Routering dados in opposing pieces of wood (i.e. for the shelves) as my router, even with a guide on the workpieces, wants to jump away from the guide.
Otherwise, I'm really enjoying woodworking and would like to get better, and I think maybe a decent tape would be a start.
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It's supposed to. The play in the hook should exactly match the thickness of the hook, so that outside and inside measurements are both accurate.
To check a tape measure, Find a straightedge that starts measuring at the edge (2/3 of my rulers do this; the other 1/3 starts 1/8" from the end). Hook the tape measure over the end of it, and ensure all the inch marks line up. Now, push the tape measure against something and put the straightedge NEXT to it (i.e. not touching the hook), again verifying that the marks line up.
Alternately, you can use the 10" mark as a "zero" to measure against, and ignore the hook completely (don't use 1", it's too easy to forget to subtract the 1" but it's hard to ignore the extra 10" if you forget that)

Nope, doesn't work that way.

Clamp another piece of plywood to it as a guide for a circular saw or router.

Learn to use your rulers correctly.

The guide is on the wrong side of the router, then, or your routing in the wrong direction. The cutting action of the bit should be pushing the router against the guide, not away from it.

Find a local woodworking school and take a beginner's class. I think that will ease many of your frustrations.
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jo_jo wrote:

I think the idea is that there's some play built in intentionally, to account for the thickness of the hook. This way, if you measure an inside length (i.e. push the end of the tape against something), or measure the outside length (i.e. pull the hook against the end of a board), the measurement SHOULD be the same. Sounds good in theory, at least. My solutions to this problem generally involve trying to avoid it: Use a combination square or drywall square or aluminum yardstick when possible, measure the workpiece against the actual spot or other workpiece where it needs to fit, or take all the tape measurements with either a "push" or a "pull" on the hook end of the tape, so at least they're consistent. I don't have one, but an old-fashoined folding rule would solve your problem also - for example, http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p2560&cat=1,43513,43525 or http://tinyurl.com/ygf5fx

I'd rather use a circular saw - clamp a straightedge or plywood offcut to your ply, and set it on the ground on a piece of styrofoam. No trying to wrestle a whole sheet of ply over a little saw, just move a different little saw over the sheet - easier and safer, therefore probably more accurate. There are some good circ saw guides/jigs available with a little googling.

As I mentioned above, I'd try a yardstick, or possibly a folding rule or a storypole.

Try running your router the other direction along the guide - the cutting of the bit on the wood should pull the router TOWARDS the guide.

Great! Have fun with it, and don't worry too much about a tape - in my opinion, a tape is more of a construction tool, albiet one that's sometimes useful for woodworking. Good luck and stay safe, Andy
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Andy wrote:

Thanks for the tips. I understand the play in the tape now, but I am still doing something wrong. I'll have to play around with it some more (and yes I am taking into account the width of my saw blade when making the cut). I know one error was measuring a hole at a slight angle, but that should have resulted in my piece being a little longer, not shorter. Anyways, thanks for the tips!
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Depth of a hole or the width of the opening?. One is longer , the other is shorter
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

It really was while measuring the rails between the top facing and the bottom facing on a bookshelf. And actually, it's not the bookshelf facing, it's drawer facing. The built-in bookshelf is 14'6" long with a row of 10 drawers along the bottom for dvd's, paperback books, etc., that I don't want displayed on the bookshelves. So far it's turned out really well, although my openings for the drawers aren't exactly the same size (+/- 1/4" at the most variance in drawer width). This won't matter since I'll measure for each individual drawer that I will build. This section of the bookshelf is about 19" deep and about 18" high. It is topped with 5" wide yellow pine laid like the wood flooring in the living room and lightly stained and oiled to match the floor. It's turning out nice so far. The drawers and facing and shelving will be painted the same color as the trim in the room, so that the separation between the lower drawer unit and the shelving will be a nice natural looking divider, and maybe even a good place to sit since the shelves will only be 12.25" deep including the facing.
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Jesbus! If you just got into woodworking, a 14 foot wide project would be a bit more to chew than maybe a shelf or small cabinet... That's half the size of my bloody living room! No wonder your asking for tips.
I have some pretty good tools and would shake my head at that project, especially with drawers where you need alignment and at least some basic joinery skills. Cutting dados ain't fun without the right tools.
As far as the tape question is... Use it for rough cuts like building a roof or something with 2x4. Not for joinery or cabinet work. I use a nice 48" aluminum square for long rips and a small (18") combination square for precision stuff like cabinetry work.
Also, make sure your mitre saw is aligned and sharp.
Best,
Phred
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"jo_jo" wrote in message

The slack in the hook is there by design ... it automatically takes into account the thickness of the hook when doing inside measurements.

Either don't use a tape measure at all, use a "story stick" (do a Google search, preferably with the word "woodworking" in the search parameters), or make sure you use the same tape for ALL measurements on the project.
Many old time woodworkers will use a "story stick" over a tape measure any day. Here's a little bit about them, but there is much more, so do your own googling:
http://72.14.203.104/search?q che:1S7aLRRlN9EJ:www.huntfamily.com/metz/storystick.htm+wood+%22story+stick%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=5

Get you to the store/library and find a good book on routing and learn the proper direction to route in and this won't happen. A book would do you much better than a longwinded explanation at this point.

Use one tape measure and stick with it for all measurements on any single project.
If you can, buy two identical ones from the same batch at the same time, and double check that they are indeed identical as to measurement over their entire length ... put one on your workbench and the other in your shop apron pocket.
Welcome to the world of woodworking and enjoy yourself ... you've come to the right place for tips and help.
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jo_jo wrote:

That play in the end hook is carefully controlled and is put there on purpose. The amount of play should be exactly the same as the thickness of the hook. That way, your reference surface on the hook should end up at zero whether you are pushing or pulling on the hook. Admittedly, it doesn't always come out that way in practice, but 1/16 is more error than any good tape should have. I like 1/2" wide tapes for shop use. They lie flatter on the board so you don't have to worry so much about the cup in the tape. And they fit better in my apron pocket. I've never found a tape to be inacurate enough to cause me any trouble, but I would expect a tape from Lee Valley, Lufkin or Starrett to be more accurate than the house brand at the home center.

Instead of using a tape for all your measurements, make yourself a "story stick". Get yourself a stick of wood of appropriate length for the project. Lots of people like them to be square, but I prefer mine flat like a yardstick, but maybe not quite so wide. Carefully mark each critical dimension on your story stick with your exacto knife and label it with a marker. Now you don't have to remember whether your drawers need to be 15 and 3/16 or 15 and 5/16; you just measure to the scribed line marked "drawer width".

I have a big table saw with extension tables on one side and in back. I still cut my plywood to rough dimensions with a circular saw and guide, then do the final cut on the table saw. I just don't like wrestling full-size plywood sheets on a table saw.

See my comments above.

Try making two or more passes, setting the bit deeper each time until you get to final depth. Or, with a little more trouble, you can put a guide down on both sides of the router. Cut a couple of blocks exactly the width of your router. Clamp one guide in place and use the two blocks to accurately space the other guide so the router will slide between them.

Buy one of these, and you'll have to stop blaming it on the tape. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p2562&cat=1,43513
DonkeyHody "In theory, theory and practice should be the same. But in practice, they're not."
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"DonkeyHody" wrote in message

Actually, the worst three tape measures I own are from Lee Valley!
... and it must have been a bad batch because all three hooks have a pronounced tendency to slip on the workpiece _on the pull_, which is death on accuracy, and, as a consequence, you really do end up with a 1/16 +/- error!
They work good for inside measurements, though! ;)
(Don't get me wrong, I love LV and I know they would take them back/replace them, but I've just never bothered with the hassle of doing the return ... mainly because I have a pair of Stanley ten footers that I've used for years that are identical in measurement along their entire length ... a rarity.)
I bought the LV because the shop dummy cut a 1/4" deep kerf in the second inch of one of the treasured Stanley's (it's still useable) and I was hoping to replace them with some spiffy new "right handed" ones ... not meant to be.
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Swingman wrote:

I'm gonna have to stop recommending tools I haven't personally tried. I've come to expect first quality from Lee Valley, but I don't have one of their tapes. I did notice that the price didn't seem to be high enough.
DonkeyHody "In theory, theory and practice should be the same. But in practice, they're not."
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"DonkeyHody" wrote in message

I'm pretty sure that they're not all like that, otherwise we would of heard more about it.
Like I said, I'm just thinking it was just a bad batch/run ... it happens to the best, amongst which I firmly put LV.
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Swingman wrote:

They sure do look like Stanley tapes with a Lee Valley sticker.
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"jo_jo" wrote in message

Not the same "feel" though ... they're actually lighter in heft than the Stanley's by my judgment.
I'm not a big fan of current Stanley products, but one tape measure is as good as another providing you use just the one on a project.
That said, it's very convenient in the shop to have two identical ones along their entire lengths if you can find them, particularly when the agree with your table saw fence, so the search is worth the while, IMO.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com says...

I picked up a Lee Valley tape a couple of years ago. I too have come to expect such high quality from Lee Valley that I figured I could get a good tape from them as well. I didn't care for the tape and it immediately went into a drawer and it has never emerged since. The markings were inaccurate and the overall feel was crappy. It felt very low quality and cheap, and like another poster mentioned it was very light.
I didn't bother to return it because I didn't feel like paying the return shipping and sinking any more money in the thing.
Most Stanley tapes are too bulky for my tastes, and I don't need a 25'+ tape for woodworking use anyway. Their shorter tapes use a very narrow tape that I don't care for either. I am currently using one I picked up at the blue Borg that has a nice automatic locking mechanism, although I don't know the brand. When I buy a new tape I bring the rule from my Mitutoyo combination square and verify the accuracy of the tape.
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Hmm, well you made me run down and check mine. Probably something I shoulda done before I started measuring with them. I got two 10'ers, one for the shop and one for in the house. One of them goes out a 1/64th or so between the 2" and 3" marks, the other is good at least up to 24". Of course I had the one that was off in the shop. They do have a smaller hook than I'm used to and do tend to slip off if you pull with the tape not down flat. I still reach for my stanley 16' anyway unless some idiot left it at the other end of the shop again, but it has metric on one side which is inconvenient sometimes.
-Leuf
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Well, now that I get home, I pulled both the tape measures. Both of the ends move by an amount that is easily greater than the thickness of the hook. One is very old, so I might expect that, but the other is practially brand new, a "TaskForce" tape. The TaskForce moves about twice as much as the thickness of the hook.
In any case, I just marked the styles against the actual hole to make the mark. Those turned out better, and I'll take the advice several of you offered and find a metal yard stick or something similar.
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jo_jo wrote:

Hide one of them. Doesn't matter that much how accurate your measure is, so long as it's the only one you use. Most of your real practical trouble begins when you measure the mortice on one rule and the tenon on another.
OK, so this is an approximation. Accurate tapes aren't that hard to find, certainly for "carpentry accuracy". However if you do have inaccuracies to work around, it's still a good technique to only use one measure.
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While I've never had an error I could blame on the inaccuracy of my tape, I'll play Devil's advocate. I've read a couple of reviews and posts where people claim two tapes agree at certain points, but disagree at some points between. If you had a tape that was inaccurate in that way, and you needed to cut three pieces 15 inches long to add up to 45 inches, the inaccuracy would show up in the work. But I suspect that the OP had problems other than an inaccurate tape.
DonkeyHody "In theory, theory and practice should be the same. But in practice, they're not."
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While we are on the subject . . . I was snooping around looking for tapes to satisfy my curiosity and came across this tape that lies flat.
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID 402&TabSelecttails
It has no "standout", but that shouldn't be a problem for my use. You know how annoying it is to try to get the cupped tape to roll down to the wood so you can place your mark accurately. I use steel rules when possible to avoid the problem. But a lie-flat tape has possibilities. Then I read a review on Amazon that said his wasn't accurate by 3/32. I couldn't live with that.
Has anybody used one? Know where to get one in a name brand?
DonkeyHody "Even an old blind hog finds an acorn every now and then."
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