If You're Going to Measure Something, Measure it Right
Gadgets Galore for Measurement
If you like using up batteries, here are some more modern measurement tools after your own heart:
• A digital tape measure that reads the tape and shows the measurement in an LED or LCD display
• A self-powered tape that extends and retracts itself
• For the true battery-head, a laser or sonic rangefinder to measure distances without the bother of extending and reading a tape (though you should still "measure twice, cut once")
Any shop worth its salt will also need some additional "ammunition" on the measurement front, such as...
An Old Standby: the Folding RuleA folding rule may seem "old-school" to today's tech-savvy crowd, but a model with a sliding scale in the last section is still one of the most accurate ways to take an inside measurement. Besides that, a folding rule is always fun to play with...
Precision For Small ItemsPrecision is essential when cutting dadoes or rabbets or for setup on just about any power tool. A 6-inch stainless-steel ruler helps you reach the necessary precision, down to 1/32 inch and 1mm.
Going LargeWhether you're laying out a fence or a baseball diamond, a 100-foot tape measure is darned near essential. Unlike those long-ago MIT students who measured the Charles River bridge by flipping a fellow student end-over end, most of us wouldn't think of measuring distances in Smoots. Boise-Cascade sells their dimensional lumber in feet, after all... Oh, sure, you can buy a self-retracting version - but where's the fun in that?
Measuring AnglesProtractors are great for laying out angles when you already know that the slope is 18-1/2 degrees, but how do you measure the angle in the first place? Without resorting to your high-school trigonometry textbook, that is? Easy: you measure it with an angle finder, and then you use the protractor!
With an assortment of tape measures and a couple of specialty tools, you'll be set for just about any project.