Do Tape Measures Wear Out? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Do Tape Measures Wear Out?

I have two rather old Lufkin 25' tape measures. One dates from the late '70s and the other from the late '80s. The retract springs work fine, as do the tape locks. However, neither tape will hold its shape beyond about 5'. After that, they both twist and roll over making one person usage pretty much useless. Have the steel tapes lost their "temper"? I finally gave up on both and bought a new 25' tape today. Interestingly, both of the old Lufkins are stamped "Made In U.S.A.", but all of the ones on the shelves today were marked "Made In China". Bought a Stanley Fat Max 25' tape that is marked "Made In U.S.A.".

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 07:21 PM
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Everything wears out eventually.

Measure Twice Cut Once -- It's a lot easier to cut more off then it is to cut MORON.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 07:22 PM
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There's a couple of jokes that would rise to the occasion here. But in an attempt to keep it wood related... well, never mind. I'll just leave it at, as things get older, the don't stay as stiff for as long.

More seriously, I find the tapes I use daily last a year or so. Fortunately I usually lose then before that.



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post #4 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 07:49 PM
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Like #2, everything wears out. We have a tape measure from the '50's and it still works fine. I think almost all tape measures roll over 5 feet because of the thin material the "tape" is made of. My 3 new ones do, at least.

Stop Skewing around! Use the Roughing Gouge!
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 08:01 PM
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I think that tapes from that time frame didn't extend all that far. As they improved them they would stand out farther, up to about 9' now.

Measure Twice Cut Once -- It's a lot easier to cut more off then it is to cut MORON.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 08:08 PM
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Also, usually I have my tape measure laid out on a flat piece that I am measuring, so I don't usually have this problem. It only bends if you twist it, even a little bit. This happens to me all the time.

Stop Skewing around! Use the Roughing Gouge!
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 10:56 PM
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Yes they'll wear out. As a catastrophe property adjuster, replacing tapes was just part of the job. Measuring room sizes, ceiling heights, running them down roof slopes, running building footprints, and any number of other measurements wear on the tapes. Using them in harsh weather conditions does them no good either. After they became available, the 35' Fat Max became my go-to tape for its standoff & its durability. I could get 2 or 3 months out of one.
Once I retired I soon learned that smaller, lighter tapes are handier in the woodshop. The 35 now hangs in its pouch on the shop wall for those occasions when it is again the best tool.


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post #8 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 11:08 PM
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A lot of different things can go south on a tape measure but I don't think I've ever had one do what yours are doing. Most of the time when I have a tape go bad it's the spring. I have another one the first 4' the numbers are wearing off of it. A lot of times the tape is dropped so many times the end breaks off.
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-04-2017, 11:59 PM
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The only real problem I've had with tape measures is they quickly learn to become invisible in my shop within the first few days. Yeah, I know what you're gonna say, user error, but I'm firmly convinced that invisibility is a design feature to get me to go buy more tape measures.. I just bought a new one with metric markings on one side and already it's learned how to become invisible and my old tapes without the metric markings have ceased to be invisible. It's a commie plot!
I once thought it was a medical condition called tool blindness, but no, it's a built in thing..

I figured it's time to change my signature so hold your breath. This is it.
Impressive, huh?

Last edited by allpurpose; 06-05-2017 at 12:03 AM.
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 12:34 AM
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So far nobody has mentioned tape measure and circular saw in same sentence.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #11 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 07:17 AM
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OK, Frank, here goes. I keep a tape measure on my TS cabinet so I don't have to hunt for it. Also, keep one on the drill press and band saw table and in a cabinet over the workbench. How's that? So far, I haven't had one wear out but did have one stolen from the cabinet and lighting showroom where I worked several years ago.

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post #12 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 12:16 PM
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Last night as I posted about my invisible tape I was going to take a picture of it, but of course it was at the time invisible.
This morning that very same tape reappeared right smack in the middle of my work bench.
I'm tellin ya.. It's a design feature they're not advertising.

And just to prove it here IS THAT same invisible tape measure..

I figured it's time to change my signature so hold your breath. This is it.
Impressive, huh?

Last edited by allpurpose; 06-05-2017 at 12:20 PM.
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allpurpose View Post
The only real problem I've had with tape measures is they quickly learn to become invisible in my shop within the first few days. Yeah, I know what you're gonna say, user error, but I'm firmly convinced that invisibility is a design feature to get me to go buy more tape measures.. I just bought a new one with metric markings on one side and already it's learned how to become invisible and my old tapes without the metric markings have ceased to be invisible. It's a commie plot!
I once thought it was a medical condition called tool blindness, but no, it's a built in thing..
I have a rule in my shop, everything has a storage location, and I always put things back before wrapping up for the day.. otherwise I'll lose everything that isn't nailed or super glued down.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

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post #14 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allpurpose View Post
The only real problem I've had with tape measures is they quickly learn to become invisible in my shop within the first few days. Yeah, I know what you're gonna say, user error, but I'm firmly convinced that invisibility is a design feature to get me to go buy more tape measures.. I just bought a new one with metric markings on one side and already it's learned how to become invisible and my old tapes without the metric markings have ceased to be invisible. It's a commie plot!
I once thought it was a medical condition called tool blindness, but no, it's a built in thing..
I know what you mean. I have about 10 HF tapes around my shop and sometimes I can't find one.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Techsniffer View Post
I have a rule in my shop, everything has a storage location, and I always put things back before wrapping up for the day.. otherwise I'll lose everything that isn't nailed or super glued down.
Oh knock it off.. That's describing a lifestyle change and at my age I'm not even considering learning to put things where they belong every time.. lol
Now getting some really beautiful maid to walk around picking up behind me isn't that far fetched.. Soon as I inherit a fortune I'll get right on that..

I figured it's time to change my signature so hold your breath. This is it.
Impressive, huh?
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I know what you mean. I have about 10 HF tapes around my shop and sometimes I can't find one.
Don't you know the tape measures are playing hide and seek along with pencils?
I start out with a dozen pencils and they're all missing within a few hours in the shop as are the tape measures.

Cut it twice, measure once and it's still too short.
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-05-2017, 11:44 PM
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They get taken into another realm.

True story. When my first was just a baby we were taking off his pants to change him. We were being playful and threw his pants into the air and they went behind the couch. That was it, gone. Pulled the couch out, looked under it, everything. They were just not in the room anymore. 8 years later they show up on the floor in front of the couch.

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post #18 of 18 Old 06-10-2017, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
So far nobody has mentioned tape measure and circular saw in same sentence.
I work with sheet metal and everyone in the shop loses at least one tape measure to the power shear.
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