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How Do You Measure Up?


When it comes to any DIY project, one of the first steps is measuring. We've all head the "measure twice, cut once" but sometimes measuring isn't that simple. Here's some tips and tricks to keep your measurements accurate and your cuts clean.

Measuring tape is definitely in the top of every handyman's toolbox. Believe it or not, there is more going on with a measuring tape than many people realize. Let’s start with the hook. At the end of every measuring tape, is the metal hook. This tip is designed to compress when placed against the wall for inside measurement, or to expand when hooked onto something for an outside measurement. This movement compensates for the thickness of the hook so that it does not skew your measurement.

Every once in a while, it is a good idea to check your tape measure in order to see if it remains true. To do this, take a measurement beginning with the first inch of the tape measure. For example, measure 10 inches from the edge of a table by placing the 1 inch mark on the edge of the table and making a mark at the 11 inch line. Next, measure normally placing the hook of the tape measure on the edge of the table. If all is well, the mark you had previously made should be exactly 10 inches from the edge.

When using a tape measure for inside corners, many people simply put the end in one corner and roll the tape measure into the next. Because the tape measure doesn’t fit exactly into a corner, the exact measurement is often estimated. The best way to accomplish an accurate measurement is to place the end of the tape measure on one side, and measure out an appropriate distance (10 inches, for example) and make a mark. Measure from the other corner to the mark and add the previous measurement (the 10 inches) to get a total. A shortcut for this would be to have a pre-measured block of wood, place it against the wall and measure up to that block, adding its thickness.

When marking with a tape measure, make sure the side of the tape is flat. Typically, tape measures are naturally cupped on the sides, which can make for an inaccurate transfer of measurement while making a mark. Give the tape measure a slight twist to flatten it when making the mark. Additionally, when making a mark, many carpenters use a V point for more accuracy. The tip of the V is the exact point of measurement, eliminating confusion. Also, be sure to keep your pencil as sharp as possible. The thinner the line, the more accurate the mark.

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