Learning How to Read a Tape Measure

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Tape measures are measuring devices that are used by a variety of different trades, and they allow the user to accurately measure dimensions of walls, boards and the like. Learn about the layout of tape measures and how to read the inches and feet on a tape measure with help from a certified home inspector in this free video on tools and construction.

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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Mark Blocker. In this segment, we're going to cover how to read a tape measure. First I'll go over what a tape measure is and some of it's features, and then we'll learn how to read it. Basically, tape measures are a measuring device that are used by a variety of different trades. What they allow us to do is accurately measure distances, or lengths of boards, or what ever we happen to need to take a measure on. First off, I want to point, point out to you the tips on the tape measure. They slide back and forth, and they should move about the same width as the actual tip itself. And what this is, it's a feature designed in to the tape, so if you're measuring the inside diameter of something, and you push the tape to it to measure the inside diameter, you get an accurate reading, and if you're measuring the outside diameter, you get the same reading, because if you're measuring to the inside, you're going to add the width of this tip to your measurement, and that's going to make an inside measurement different from an outside measurement. So these tips are made to slip back and forth to accommodate for that difference so you can get an accurate measurement in either direction. The tape measure's laid out originally in foots, and also in inches. And then that's broken down to, this particular tape measure reads down to thirty seconds of an inch. On one side of the tape measure you'll see it will give you the denomination of fractions all the way down to an eighth of an inch, on the other side it's just divisional lines that break up these fractions. The length of those lines determine, can give you a quick and easy determination of what the fraction is by the length of a line. The width of a dimension of a half inch would be the longest line. The progress down lower as their increments increase. Originally, most trades would measured their distances in feet and inches. That's changed over the last years because of confusion like stating out sixty-four inches. It's much easier just to measure that distance in inches alone. It stops a lot of confusion, so for most terminology, if you're going to measure something and you're talking with other people, or going to your local home repair store, or what ever to pick up materials, the measurement you're going to be looking for is in inches. That's how you read a tape measure.

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