7 Hidden Features of Measuring Tapes

Abigail Sawyer | 20 Jul 2016 | Measure

July 14th is national Tape Measure Day (who knew?!). In honor of this momentous occasion, we're sharing 7 surprisingly awesome features hidden on your everyday tape measure.

1. Nail Notch

Did you know that the little notch in the end of all tape measures is meant to hook on to a nail or screw? If you don't have anyone to hold the other end of your tape measure, tap a nail in and hook your tape on to it.

nail notch on a tape measure

2. Scribing Tool

Ever wondered why the end of the tape measure is serrated? This allows you to use the metal end to scratch into the surface you're measuring and make your mark if you don't have a pencil.

scribing tool on a tape measure

3. Adjustable End

The metal end of your tape measure is lose and this is no accident. If you look closely at the first inch on your tape measure, you'll notice it's short by 1/16 inch. This allows you to get accurate measurements whether you're measuring on the inside or outside edge of a surface.

The metal tip of your tape measure is exactly 1/16 inch thick. If you measure outside a surface (like the outside edges of window molding) and hook your metal end on the molding, it will shift out to create a 1/16 inch gap so you're not counting the metal piece in your measurement.

tape measure adjustable end shifted out

If you're measuring by pressing your measuring tape against a surface (like measuring inside a window frame), you want to count the thickness of the metal piece in your measurement, so it shifts back to close the gap.

tape measure adjustable end shifted inward

Always be sure to press in or pull your tape taut when you measure so you can take advantage of this feature.

4. Measure From Above

Some tape measures have a hook on the end that is a specialty shape. This allows you to hook your tape onto surfaces from above and either side, not just below.

hooked end of a tape measure

5.  Tape Housing Measurement

On most tape measures you'll find a measurement imprinted on the housing. This is the exact size of the housing from where the tape comes in to the back.

highlighted section of a tape measure housing length

The purpose of this measurement is for measuring corners. Most people measure corners by bending the tape and guessing at what measurement is in the middle of the curve.

Instead, get a perfectly accurate measurement by extending your tape from one edge to the other with the tape flat and the housing touching the other edge. Then see what measurement is on the tape and add the additional measurement listed on the housing.

how to use the tape measure housing to measure flush to an angle

6. Black Diamonds

Some measuring tapes have small black diamonds spaced a little more than 19 inches apart. Unless you're in construction you probably won't use this feature, but these mark the standard spacing of trusses when building a roof.

black diamonds marking on tape measure for trusses

7. Architectural Scale

On the back of some tape measures you'll find an architectural scale that allows you to measure and convert scale drawings.

architectural scale on the back of a tape measure


Since sharing this video, some of you have shared several more fun tape measure tricks. Who knew this simple tool had so many amazing features!

  • About Author

    Abigail Sawyer is the Manager of Social Media Marketing for Blinds.com. She's a home improvement junkie who is currently restoring a 1972 cottage with the help of her husband and goldendoodle, Biscuit. Walking in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, she’s happiest when she’s crafting or whipping up a new recipe; although nothing beats curling up with a good book and some Girl Scout Cookies. Follow her on twitter + instagram at @whatabigailsaw