Read these 11 Measuring & Marking Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Tool tips and hundreds of other topics.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: Newcomers to tape measures often wonder what the additional markings represent. Wonder no more! Every 12 inches, there is a mark to indicate one foot, plus a number to let you know how many feet are being measured at that point. At the 24 inch mark, for example, you will see the number two, indicating two feet. Another number marking, often in red, shows up every sixteen inches. This indicates 16 inches "on-center" which is helpful for framing walls and floors. You may not need this tape measure feature right away, but at some point you may read instructions for a do-it-yourself project which tell you to measure "OC" or "on-center". That's when these red marks every 16 inches come in handy.
Some stud finders require calibration in order to work properly. Some do "instant calibration" and some require you to find a stud-free spot on a wall to perform that stud finder calibration. If you are buying a stud finder from a third party on eBay or from a garage sale, be sure to ask what kind of calibration is needed to make the finder work properly.
If you are in the beginning stages of your tool collection for drywall hanging, home improvements, or other do-it-yourself projects, consider adding a laser level to your kit sooner rather than later. If you are new to laser levels, the first thing you'll most likely encounter is a choice between a self-leveling laser and models sold without that feature. Spend the extra money for a self-leveling laser, as they will reduce the headaches you'll get trying to use the “bubble” to adjust and set the level for your new tool. Any bump or jostle to a standard laser level can knock your measurements out of whack. There is no danger of this with a self-leveling laser product. Just turn it on, and get to work. It's that easy.
One of the best things you can do to help yourself when using a tape measure involves properly marking the surface you are measuring. Instead of making a straight line, it is far easier to make a "v" mark on the wood, paper, or other surface you are working with. The point of the "v" helps you to quickly locate your measurements and cut, hammer, or drill in exactly the right spot.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: There are many uses for a measuring wheel, including measuring jogging trails and other running surfaces. Do you need to make an official measurement for a competition cross-country running course, marathon, or other sporting event? The measuring wheel can give the accurate readings you need. Do you need to find and mark your property line according to your official acreage? Or measure the distance between an outbuilding and another structure to check compliance with local covenants or building codes? The measuring wheel is definitely the right tool for you.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: When buying combo tools such as a laser level and stud finder combination, double check the packaging to see whether the laser level is suitable for indoor/outdoor use or if it is recommended only for indoor use. Depending on your needs the indoor-only restriction could be a liability. If you are concerned over spending extra money on a combo laser level and stud finder, remember that the additional warranty coverage could end up making your purchase pay for itself somewhere down the line if you need to take advantage of the terms of the warranty.
If you don't mind paying a bit extra, you can purchase laser levels that have built-in stud finders, which can save you space in the toolbox as well as add a bit of convenience when you are working. The good news is many of the more advanced versions of these models only run around $50 or so; purchasing a combo level and stud finder might be worth the extra money. Some models come with a one-year warranty, but others offer a two-year versions.
A stud is part of the frame of the wall, hidden from view; usually a 2x4 or 2x6 Shelving and other attachments to the wall are most secure when fastened to these studs. A stud finder locates the studs, and make excellent tools for those who don't feel comfortable using the “tap” method experienced do-it-yourselfers sometimes use. You simply place the stud finder on the wall and move it along until the indicator light shows you the location of the stud. These handy gadgets can be very simple, or multi-functional tools with more complicated features. If you need a budget model, a simple magnetic stud finder is probably for you, but there are complicated models with lasers and LEDs that are a bit more expensive but allow you to grow into them as you become more do-it-yourself savvy.
A handy accessory for a tape measure is a "grease pen" or china marker. This comes in handy when you must measure around corners, at awkward angles, or any other tape measure situation where it is easy to lose your place on the measure because you must shift your position to continue measuring. You can mark the position of a corner on the measure with the china marker, then either write down the number or continue from that spot with the measurements. When you need to utilize the "extra markings" on your tape measure, use a china marker of a different color than the markings on the tape measure for maximum readability.
Measuring wheels are used to get accurate readings for a wide range of applications, including laying concrete flooring, measuring square footage for real estate sales, even fence building. Why spend the extra money on a measuring wheel instead of measuring tape? For starters, a measuring wheel is a one-person operation. If you have a wide area to measure such as a driveway or foundation, you can use the wheel to quickly and accurately get the measurements. More advanced measuring wheels come with built-in calculators that can computer volume and area dimensions. These models often store a certain number of readings in many cases, something a measuring tape definitely can't do.
Aubuchon Hardware Tip: Some stud finders are magnetic and can locate nails rather than studs. If you are having bad luck with a magnetic stud finder, try switching to a model that detects changes in density rather than using a magnet to locate the stud. These density-change stud finders can give you much more accurate results, but do require nine-volt batteries. For the most accurate readings, it's important to make sure you have fresh batteries.