Few everyday things are actually invisible to many of us. For example, there's a little arrow next to the fuel gauge, you've probably seen it a million times. It actually indicates which side of your car the fuel tank is on. Most people know to check the fuel level by looking at the fuel gauge. However, in a leased or borrowed vehicle, most people still have trouble remembering the correct way to fill up. it's there! Likewise, tape measures have markings that we often overlook. However, if we know what they are for, or where they are, these markers can help us work more efficiently. Let's take a closer look at the kinds of information that tape measure markings provide us with.
Table of contents
- Basic Tape Measure Marks – Feet and Inches… with a Twist!
- show decimal inches
- Show marks for feet and inches
- Includes imperial and metric measurements
- Double-sided tape measure for vertical and horizontal measurements
- Layout of tape measure marks
- 16 foot stud markers
- those mysterious black diamond truss markers
- Board center marks and measurements
- Going Beyond the Requirements of Tape Marking
- Catheter bending multiple table
- Building scale
- final thoughts
Basic Tape Measure Marks – Feet and Inches… with a Twist!
show decimal inches
We don't have to spend too much time talking about the marks everyone uses: inches, feet, and the fractional 1/16 inch hash marks that make them up. However, it's important to note that not all tapes are created equally. Some are printed with useful fractions in addition to hash marks (1/8, 1/4, etc.).
This allows you to instantly display accurate measurements quickly in red as fractional values. It eliminates the possibility of "misreading" tapes and seeing wrong marks.
Show marks for feet and inches
While most tape measures only show inches, some tape measures include foot and inch marks after the 1-foot mark. For example, you might see a 1F 5″ mark at the 17 inch mark.
Includes imperial and metric measurements
Finally, manufacturers often sell tape measures with imperial (actually USCU units) and metric markings. You may have one on top of the tape and another on the bottom. This allows you to use the same tape when jumping between measurement scales. It sure beats carrying around two tapes!
Double-sided tape measure for vertical and horizontal measurements
More common but just as useful are tape measures with markings on both sides for taking horizontal and vertical measurements. While you can use any tape measure for vertical measurements, placing the numbers vertically makes the job much easier.
On these tape measures, the numbers on the back are at a 90-degree angle from the front. This will properly position the tape measure when you hold it upright against a surface.
16 foot stud markers
One of the most convenient markings on the tape comes in the form of a color change at every 16-foot point. Look for the 16" mark on most tapes and you'll find it differentiated by color (usually red), size, or both. This comes up again and again at 32", 48", etc.
Why stress? Standard building codes state that supporting wall members (studs) must be 16 inches on center. When a builder builds a wall, these marks make it easy to place studs in accordance with these building codes. This spacing results in seven studs in an 8-foot span for standard lumber such as drywall and plywood. These markers make laying out new walls simple when composing.
Plus, if you can find one stud on the finished wall, you can use these stud markers to quickly find the rest.
those mysterious black diamond truss markers
Of all the tape measure marks, black diamonds are overlooked. When they are discovered, most people do not know how to use them properly. In fact, to the untrained eye, they don't seem to have any rhyme or reason to appear at 19-3/16, around 38-13/32, then 57-19/32, etc.
In fact, these black diamonds are used as trusses or black truss indicators. The 16-inch marks provided the spacing for the seven uprights within the 8-foot span, while the black diamond trusses provided the spacing for the six trusses under the standard plywood.
A quick warning: True black truss diamonds are likely to appear on longer specialty tapes. Now we have in front of us two tapes from the same manufacturer. The 25' tape is studded with genuine black truss diamonds. The 6-foot tape has black diamonds on 16-inch center increments. Like we said, just make sure you know what units you're measuring in!
Board center marks and measurements
Some tape measures include markings at the bottom of the tape that measure exactly halfway up the markings on the top of the tape. This makes marking the midpoint of the board much easier.
Going Beyond the Requirements of Tape Marking
Catheter bending multiple table
Certain Klein tape measures include bend schedules and markers. These can help you understand where to place the bender to achieve a specific bend along the pipe. Combine that with the flex tape that fits the pipe and the magnetic end hooks, and you've got a pretty good plumber's package!
For any of us who have had to go back and forth from plans to verify measurements, making architectural scales on the back of tape can save some time. Some Milwaukee tape measures include this feature on the back. Using the 1/4 inch = 1 foot scale can save you a lot of time when modifying or updating plans on the job site.
Any businessman knows it's best to use the right tool for the job, so we welcome new technology when it improves productivity. We really dig the speed and accuracy of laser distance measurement. But if it wasn't already clear that laser distance measurements are well suited for a wide range of measurement applications, they don't necessarily help with layout. In this case, despite these technological advances in laser measurement, our low-tech tape measures give us much more useful information. In fact, we'd be behind the times without our standard, tried and tested tape measure markers!
If you're a pro and have a tape measure tip, please add it in the comments below!