While many people think it’s easy to get the right tape measure, most people are just grabbing the first one they see. If you’re a woodworker, you’re going to demand more from your tape measure than most people, and that means you need to get a model that will live up to your expectations.
It’s not always clear which models will be successful in that regard when you shop online. We want you to know what you’re getting before you buy, which is why our reviews cover the good and the bad. After reading this guide, you’ll know what features you can get to enhance your experience, and might save some money, too.
We also recently published an article where we showcase our favorite digital tape measures, it can be found here.
|General Tools LTM1 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure|
|Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure 48-22-7125||1 lb||4.45/5|
|Komelon PG85 8m by 25mm|
(Best for the Money)
|Stanley 33-425 Powerlock||1 lb||4.15/5|
|TEKTON 71951||1 lb||3.90/5|
The General Tools LTM1 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure is a very cool concept, combining the range of a laser with the short-distance convenience of a traditional measuring tape. With the measuring tape, you can measure up to 16 feet. However, the laser expands your range up to 50 feet, which allows you to tackle entire rooms without moving. The great thing about this model is that it allows you to use whichever method is most convenient at the time or the method that’s better for the task at hand.
While many people would worry that the laser would be inaccurate, it does provide accuracy to within a quarter inch at 50 feet. That won’t be perfect for all situations, but it’s good enough accuracy to ballpark most things. If you need more accuracy, you can always use the included tape measure. Our one quibble with this model is that the laser is mounted relatively high on this model, making it hard to hit the picture frame edges or other objects which may not rise far off the wall. However, if you can make good use of a long-range laser and short-range measuring tape, then this is the model for you.
Sometimes the attention to detail really comes through on a tool, and the Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure 48-22-7125 is one of those devices. It comes with a 25-foot measuring tape, which is enough for most situations, and the tape is marked on both sides, so you can still make a measurement, even if you’ve had to go around a corner and ended up on the bottom side. It also comes with nylon bond blade protection, which greatly reduces the chances that you’ll tear or damage the tape, even when you must bend it to get the right measurement.
The frame is reinforced, so it will hold up great against falls. It also comes with a finger stop, so it’s hard to accidentally catch your finger in the tape while it’s retracting. This tape measure is magnetized, which is a blessing and a problem. It’s good for if you’re going to be working with sheet metal and somewhat useless otherwise, and if you’re working in an area with a lot of metal shavings, your tape measure will require cleaning. Overall, this is probably the best all-around tape measure, but the model with the laser just beat it out on this list.
The Komelon PG85 8m by 25mm is the model you should get if you’re looking for a great metric tape measure. This model is capable of measuring distances of up to eight meters, which makes it just a hair longer than the previous model. This tape measure comes in a compact shell, and while it won’t have as much fall protection as some others on this list, it is lighter than other models. The end hook, used for hanging it from a belt or pocket, is very-well mounted, and quite strong, so it’s not a potential point of failure.
You can also get this model for about half of what you’d pay for the previous models on our list. That makes it a great deal, and the best for the money overall. If you’re looking to get a tape measure without breaking the bank and can make use of Metric measurements, then this is the model for you. What ultimately keeps it out of the top two is its terrible packaging. It’s hard to open, and you run the risk of accidentally damaging your new product in the process. Fix that issue, and this model easily breaks the top two.
The Stanley 33-425 Powerlock has the potential to be a good bargain deal. However, it does have a number of shortcomings that you should consider before you make your decision. It is a 25-foot measuring tape, which means you’re getting a standard distance at a cut-rate price. It also comes with stud center markings at both 16 inches and 19.2 inches, so you can find studs that were put in place under either system. You can get this model for about half of what you’d pay for the previous model. However, the quality begins to drop off at this point dramatically.
The case is made from ABS, which is short for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. In other words, it’s made of plastic. You’re not going to get great performance out of that soft plastic, and you should be careful about dropping this model, as it’s relatively-likely to crack or break under any stresses. It also has inconsistent printing on the tape. Sometimes it’s very crisp. Other times, it’s fuzzy and inaccurate. You could potentially get this model if saving money is your number one priority, but given how low the quality is, you may end up unhappy with your purchase anyway.
The TEKTON 71951 has some things going for it, but it ultimately has enough question marks to drop it to the bottom of our list. It does come with stud marks every 16 inches, which can come in handy. This model also comes with a thumb lock, which you can use to keep the tape from retracting without using the main lock. It also comes with labeled fractions on the subdivisions of an inch. That will be useful for amateurs, while it might drive expert tape measure users up a wall.
Unfortunately, this model’s quality just isn’t that great. Like the previous model, it’s made from abs, and you should try not to drop it or put too much pressure on it, as it’s likely to crack or break. The tape is only 1/2-inch wide, which makes it flimsy and hard to extend over great distances. This is only a 12-foot measuring tape, but if the flimsiness is noticeable at those distances, you have a problem. This is the least expensive model on our list, and if you need something for occasional, non-professional use, then you could make use of this model, but for most, it’s a disappointing buy.
The General Tools LTM1 2-in-1 Laser Tape Measure is our favorite model due to its included laser, one-button operation, and good range. In second is the Milwaukee Magnetic Tape Measure 48-22-7125 which is very strong and comes with some convenient features, but also has an inconvenient magnet that adds to the price without adding a lot of value. The Komelon PG85 8m by 25mm is the best choice for people who need Metric tape measures, and its compact shell, strong end hook, and great price make it the best value for the money. The Stanley 33-425 Powerlock is inexpensive and has stud markings, but its inconsistent printing and cheap case drop it to fourth place. The TEKTON 71951 also comes with stud markings and has a thumb lock and labeled fractions, but its plastic case and flimsy case drop it to the last place on our list.
We hope that our reviews have helped you understand the features you can get on the tape measure market today. You should be able to find a model which is right for you at a price your wallet will love.