Parts of a Tape Measure (Explained with Pictures)

Parts of a Tape Measure

Just about everyone has a tape measure. Unlike other tools, most people don’t know the terms used to describe the different components. That won’t affect day-to-day use, but it’s helpful to know what those things are called when you buy one, because it’ll help you find one to meet your working conditions. We put together this brief introduction on the different components of a tape measure and what to call them.

The parts:

1. Blade

The blade is the working part of a tape measure. It’s the long tongue of metal that uncoils as you pull it out to tell you how long a distance it is from one place to another. Most of them come with both standard measurements and metrics to make them as versatile as possible. The longer the measurement you need to take, in general, the bigger the tape measure you’ll need to buy.

2. Spring and stop

The action that pulls the blade back into the case when you release the thumb lock is the spring and stop. It’s what makes it so that, on a purely mechanical tool, you don’t have to push the blade back in manually. Keep this part of the tape measure free from dust and grit, or else the tape measure’s function might be affected. You can’t normally get to these to perform maintenance, so care in use is your best guide.

3. Case

The body of the tape measure is the case. It’s the hardened outside that protects the tape measure’s guts from grit and debris and keeps the action working well. Most of them are constructed out of plastic, but models that require added durability might also be made out of metal.

4. Thumb lock

Because measurements can be tricky to take, the thumb lock is what stops the blade from sliding back in automatically when you want it to remain out. The action of pushing it down locks the blade in place, while pushing it back up lets the spring and stop spin it back in for storage.

5. Belt loop

Tape measures are pretty bulky things to carry around. They’re shaped vaguely like a square, and if you are working with any kind of length, they might be big and heavy. Getting one around might be a chore, especially if you have several tools to carry. Most tool bags have specific places for tape measures, but most tape measures have loops so you can connect them to your belt.

6. Hook

At the forward lip of the blade is a hook that allows you to slip it over the side of something you are measuring and pull it out as you go. This prevents you from having to feed it out as you go and makes it easier to measure things with relatively large distances.

Conclusion

Not many people know what components make up a tape measure. Most people own them, but they’re a thing of secondary importance. Knowing what the different components do is helpful in knowing how a tape measure works, and if you have a specialized need in tape measures, that’ll help you get the one you need. For instance, if you work around a lot of sand, you’ll want to find one with a spring and stop designed for it. If your needs remain pretty simple, just knowing what the tools do is pretty good knowledge to have.

Did you know that digital tape measures were a thing? We’ve reviewed our favorites here!

Curious about other tools?

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!