Johnson 25′ PlanReader Architect Series Power Tape Review
The first thing you need to do when you want to buy a tape measure is to choose one. There are many different types of tapes available today. Some have markings on them which indicate their capacity or other useful features.
Others may not even include any such marking at all, but instead rely solely upon the size of the mark itself (i.e. 1/2″). A few tape measures will feature some sort of indication of their capacity in terms of inches, but these are rare. If you’re looking for something with a bit more precision than your average ruler, then you’ll probably want to look into a tape measure that includes markings in both units.
Tape measures come in two basic varieties: those that measure in feet and inches, and those that measure in metric measurements. Each type of tape measure has its own advantages and disadvantages. You’ll find that most tape measures fall somewhere between the two extremes, so it’s up to you to decide which type you prefer.
A foot tape is simply a long piece of thin paper with a series of holes punched through it at regular intervals along its length. Foot tapes are the traditional type of tape measure that you will probably be familiar with.
To use a foot tape, you simply need to pull the tape out to the required length and read off the hole that lines up with one end of what you’re measuring. Although this method might sound imprecise, it is actually surprisingly accurate; most people can be within around 1/16″ of an inch just by using their eye to line up the measurement holes. This type of tape is very easy to use, inexpensive, and can be very accurate when in the hands of an expert.
A standard foot tape measures feet and inches. The markings on the paper are usually both Imperial (inches) and Metric (centimeters). There are very few foot tapes around today that don’t also include metric markings, as it has largely replaced Imperial measurements.
The main disadvantage with foot tapes is that they can’t measure long distances very well. Since one hole is always in line with what you’re measuring, foot tapes can only be stretched to around 50 feet before the holes become too far away from each other to be read accurately. For longer measurements, a retractable tape measure that uses arbitrary units (rather than marked holes) is a better choice (see below).
Although not as common in the US, many other countries have largely replaced measuring in feet and inches with the Metric system. In the Metric system, one unit is equivalent to 0.394 inches (or 10 millimeters), which is very close to an inch.
This means that, unlike Imperial measurements, the Metric system is always divisible by 2, 3, 5, and 10, which makes it much easier to measure in smaller units as small as you want (although for most people, reading a tape in 5 millimeter increments is too fine-grained).
These smaller units are also very useful for both large and small measurements. For example, if you need to drill a hole through a piece of metal and the thickness is 0.75 units, it’s relatively easy to mark the spot for drilling using a much more manageable number of marks (i.e.
12.5). This always works out since 0.5 x 12.5 = 6.25, which is still less than 0.75.
Although it’s less common in the US, virtually all measuring tapes sold in other parts of the world are Metric.
Because these tapes use an arbitrary number of units to measure their length, different manufacturers use different numbers of these units. For example, some might have 20 mm per unit, others 25 or even 30. Although, it wouldn’t make sense for a tape to have 17.5 mm per unit (as this isn’t a round number), many of the units are unnecessarily non-round.
In fact, the more units a tape has, the less practical it is since, as the number of units increases, so does the size of the tape, making it too impractical for pocket carry.
Despite the above, Metric tapes are great at measuring long distances and easy to use with fine measurement increments.
Most retractable measuring tapes are made in Imperial measurements, although some can be found in Metric. Although these are harder to find, they’re a good alternative for people who want a back-up tape measure that doesn’t use the Imperial system (or who just prefer to work in Metric units).
The biggest disadvantage with retractable tapes is that they’re not as easy to keep in your pocket since they’re always extended. Although, as mentioned above, this isn’t really a problem with most non-Imperial tapes.
Although not a common feature on tapes, some can be found with a magnetic holder so they can be attached to a metal surface. These are fairly convenient if you work on vehicles or with metal studs in walls.
Although a tape measure is one of the most useful tools in your toolbox, it can still be improved. For example, if you need to measure an angle, you’ll have to measure the length of the side facing you and then manually do the math to find the length of the other side.
Although this is easy enough to do by hand, it’s another added step that takes time. Thankfully, there are apps and online tools that can do the math for you (I used one here), making measuring angles much easier.
Another limitation of a tape measure is that it’s only as accurate as the person using it (even with the help of a calculator or app). For example, if you’re measuring the depth of a dent, and jiggle at the wrong time, you might miss-measure. This could make or break your case when arguing over a $50 repair.
These limits are why there’s a market for laser rangefinders. These handy devices use lasers to accurately measure the distance of an object in immediate range, making instant measurements so there’s no room for user error.
Many people use their phone’s built-in camera as a level when hanging pictures or other wall decor. Although this works well in most cases, it doesn’t take into account the slope of the ceiling or floor.
While a laser rangefinder is useful for instant measurements, it can’t take into account the vertical slope in front of you. As such, you might still need a level to make sure things are straight.
If you’re hanging something heavy like a large TV or an entire door, a laser rangefinder might not be able to give you a measurement since it requires a reflective surface to bounce the laser off of.
For most people, a laser rangefinder and a level should cover all the measuring needs. However, there are other tools that can be used for measuring specific things like 3D space and the size of objects. These include:
Laser Distance Meter: A more expensive tool that works on the same concept as a laser rangefinder except it can also give you the height and depth of an object.
Digital Level: While a regular bubble level only measures two axes (side-to-side and upside-down), a digital level can measure all three axes (including diagonally). Since most walls aren’t perfectly plumb, this allows for more accuracy during rough in.
There is one major limitation with both types of levels and that’s the ability to see the reflective surface. This can be difficult if you’re trying to hang something on the other side of a large TV.
While you might be able to set it on a table or an armoire and get a reading, this isn’t always the most convenient. As such, a laser rangefinder can come in handy in these situations, since it can bounce the laser off of the TV screen itself.
Although there are many types of specialty rulers that can measure anything from the slope of a roof to the height of a TV, they tend to be expensive and not really necessary for the average person.
Can You Do It without Tools?
While you can absolutely install your own flooring, tile, or trim, there are certain jobs that are best left to the professionals. (Or at least a handy friend who is more skilled with power tools!
For example, if you want to put in crown molding , you’ll need a miter saw to make the 45-degree cuts. While you can rent one, they are expensive to rent for just a single job and it’s likely you won’t have a use for it again anytime soon.
Instead, you might want to opt for stick-on crown molding that can be purchased at your local hardware store or online. This is a quick fix if you just need to finish off a room and you don’t have time to paint or wallpapered.
What About Safety Equipment?
If you’re going to tackle a big project like installing hardwood flooring, it’s important to wear all the necessary safety equipment . This includes safety glasses, earplugs, dust masks, and most importantly, breathing protection.
While you might be tempted to forgo the dust mask and breathing protection if you’re just painting a room, this is a big no-no. The fumes from the paint and primer are horrible for you and unlike dust, you actually do need to protect yourself from breathing them in.
How Do I Know If I’m Ready?
If you can answer yes to most of these questions, then you’re probably ready to take on the job.
Do you have all the necessary tools?
Do you have all the safety equipment you need?
Does the area to be worked on allow for proper ventilation?
(IE: You can open a window or door for a fan)
Is someone able to help you move larger items like furniture or appliances?
Do you have access to a vehicle to pick up supplies or dump waste? Do you have at least 2-3 weekends that you can work on the project (This just includes sanding and finishing a solid base coat of paint, it doesn’t include picking up supplies or dumping trash)
Will you have enough room in your home to store items while they dry/cure?
What if I’m Not Comfortable Cutting Everything? If you’re not comfortable cutting a perfectly square edge or would rather have professionals cut your wood to size, Home Depot and Lowes will do this for you for free. All you have to do is tell them what you need and they’ll cut it to size while you wait.
You will, however, have to transport the wood from their store to your vehicle. This might be a little difficult if you have a large sheet of plywood or 4×8 sheets of lumber.
If you think you’ll need help getting it into your car/truck, then call ahead and ask them if they can load it into your vehicle for you. This will help ensure that it fits and you don’t accidentally break something on the way home.
Paint or Stain?
While you certainly can paint flooring such as hardwood or laminate, staining it will give it more of an authentic look. If you want solid wood to match the rest of your home, then using stain is definitely the way to go.
If you’re painting the floor, be sure to pick a paint color that isn’t too dark. You want the grain to show through a little bit so it looks more like real wood and less like a solid sheet of color.
Pick Up Supplies Ahead of Time
If you’re going to tackle this project over the course of several weekends, then you’ll want to pick up all your supplies ahead of time. Most home improvement stores will hold your orders for several days for free.
Just be sure that you have all the items you need when you go to pick everything up so you don’t have to make another trip.
Also, be sure to write down the order numbers of everything you picked up. This way, if you have to return anything, you can easily find it using their system.
Sand, Prime, Paint or Stain and Then Install!
Once everything is in place and you’ve double and triple checked your measurements, it’s finally time to install your new floor!
Start by sanding the subfloor until it’s smooth.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Vocational Education for Handicapped Persons: Handbook for Program Implementation (WN Craig – 1971 – books.google.com)