Measurement style: The Milwaukee
and Stanley tapes are all inches all
the time, but most of my FastCap and
Hafele tapes are inches on top and
metric on the bottom. I also have tapes
that read right side up from either side
of the tape, which can help to eliminate errors or if you are left-handed.
FastCap also offers a story-stick-style
tape with a blank area you can mark
with a pencil and rub off to erase.
Some tapes are yellow and some are
white; that’s personal preference to
me. The FastCap tapes have all the
fractions marked to help eliminate
Locking methods: A few tapes have
an automatic spring lock that holds the
tape out and must be released to retract it. I’ve found most of those don’t
hold up to extended professional use.
That might be why most tapes these
days have a manual lock to press down
to hold the tape out. Some have a button on the bottom to press to hold the
tape out temporarily or to slow retraction. The Milwaukee has a cutout, so
your finger can easily do that work.
Accessories: My favorite accessory on
the Hafele and FastCap tapes is a flat,
blank white space on the side of the
case on which you can write measurements in pencil and then rub off to
erase them. Those tapes also feature
built-in pencil sharpeners. Almost
all tape measures have belt clips, but
the ones from FastCap have a lever
to make it easier to clip to your belt
one-handed. All of these tapes are designed to be used right-handed; I don’t
think I’ve ever seen a true left-handed
IN THE SHOP
Blade widths shown range from 1-1/8 inches wide to less than ½ inch wide and
lengths from 10 to 30 feet. Generally, wider blades have longer standouts. Note the
top flat blade from FastCap designed for no standout, which lies completely flat and
is handy for measuring sheets and panels.
The Milwaukee Stud tape measure features a recess at the bottom so you can safely
use your finger to slow or stop the blade from retracting. Some other tapes have a
button in this position.