This is an easy modification to any steel tape measure.  The length of the tape and degree of precision you want will determine how much time is spent making it.  

When I first entered this instructable in the "I Can Make That" contest, I intended it to mimic a new device that hasn't been marketed yet.  I started receiving comments about patent infringement issues and my patent attorney (who confirmed there were no issues) suggested I remove all reference of the product as a way to stop the well-intended, but bothersome comments... Which I did.  Now, being without a product I can copy, I'm no longer in alignment with the contest rules.  Therefore, I'll chose the next closest product, the Inca Rule which is far enough away from the design of my instructable to make patent infringement a non-issue.

That being said, let's get started:

Step 1: What You'll Need

Here's what you'll need:  A steel measuring tape, a small" diameter hole punch, a pencil (optional), and a steady hand.

I use a Roper Whitney #5 Jr. Hand Punch, probably the second most used tool in my shop.  It comes with interchangeable punches ranging from .094" (3/32") to .281" (9/32").  Mine even has a custom made square punch that Roper Whitney made for me.

I suppose a small drill would also work, but it's disturbing to think of how frustrating that would be to use.

After I completed my first tape by hand (it took forever... And there were mistakes too), I made a simple guide and hooked it up to my hand punch.  The guide indexed the tape every inch, so on my second attempt, I never made a mistake, and it only took me 15 minutes to punch 10' (120 holes).  The instructions for making the guide are in step 4.
The biggest issues with this idea seem to be the size of the holes and the cost of the punch. If anyone can help with these questions specifically, please let us know. <br> <br>Thanks, <br>bfk
Hey man, its funny my brother is Attmos a few comments down. i was gonna say the same thing he did. cant believe i've never thought of that. My alternative to the punch is probably gonna be a few vice grips and my drill. great great idea though
Hi Haplo 1. Thank you for your comment. The greatest ideas are those that elicit the response &quot;I could have thought of that&quot;, so your comment is high praise indeed. <br><br>Now, your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to help your brother get his idea to market. There are people on Instructables willing to help great thinkers, and apparently this trait runs in your family, so the force is strong within you. Best of luck to both of you. I expect to hear more about you in the future.
Hey, congrats on being a winner. I am amazed that this didn't receive a first or grand prize. I work in construction and this is something I've never seen, but wonder why I never thought of it. Thank you for bringing it to the attention of all us grunts.
Thanks for your kind words Attmos, but... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Your cat scratcher is the best idea I've seen in a long time! When the contest was over, and before your comment, I looked at your idea and knew I had to build it (honestly, it was the only one that interested me). Now, where did I see that? Let's see... Oh YA... FIRST PRIZE! You sir, are the man. Your idea is so incredibly simple and easy to make, chances are it'll be commercially available in a very short time. If you want to make anything from it, you have 1 year after posting it to apply for a patent. The USPTO has a provisional patent that gives you pending status for about $100 (when I was patenting, about 10 years ago). You then have 1 year after that to sell your idea without having to worry about non-disclosures and all that garbage. Please consider it, my friend. If you've patented before, you don't need me blubbering all over your invention, but if not, PM me and ask me anything. I have no personal interest, but I do have a desire to promote great thinkers. And you are truly one of those, for sure.
This is such a brilliant idea. Falls into &quot;why didn't I think of that&quot; Thanks for sharing:-) Got my vote!
Thank you sir. For both the kind words and the vote :)
Awesome idea ...I would buy a few if they were commercially available ...as I am sure other would. <br>Older eyes and glasses mean the degree of accuracy I once had could now be improved with a tape like this . <br>Maybe someone out there could help make this into a business venture ?? <br> <br>Thank you for sharing and good luck ! <br>Build_it_Bob
Thank you Bob... You hit it right on about the eyes. And I'd buy a few as well.
Thanks Chris... Next time, please don't write something like that on the weekend. My patent attorney gets grumpy when his game is interrupted:) <br> <br>In attempting to do the &quot;right thing&quot;, I've apparently created a plethora of patent-related comments that's detracting from my original intent. This item has not been patented or commercialized and because it isn't being shown here for profit, there has been no commercial appropriation of identity. <br> <br>None-the-less, I'm removing all references to said items and identities in order to get things back on track.
I think you're confused about patent law. <br> <br>&quot;A person directly infringes a patent by making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the US any patented invention, without authority, during the term of the patent.&quot; <br> <br>Direct infringement includes making a device for yourself. <br> <br>&quot;35 U.S.C. &sect; 271(b) covers situations where one actively induces the infringement of a patent by encouraging, aiding, or otherwise causing another person or entity to infringe a patent. A potential inducer must actually be aware of the patent and intend for their actions to result in a third party infringing that patent.&quot; <br> <br>Making an instructable on a patented device constitutes indirect patent infringement in the United states. I wonder how Instructable's legal department handles their association with issues of indirect patent infringement. <br> <br> <br>However... There's a certain reality you or another enthusiast wouldn't get much more than a Cease and Desist letter. The average infringer doesn't have enough money to warrant legal action. <br> <br>I just think it would be a very good idea that we're all aware of where the lines actually are. <br> <br>(Cool project, by the way!)
I seem to recall that pattern in Indian Bead Work. It stood for &quot;Mountains&quot;.? This idea has My vote written all over It.! Thanks.
Thank you very much. I like your description.
Just 3 and 1/2 Mountains over..HAR.!
Holy cow batman this is so smart!!!! I am doing this ASAP to my Tape measure!!
Here you are again! I missed this comment. Tell me the truth... Did you make it disappear?
I do tend to make things disappear, it is what magicians do :)
No rain... No parade. There's no wrong response to my instructables. The worse that could happen is, I'd learn something :) Johnson squares use the same &quot;kind&quot; of idea as the tape, but it's different, in that the holes in Jung's tape don't slide along the work, but unroll on top of it. I don't know if you came up with your invention before you saw a Johnson square, but If you did, then you know the feeling of inventing something. <br> <br>People see a new thing and associate it with something else they're familiar with. Like with your idea, people had seen rulers before, so to them, making it slide along, carrying a pencil along with it is a natural extension for the purpose of the ruler. The fact remains, before you showed it to them, no one would even have THOUGHT about doing it that way. The proof of that lies in the fact that rulers have been around for eons. It wasn't until you modified and used your square in a new way that it appeared on Earth... And I know you're not thousands of years old. Inventing simple things is incredibly difficult. A paradigm shift is required to even think of the concept. The easy inventions, are those truly complex problems that are already on everyone's mind, like flying, driving or space walking. These kinds of inventions are filled with hundreds of complicated bits, each being an invention of its own, but because the goal of these inventions is already known beforehand, their concepts are already formed and understood. <br> <br>Did that make sense? If not... Sorry... I tend to ramble. I'll be quiet now :)
not to rain on your parade, but I did exactly this to my carpenters square maybe 20 years age. with the square you can hold a pencil in the hole and easily draw lines a certain distance from the edge of the material. &quot;Johnson&quot; squares also have notches on their edge for the same idea, only these work with the flat carpenters pencils as well.
If you use a drill then mark the places to drill with a nail and hammer so that your drill bit doesn't wander.
So simple so convenient.
Looks Like a great idea, my only concern would be my tape breaking. I've done a lot of restoration work in my life. And to be honest my tape gets a lot of abuse. I usually snap or tear a couple a year. This would only weaken it even more for me. But I'm sure a lot of people that take better care of there tapes would be just fine. Thanks for posting it.
Good call... If you're wrecking that many tapes, it'd take you weeks of punching just to keep up. :). Thanks for your interesting spin.
My point exactly. I may give it a try for my cabinet building tape. I do take better bare of that one due to keep it precisely measuring.
Try to find a smaller punch. That will reduce the loss of strength and increase the precision. You may also find more room to add holes to the 1/8 level... Of course, a month of punching would get old, real quick :)
There's a reason that this never made it to market...
Hi Niccernicus: I'm betting your unstated reason is one of strength. The single most difficult thing about coming up with a new idea is getting rid of the tendency to think intuitively about a problem. True, the metal won't be as strong as it used to be, and true, a failure would more likely to happen at one of the holes... However... <br> <br>The holes are round and as aircraft engineers have discovered, unlike square holes, round ones move the stresses of moving metal around them. Try this experiment: Take a sheet of paper and cut or tear a slit halfway through it. Now, holding it on either side of the tear, rip it the rest of the way. Easy right? <br> <br>Now, take another piece of paper and do the same thing, only this time, using a paper hole punch, put a hole at the very end of the slit. Now, try to rip it. It's much more difficult, isn't it? <br> <br>I'm not belittling your opinion. Everyone's opinion is as viable as anyone else's. But wait until someone has a chance to put one of these things through a real-world test before forming opinions. I personally don't know if it'll pass or not, but betting one way or the other without getting all the data is a 50/50 shot. And that's good advice for making ANY decision. <br> <br>In the end, you may be absolutely correct, and I'd look forward to, and truly enjoy your &quot;I told you so&quot;, because that's what the scientific process is all about. :)
I wasn't even questioning the strength, it's the practicality. Realistically, if you use a tape frequently, you'll know that tiny holes in the tape are not practical for real life marking. Especially when the marks go to the edge of the tape. Good idea, but just not necessary at the end of the day. <br> <br>On a side note, people who work with wood use pencils. Holes don't facilitate &quot;dull&quot; pencils (which all woodworkers have) or carpenter's pencils, which are larger. <br> <br>Again, not meaning to knock the design, just adding 2 cents of why it isn't on the market.
Good points and well noted. About the pencils: That's why I use mechanicals. They're always sharp and 9mm leads are rugged.
Actually, something remarkably similar to this is already on the market. I like your tape measure better, because, well, it's a tape measure. And it allows for a much bigger pencil than this one. In fact, why even use a pencil? Just use the holes to make a punch mark! <br> <br>http://www.amazon.com/Incra-RULE12-12-Inch-Rules-Marking/dp/B0000DD2U7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1378257232&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=marking+ruler
The advantage of the INCRA RULES is the very fine slots which are the width of a sharp pensyl. but they are not cheap and only available up to 18&quot; long.
I suppose, if some company decides to invest in the tooling, slots like those in the Incra rulers could be punched into the blanks used in tape production. Maybe someday, all tape measures will be made that way... Personally, I can't wait.
Thank you Klee. Those actually look very useful for small projects. I often make models for museums and could certainly use something like that. A mechanical pencil with a small diameter lead is what it looks like they require. I end up breaking those every time I try to write with them, but for delicate work like this, I could see them working. <br><br>Thanks again for the link.
It would be interesting if there was a similar punch but in a vertical rectangle instead.
If you don't mind paying for it, Roper Whitney can make a punch of any shape you need. They made a 1/8&quot; square punch for me so I could tool rectangular holes without having to file corners in round ones.
Use a pin your holes won't weaken it
LOL Love your user-name. :). Thanks. Good point.
Love this for basic home DIY projects! Boom: The holes need to be big enough to fit a pencil tip so I think a needle wouldn't work well.
It'd be interesting to learn what size hole is best for the largest number of people. I would have chosen a smaller size myself if I had the punch. A smaller hole would be more accurate, but a larger hole is an easier target.
the reason for the whole is if punched properly it would be more efficient and more accurate as long as the tip of your pin fills the whole and is centered I couldnt see doing this to more than the first foot of a tape measure though
It does take a long time to punch accurate holes. And you're absolutely right about accuracy. If I had a smaller punch, I'd have chosen it. I'm thinking of ordering one from Roper Whitney... But not this month... I'm in the doghouse for spending too much already. :/
Absolutely genius. If you placed a hole at 5ft does the tape measure seem to fold at that point?
Thank you for your kind remark. I've answered your great question elsewhere, but it should be answered here as well: it's interesting to note, that qualitatively, there doesn't appear to be any difference between the action or the resistance to bending between the holed tape and a standard tape. There is a difference when running a sharp bend back and forth however. You can definitely feel the holed tape stop momentarily for a fraction of an instant as the bend passes over the holes, whereas the standard tape moves smoothly. Of course, we shouldn't be subjecting our tapes to that type of stress anyway.
Love this idea, and yes why didn't I think of that! As a hobbyist I find this really helpful, I have often &quot;Notched&quot; a 12&quot; wooden ruler to help me mark paper or to line up small projects for the scroll saw. So yeah, here's next weekend project. Thanks.
And it may take the entire weekend... My 10 footer still isn't totally complete and I've been working on mine the longest. :)
Now that is just BRILLIANT! way to go bfk !!
Thank you porcupinemama... (You don't know what I'd give to hear how you came up with that user name) :)
great idea. I know a number of folks who will love this but dont even use a computer
I wish I could pick these up in Home Depot myself. The holes would be smaller ( more accurate) and the little button that allows the tape to draw circles is brilliant. Lets all storm the big box stores and demand a vote... Speaking of votes, thanks to those who've voted for this idea. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who ... More »
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