Introduction: In-between Tape Measure

Picture of In-between Tape Measure

Have you ever struggled to accurately measure between two surfaces?

I have recently been up-cycling an old shelving unit and needed to measure between the bottoms of two housings in the shelves to cut in dividers. [Housings are the grooves that are cut into timber planks to allow another timber plank to slot into, often used for shelving]

I came across tomatoskins great Instructable on making his Self-marking tape measure. ...

...and I thought, you know what I could also do with a special tape measure...

... the In-between tape measure was born!

Step 1: You Will Need

Picture of You Will Need


An old tape measure, the one I used the spring was a bit worn and no good as an everyday tape measure

A scrap of 4mm ply, I used Birch ply though any will do

A blunt Stanley blade

A pop rivet


A drill

Some drill bits

A counter sink

Screwdriver to fit the small screw

A tape measure [for normal measuring!]

A rotary tool and metal cutting blade

A metal file

A pop rivet tool

Tin snips

Bandsaw or jigsaw or fretsaw

A little abrasive paper

Step 2: Mark Out

Picture of Mark Out

Find a scrap of ply approximately 80mm x 120mm, I used 4mm Birch ply though any type will do.

This ply is to allow the tape to measure to the bottom of housings [grooves within timber planks] and for the measuring guide to be fixed to.

I generally wouldn't make timber housings any deeper than 20mm and so mark the 20mm on an end of the ply.

Place the tape measure that you are going to use on the ply and line up with this 20mm line and mark around the tape body.

Allow a little extra where the tape comes out for attaching the Stanley blade guide.

Cut out the shape, I used a little bandsaw though a jigsaw or hand fret saw will easily cut through this thin ply.

Step 3: Fix the Ply to the Tape Measure

Picture of Fix the Ply to the Tape Measure

You now need to fix the ply to the tape measure.

Most tape measures have a belt clip with a little fixing screw, this is ideal for our needs.

Carefully undo the screws of the body of the tape measure and place the wound up tape part to one side.

Place the cover with the clip hole in position on your cut out ply and drill a small hole through the screw hole in the cover and through the ply.

Screw the cover back on.

Counter sink your hole in the ply and screw the ply to the tape measure.

Step 4: Measuring Guide

Picture of Measuring Guide

The In-between tape has a measuring guide that will allow accurate reading of the in-between measurement.

For this I used an old blunt Stanley blade. Use a file to really make sure no sharpness is left on the cutting edge.

Cut off the pointy ends of the blade with a metal cutting blade in a rotary tool to the width of the tape plus the width of the ply. I screwed the blade down onto a scrap piece of wood to hold it in place to do this.

I tried to drill a hole for the fixing screw and failed! Blimey these blades are hard. I achieved it by cutting a slot with the rotary cutter, that allowed my drill bit to cut a small hole.

Place the adapted Stanley blade over the tape and mark on the ply for a cut out to fix the blade. I gave a clearance of a millimeter so that the blade would run freely below the blade. Cut the ply.

Drill a small pilot hole and screw the Stanley blade to the ply.

Step 5: Cut the Tape!

Picture of Cut the Tape!

Now here is what makes the In-between tape measure work, you need to cut the end off of the tape!

Measure the distance from Stanley blade edge [the one that the tape measurement will be read from] to the bottom of the ply piece, that will sit against the timber to be measured from [bottom of a housing maybe].

My distance measured 100mm.

Measure the thickness of the hook on the end of the tape, mine was 1mm thick.

Take some tin snips and cut the distance from the tape blade, mine was 101mm in total.

It feels so wrong to cut a measuring tape! though it will be worth it.

With the rotary tool cut the hook off of the old tape end.

Place on to the new end and drill a pilot hole the size of your pop-rivet.

Pop-rivet the hook onto the tape, it is there just to protect the end of the tape.

Step 6: Make It Beautiful

Picture of Make It Beautiful

Your In-between tape measure is now ready to use!

I decided that a special tape measure needs to look special!

I designed some templates based on the In-between name and cut them out of adhesive backed paper. [paper and spray mount works well as well]

Remove the ply and stick the templates on.

Take your favourite colour spray can and lightly spray.

Remove the templates straight away and leave to dry.

Screw the ply back onto the tape body and go and find something to measure!

This project is part of my YouTube series Its a Rubbish Challenge where I try to make cool and interesting things out of the stuff that we throw away. Please check out my channel if you want to see more of the challenges, if not there will be more coming to Instructables in the future.

Please feel free to check out my website to find out what I am up to with Pricklysauce.


LittleTyke (author)2017-05-07

What I do to measure an internal dimension is use two lengths of thin aluminium strip, clip them together with a strong spring clamp, release the clamp slightly while adjusting the strips to exactly fit inside the space, then finally measure the total length using a normal steel ruler.

Pricklysauce (author)LittleTyke2017-05-07

Sure that is a really good solution, image used two thin strips of timber fr many years. Works really well. This just means an exact measurement can be taken straight away and gives a broken old tape measure a new life.

BrownDogGadgets (author)2016-05-26

Or, you know, just bend the tape at a right angle...

Or string.

Or use the measurement on the side of the tape measure that lists how long it is. All five in our workshop have their body measurement on there. This just seems like a good way to ruin a tape measure. (Or wait until someone grabs it, measures something, and then realizes that they're off by a couple of inches.)

The tape measure was already ruined and of no practical use...that is the point. Make something that would normally be thrown away into a useful tool that does a job well.

Sure, I am not suggesting cutting the end off of your new tape measure!

The design allows measurements to be taken from the bottom of housings that makes this a great addition to your workshop tools.

37monkey (author)BrownDogGadgets2016-05-26


jhawkins18 (author)2016-05-26

Most tape measures today show a measurement offset if using it this way, (generally 3"is common)
But if you don't have one, this is a great way of making one.

Pricklysauce (author)jhawkins182016-05-31

Sure you can always do the maths. This one just cuts that out making it great for jobs that need lots of these measurements.

nehmo (author)2016-05-24

What about taking a regular tape measure and cutting out a hole on top then marking the correct point? IOW, make a inside-measuring window tape measure with just a hole for the window.

kitschkittyuk (author)2016-05-20

This has been all over facebook etc. so I'm really confused what does your project do that a regular tape measure doesn't?

Hey kitschkittyuk, This was just a little project that I decided to make of an old knackered tape measure to measure in-between two surfaces, like working out the length of timber dividers of some shelving that I was working on.

Sure I could use a normal tape measure and calculate each time, though I needed it to measure from the bottom of housing grooves and made this up to make the job easier and quicker.

Its great if you are doing a lot of these type of measurements, if not then a normal tape measure works as well with added maths.

Quick to make and made from stuff that normally would be thrown away.

Meglymoo87 (author)2016-05-19

Great 'ible nonetheless :)

Pricklysauce (author)Meglymoo872016-05-20

Thanks, even if some don't see the sense of the project I will always try to make the instructable as good as I can.

Dwargh (author)2016-05-20

I didn't know there was a thing such as a "story stick" - nice and useful, I guess! ;) I was actually aware of the claw's purpose at the end of the tape.

Dwargh (author)2016-05-17

I don't get the purpose...

In germany we use something like this here:

KlaudiaL (author)Dwargh2016-05-19

Germany wins.

Pricklysauce (author)KlaudiaL2016-05-19

Ha ha, they sure do! Though still think my In-between tape measure is a good alternative made out of rubbish.

Dwargh (author)Pricklysauce2016-05-20

Yes, it is! ;)

Dwargh (author)KlaudiaL2016-05-20


Pricklysauce (author)Dwargh2016-05-18

Hey Dwargh - it is only for quickly and easily taking In-between measurements particularly when working with shelving and similar, particularly designed to measure to the bottom of housings that I am not sure even your German tape measures can do!

It does away with doing the maths and so speeds up the process, sure probably only useful if you are undertaking a lot of this measurement.

Made from an old knackered tape measure that had no general use so why not make it into a useful specific tool?

Dwargh (author)Pricklysauce2016-05-19

Ok, I agree with that! Making something new from something old. :) Please, don't get me wrong, I think it's a good idea!

Our german counterpart was only a sample. There are a lot of measure tapes in the world capable of easily measuring in-between, like this one, though:

Pricklysauce (author)Dwargh2016-05-19

That is one cool tape measure, must admit I have never come across that one before. I guess I have just re-inveted the wheel!

Psuttonjr (author)2016-05-19

While I love a good tool hack as much as the next guy - I don't really see the need here. Chances are - your tape measure was equipped to make this kind of measurement without modification.

Many tape measures are a fixed (specific) length from the back edge to the edge where you read it. I believe those Stanley powerlock tapes are something like 3" even.

The "slop" in the hook is designed to account for the thickness of the hook itself. Push it against something it moves the thickness of the hook in, putting zero at the outside edge of the hook. Pull it against something, and it moves so the inside edge is zero.

So without modification, put the tape against one side, and extend the tape to the other. Just add 3" to the measurement you take and you can read it without modification to the tape.

Pricklysauce (author)Psuttonjr2016-05-19

Yes sure you can just do the maths though I prefer to just read off the measurement to avoid any calculation mistakes and it will work from the bottom of a housing as well.

Quick and easy to make if you have an old unused tape measure kicking around.

mrandle (author)Pricklysauce2016-05-19

Pretty much any X-ray machine will have this feature built in. So there is a practical use. We make these ourselves to mark the center of the X-ray source and detector, they are cut off to account for the difference in the mount and the source. Never thought of using them this way though!

tr6canuck (author)2016-05-19

You could use the EZ story stick instead.

Pricklysauce (author)tr6canuck2016-05-19

I like the look of it, could make one out of an old radio extending aerial or make an In-between tape measure!

bunba77 (author)2016-05-19

I use this swedish origin tape measure every day at work as a technic insulator, beside inside measure you can measure the diameter of the pipe too with the backside of the tape. Just wrap the tape around the pipe and read the diameter from the pi scale.

Pricklysauce (author)bunba772016-05-19

That is one cool tape measure!

bunba77 (author)bunba772016-05-19

Shiseiji (author)2016-05-19

Nice hack even if you are the only one who finds it useful. Is there a technical name for the tape with the window on the top? First I've seen though obviously they have been around a while.

AndreasP28 (author)2016-05-19

Can't remember when i had a tape measure without this function from start...and i had a lot!

ddzahn (author)2016-05-19

Most tape measures (at least sold here in 'Merica) have a number printed on the label such as 3 1/4. This is the number to add to the tape reading to get to the back of the tape measure.

ddzahn (author)ddzahn2016-05-19

Sometimes it will be stamped into the body of the tape measure near the bottom as well.

Pricklysauce (author)2016-05-18

Hey jimmcneil2, I'm sure it would work with foot + inches as well!

jimmcneil2 (author)2016-05-18

love this

thanks for showing it, i was tired of guessstimating the measurments

Pricklysauce (author)jimmcneil22016-05-18

Hey thanks Jimmcneil2, a very simple tape measure to do away with the maths.

SamuelA5 (author)2016-05-12

Hey, so um, this is kind of unnecessary. Most tape measures will list the width of the body somewhere on the body itself. For example, I can see from the picture that the tape measure you modified is 2.5 inches wide so you can use the butt of the body in the measurement.

The butt of the tape measure body should be against 1 edged while the tape should extend all the way to the other edge, read what the tape says at the measuring line and add 2.5 inches. I suppose if you wanted to make thing a little easier math-wise, you could add .5 inches to either end of the tape for measuring between to edges and bump the addition up to a flat 3 inches.

NareshL33 (author)SamuelA52016-05-17

Why would you want to 'repeatedly-add' the width of the tape measure body? This is what the computer was invented for and this is how it works at it's fundamental level. I have built a simple space engine that one day all space engines will be based on.

Akinventor (author)SamuelA52016-05-12

This would be better for repeat cuts. Otherwise adding would just get annoying.

Pricklysauce (author)Akinventor2016-05-12

Akinventor you have got it, if you have lots of between measuring to do then it works well. If you only need to measure this a couple times then doing the maths isn't a problem.

Up to now I have used the two stick method which works though can move and lead to miss measurement.

Akinventor (author)SamuelA52016-05-12

This would be better for repeat cuts. Otherwise adding would just get annoying.

NareshL33 (author)2016-05-17

This is what is called ''Anyone can make something from a pound but only an engineer can make the same from a penny''. To qualify my comment I played with Meccano as a child, learnt about electrons and 'hole' flow, and am active with electronics to environment, plumbing to photography, carpentry to cooking, DIY to doodling. Thanks for this idea!

sickdog74 (author)2016-05-15

Genius. So simple and yet so useful!

Pricklysauce (author)sickdog742016-05-15

Thanks Sickdog, I have used it loads since making it, definitely makes measuring those In-between !measurements quicker and easier.

ThothLoki (author)2016-05-13

so simple and awesome. Great idea!

Pricklysauce (author)ThothLoki2016-05-14

Thanks ThorthLoki, it does it's job well.

Pricklysauce (author)2016-05-13

Thanks niles

MarzenaM1 (author)2016-05-13


Pricklysauce (author)MarzenaM12016-05-13


terrorzord (author)2016-05-13

Let's see all you naysayers measure the inside diagonals of a box and do your fancy addition. The in-betweeny has got you beat! Nice job.

About This Instructable




Bio: I make and create anything that comes to my mind from skateboard hooks to garden rooms. And I footle around with electronics and instruments at ... More »
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