When measuring large volumes of paracord, a tape measure can get awkward. Long have I wanted a Manual length Measuring Device, but I really can't afford the price.

Enter the do-it-yourself version. I spent less than $15 on parts, and am quite happy with the result.

Step 1: Materials

Chunk of Wood
You need to mount the assembly on something, so this can be a scrap chunk of lumber. You can also mount it to a workbench if you want it permanently in one spot. Home Depot has a discount lumber section where they sell damaged wood for really cheap. The piece I used is 1 1/2 x 2 x 24 inches.

Measuring Wheel
Those things you push along the ground to measure distance. Get the kind with a counter. I got mine at Harbor Freight for $9. They have digital and analogue counters, but I chose analogue so that I wouldn't have to worry about batteries.

Screw Eyes
These look like tiny eye bolts. I got #210 which have an internal diameter of 1/4 inch. They are 1 1/8 inches long. These are just to make managing the cord easier.

Just a standard two-part epoxy to hold the meter to the wood. I used the quickset since this isn't going to get a lot of abuse.

Step 2: The Wheel

The measuring wheel comes with a handle that needs to be removed. Mine was held in with a single screw and came out pretty easily. If it doesn't just come out, you could use a hacksaw, but that is dependant on what kind you get.

Once the handle is gone, epoxy the counter box to the piece of wood. Make sure the numbers are pointing up so that you can read them. The box should go right in the center. Keep the wheel just far enough away from the wood to keep it from scraping.

Step 3: Cord Guide

After the epoxy has set, install the eye screws on the side of the board with the wheel.

Put two eye screws on either side of the wheel, 4 inches from center. Put two more, one each at 11 inches from center.

Step 4: Using the Meter

Place the board on the edge of a table so that the wheel is hanging off. You may want to clamp it in place.

Run your cord through two of the eye screws, over the wheel, the through the other two eye screws.

Pull the cord through the screws, keeping an even tension over the wheel so that it turns with the movement of the cord.

Step 5: Shameless Self-Promotion

I use a lot of cord to make my paracord belts.

You can make your own belts using this instructable:

<p>Nice, great idea, I love Instructables that show how to use items in another way than they were intended. I haven't done much with paracord yet, but I can tell you for sure that this would have saved me plenty of time already.</p>
<p>I have a suggestion to improve on this. Rig up a spring loaded idler wheel to ride against the main wheel. The diameter of the wheel isn't critical as long as it rolls smoothly against the main wheel. It needs to be wide enough to keep the cord pressed against the main wheel. File or otherwise cut a groove into the idler so it will keep the cord centered against the main wheel. You should be able to easily lift the idler wheel to place the cord between it and the main wheel, but there needs to be enough tension so the cord doesn't slip as it's pulled through. That will eliminate the need to keep tension on the cord and gives you a fixed starting point for each measurement. You can also eliminate having to feed the cord through the eye hooks.</p>
<p>That's brilliant!</p>
<p>Thanks. I was thinking about a cheap simple way to do it. I've attached an image of some nylon spacers I found at Lowe's that I've used on other projects. These along with a 3&quot; flat bracket and a short coil spring should work well. They also have steel spacers that fit nicely inside the nylon spacers and function as a bearing for it to spin on. You will need a bolt that will fit in the steel spacer along with a nut to attach it to the bracket. If possible, grind the steel spacer down so that it is just barely longer than the thickness of the nylon spacer so that you can tighten the bolt against it and the nylon will spin freely. A good trick for cutting the groove in the nylon spacer is to put a bolt through it and tighten a nut down against it until it holds it tight, then chuck it into a drill. Use a round file to cut the groove into the wheel as the drill spins. A flat or triangle file would work as well. Putting the drill into a vise or using a drill press makes it easier to control. Make sure the groove's not too deep. Once that's done, attach the wheel assembly to one end of the flat bracket. You may need to drill out the hole in the bracket to fit. Attach the other end of the bracket to your board with a screw or bolt at around a 30 to 45 degree angle towards the measuring wheel. Use spacers if necessary to adjust it so the wheel rests at the center of your main wheel and be sure the bracket can pivot freely with minimal play side to side. Attach the spring to the center of the bracket. If there are only two holes in the bracket, you will need to drill another toward the center. Now attach the other end of the spring to the board so that it pulls the wheel tightly against the main wheel, but can still be pulled away to feed the cord between the wheels. You may want to do it differently to fit your own needs. This is just the idea that came to my mind and may need some tweaking to fit individual needs.</p>
<p>Ooh, nice work. I've needed something like this several times. I ended up looping lengths of cord back and forth across my garage. This looks much more accurate!</p>
<p>That's pretty much how I used to do it, too. :P</p>

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