In-between Tape Measure




About: 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 night....and I have a passion for reducing waste packaging by m...

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


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

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

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

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!

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

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.



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    64 Discussions


    4 months ago

    Nice idea, but there are better ways.
    Tape measures can bend, or just take the length of the body of the tape measure and add that to the reading on the tape.


    1 year ago

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    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.


    2 years ago

    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.)

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    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.


    2 years ago

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

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


    2 years ago

    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.


    2 years ago

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

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    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.


    Reply 2 years ago

    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.


    Reply 2 years ago

    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.


    Reply 2 years ago

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


    Reply 2 years ago

    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?