Shop Cheats: Broken Tape Measure

About: I am a shop body. Give me a job, the tools to do it, and I will be happy as can be. I get along best with metal and machines. Back in the day my Dad was a welder by trade. I managed to learn a lot of that tr...

Here is another Instructable in my series of 'Shop Cheats.' This cheat will help you use your broken tape measures, so you can get every last inch out of them. If you want to know some of my other cheats, check out my other Instructables. I will forgo the links to keep things tidy.

So if your like me, you probably wear-out or break tape measures from time to time. Usually I am a little despondent over the loss or ineffectiveness of a tool. Especially one I use so often. So after having seen one of my neighbors having lengths of old tape measure tape nailed to his workbench I realized that just junking my busted tape was bad form. Plus I like to re-use or re-purpose things whenever possible.

First thing you will want to do is get the blade out of the tape measure. If it has been dropped from a great height you may have already completed this step. If not just remove the screws from the body and separate the two halves of the body. If you really have some anger issues to work out you can always use a hammer, and smash the body to bits. Just a quick heads-up, the blade of a metal tape measure is a spring. And will want to do some exciting things if you aren't paying close enough attention. Nothing that is harmful, but you may have to chase some parts around.

Next, lay out the length of tape you want. Most of these bits of tape I have are a one foot section. And just cut it up. I think scissors will work, but I have never used them for this. Tin snips would work. But I just snap the blade in half. Just fold the blade length-wise and try to put a crease in the it. You will get a gratifying snap as the blade breaks, and no tools required.

Now you have a extremely disposable flexible ruler. I have these taped to sticks, lying around all my machine tools, and littering the workbench.

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Bleep, Bleep, Bleep

    I spent hours and hours writing up my fantastic instructable on what to do with broken tape measures. Only to find your brilliant instructable while researching for my musings.

    Ah, well, never mind.

    Great instructable, glad you beat me to it!!!!

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah I've been there. But I'd love to see how you'd do it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Well, maybe I lied a little about the hours and hours!

    I would like to think I would have done it exactly the same way as you did.

    Little ones, big ones, etc.

    Very small ones are great for the smaller PCB's I make, measuring things like SMT, SMD components etc. I do have a couple of nice Starrett rules laying around, which I use once in awhile, by the time I have found them, well...


    4 years ago on Introduction

    "... you may have already completed this step."

    Wonderful! I laughed so hard :-) That's a great way to re-use old tapes. I also keep some short sections handy at the lathe and bandsaw for checking short measures.

    tinker bot

    4 years ago on Introduction

    My school does this all the time with their old tape measures, so I'm no stranger to this trick, and it is very useful.

    Keep it up with the shop tricks!