Measure for Measure

I struggled with coming up with the right title for this post. Other working titles included:

  • “The easiest tool you’ll ever use”
  • “Don’t leave home without it”
  • “How to look like a super hero in unexpected places”

These will all make sense in a moment.

If you look at the top of the page, on the menu bar you’ll see the link to the “Toolbox” page:

The “Toolbox” page carries all the links directly to our tool posts. The page now has two tool posts in it, including this post, but more will follow soon!

Every adult should have and know how to use a basic set of tools. Not only will it make your home look more beautiful (hammer+nails+art=lovely decor), but it will save you a lot of money over your lifetime.

Picking out tools can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start, but we are going to solve that problem. We’ll look at what each tool is for, how to use the tool and how to choose affordable, quality tools that will last a lifetime.

In short, we are gonna fill that “Toolbox” with useful and practical know-how. Build your own home’s tool box as you follow along. If you missed the how-to-swing-that-hammer post, check it out here.

(Hint, hint: Tools are a great gift idea, both for giving and receiving. Would some affordable tools fit into your future gift planning?)

Today, we are starting with “the easiest tool you’ll ever use”. And you already know what it is:


I know, this hardly seem like rocket science right now, but we are building our tool collection with practical must-haves.

You must have a decent measuring tape in your collection. That old yard stick in the corner of garage just doesn’t cut it. Time to upgrade!


Here’s what to look for when buying your own measuring tape:

  • 25 foot tape length, minimum. Some craftsman prefer a 50 foot tape length, but that can become a cumbersome weight and risk putting you in the pesky track-and-field measuring tape areas.

  • One hand operation. You should be able hold the tape and operate the measurement lock with one hand. This means the lock should not be too stiff that you have to use your other thumb to help lock it.

  • As sturdy plastic outer case, preferably with grips, around the tape. It only takes one time of dropping this baby while you are up a ladder to see why this matters.



  • A belt hook on the case. This can be a pain to use on your actual belt, but it can hook like a dream on any pocket of your jeans.

When you find a great measuring tape that meets all of these qualifications, buy it.  Measuring tapes will break over time from natural wear on the tape, just like your old VHS tapes after about the 800th time you rewound them. However, a good measuring tape should not cost over $20 and will last for years.

Put your name on your tape in permanent marker and “don’t leave home without it” when you are shopping for DIY supplies. (Or else you’ll have to be that kinda dorky person that uses one of the measuring tapes they sell in the store and have to put it back on the right shelf before you check out…not that I know anything about that.)


I’m guessing you can already handle this one by yourself. If you’d like to feel more like a pro, you can practice catching the hook end of the tape:

and stretching out the tape while holding the hook in place. Baseboard molding corners are great for this practice.

You can also practice stretching out the tape to a long length and retracting the tape carefully and responsibly, rather than whipping and cracking it around like you’re a lion tamer.


or “How to look like a super hero in unexpected places”

Buy a smaller, 12 foot measuring tape and keep it in your purse, ladies. (It will probably fit in either the zippered lining pocket or that weird extra pocket next to the cell phone pocket. You know the one I mean.) The tape will be lightweight due to its size, so it won’t be a bother to your daily travels.

You will be amazed at how often you use that tape when you are out and about. Decor, rough clothing measurements and will-that-fit-in-the-trunk problems are banished forever. And it only takes one time of producing that measuring tape for someone else, exactly when they need it, to make everyone stare at you like you’re a super hero. Just smile and say, “Yeah. I’m that organized.” (then zip your purse closed so they don’t see the rest of your clutter …been there).

Yep. That's my own purse. Keeping it real.

Not feeling self-sufficient in your own home can be very frustrating. Having decent tools in your home can make all the difference and really boost your self esteem. Even if you have never considered yourself handy, jump in and give it a try. Project by project, tool by tool, and in this case, “measure by measure” (yes, I did) your confidence will improve and you’ll be amazed at what you can do. It is a great feeling!

Do you need to replace the measuring tape in your house? Do you like the idea of a well-stocked toolbox for your home?  What tools do you have questions about?  Leave a comment !

Posted on May 4, 2011, in Toolbox. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Tina Williams

    I have a measuring tape in my purse that is a Vera Bradley pattern. It’s a cloth tape so it’s very light weight and only 5 ft but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled it out to make sure something was just the right size!

  2. You’re so right. I’ve needed one in the store to measure things and I haven’t had one. I just thought it was OCD to have one, but thank you for giving us all permission to be superheroes.

  3. I’m on the quest for an affordable 19″-20″ vase. How do I know, I used my purse measuring tape to measure a too expensive vase, that I loved. I’ll find it!

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