Used for the purpose of measuring dimensions,
measuring tools are imperative for implementing any work with precision.
The measuring tools are used at large for carrying out different types
Importance of measuring tools
Measuring tools are essential tools for examining a finished product or
semi- finished product. Inspection or examination operations include
checking, testing an object by comparing dimensions of the
object/workpiece to the required dimensions given on a diagram or a
sketch. Again the measurements taken must be accurate. Accuracy of
measurements depends on one's ability to use measuring tools correctly.
For any kind of home-improvement projects or DIY projects or any
professional jobs for hand tools users, especially for carpenters,
accurate measurements are always called for. Not only it is necessary to
know precisely how many feet and inches are involved, it is also
necessary to ensure everything comes out in exactly the exact size that
Types of measuring tools
We give below description of few measuring tools used popularly.
- Squares: Squares are indispensable to woodworkers,
carpenters, machinists, tile setters, and anyone else who needs to
make their projects with complete precision. Squares comprise a
group of tools which come in wide variety of shapes and sizes,
depending on their intended use.
- Try square: Try squares are L-shaped squares having a
handle which is also called the body and a thin metal blade marked
in graduations like a scale/ruler. The handle is thicker than the
blade. Usually the handle is made of wood for woodworking while
machinists use a a metal body. These squares are used basically to
mark a straight line across a wood piece for cutting. The handle is
placed against the edge of the wood piece and the blade is placed on
top of the wood, thereby the blade is perpendicular to the board's
edge . This is a handy tool for measuring things, like the height of
a table saw blade or router bit.
- Combination and Sliding Squares: They are same as try
squares, in the sense that the body is thicker than the blade.
However, the body of sliding squares slides along the length of the
blade as a result of which the blade is at a specific distance away
from the body. The blade can then be used as a marking gauge when
the body is placed against the edge of the board. Combination
squares also have a sliding body, a grooved blade and head that can
be adjusted to many locations along the 12 blade. The utility
of this square is that the body has both a 90-degree and a 45-degree
side, and so measurement and marking can be done for both of these
- Framing Square: It is a common tool for carpenters used
for a variety of carpentry and framing tasks. They are larger than
try squares, with one 16-inch-long leg and one 24-inch-long leg. It
is made of metal and both legs are marked with standard inch and
fraction graduations. There are a variety of tables and framing
information as well. These squares are used for :
- Marking angles for cutting rafters.
- Mark stair layouts.
- The large size of the framing square helps in checking
90-degree angles inside and outside corners while doing many
framing and finish carpentry operations.
- Framing tables etched into the body helps on roof framing.
- Folding Square: These squares can be easily folded for
easy storage. They are often used in tiling projects with angle
markings from 0 to 60 degrees and available in sizes ranging from 12x12
- Drywall Square: This is a useful measuring tool designed
for measuring and marking 4x8 sheets of drywall, plywood
and other building materials of the same size.
- Speed Square: A popular type of square in the shape of a
triangle and widely used by carpenters. Also known as a rafter
square, it simplifies the marking of angles for cutting rafters.
- Rules: The rule is the most popular type of measuring
tools. This rule is usually 6 or 12 inches in length. The rules or
rulers are made of wood, metal or plastic. It is to be noted that
thinner the rule, the easier it is to measure accurately. There are
4 sets of graduations, one on each edge of each side in a rule. The
longest lines represent the inch marks, an each inch is divided into
8 equal spaces to represent 1/8 in. The other edge of this side is
divided in sixteenths. The 1/4-in. and 1/2-in. marks are commonly
made longer for easier reading and counting. The opposite side of
the rule is divided into 32 and 64 spaces per inch, and every 4th
division has a longer marking for easier reading. However there are
many variations of rules. A metal or wood folding rule can also be
- Folding rule: Folding Rules usually consist of 6" to
8" lengths of hardwood connected by spring joints. They are
available in steel and aluminum as well. Some have special plastic
or epoxy coverings to protect the blade and printed numbers. Better
models are painted with clear protective coatings over sharp
multicolor printing and highlight commonly used markings for easy
Two basic rule styles are as follows:
- Inside-read Rule: An inside-read Rule is
marked on one edge of the blade so that measurements can be read
from inside a window or door frame etc. When the first section
of the rule is unfolded, it enables the user to make accurate
measurements without removing it from the surface being
measured. It is also popular because it always lies flat on the
- Two-Way, Flat-reading Rule: The two-way,
flat-reading rule is calibrated so that it can be read from left
to right at either end of the rule, regardless of which end is
Folding rules are available for specialized uses such as
engineering, plumbing, masonry and mechanics. These differ from
general use rules in the markings on the rule face.
- Rafter tables: Rafter tables, used to
figure lengths and cuts of rafters appear on steel squares.
Consisting of six lines of figures, the table has indications on
each line's use marked on the left end of the square. The first
line of figures gives lengths of common rafters per foot run;
second line, lengths of hip and valley rafters; third line,
length of first jack rafter and differences in length of the
others centered at 16"; fourth line, length of the first
jack rafter and differences in length of others centered at 24";
fifth line, side cuts of jack rafters; and sixth line, side cuts
of hip and valley rafters. Metric rafter squares are so
- Essex Tables: Showing the board measure of
almost all sizes of boards and timbers, the Board Measure table,
also appears on steel squares. Inch graduations along the outer
edge of the square are used in combination with the values given
along seven parallel lines of the table. To find the number of
board feet in a piece of lumber, one must start under the mark
12 on the outer edge of the square and find the length of the
piece. Along the same scale of inch graduations locate the width
of the timber. Then follow the line on which the length is
stamped toward the column of figures under the width. The figure
at the point of intersection indicates board measure of the
piece. Figures in the Essex table are for boards 1' thick. To
obtain the measure for any other thickness, multiply the figure
given in the table by the thickness of the piece.
- Caliper: Caliper is a measuring tool used for measuring
the distance between two symmetrically opposing sides. It can be
like a compass with inward or outward-facing points and the tips can
be adjusted to fit across the points to be measured. When the
caliper is removed, the distance between the tips is measuring using
a ruler. There are different varieties of calipers like as follows:
- Inside calipers: To measure the internal
size of an object.
- Outside calipers: To measure the external
size of the object.
- Vernier calipers: Can be used to measure
both the inside and outside of an object.
- Digital calipers: It has an electronic
digital display, shoeing the measurements.
Calipers are widely used in the metalworking field of
mechanical engineering, and in woodworking and wood turning.
A Tape rule, also known as tape, is a concave, spring-steel blade
ranging from 1/4" to 1" wide and from from 6 to about 300
feet in length, coiled inside a carrying case. Metric tape rules
come in comparable widths and lengths up to 10 meters. Because the
tape rule is flexible, it provides an easy means for accurately
measuring curved surfaces. The concave cross section allows it to be
extended unsupported. Contained in the housing of some models are
spring mechanisms that release or retract the tape. Many tapes have
markings for laying out studs on 16" centers or other
specialized markings. Since blades receive hard wear, replacement
blades or complete drop-in cartridge assemblies are offered to fit
all sizes of tape rules. In addition to pocket or power tapes, 25',
50' and 100' flat steel tapes are available, as are metric tapes up
to 50 meters. Longer tapes are contained in durable cases and
rewound by a crank on the side of the case. Continuous filament
fiberglass and woven tapes also are available in sizes up to 300'.
The most common types of steel tapes have a hook at one end to let
one person take all the readings.
- Levels: Levels are common measuring tools available in
many sizes and shapes. The most popular size of level is the 24"
long level. They are made of wood, plastic, aluminum etc. There are
some levels with fixed vials, while some others have adjustable
vials. The basic purpose of levels is to make sure that your work is
true horizontal (level) or true vertical (plumb). In such a case the
trick is to use the longest level possible. Inside the vial of the
level, there is a fluid with an air bubble. When the bubble is
centered between the two indicator lines the conclusion is that the
surface is level. The lengths of the level can range to 6 feet. The
torpedo level is 8" or 9" in length. Here there are vials
that read level, plumb and 45 degrees. These vials are used for
small pieces of work.