From contributor J:
Regardless of which manufacturer you use, you need to have accurate tapes, and people who know how to use them. First rule is not to drop them or let the tape slam back into the housing when retracting. Of course it sounds like common sense but we all slip up at some time. Second rule is, when you have broken the first rule, you must recalibrate your tape. By simply bending slightly the hook at the end of the tape you can get your tape's accuracy back. With the exception that after bending very thin stock, i.e. laminates, may not read accurately. But they are usually oversized anyway. Lastly, even though I try to keep my tape right on the money, I still try to measure off the 1" mark whenever I can. Just becomes force of habit after awhile.
From the original questioner:
Just to keep things on track, I'm not just talking about the accuracy of the terminal end of the tape (which can be put out of adjustment if it's dropped). I'm talking about tapes that line up on the one inch mark and are off as much as 1/32 + at the 20" mark. What's up with that!
From contributor T:
Like others said, always a problem, almost never a solution. One thing I have done is pick a location in your shop that never changes (I use a tall cabinet) or make a board to hang in your shop, use a tape that you are sure is accurate as can be, hook your good tape on it and measure down whatever length you want. Mark a very thin line, I used a razor knife, at 24" or whatever. That is your new benchmark for everyone in the shop to go by. It takes 2 seconds to check and bend the tip to make it right. Whenever I drop my tape and think it may have hit the tip, I check it. Maybe not the best solution, but it works for me. I think I would pay $50.00 for a 16 ft. tape that stays accurate.
From contributor P:
They do make one but you have to unfold it. The Germans won't use anything else :-)
From contributor L:
I feel your pain. I went around with Stanley over their tape measures. We are in the cabinet/millwork/people door business and a 16 foot tape won't do; I use a 25 footer. But when I compared different sections of my tape to other tapes in the shop, I could find it up to a sixteenth off (any 5 foot section on the tape, like accurate from 0 to five feet, then off in the next couple feet, and back to accurate if you measured out to 15 feet. Stanley took it back, told me they didn't know how it could happen, their tapes are "checked by lasers." They made good by sending me two of the last ones made in the US (new ones are now made in China), but it does make me distrust my tapes.
From contributor Y:
I abandoned Stanley tape measures years ago when I found the ones made by Johnson, (1"x25' and 3/4"x16'.) Everything I disliked about the Stanley has been eliminated in the Johnson. If you've the patience to look it up, check out the specifics in my review at Amazon.com. I just did a side-by-side test of the three Johnson tapes I own (two brand new and one used), and if there was 1/128" discrepancy at any of the foot marks, it eluded me.
From contributor A:
For true accuracy every time on flat items, we had a piece of aluminum milled 12 feet long x 3 feet wide x 2' thick with self centering tapered grooves milled every 20mm across. At one end you have your datum stop and with a Mitutoyo dial indicator with +- accuracy of 0.001, $80, fitted to the groove insert push in fit. Total cost approximately $280.
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