How to Buy a Measuring Tape

There are three things you absolutely need when you move into your first house.  You need a flashlight, a measuring tape and a limp.

The most important of these three things is the limp.   The flashlight and the measuring tape are nice to have, but if you have a limp you’ll accomplish all kinds of things.  People will magically appear to shovel your driveway, cut your grass, carry heavy objects into your house.  The possibilities are endless really.

A limp you can easily fake, but a the measuring tape is trickier.

In fact, to get through life I have ascertained that you need a minimum of 3 measuring tapes.


You need a flexible cloth tape for measuring round things or misshapen things.  Like pillows.  Or your bum.

measuring tapes1


You need a small, compact tape you can stick in your purse/pocket and always have with you.  That way, when you’re out thinking … Geez … I wonder if that will fit … you’ll at least have a measuring tape to measure whatever it is you’re wondering about.  God knows, you won’t know the measurement of whatever it is you’re trying to fit it into.

measuring tapes2

measuring tapes3


And finally … the most important of them all … you need a big, honkin’ metal measuring tape.

Not a namby pampy one.

measuring tapes4


The biggest mistake people make when they buy a measuring tape is they don’t buy a big enough or a good enough one.  Ever wonder why your tape measure kinks and droops once you pull out only 2 or 3 feet from it?  It’s because you have yourself a crap measuring tape.  Buy one that’s at least 1″ wide.  The wider the tape, the longer you’ll be able to stretch it out without it bending.  A handy quality in a measuring tape.  Especially if you’re at home all alone standing on a chair tryin’ to measure exactly how far away the top of your bookshelf is from your antique toe collection.

This measuring tape of mine measures out 7 feet before it gets limp.  When you’re in the store just stretch it out.  Don’t be shy.  I know you snack on grapes at the grocery store … it’s just like that only not as illegal.    Just stretch it out and make sure it doesn’t bend or kink.  And then suck it up, pay the man and bring it home.

The only problem you might encounter with a measuring tape of this size is your neighbours might wonder why you, limpy you, might have a need for it.  If you can’t shovel your own snow … how can you build and hang your own shadow box for displaying your much envied antique toe collection?

By the way, most antique toes are acquired as the result of someone ELSE in history not owning recommendation number 1, the flashlight.  It’s a little known truth that people have in fact been known to stub their toes right off.  Bad luck for them … good luck for your antique toe collection.

So if someone becomes suspicious and  happens to ask you how you actually got your “limp” just tell them you stubbed it right off.  Then shine a flashlight in their face, bonk them on the head with your massive measuring tape and run for your life.


  1. becky mercado says:

    So informative. I’m taking notes.. Actually … I have all 3. Of course you forgot to add an extra one or two cuz i usually lose one… or actually … I put it somewhere safe…which I later can’t remember. My most important is the one in the purse. I always seem to find the need for one when I’m out….

  2. Marti says:

    I’m taking bets on how many comments today will inquire about where to get “Pinocchio the Measure-Boy.”

    I’ve got over 40. Who wants below the line?

  3. itchbay says:

    All my measuring tapes came TO me. The cloth one I inherited from my Memaw, who was a great seamstress. The purse-size came from my mom, when I was learning to sew many years ago.

    And the great industrial tape came with the Electrician fellow. 🙂

  4. Maureen says:

    Were you hungry the whole time you were reading Farmer Boy? I was even hungry for stuff I’d never dream of eating like pig tails and year old butter stored in a dirt basement!

  5. Tracy says:

    What I’m curious about is why is a Canadian using feet and inches instead of meters? Hmmm…

    • Karen says:

      Tracy – We use both. In fact, most Canadian’s still haven’t accepted metric for a lot of things. Our tapes usually have metric on one side and Imperial on the other. ~ k!

      • Jenn says:

        “Our tapes usually have metric on one side and Imperial on the other.”

        That’s probably because they sell the same tapes here south of y’all. We get French printed stuff for the same reason. Can’t do a separate product run for Quebec, so they get a small text rectangle somewhere on the package…

  6. Hahahaha! I already have lots of measuring tapes of varied sizes, but they can’t replace the hilarity of my morning read at your blog. You…are funny girl! xo

  7. Susan says:

    Mr Pinnocchio is neat! I’m off to the store! Too bad he’s not at the dollar store. It’s closer…

  8. Susan says:

    And you’re on Marti!

  9. judy says:

    YES YES YES for the big-boy measuring tape. One more important fact…look at the way the measurements are marked off. If you’re an ‘inches’ person then no problem. But if you’re a ‘feet and inches’ person then it is nice to have one that says 2’3″…you’ll get the drift when you start comparing. Helps us number impaired folks to have it written out: 7’5″ is where the droop & sag starts!

  10. magali says:

    I got my friend a useful tiny measuring tape as a souvenir once. Except instead of a nose like yours, you have to pull on a … what did you call it? Dink. She doesn’t carry it with her all the time though, I’ll have to talk to her about that.

  11. Lisa J says:

    A limp! Of course! It’s so obvious, why didn’t I think of that? Too many hours organizing my toe collection, no doubt.

  12. Barbie says:

    …..HEY Karen, where’d you get that cool “METAL” measuring tape and that cool CLOTH measuring tape? LOLOL JUST KIDDING! Trying to give Marti a thrill!

  13. Karen says:

    Just so you know… There have been mornings (this one) that after I have lived through that special kind of hell called getting my two snarling young tweens out the door for school, I turn to your posts for my morning chuckle. Some mornings, these posts are the only thing standing between me and a bottle of Jack. So thanks for that! Hilarious! A limp! I am going to try it on my kids tomorrow morning! (And just to clarify they really are fantastic kids!)

  14. Langela says:

    I just bought two new ones for my husband for Christmas. It seems they are always in the other barn from where we are working, so we needed several more. The kids and I tried out all the tape measures that were in the store before deciding which were “the ones”. They are both heavy enough to clobber someone over the head when they ask pesky questions about my limp.

  15. Barbara H. says:

    Gee, thanks, Karen – NOT. Pinocchio is sold out for this season. He was only $7.95. I might have actually ordered him – pretty darn cute and full of personality. Helpful as well as good looking. Those guys are hard to find. Sigh.

    Totally agree with the need for all three tapes.

  16. paula says:

    “Pinocchio the Measure-Boy” is sold out 🙁

  17. Susan says:

    I read your post to my sweetie before he left for work this morning. We both got a good chuckle. Thank you so much for sharing your writing, humor and knowledge with us 😉

  18. christine hilton says:

    I have the cloth.I have Pinnochio.But the BIG tape is a Fat Max.A great big envy inducing manly tape,with a lttle added bling so the boys won’t steal it!

  19. Suzy says:

    Instead of a limp- try a neck collar. You can easily take it off and on. I had to wear one for a stiff neck – I looked like I was in the worst accident. People with casts didn’t get as much attention as I did. Bus drivers helped me get on and off. Try it you neighbours will do anything for you and you won’t hurt yourself. A bad limp has potential for injury.

  20. Robbin says:

    Hi Karen

    Had to comment to tell you about my new beautiful Vintage Cloth Tape Measure from Restoration Hardware. As an Interior Decorator, I am frequently measuring rooms, furniture etc. in my clients homes. Wood furniture and floors…that can scratch easily. No ugly metal contractor tape measure anymore! My new tape is encased in a beautiful leather case and is 50 feet long. No worries about scratching anything. No “snapping” metal tape measure here. And you just hand wind the tape when you are finished. So elegant and retro. I love it!

  21. Deb J. says:

    Loved your tape measure post! Not that long ago I was in the local big box hardware store shopping for my very own tape measure (all the others tend to wander) and the young fellow there was trying to help. I think he thought I couldn’t understand the things but I was trying to find just the right one – long enough, stiff enough and felt good on the hand (that came out slightly more suggestive than intended:)). Agree totally with the 3 measures but add two thoughts. Get the quilters cloth tape measure – it is much longer than the usual sewing tape measure and SO MUCH more useful. And a landscapers reel tape measure can be really handy – over a hundred feet and flexible. Love it. And if you get the policemans mag flashlight you don’t need to have quite as heavy a tape measure ‘cos you can use the flashlight for bashing inquisitive neighbours. Keep one next to the bed.

    • Karen says:

      Deb J. – WE have one of those flashlights! Weighs about 742 pounds. ~ karen

      • Patti says:

        My boyfriend is all about Maglights. He calls his maglite a ‘man beater’. Yep.

        Actually, this year for Christmas he asked his brother for a new man beater. That could’ve been innapropriate!

  22. Nicole2 says:

    Luuuurve the Pinocchio!! Great stocking stuffer to keep in mind for next Christmas. Does he lie about the measurements, though? The longer it goes, the less accurate it is?

  23. lindyb says:

    My nine year old bought my husband one for Christmas that’s black with red hot rod flames on it! It is the coolest measuring tape I have ever seen, and it stays stiff up to seven feet.

  24. Nancy says:

    I Googled “Pinocchio Tape Measure” and there are lots of places to buy one..look for the best price with shipping..Karen..I have all three necessary tape measures..I also walk with a limp..I could use some new flashlights though..

  25. CBuffy says:

    Well darn. When you said “antique toe collection” I thought you were referring to YOUR toes! And how cute to say they were antique! LOL Because, you know, I ALWAYS need to know how far something I am hanging on the wall is from falling on and SQUISHING my antique toe collection. (I have 10, having not yet stubbed any of them right off…)

  26. Laura Bee says:

    Too funny, my hubby has at least twice as many as recommended. Then there’s the many that have been lost in the abyss of our basement. That’s next on the “50 things” project.

  27. Jake says:

    I have two of the three, the cloth was inherited from a lady I didn’t know kindly gifted by her husband. My handy dandy pocket one is a genuine Designer Guys leather covered, black of course, stamped with their logo. I am currently in negotiations with the bank for a line of credit to buy the honker. They want one of the grandkids as collateral my daughter wants them to take three, more negotiations to come.

  28. Gayla T says:

    I was told by a husband that the thing the tapes roll in and out of is always 2 inches so you can add that to your tape measurement if you have it at one end and you are at the other. Although I don’t believe much that men tell women I do believe this is true.

    • nancy says:

      Well, that depends on the size of the case. Some are big and some are little.
      Mine, attractive and made by Tomboy Tools, is a very annoying 2 + 7/8 inches. Why couldn’t it just be 3 inches dammitall???

  29. marilyn says:

    yeah the soft measuring tape is handy to have …in case you need to measure your HEAD!!

  30. Erin Hall {i can craft that} says:

    I agree completely with our assessment.

  31. Anemone says:

    I don’t have a cool heavy duty measuring tape like yours. Mines flimsy.

  32. mdhills says:

    For general use, the Komelon 12′ self-lock tape is fantastic. Pretty compact, and it locks automatically (you push a button to retract).

    For the big honker, a 25′ Stanley Fatmax is great.

    And then there are the times you want the 100′ tape reel… Use with an old screwdriver in the ground for laying out landscaping projects.


  33. John B says:

    Most important bot about buying a tape is to get a Craftsman from Sears. No, it’s no better that any other quality brand, no, it’s no cheaper, but they will replace it no questions asked after you forget to move it and trim off the first 10 inches with the chop saw. (Don’t ask, I’d only lie.)

    I turned in one that was over 20 years old and all the said about it was that they didn’t make them in yellow since the late 80’s and I would have to take a red one. No questions, no paper work, no “did you abuse it” just go grab a new one off the shelf.

  34. Nancy Carr says:

    I have a big tape measure on my shopping list and will give your idea a try. I certainly don’t need a big limp tape. Since I live in Puerto Rico I am going to look into the chicken tape idea above by one of the followers of yours. I have not checked, however, I am told a dollar bill is 6 inches long which could be used in an emergency. Keep up the great ideas.

  35. So funny – I thought I knew all the tricks to get people to help me…but I never thought about the limp!!!

    I think I might add that you need a measuring tape that tells you exactly what all those little marks are between the inches!!!! I have one of those because my mind has gone limp!!!!


  36. Woodencanoe says:

    Hi Karen,
    A woman after my own heart. Make it and/or fix it was the motto in our family home too.
    I have all three items you listed. The not limp tape measure I have has an 11 foot stand-out.
    Oh, besides a good flashlight (the LED’s the firemen/women use) A good headlamp is worth it’s weight in gold when you need both hands. They are LED now too. One with and adjustable beam is the most useful.
    I’ve subscribed! Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Woodencanoe! I’m glad you found my site. I spent about half an hour yesterday wandering around my house looking for the right tape. I should have mentioned in this post that if you’re from Canada … make sure you have a tape that *also* measures in cm! The Ikea catalogue and a tape that measures in inches do NOT go together. Thanks for subscribing. ~ karen!

  37. Tanya says:

    I have a M1Tape measure it is 26 ft ,extremely rugged ! My M1 also has a scribe on the bottom so it measures precise every time no marking with pencils it saves me time ! Great for hanging pictures because it marks the wall with it’s scribe so there is no guessing if I marked it right . The only tape I will ever use again!

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