A set of measuring tools will always play a huge role in the everyday life of an expert – whether a surveyor, realtor, estimator, contractor, architect, construction worker, or an engineer.
While it is true that experienced builders have the so-called gift of estimation skills, it is also important to note that an error in measurement may lead to loss in business and wasted money and effort on a particular project. Hence, as the saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.”
As you may know, measurement refers to determining a particular target’s length, weight, size, capacity, or other measurable areas. Usually, it is taken using specific measuring tools.
Basically, there are two kinds of measurement you should know about. These are:
Direct measurement is a type of measurement wherein the target is in direct contact with the measuring tool. While it may be easier to use this type of means of measurement, errors may occur depending on how the act and reading is being performed.
Indirect measurement on the other hand, is the type of measurement which basically uses another item to compare with the target’s length, height, weight, or any other aspect that is being measured in order to determine the actual measurement of the said item. Given that it uses a reference to measure a target, it is also known as comparative measurement.
There are a variety of measuring tools that you can use in order to accurately estimate a particular length, height, angle, diameter, level, or even circumference. These measurements all have corresponding tools that are specifically designed for them. Why? This is because even a single difference in inches may ruin the structure.
Without further ado, here are the common types of measuring tools as used in fields such as carpentry, engineering, architecture, etc.
Protractors are among the most common measuring tools you’ll see in a builder’s kit. This is due to the reason that it helps accurately measure an angle, which for instance, includes that of a flight of stairs and railings.
Typically, protractors may vary from small to large sizes that may be useful depending on which target it will be used for. It also varies in the material it is made of, where the most common is that of wood or clear plastic. Though today, there are also digital models that helps easily measure angles compared to the manual protractors. Regardless, they are all still capable of measuring angles, and all are based on degrees (˚).
Basically, protractors have a center point, which is located at the vertex of the angle. It also has the zero-scale aligned with the straight edge of the protractor. More so, there are two sets of numbers that indicates the angles, the upper set for the angles that opens to the left, and the lower set for the angles that opens to the right.
In order to accurately use the protractor, try using the straight edge that’s included in the protractor and draw an arbitrary triangle. Measure the inside angles of the three corners and sum it up, and if it equals to 180˚ – then you know you’re doing it right.
The most common and primarily used measuring tool of all time is the ruler, given that it is used to measure length and draw straight lines. Most of the time, it is cut in straight figure, and is made of fiberglass, stainless, and wooden material that has figures incremented on it that indicate inches and centimeters. They can also be rigid or flexible if you want them to.
Basically, for construction projects, metal metric rulers are more accurate in terms of numbers. Moreover, they are capable of making fine straight lines as they’re more rigid and flat. Truly, it must be a common priority to use a ruler that will best fit the target that you’re measuring in order to avoid errors in markings.
Rulers also differ in length; the most common type is the 6 to 12-inch ruler, which is commonly known as steel rule. It is a straight, flat, metal ruler that can either be rigid or flexible. It makes more precise and accurate measurements given the close distance of the markings to the target item being measured. Additionally, there’s also the meter stick or yardstick, which measures up to 36 inches, and the folding ruler, which is easier to use compared to a tape measure.
For this measuring tool, it’s important to note that the ruler is longer than the target as the more you move it, the more inaccurate the measurement gets.
Dividers are a practical tool in measuring circular objects and transferring the measurement to a ruler given the incapability of the latter to directly measure circular or spherical objects. This is due to the two arms that become adjustable with the use of friction or manual turning of the screw. And while this tool similarly resembles a compass, the main point of difference is that it has two scribe points and one focus point.
Aside from direct measurement, it can also perform an indirect measuring of the target item wherein it is first used in marking off points in a particular area while being guided with a particular straight line or a ruler. In order to use a divider for an indirect measurement, set one of the two scribe points at position A and the other at position B. Then, measure the distance between the two points to note. Walk the dividers to measure the distance further, and sum them up once you’re done. For higher accuracy, you may either trace a line or use a ruler to guide them through the measurement.
Dividers are particularly used in laying out button holes or estimating spaces between rivets.
Calipers may look similar to dividers, though differing in its purpose. Specifically, a caliper has two adjustable arms that are designed to measure the two opposite sides of a target item. Likewise, with a compass, the caliper has an inward and outward facing point, whereas the inside portion measures distances between surfaces and the hole diameters, while the outside portion on the other hand measures the thickness and outside diameters of the target item.
Basically, the tips are being adjusted in order to fit across points. After so, the caliper is being removed and the distance accumulated from the fitting is measured with a ruler or a tape measure, whichever fits best, to take the actual measurement.
Calipers vary in forms: there’s the inside and outside caliper, the divider caliper, the odd-leg caliper, the vernier caliper, the dial caliper, the digital caliper, and the micrometer caliper. Among all these types, the vernier caliper remains the most widely-used type given that it helps the person doing the measurement read the distance between two points easier and more precisely.
In order to accurately use a caliper, it is important to maintain a consistent, firm touch, as too firm or too loose hold on the tool may result to a different reading.
A square may vary with the term you call it. It may either be called as a T-square, a set square, a carpenter’s square, a steel square, a roofing square, and so on – but still, the purpose remains the same: to check the accuracy of right angles and to serve as a guide when drawing lines on materials before trimming them.
Mainly, a square consists of two straight arms which are of different sizes: one is short and the other long. They are set at a right angle countering each other from the opposite sides, thereby creating a ‘T’ shape. It has two main parts: the blade and the tongue. The blade is the wider arm, which is basically at least two inches wide; while the other – the tongue – is the narrower arm, about one and a half inches wide. Also, it is often made of steel, hence the name steel square, though there are still variants that are made of either aluminum or polymers, significantly made for those who prefer their squares as light-weight or rust resistant.
While there are tons of uses of a square, the most common among all of them are roof and stair framing.
A tape measure is an item you’ll never find missing in a toolbox. It is basically the most prominent type of ruler among all ruler types in carpentry. This is because given its flexibility which allows easier measurement on floors, walls, ceilings, and other things that may be out of reach. It has a variety of uses that makes it mandatory for builders, flooring experts, DIY enthusiasts, and even homeowners.
Basically, there are two forms of tape measure: the closed casing and the open casing tape measure. The closed casing is a typical pocket size form of a tape measure, which makes it easier to carry it anywhere. It is shorter in length, which is fitting for covering short distances. The open casing, on the other hand, is the bigger type. It is commonly used in measuring exteriors, given its capability to cover farther distances. More so, it is equipped with a handle that makes the tape easier to withdraw, and is relatively easier to clean.
Additionally, tape measures may also differ with the material used to create the blades; either it is made of metal or fiberglass. Typically, metal blades are more durable and do not stretch over time, which is a good point for investment. However, the downside on metal blades is that it can’t stand extreme heat, and conducts electricity that it is not feasible for use in areas prone to electrical hazards. This is where fiberglass blades become a good choice, given that it is safer and cheaper than a metal blade, and is definitely not rust-resistant. Of course, it also has its own downside, which is the material stretching over time. This occurrence alone may result into inaccurate measurements.
Levels are a standard measuring tool that a builder shouldn’t miss in a toolbox. While they differ largely from rulers, the concept of levels is very much simple and easy: determine the surface level orientation against the pull of gravity (whether it’s horizontal or vertical). Its variants may be used by carpenters, surveyors, metal workers, and stonemasons.
Levels, which are also called as spirit or bubble levels, have two main parts: the frame and the tube. The frame is designed with broad, flat edges, and transparent tubes that are filled with colored alcohol and some air.
One can determine that the tool is on a level surface, when the bubble appears in the middle of the tube. It’s also important to note that the longer the level, the higher the accuracy of your measurement.
In order to invest in long-term spirit level, always take note of the sensitivity of the material.
Aside from the basic measuring tools listed above, there are a lot more that you will possibly encounter in a common hardware store like KYK Tools Philippines. But of course, in order to provide quality tools to customers like you, we’d like to give away some quick hardware shopping tips to serve you better:
KYK Tools Philippines offers measuring tools that vary from the material used for the purpose that it is designed for. Not only does it assure you of high quality products, but also those that are affordable and may best fit your needs.
Hence, if you are interested to learn more about our products, please feel free to contact us here. We’ll be glad to help!