Strange measuring tape


Old 07-25-02, 10:11 PM
thiggy's Avatar
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Question Strange measuring tape

My dad recently gave me an old tape measure that he has had for as long as I can remember. (I am 55) It is a 10 foot Lufkin steel measuring tape, round, which retracts with a folding center crank. The curious thing about it is that it is divided in 10th of a foot rather than inches. I suppose that is was intended as some type of special purpose tape. Has any reader ever seen this type of tape? Does anyone know what it was for?
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Old 07-26-02, 05:38 AM
bungalow jeff
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That is a surveyor's tape. Surveying uses decimals of a foot instead of inches.
Old 07-26-02, 05:40 AM
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Well now I know. My experience is in woodworking and not surveying. Thanks, Jeff.
Old 07-26-02, 06:04 AM
hi ho sliver
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I have one of those tapes also and wondered what the tenths were for. Learn something everyday whether we want to or not!
Old 07-26-02, 08:26 AM
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The engineering standard also measures in tenths of a foot.
Architectural measures in standard english system.
Old 07-26-02, 12:46 PM
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Yep. I've always known those decimal tapes as an "engineer's tape". (I'm almost 60, thiggy.)
As said, surveyors use engineer's tapes, as well as many real estate appraisers these days.
Personally, I still use a standard tape to measure houses.
Of course, ten different people can measure the same house and they will come up with ten different square footages, no matter which type they use. LOL
Old 07-26-02, 02:06 PM
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Slang for a 10 foot tape in 10th scale is a "10-10" and it's compartively short length limits it's uses. I believe it's mostly used for determining, laying out, or working to finished floor heights.

A "6-10 stick" is a six foot folding wood rule in 10 scale. A "25-10" is a twenty-five foot tape in 10 scale, a "50-10" ... well you get it.

10ths are used by many trades .... as are 12ths; just check a framing square.
Old 07-26-02, 07:03 PM
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In response to email questions received on my above answer it has been my experience that there is a better than 50/50 chance 10ths linear measurement will be on the blueprints being used by any number of tradesmen working on the project.

Example: Say a new commercial building is being erected. All the trades working on anything shown in the elevation will need to know the finished floor (FF) height. Lintels, kneewalls, doorways, windows, sprinklers, ductwork, ceilings, etc, etc, all need to match. A surveyor or engineer will establish and scribe a column with a mark usually 4 or 5 feet above the finished floor (FF) height. All the trades will work up or down from that FF mark, and to assure uniformity, proper fit and finish, all will use (or should be using) 10ths rules and tapes.

Yes, "rounding off to the nearest 1/8th or 1/16th" might work for you .... but do that 6 or 7 times and you'll soon find that your work is almost a half-inch off and doesn't match up with the work being done by other crews, or trades.

Let's say you were doing a long window wall in a masonary opening that has 12 windows. You need to set 13 mullions. You've rounded off your 10ths on the blueprints to the "nearest 1/16th" each time you set and drilled or welded a mullion into place. If you've set 9 mullions I'll bet you're 9/16ths off. Mullions 11 and 12 will fit in the opening, but the 13th will either have a gap between it and the brickwork or won't fit at all. Don't round off. If it's in 10ths, use 10ths.
Old 07-26-02, 09:33 PM
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This is in response to questions received about framing squares and 12ths scale.


If your 'framing square' has nail and screw sizes stamped on it instead of tables and scales (rafter - brace - octagon - essex tables and 10ths and 12ths scales) it is not, NOT a framing square. What you have is a right angle back scratcher.

A REAL framing square has two arms fixed at a right (90 degree) angle. The shorter arm, 16" from the heel to the tip and 1 1/2" wide is called the tounge. The longer arm, 24" from the heel to the tip and 2" wide is called the body. Each arm has two sides, the face and the back.

On the face of the body is a rafter table that lets you easily find the lengths of any rafter. The outside edge along the face of the body is in inches and 16ths. The inner edge is in inches and 8ths.

On the face of the tongue is an octagon table for 8 any sided objects. It's outside edge is inches and 16ths, the inner is inches and 8ths.

On the back of the body a framing square will have a brace table that will help you figure the hypotenuse of a right triangle, a must to layout braces. The outside edge along the back of the body has inches and 12ths, the inner edge has inches and 16ths.

On the back of the tongue is an essex board table used for determining material quanities whose unit is called board feet. It's outside edge is inches and 12ths, and it's inner edge is inches and 10ths.

(Also on the back of the tongue, near the heel is the hundreths scale. It converts an inch into hundreths. It's on the tongue right next to the 12ths so that the user can convert the two scales back and forth very easily).

That's a true framing square. Accept no imitations. It's a very, VERY usefull tool.

THE 12ths SCALE:

Simply put; it's a great time saving short-cut. Large dimensions in feet and inches can be reduced to 1/12th actual size by allowing each graduation on the 12ths scale to represent 1 inch.

Say you're going to do some rafters. Your run is 10 feet, and your rise is 6 foot 5 inches. Use the 12ths on the outside edge of the back of your framing square, and hold it against a board at 10 inches (that represents your 10' run) and at 6 & 5/12 (that represents your 6'5" rise). Mark it. Now use one of the same 12ths scale and measure between the marks. It's 11 & 11/12ths which represents 11 feet 11 inches - your rafter length! Snap, it's easy.

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