Best Tape Measures for Woodworkers

I Tested 5 Tape Measures for Woodworkers: Here are the Best (2024)

Few tools are more essential than the classic tape measure. When it comes to woodworking, having an easy to read tape measure is essential. That’s why I tested some of the most popular tape measures to find the best one. Here are my favorites!

In a hurry? The Milwaukee 25-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure is the best tape measure for woodworkers since it’s efficient, easy to use, compact, affordable, and built to last.

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Best Measuring Tapes for Woodworkers

Best Tape Measure for Woodworkers

1. Milwaukee 25-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure – #1 Best Overall

Because it’s easy to read, affordable, and built to last, the Milwaukee 25-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure has earned its place as the best overall tape measure on my list.

Its magnetic hook allows it to lock on to EMT and steel studs, and a special anti-tear coating reinforces the first six inches of the blade.

It’s double-sided and therefore easier to use, and it has an impact-resistant five-point reinforced frame—so you could drop it from several feet in the air and it’d still work after. Trust me, I’ve tried!

As a professional-grade tape measure, it has an architectural scale, a reliable belt clip, and a case made of alloy steel which I really like.

This tape measure’s reach is 15 feet, and thanks to nylon blade protection this wide blade tape measure isn’t as susceptible to tape tear.

What I Liked:

  • Milwaukee backs this product with a lifetime limited warranty
  • Magnet holds even when the blade is considerably extended
  • Pretty reasonably priced considering its durability & efficiency
  • Smooth extension & contraction every time, even after years of use.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Blade material could be stronger, but it’s still durable enough for most woodworkers
  • Somewhat smaller compared to others
  • Smaller marks can be difficult to see in poorly lit areas

My Thoughts

This Milwaukee tape measure is easy to use and read, efficient, durable, and priced reasonably when you take into account everything it has to offer making it the best tape measure for woodworkers. Granted, it does take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you can fully utilize its 15-foot reach. I will say, however, the blade could be stronger, and the hook can bend fairly easily. But these two minor issues aside, this Milwaukee tape measure offers exceptional quality at a can’t-beat price, and that’ll always be a winning combination in my book.

2. Stanley Fatmax Tape Measure – Best 35-Foot Tape Measure

The Stanley Fatmax Tape Measure has the longest blade by far, and it’s also durable and accurate.

But despite having a 35-foot blade, it has the same reach (14 feet) as other tape measures on this list.

And as far as markings go, it has vertical inch, 1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, 1/8-inch, and 1/16-inch markings, but it doesn’t have the fractions more precise tape measures have.

Additionally, it’s one of the heavier tape measures currently available on the market right now (1.57 lbs), even though it has a rubber case.

Still, it can fit comfortably on your tool belt or in your pocket.

Its locking system is reliable and easy to use, but it doesn’t have an auto-lock like other tape measures.

Lastly, it has a reinforced metal hook, but it’s not magnetic like the hooks other durable tape measures have.

What I Liked:

  • Great for long surfaces that require a longer reach
  • Blade extends and retracts smoothly
  • Smooth locking system that’s simple to operate
  • A sturdy blade & hook give it decent reach compared to others

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Priciest tape measure on this list
  • Reach should be longer considering total blade size
  • Lacks fractional markings
  • Blade hook isn’t magnetic, which can make your job more difficult
  • Can be too bulky for certain projects

My Thoughts

The Stanley Fatmax Tape Measure is one of the best tape measures in terms of overall quality and length. Its blade has superior length, and it’s one of the more durable cased tape measures (despite being mostly rubber). The blade is easy to read, and it can be easily clipped to a tool belt. However, it’s the most expensive tape measure on this list, and its lack of fractional markings prevents it from taking precise measurements. Still, if you need a tape measure with extra blade length, this measuring tape won’t let you down.

3. FastCap Lefty/Righty 16″ Tape Measure – Best Value Tape Measure

FastCap Measuring Tape

Coming in at less than $10 is the FastCap Lefty/Righty 16′ Tape Measure, the best value tape measure on my list.

The 16-foot, 1-inch wide white blade is made of coated alloy steel, and it has markings down to 1/16 of an inch. The markings are easy to see.

It has a 16-foot reach, which is plenty for most projects.

What’s particularly cool about this tape measure is it has a built-in notepad, as well as a built-in pencil sharpener which can come in handy.

There’s also a temporary hold button on the bottom that’s ideal for taking quick measurements.

Finally, it has a lever-action belt clip, and both righties and lefties can use it to much success.

It’s worth noting that the markings are difficult to read, which is something to keep in mind.

Fast Cap tape measure markings

What I Liked:

  • Decent 16 foot reach
  • Rock-bottom price yet highly efficient
  • On the lighter side thanks to the rubber casing
  • Easy-to-use belt clip
  • Compact, portable & easy to store

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Blade is only 16 feet
  • Markings are small and difficult to read
  • Doesn’t feel nearly as durable as others

My Thoughts

Despite its low price, the FastCap Lefty/Righty 16′ Tape Measure is still capable of taking precise measurements, and it’s pretty lightweight as far as cased tape measures go. It has decent reach thanks to a sturdy hook and blade, and its self-locking mechanism holds up even after years of use. Granted, it’s not one of the most durable tape measures and not as long as others. It’s worth noting there is a noticeable drop off in quality when you compare this tape measure to others, but that’s because of the price. But as far as basic tape measures go, you’re not going to find anything else that matches its quality at less than $10.

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4. Craftsman Tape Measure 25-Foot – Best Magnetic Tip Tape Measure

Craftsman 25" Measuring Tape

The Craftsman Tape Measure 25-Foot is a superior 25-foot tape measure because of its long reach, sturdiness, accuracy, and durability, but it doesn’t hold the “best overall” slot because it’s an expensive tape measure thats size can be too bulky sometimes.

It has a coated metallic blade and a reinforced magnetic hook, and it can reach 14 feet, making it ideal for craftspeople who generally work alone.

And like other tape measures on this list, it has a self-locking mechanism, but it also has a manual lock which helps with achieving accurate measurements.

Speaking of accurate measurements, unfortunately this tape measure doesn’t have 1/16” markings, so it’s not great for woodworkers who often need to make very precise measurements.

For a durable cased tape measure, it’s pretty light, weighing just 0.64 ounces.

What I Liked:

  • Sturdy and high quality design
  • Longest reach of all the tape measures on this list
  • Its slide lock is better than a push-button lock
  • Smooth extension & retraction
  • Lifetime limited warranty

What I Didn’t Like:

  • No 1/16” markings
  • One of the more expensive tape measures on my list
  • Length and height make it too bulky for some tasks

My Thoughts

Because of its durability and superior reach, the Craftsman Tape Measure 25-Foot is more dependable than most other tape measures. Plus, its blade will remain sturdy even after years of use, which isn’t a shock since this product does bear the Craftsman brand. But since it’s a durable tape measure, it’s more expensive, which you may find unjustifiable since it doesn’t have 1/16” markings. But overall, it’s a quality product that’d be worthy of the “best tape measure” slot if it was cheaper and more precise.

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5. Craftsman Tape Measure – Best Chrome Tape Measure

Craftsman Chrome Measuring Tape

When it comes to chrome 25-foot tape measures, the Craftsman Tape Measure is a great option, since it’s durable, easy to use, efficient, and affordable.

While it’s marketed as a chrome tape measure, it isn’t 100% chrome—its case does include some rubber parts.

It doesn’t have the longest reach (just seven feet), but its durable blade and hook do ensure total stability for all seven feet.

Moreover, it’s not the lightest tape measure on this list, but it’s not the heaviest either—it weighs 0.83 pounds, with most of that weight coming from the chrome components.

It has easy-to-read markings, but it doesn’t have the fractional markings more precise tape measures have.

The blade is 1” wide, and its hook is attached well but ultra durable like some other measuring tapes.

Finally, it has a push-button lock, which many woodworkers regard as inferior (when compared to a sliding lock).

What I Liked:

  • Very affordable yet reliable
  • Durable and high quality measuring tape that will last
  • Bold markings on a white surface that are easy to read
  • Backed by a Craftsman limited lifetime warranty

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Doesn’t have fractional markings which can make more precise measurements more difficult
  • Subpar hook & manual lock

My Thoughts

If you want your tape measure to have that classic chrome look at a decent price, I suggest purchasing the Craftsman Tape Measure. It’s durable and capable of taking accurate measurements, and it’s sold at a very attractive low price. However, it doesn’t have a considerably long reach—despite having 25 feet of tape—and it doesn’t have the fractional markings needed to take precise measurements. Still, it’s one of the best tape measures in terms of overall performance and price, so choose it if you want good bang for your buck with the classic look and feel.

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Essential Tape Measure Features

Standout Blade

This metal measuring strip is the most important part of a tape measure. A high-quality tape measure will have a blade made of fiberglass or steel, and it’ll be coated with a protective finish to ensure durability.

A blade should extend at least six feet before bending, and the hook at the end of it should be well secured. High-end tape measures can extend 14-15 feet without bending.


The tang, otherwise known as the hook, is the clip at the end of the blade that helps to ensure precise measurements. Many tape measures use magnetic tangs because these are more stable.

Usually, the tang is the first component to break. For this reason, when you’re shopping for tape measures, look for products—like the Craftsman Tape Measure 25-Foot—that have a reinforced tang.


A reliable tape measure will have easy-to-read markings, and it may even have imperial and metric markings.

The more precise tape measures will have fractional markings down to 1/16”, and the more versatile models will have double-sided markings so righties and lefties can use them.

Generally speaking, woodworkers prefer precise tape measures with numerous markings because their projects often require precise measurements.

Auto-Lock System

Tape measures that have an auto-lock system are easier to use and safer than tape measures that rely on a manual stop.

The best auto-lock tape measures are slide activated. If you can’t get your hands on one of these, a push-button auto-lock system will do, but these break down quicker and they can be unreliable after many uses.

Belt Clip

A tape measure that has a sturdy belt clip is easier to use and less prone to falling. And just because it has a belt clip doesn’t mean it can’t fit easily in a pant pocket.

These days, there are many types of tape measures, but virtually all of them have a belt clip of some kind, which shows how essential these often-overlooked components are.

What to Consider When Buying a Measuring Tape


Length is one of the first things you should consider when browsing tape measures. If you’re frequently working with large surfaces (roofs, floors, etc.), then you should get a tape measure that’s at least 25 feet long.

Moreover, you should get a tape measure that has a 14-15 foot reach. If your projects rarely involve such large surfaces, a smaller tape measure with a six-foot reach will do.


The whole reason for using a tape measure is to ensure accurate measurements, so if a tape measure can’t perform this basic function, it’s best to move on.

And just because a tape measure is accurate doesn’t mean it’s precise; a tape measure that’s precise will have markings down to the 1/16”.


The most accurate tape measure is a comfortable tape measure, since it’s impossible to get accurate measurements if you can’t get a good grip on your tape measure.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a metal or rubber holder—both are easy to grip, and neither is too heavy.

Blade Retraction & Locking Mechanism

A good tape measure will have smooth blade retraction and an efficient locking mechanism, either an auto-lock or a manual lock.

The quality of the locking mechanism in part determines the accuracy of measurements.

Think about it: if the tape can’t lock in place, you’ll have to try your hardest to keep it in place, which is probably going to prevent you from taking an accurate measurement.

As far as manual locks go, slide-activated locks are better than push-button locks.


Durability is an important factor to consider when browsing measuring tapes. After all, once measuring tape begins to break down, it will no longer be able to provide accurate measurements.

For this reason, choose fiberglass or steel measuring tape that’s coated with nylon. This measuring tape lasts longest and typically provides substantial reach.

And when it comes to tape measures, the durability of the case is also important; you don’t want something that’ll split in two from a minor impact.

Metal-rubber cases are best, but those who don’t like scratched metal prefer all-rubber cases.

Measurement System

As far as the measurement system goes, double-check to make sure you have the right tape measure; nothing’s worse than purchasing a tape measure online only to find out days later it doesn’t have the right measurement markings.

If you’re going to need precise measurements routinely, go with a tape measure that includes markings down to the 1/16”.

And if you need imperial and metric markings, choose a double-sided tape measure.

Final Thoughts

To recap, the best tape measure for woodworkers overall is the Milwaukee 25-Foot Auto-Lock Tape Measure, since it’s durable, easy to use, capable of taking precise measurements, all at a reasonable price.

But if price is your number-one concern when shopping for the best tape measure, choose either the FastCap Lefty/Righty 16′ Tape Measure (best value) or the Craftsman Tape Measure (best chrome).

And if maximum reach is what you’re after, go with the Stanley Fatmax 35″ Tape Measure with a 35 foot blade.