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ProCarpenter 16' Left&Right Reading Tape - Tool Review

by Jeffrey Fleisher
New Market, VA

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

A ruler is a ruler is a ruler....I thought so too until I started using the Procarpenter line of rulers from FastCap. FastCap's innovations take the standard tape measure and add features that really make it useful for the woodworker. All of the ProCarpenter tape measures incorporate performance-enhancing, innovative features, which include a lever action belt clip, pencil sharpener, dual locking system, erasable notepad, a heavy-duty 1-inch blade and a rugged compact case.

The ProCarpenter line of tape measures come in a variety of blade types, scale layouts and lengths. They make the standard scale rule nicely called 'The Old Standard'!

The Standard/Metric Rule:

And the Left & Right Reading Tape:

I use the Left & Right Reading Tape in my shop and this is the one I'll discuss in more detail. I really like the layout of this tool because it allows me to measure from either the left edge or right edge of the board and have the numbers upright and easy to read. This is very helpful as I become a more and more experienced (read as 'older') woodworker which makes my work less prone to mistakes!

The first thing you notice when you pick up one of these tape measures is the comfortable, yet rugged feeling of the case. It is wrapped in rubber which makes it very easy to hold yet very durable, especially if dropped. Don't ask how I know!

The ruggedness carries over to the metal tape as well. The tape is a full 1 inch wide and FastCap says it is 30% thicker than other tape measures. What does this mean to you? It translates to a much longer unsupported extension. If you have ever tried to extend your tape measure from one end of a carcass to the other without the tape bending you will know how nice it will be to use this thicker blade.

The blade itself also has some very nice features. First, the hook is held on with 4 rivets as compared to typically 2 on other rulers. This gives a nice sturdy feeling to the hook and increases it's accuracy. Yes, the hook is supposed to move in order to compensate for its thickness and provide an accurate measurement, whether you are measuring with the hook pulled out over the edge of a board or pressed in when measuring inside of a case.

Next is the high contrast lettering on the surface of the blade. The numerals and division marks are very easy to read with the 1/16ths highlighted in red. Like other rulers, multiples of 16 inches are marked for studs, and feet and inches are marked at various intervals. The ruler comes in both 16 foot and 25 foot lengths.

The reason I like this specific ruler is the left & right reading scale. As seen above, when the hook is on the left edge of a board you can read the lower scale in the upright position from left to right. When the ruler is then switched to the right end of the board as shown below, you can still easily read the scale, this time from right to left, and not have to read the numbers or divisions upside down. This really lowers my error rate.

Of course, sometimes it is the smaller, less obvious innovations that really improve the usefulness of a tool. The same is true here. The ruler comes with 2 stopping mechanisms. The first is a locking mechanism on the top of the case, which locks the blade when extended. The second is a press and hold button on the bottom of the case, which can temporarily keep the blade extended. Also on the bottom of the case is a pencil sharpener....a nice touch!

Finally, the side of the case has a large writing surface to make quick notes and calculations without having to stop and look for a piece of paper. It is erasable and comes in handy when you are in the middle of a sequence of measurements, or need to remember a measurement while you walk over to the tablesaw.

Now, with all of this great innovation in a tape measure what could make it even better? The price! The 16 foot tape is a great price for such innovation and capability. Given the low price, I have a few of these tapes laying around the shop so they are always within arms reach. You cannot go wrong by purchasing these tape measures and keeping them strategically located around your shop.

Purchase your own ProCarpenter Left & Right Reading Tape today!

Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He was the past president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at . He can be reached by email at .

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