Fat Max came into our office today. Now before you start giving me grief about a derogatory comment projected at a fellow worker, let me explain that Fat Max is a product category produced by Stanley (The Stanley Works, New Britain, CT) and the product that arrived was a 40′-tape rule.
I grew up in the home-building industry, so tape measures are something that I’ve worked with for a long time. I continue to use this tool in my workshop today , I do most of my rough cutting layout work (which does not require spot-on accuracy) with tape measures. There are more than a couple tape measures deposited around the shop.
The Fat Max 40′ tape measure, as the name implies, is fat. Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick scoffed at the idea of her using the tape due to its size. She could barely maneuver her thumb to the lock while keeping a grip on the case. Even in my medium-size hand, the tape measure is huge.
So, other than its size, what’s different about a 40′ Fat Max Tape Measure? According to Stanley, this tape is the world’s longest self-retracting tape rule, it’s 1-1/4″-wide and has a standout of 11′. Standout is the length of tape that is extended out of the case before the metal tape buckles under its own weight. (At 11′ you can nearly reach the cubicle across the isle for a game of tag , not that I tried that.)
This tape rule is divided into 1/16″ scale and has fine-line markings. In addition, Stanley suggests that you’ll gain twice the average tape rule life with a Fat Max due to a 3M Blade Armor bonded coating. The steel rule is covered with a layer of Mylar then a layer of Blade Armor, an industrial thermoplastic coating.
Here are some interesting facts about tape rules.
– The play in the hook end of the rule is there for a reason. The slight movement is equal to the thickness of the hook to achieve accurate results whether you’re measuring with the hook pressed against the surface or you hook the end as is normal usage.
– There are red squares, or numbers, printed in red, every 16″. This is a house-framing notion because studs in walls and many floor joists are set with that spacing.
– (Here’s one I had to research.) There are black diamonds , sometimes referred to as black trusses , every 19.2″. This corresponds to layout for some engineered lumber where architects can save a buck or two by increasing the spacing for roof trusses or floor joists where building codes allow.
Interestingly, and not by coincidence, 16″ and 19.2″ intervals are divisible into 8′-0″ or 96″, which is the standard size for sheet goods used in home construction and most woodworking plywood.
So, there are five 19.2″ units in 8′. That ratio (8/5) equals 1.6 or very near the “golden ratio” which is 1.618. Are we challenged to build properly designed furniture with tape rules? Not me. As I stated above, I use tape measures for roughing out lumber before it’s milled to thickness and width. But, any trimming to final working size is measured with a reliable, accurate steel rule.
Do you use a tape rule in the shop and if so, how?