5 Tips for Using a Laser Tape Measure

A laser tape measure is a very simple device and a great technological advance on the old way of measuring distances. It is accurate to within 1/8 inch up to 300 feet and can measure distances up to 650 feet in some instances. This makes it ideal for those involved in construction but it’s also a wonderful item for every homeowner to have in his tool box.

Tip 1: Using A Target

As long as the laser optics can hit something, you usually won’t need a target when measuring distances less than 100 feet with your laser tape measure. Even then, something as simple as a Post-It note will work as a target.

When you work with distances beyond 100 feet, you’ll find it advantageous to use a reflective target. Newer models can measure up to 300 feet in sunlight without the need for a target. Go beyond that and a reflective target is necessary in order to obtain a measurement.

Tip 2: Measuring

Using a laser tape measure could hardly be easier. Just place it with the base against an object and aim the laser dot at the other object whose distance you want to know. Press the button marked “measure” and you’ll immediately have a readout of the distance. Some instruments will offer a choice between metric and inch readouts.

Tip 3: Extra Keys

A good laser tape measure will come with addition and subtraction keys. Most people wouldn’t bother with these and will stick to the basics but they can be extremely helpful. You’d use these for triangulation measurements where there’s no obvious target.

If measuring the front of a house, for instance, you could go from one corner to a light. After that, go to the other corner and press the plus key. This measures to the same point. Follow that by pressing the equal key to obtain the complete measurement across the house. You can use subtraction in a similar way; to discover the possibilities of the digital tape measure, you should read the owner’s manual.

Tip 4: Distance Measuring

When you’re measuring longer distances in sunlight, you can have problems seeing the red laser dot on the far object. That makes it impossible to know if you’re measuring the right distance. If you’re doing this kind of work, use a magnified view finder which is usually available on some models. Others have an optional external view finder that can give even greater magnification of up to 4x.

Tip 5: Cleaning

As the laser tape measure relies on the laser, it’s important to keep the laser cleaned and properly aligned. Only then will you be able to obtain measurements that are consistently accurate. Have a good lens cleaner and use it regularly. Also, pack the laser tape measure away in it's case when you’re not using it. This prevents possible scratches on the lens from other items in your toolbox.

You should check the alignment of your laser regularly, especially if your laser tape measure is moved around regularly. You’ll be able to find instructions for your model in the manual.