Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

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Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

Postby Bob Hammond » Thu Sep 19, 2019 2:17 pm

Some years ago, a guy at the hardware store sold me his Dad's 8ft Starrett aircraft layout rule for $20 because he knew that I would appreciate and use it . It's been my shop standard that I compare every rule and tape that I buy, with tapes at 24 inch intervals. Nowadays, I'll say that most rules and tapes are pretty good, so long as the hook isn't bent. This is a $3 tape. But I'll still check them.
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Re: Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

Postby Matthew Lau » Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:46 pm

NIce
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Re: Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:55 pm

I don't even want to know how much that layout rule costs new. Starrett is top-drawer stuff, but stupid expensive. Makes Festool and Woodpeckers look like amateurs. I'm always trolling through antique malls and flea markets looking for Starrett and Lufkin machinist's tools.
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Re: Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

Postby Bob Hammond » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:53 pm

Steve,

There's still a lot of precision tooling around Detroit, from back when it was the Arsenal of Democracy during WWII. During the war, the Federal Gov't put out a call for home manufacturers for the war effort, and they published specifications for a test piece to apply for a contract. As I recall it was a couple of small objects that the home machinist was required to make and send in for testing. Also, after the war, most fine craftsmen for the automakers were required to supply their own precision tools, and this rule belonged to one of those craftsman. The current price for the rule is over $1500. I have a few other tools that belonged to this generation that i acquired at estate sales, and in a way, I treasure them.

When i acquired the rule, i called Starrett, gave them a description and some other details because i was concerned that it was 'hot'. I don't buy tools without knowing something their provenance. The Starrett rep verified that things were on the up& up, and gave me the specifications and how to clean it up. I do not use it for everyday work. I cut a nice clean, straight 2x4 and rabbeted it so that the rule is secured to it with innertube rubberbands. i keep it tucked up in the joists, and I only get it out for comparisons. But a custom motorcycle builder did me a favor some time ago, and so I'm considering giving it to him because it would serve his needs better than it would serve mine nowadays.
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Re: Tape measures aren't what they used to be - they're better.

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:52 pm

Yes! When the wife and I browse through flea markets and antique malls outside of the "rust belt", I find very little of the kind of thing I look for. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana are all goldmines. My younger son is a machinist and lucked into an entire tool box belonging to a guy who had been a machinist for 20 years, and was moving into management. Got the entire box for $900, but it was easily worth at least twice that if broken up and sold as individual pieces. Who knows how much it would have been worth new? I made him a nice case out of some elm for the height gauge he got in that haul.

What's funny is my son is only 27, but he may also be moving off the shop floor. He's being considered for an opening for a mold engineer at the company he works for. He has extensive experience in repairing and maintaining injection molds. I'd hit him up for his tools, but I know he wants to set up his own home shop! ;)

I have a 48" straightedge I got many years ago from Lee Valley/Veritas. I too keep it safe, but in a piece of PVC pipe with threaded caps. I have loaned it a couple of times, but caution the recipient that if they ever lean it against a wall or workbench (where it can fall to the floor! :roll: ) I will kill them and feed them to my dog!! :lol: it's made of aluminum so won't tolerate any abuse!

I very seldom use it, but am always so glad I have it when I do!! I have no idea what I'd use I'd have for an 8' layout rule, but I would treasure it or pass it along to someone who could use it as you may yet do.
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