The last full measure

A favorite tool bit the dust yesterday, and I will miss it.

Last January I told you about how I thought I’d lost an old shop friend, a decades-old Makita drill. Turned out it was just the ancient battery that died and, once replaced, that old drill was figuratively as good as new. I don’t think that’s the case with another favorite tool, as you can see below.

AJBLOG-502 image

As with my old drill, losing this tape measure doesn’t mean I don’t measure up  (yuk-yuk). I have a dozen more tapes in the shop, and even more in drawers and toolboxes scattered about my small empire. But this one was my favorite. It was small, felt good in my hand, was the perfect length at 12’ for most work, it had been dropped without damage countless times, and I absolutely loved the always-on locking feature. I have no accurate idea how long I’ve had that tape, but I got it right when Stanley introduced the Leverlock, so my best guess is nearly two decades.

Stanley still makes the model and I’ll undoubtedly get a new one because of that automatically locking blade, but the case has been redesigned and I don’t know if it’ll feel as good when using it. Different, yeah, which means I’ll have to get used to it all over again. I love new things and I’m often the first to try new technology, but I’m rather a Luddite with some things – I don’t like it when a favorite magazine changes it’s logo, a beloved website totally redesigns itself, or a long-used tried-and-true software program is “improved” just for the sake of moving familiar buttons into unfamiliar locations.

But time and age take their toll, and I suppose it was inevitable that the tip of my old favorite tape would snap off after thousands upon thousands of reliable measurements. Not as depressing as, say, my decreasing tolerance for spicy food or my ever-thickening eyeglasses, but it is a sad day to say good-bye to this old friend.

On the other hand, all the numbers on that tape had been shrinking over the years anyway for some reason…



  1. Dan wrote:

    $2.99 for the 12′ X 1/2″ replacement blade…

    I know what you mean about favorites, and why “upgrade” if the current version does all you want and then some…

  2. A.J. Hamler wrote:

    Dan — I checked that out, but that blade is for the newer model of the 12-footer, which has removable screws to open the case. Mine is older, and the plastic case is fused shut, and has no screws — I’d have to break it open.



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