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On National Tape Measure Day on July 14, it’s a great day to bust out the tape measure, buy a new one for your toolkit, or give one as a gift! We know there’s a tape measure nestled in your toolkit or crammed in the back of a junk drawer. Everyone has one because they’re universally useful! Whether you need a tape measure for your job as a seamstress or construction worker, or you just need to know if your couch will fit in your living room, you’ll need a tape measure.
History of National Tape Measure Day
The tool so essential for many professions and tasks — from building a house to measuring an inseam — has been around in some form or another for hundreds of years. After all, even ancient peoples had to sometimes measure or draw a straight line! Some of the earliest representations of rulers or tape measures date back to 2650 B.C. of which there is evidence of rulers that were used in workshops during that time.
Though we humans have been measuring for centuries, the more modern form of the ruler came in the 1800s, starting with the rudimentary steel tape measure created in 1821 by James Chesterman. Chesterman, a craftsman from Sheffield, England, worked in the fashion business and created long steel tape measures as an accidental byproduct of the metal hoops he made that were inside popular dress skirts. Hoping to make a bit more money by selling them off to surveyors, Chesterman lined the tapes with graduated markers and sold them as the lightweight, compact ‘Steel Band Measuring Chains.’
Other measuring tapes followed. Notably, Anton Ulrich created the folding ruler in 1851, which consisted of six stacked rulers united by pivoting hinges. The tape measure created by Chesterman was later improved upon by Alvin J. Fellows, an inventor from the United States who patented the first spring measuring tape — quite like the one we see today. His measuring tape was also encased in the small circular container, and he added a locking element when extended that we are now familiar with.
Justus Roe & Sons began to manufacture and sell tape measures in the United States in the 1870s, and they gradually grew in popularity — especially for those whose jobs require measurement. However, the tape measure’s path to prevalence in the population was a long one, as it wasn’t until the 1940s that it was in widespread use. In the last 50 years, tape measures have become largely constructed of fiberglass, and can be found in most people’s junk drawers — a standard and useful tool for any household!
National Tape Measure Day timeline
While still a ways off from the modern tape measure, the first rulers are thought to have been invented around 2650 B.C., as they were a workshop staple for measuring and cutting.
Designed by Englishman James Chesterman, the tape measure is originally just a byproduct — long steel tapes covered in graduated markings to help contractors.
In 1869, Alvin J. Fellows patents the first spring measuring tape.
Justus Roe & Sons are the first to begin manufacturing steel tape measures in the United States.
Despite having existed in some form or fashion for around a century, tape measures do not become widespread and popular until the 1940s.
National Tape Measure Day FAQs
Where is National Tape Measure Day celebrated?
The United States.
Are there other holidays on July 14?
Yes! July 14 is also Bastille Day, Cow Appreciation Day, and National Mac ‘n’ Cheese Day.
Are there other National holidays about tools?
Yes! National Worship of Tools Day is on March 11.
National Tape Measure Day Activities
Buy a new tape measure
We’re not saying it’s the most exciting purchase you’ll make all week, but it’s certainly a very useful one. Tape measures are one of those things you don’t think about until you need one! Save yourself some trouble in the future and make it a key component of your toolkit.
Give a tape measure as a gift
Especially if a friend or relative is moving, redecorating, or uses measurements regularly for their job, they would benefit from a new tape measure. These pocket-size tools make great little gifts — and you’re virtually guaranteed that no one else will also get them one!
Get the tape measure out of your junk drawer
What better day to start working on a project? Whether you’ve been planning to build that deck or table, or just have been meaning to redecorate, the tape measure is your friend. Get it out of the junk drawer and get it working!
5 Fun Facts About The Tape Measure
Early tape measures were just a byproduct
When James Chesterman handily developed the tape measure in the early 1820s, it was a byproduct of his primary business, manufacturing flat wire for crinoline hoop skirts.
Some have special measurements
If you’ve ever seen a tape measure marked for every 19.2 inches, some tape measures use a black diamond to denote this length, as it is a length commonly used for floor trusses.
There are long and short tapes
Long tapes, which measure more than 40 feet, and short tapes, which measure less, are the two most common types of tape measures today.
They’re no longer steel
Since the first steel tape measures were sold in 1820, there have been a lot of advancements in their material — fiberglass tape measures hit the U.S. market in 1968 and, since, most tape measures have been constructed out of fiberglass (though some remain steel).
Tape measures have gone digital
Like much of the technology we see today, tape measures exist in a digital format! They sometimes even employ technology like lasers to complete their measurements.
Why We Love National Tape Measure Day
Tape measures make life easier
If you’ve ever had to dig through old school supplies for the trusty wooden ruler, you know how important a tape measure is. Having to stack rulers against one another, measuring by the length of your hand or phone, or just simply guessing never leads to a great result. Thankfully, we have the tape measure to make so much of life easier!
Tape measures inspire you to get building
Like we’ve said, tape measures are an essential tool for any project. Just keeping one out and accessible will help put you in the mindset to get started on the project you’ve been putting off! Today is definitely the day to build that coffee table from scratch.
It’s an important invention for many jobs
For many tradesmen and craftsmen, daily life would not look the same without a tape measure. Whether it’s used to measure cloth for a dress, or steel beams for a building, tape measures are important to check that whatever you’re constructing won’t be lopsided or short. They’ve revolutionized many jobs!
National Tape Measure Day dates