What is the Most Accurate Measuring Tool?

measuring tools

Have you been wondering about the most accurate measuring tool? In this article, we go over the nuts and bolts of accurate measuring tools. We also discuss how to make accurate measurements. No measuring tool is accurate unless it is used properly.

Laser measurements tools and micrometers are two of the most accurate measuring tools available. However, not all tools are accurate for all applications. When trying to find the most accurate measuring tool, you must consider what you’re measuring. 

In the sections below, we will discuss some projects that require measurements; then, we will go over some of the most accurate ways to make these measurements.

I want to emphasize – you don’t want to rely on a tool for accurate measurements. Learning how to make an accurate measurement is just as, if not more, important than the measuring tool itself.

So, after we discuss several measuring tools, we will go over some tips and tricks for more accurate measurements.

What are the Best Measuring Tools?

In this section, we discuss some of the most accurate measuring tools on the market for woodworkers and DIYers.

Here are some of the best measuring tools:

  1. Laser measures
  2. Standard tape measure
  3. Micrometer

In the sections below, we take a closer look at these tools.

Digital Laser Distance Measure for Large Measurements

Digital distance measures are very accurate, giving you measurements that are very close to exact. However, the laser measure will only be accurate for projects where it can be applied.

Here are several times the laser distance measure will be most accurate:

  • Measuring square feet
  • Measuring the height of a building
  • Measuring Pythagoreans

Micrometers for Small Measurements

Of course, a laser distance measure isn’t going to work for very small measurements. When it comes down to millimeters, you need something smaller.

In steps, the micrometer. This tool can use a simple ruler for measurements or a digital display. The micrometer is used for measuring small tolerances.

If you need to measure something an inch wide and smaller, then the micrometer is a great choice. You will get accurate measurements, and you’ll be able to compare your numbers easily.

Here are some good projects for the micrometer:

  • Machine project work
  • Fitting items together
  • Measuring small objects

Tape Measures for Medium-Sized Measurements

While plenty of fancy measuring devices are on the market today, the common tape measure can still be incredibly simple and accurate.

Once you’ve learned how to use a tape measure, you’ll be on your way to making very accurate measurements.

One word of caution: take care of your tape measure. For the most accurate measurements, you need a tape measure that is free from kinks and bends. If possible, buy a tape measure that is well built with quality materials. A quality tape measure will stand up to abuse and be easier to use.

Here are some projects where a tape measure can be the most accurate measuring tool:

  • General craft projects
  • Medium sized home projects
  • Measuring lengths of lumber

The Most Accurate Measuring Tool of All?

This is a trick question. The most accurate way to make a measurement is usually with no tool at all.

What does that mean?

Well, certainly, for many projects, you need to use a measurement tool. However, many projects around the house can be done with no measuring tool at all.

For example, if you’re trying to replace the trim around your front door, you might be better off holding the new piece of trim up next to the old and marking where you need to cut. Not only can this be more accurate than measuring with a tool, but it’s also faster.

The saying measure twice cut once is true; however, the saying don’t measure unless you have to is equally important.

Alright, now that we’ve discussed some of the most accurate measuring tools, let’s discuss some techniques to make accurate measurements.

How to Be More Accurate When you Make Measurements

In this section, we discuss some of the skills you need to make more accurate measurements. There isn’t a single tool out there that automatically gives you perfect measurements. Measuring is a skill, just like sawing or carving.

If you’re looking to make more accurate measurements, follow some of the tips and tricks used by professionals.

Here are ten tips to make accurate measurements:

  1. Use good tools
  2. Measure twice and compare multiple measurements
  3. Don’t use the end of the tape measure
  4. Take into account the width of a saw blade
  5. Don’t trust the factory edge
  6. Secure the end of your tape measure
  7. Learn how to use a speed square
  8. Use a string for long measurements
  9. Use a guideboard
  10. Err on the side of perfect, but don’t cut too short

Use Good Measuring Tools

As we said, the tool won’t create accurate measurements for you; however, a professional baseball player can’t hit a homerun with a toothpick. You do need the right tools!

Make sure to inspect your tools before making any measurements. If numbers are worn off, tape measures have kinks, or digital measures are running low on batteries, you won’t be unable to make accurate measurements when needed.

Compare Multiple Measurements

Measure twice and cut once – we’ve all heard this. However, don’t limit yourself to just measuring twice. You may need to measure three, four, or five times. Also, if you’re unsure of measurements, ask a friend or family member to take a look as well. This will ensure you’re not missing anything.

If you have multiple tools that could complete the measurement, try to use them and compare the results. Comparing your measurements is the best way to stay on track.

Don’t Use the End of the Tape Measure

The end of the tape measure often had a metal hook for attaching the end of your material. Often, this end of the tape measure isn’t the full inch. Instead, begin measuring from the first line on the tape measure – this will be more accurate.

Just be sure you factor in the added inch! You don’t want to cut something too short accidentally.

Account for the Width of the Saw Blade

The kerf or width of the saw blade should be accounted for when you make a measurement. Also, after you mark your cut, think about which side of the line you should cut. If you cut the side you’re using, you could end up with a slightly shorter piece.

Some people might measure the width of their saw blade to determine the kerf; however, it’s worth making a few practice cuts with the saw and then measuring the actual cut line – this will tell you how much material the blade removes, which might be slightly more than the width of the blade.

Don’t Trust Factory Edges

Factories make mistakes, just like anyone else. For this reason, don’t trust the factory edge on a board to be perfectly straight. Take your time to measure it for yourself before you use it as a guide.

Secure the End of the Tape Measure

Get a tape measure. Now, look at the small metal lip at the end – there’s usually some kind of hole here. You can use this little hole to place a small nail, securing your tape measure for accurate measurement.

Regardless of if you use this little trick or not, it’s important to secure the end of your tape measure somehow. Securing your tape measure will lead to faster, less frustrating measurements.

Learn to Use a Speed Square

The speed square has many uses, but one of the most important is making a straight cutting line when cross-cutting aboard. Have your speed square handy.

Watch this video on using a speed square to become more familiar with the process.

Use a String for Long and Round Measurements

A string can be extra useful for making long, round, and curved measurements. Tape measures don’t often perform well for angles and arches – a sturdy string works much better.  

Take your string and make the measurement. Be sure to mark where the measurement was, and then you can compare the length to your actual tape measure.

Use a Guide Board

If you’re making multiple similar cuts, creating a guide board for yourself is helpful. For instance, if you’re making many of the same cuts for deck boards, you can keep one finished cut board on hand and use it as a measuring aid for all the subsequent cuts.

Using this technique takes a little time up front, as you want to get your guide board as close to perfect as possible, but then everything will be downhill.

Err on the Side of Perfect – But Don’t Cut Too Short

Of course, you want your cut to be perfect. And sometimes, perfect measurements are possible. However, if you’re dealing with an awkward area or can’t make a perfect measurement, just be sure you don’t cut your board too short.

You can always shave more material off your board, but you can’t easily put the material back on. So, err on the side of perfect, but be sure not to measure too small!