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Thread: Fat Max Tape Measure

  1. #1

    Fat Max Tape Measure

    I tend to grow quite attached to my tape measures. For years I have used the Stanley 25 foot tape measure, and had one just about everywhere including home, work, shop, etc. I liked the look, the grip, the simplicity, and way it locked the blade. Best of all it was certified by AWS so I could use it with accuracy for certified welding jobs. Well last Saturday the worst thing shop tape broke.

    Now this is a big deal. I have grown so attached to my tapes that I scribe the date into them when I got it. This one began life on 07-09-1999 and died 12-01-07...RIP favorite measuring tape of mine, you had a long life as far as measuring tapes go. Oh the places you have been, and the number of times you have helped me measure something with accuracy...but I digress in my sadness here

    So I ask the wife to pick me up a new one as I just can't use my back up Standard/metric tape...Of course she can't stop at the hardware store "because the baby was sleeping", so I head out to get my own.

    They no longer make the old style Stanley tape that I have grown to have an unhealthy fondness for. They have this Fat Max tape thing. I buy it and quickly realize its junk. The blade does not slide in and out enough. I did a few measuring things and found out its about 1/16th off when you make an inside measurement. This is because the blade is reinforced, but by reinforcing it, the end of the tape does not slide in and out. Its completely inaccurate on inside measurements. Junk, junk, junk.

    A few other things I don't like about it is the way the tape can be held out there for 13 darn feet or something. I do a lot of inside measuring so I need to fold the tape up a lot. The Fat Max hates to do that. It also has this funky greenish-yellowish paint to the tape that I just don't like. I can't believe they dare call this thing an improvement!!

    I think I will just take the stupid thing back, then get in touch with Stanley and see if they have a few of the old school tapes out in the back corner of the warehouse. Maybe they can get me one or two. I'll still be out of luck when they break, but that will be 2017 so by then maybe "what is old is new again" and the junk Fat Max will be replaced by the Retro old school tape measure they used to make.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    travis, i use the 25` chrome plastic cased stanleys no fat-max or improved versions here.....about 10 bucks at the box stores, free from a good lumber inside measuring troubles? if you drop it check for bending the hook at the end though.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Dood... if you can't find a tape measure to do what you want nowadays, you need to expand your shopping horizons. The other day I was at a lumberyard and saw a display of like 12 models of one brand of tape measure (Fastcap?). Fat, limp tape... fat, rigid tape... skinny tape, left to right, right to left, right AND left, metric, etc. etc. It gave me a headache just thinking about if I woulda had to make a decision on which one to buy.

    Fortunately, I have a few Stanleys at home and don't HAVE to decide.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    I have a Fastcap tape that I like, but my favorites are Lufkins. I have them scattered about like you do with your Stanleys.

    The current Lufkins are red-orange plastic, with rubber corners. They've survived man a fall from bench or pocket to ground, with no damage. The tapes are yellow, reasonably flexible, without being limp, and easy to read. I don't have a local source. I ordered the last ones from (I'm pretty sure) Woodworkers Hardware.
    Jim D.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Constantine, MI
    Was the Fat Max ever intended to be a precise measuring device? I think the Fat Max, with its 13' stand off, was aimed primarily at the construction industry where 1/16' is of not much concern. You might be expecting it to to perform a task for which it was not designed - kind of like laying out dovetails with a framing square.
    Get thyself to a good supplier of woodworking tools and look at the tapes designed for the accuracy you want. I think you'll be much happier.
    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Antonio, Texas
    Travis, they used to make replacement guts for good tape measures like yours, but I don't know if they still do. Might be worth checking into.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    I have a Fat Max and I really like it. But, I like it for construction work and it very seldom gets used in my shop.

    In the shop, I mostly use a couple of good steel rulers and occasionally use either an old accurate (but Imperial only ) tape measure that I inheritted from my grandfather and a metric-only tape measure from Lee Valley.
    Cheers, Frank

  8. #8
    Tape measureing devices are designed for Construction measuring where those errors are expected. For shop work you need a good bench rule.

    Accuracy is only needed if you use more than one measureing device. I have always said that you can make accurate measuring with a rock... As long as you use the same rock every time.

    Meaning, It makes no difference if the rule is 1/6" off or not, if you use the same rule to transfer measurements, that mark will be exactly where it was last time you looked. They don't move.... unless you had a few too many "happy pops" and in that case you need not be in the shop anyway.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I'll rally to Travis' support. I too have been victim of becoming emotionally attached to the oddest things. One hard to find object was finally located at a stupid price. I was just about to order when I found it for 1/10th the other price. I ordered 3, 2 are still in the plastic . . . but they're there and I hope to never go through that search again.

    The FatMax is targeted at construction and is designed accordingly tough. The Lufkins are nice and smooth. I really like my FastCap FlatBack when that is required but it is not a 'user' tape per se. Oddly, my ProTape 'Center Finder' that was given as a gift has turned into my 'user' (???). It is accurate (or easily correctable when needed) within my expectations of a tape measure. I only wish it wasn't 'wrong-handed'.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
    Hold on missed some of my post. The old Stanleys were CERTIFIED, because of the way the tape hook slid back and forth. This tape is junk because you get a different measurement with an inside measurement, then you do an outside measurement. You do this all the time in construction which is my beef. In laying out my crown molding, it was 1/16th to 1/8th off. That is a construction type setting and its crap.

    It would be perfectly fine for laying out dovetails, which incidentally I did with it just last week. That is because 3/8 is 3/8 since the lines don't move, but in order for the tape to be accurate, the tape hook MUST move. (slides inward the thickness of the blade hook when taking an inside measurement, and slides out the thickness of the tape hook when making and outside meaurement). Since this tape does not do that, its the construction stuff that makes its junk.

    I mean in the house you run your tape out against both sets of drywall and get the measurement for your molding. In that case the tape end is pushed in. When you go to cut your board, you hook the tape on the end of it. In that case the tape end is slid out. The tape MUST slide in and out to read the same amount so you get the same measurement. 1-16 to 1-18 is too far off even in cases like that, and that is construction type work.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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