In New England where I’m from, carpenters wear many hats, from framing to finish and all in between. I’ve always had an array of hammers depending on which hat I might be wearing on a given job or given day. I have my 22 oz. long-handled hammer with a waffle head for framing, but I pick up a 16 oz. and sometimes even my 12 oz. hammer for finish work. So why is it that I’ve always used the same big, heavy, clunky 30-ft. tape for all my work?
I never considered having a second tape measure on hand until I checked out the new Tajima G-Plus® tapes. The two I have are the GP30 and the GP16. Both of these tapes sport 1-in. wide blades with a non-glare white background. If you use a tape all day long your eyes will be thankful for both these features.
The 1-in. blade doesn’t extend as far as the ‘fat’ 1 1/4-in. blades, but I was able to stretch the GP tapes 7 ft. (plus the length of my extended arm), which is plenty for most of my measuring tasks. The retraction mechanism for both of these tapes is smooth as butter. No convulsing springs in the casing if the tape retracts at top speed.
One of the things that disappoints me about most tapes it not being able to pull the blade out to the full advertised length. Most 30 footers start to strain at about 29 ft., but the GP30 extends past 30 ft. so effortlessly that they wrote “STOP” on the blade to keep you from pulling any more. And the blade retracts just as quickly and smoothly after full extension.
Most tape companies will warn you to feather the tape to slow it down during retraction. Retracting the typical tape at full speed, lets the tip slam into the casing. A few of these impacts and suddenly the tape isn’t taking the accurate measurement it did when it came from the factory. Tajima’s GP tapes have a built-in shock absorber, that cushions the tip as it returns.
Like most premium tape measures, the tips are triple riveted. But Tajima adds a stationary backing plate for the rivets that anchors to the tape with an extra rivet beyond the sliding tip. The extra attachment supposedly adds to the life of the tip.
The cool thing about both of these tape is that they are very light-weight and compact for their lengths. If you’re used to wide uncomfortable grip of the fat tapes, even the GP30 will be easier to hold and use. The GP16 is almost too small in my hand. Both have a thick rubbery covering on the case for positive grip. But best of all the slimmer tapes slips in and out of the tape holder in my tool belt more easily.
A lot of tape companies sacrifice quality on their shorter tapes, but Tajima uses the all of the same professional engineering on the GP 16 as on their longer length tapes. For my finish work from now on, I’ll gladly swap out tapes at the same time I shift to my trust lightweight hammer. My back won’t complain when I start adding the weight of my other finish work hand tools.
The Tajima GP-30 goes for around $28 on the street, and the GP-16 sells for $17.
Read this article in its original format (with more images) at TiC Issue 1!
Komelon also makes a terrific range of tape measures. I particularly favor the self-locking versions: you pull out the tape and it stays out, until you press the convenient button on the top of the case, where your thumb is, rather than a lever on the bottom, where pressing the case against what you are measuring releases the tape. The tapes are non-glare, available in various lengths and widths, including a stainless steel version if you ever work in rain or mist(!). The recoil is not violent and can be controlled easily by releasing pressure on the button. I’ve never seen them in stores, but they’re easy to find on-line.