Ever Wonder Why Those Little Black Diamonds Are On Tape Measures? Now You Can Find Out

You’ve surely got a few tape measures around the house or out in the garage. They’re always handy for measuring windows, carpets, hanging pictures, etc. You may even use them to do a little carpentry. But have you ever paid much attention to the mysterious little markings on tape measures?

Operating from a shop space in his two-car garage, Tom Hintz runs a web site called the New Woodworker. With its motto “Always more to learn,” the site offers all sorts of tips for amateur woodworkers and carpenters. In the video we’ve posted below, Hintz teaches us all about the real meaning of those mystery markings on tape measures.

Hintz begins his video with some deadpan humor: “This might be kind of scary to think about, but I just may know more than many of you about these tapes. Watch the rest of this video and we can fix that.” As it turns out, the markings are there to make life easier for carpenters by indicating standard distances between the centers of wooden studs. Depending on what type of structure a wall is supporting and what building codes have to say on the subject, there are a variety of standard stud separation distances. A heavier load requires more studs to support it while a lighter load (as with a shed, for instance) requires fewer. The “black diamond” distance from stud-to-stud happens to be 19.2 inches. If that’s what’s right for the job, a carpenter can quickly mark out center lines using the diamonds. This is a lot easier than adding 19.2 plus 19.2 plus 19.2…

To illustrate the point about stud spacing, Hintz lays out a tape measure and places studs at various intervals. This is a great way to illustrate just how helpful the mystery markings are.

Did you learn something new by watching this video? Let us know in the Facebook comments. Be sure to like and share so your friends can discover the hidden messages of tape measures.