Over the years I have found very few tape measures that I have liked. Of course I need them and when the one you like gets worn out, misplaced, or walks away, quite often, the particular model I like is no longer available. Because I am not usually all that fond of the tape measures I end up with, I am always on the lookout for better ones. The FastCap ProCarpenter tape measure is one of these.
FastCap is a relative newcomer to the tape measure market. They offer four different reading styles that come in 16' and 25' and lengths. The tapes have some sort of black rubber moulding on the outside and each of the four versions is color coded to tell them apart easily. The four reading styles are (PS) standard inch, (PSS-R) standard inch & reverse, (PS-SP) standard inch / story pole, and (PMS) standard inch / metric. There is also a FlatBack measuring tape version. In addition to the tape itself, each model includes a largish writing surface on one side, a pencil sharpener, and a hold button in addition to the common tape lock slide.
The PS version reads pretty much like any standard tape measure, it's finest marking is 1/16 of an inch with markings on both the left and right sides of the tape. The PS-SP version has the same 1/16 markings but the fractions are called out as well. The markings on this tape are not carried across the width. On the other side is a blank section that can be used as a story pole. As you may or may not be aware, most tapes cannot be marked on very well and on those that can the marks compete with the normal printed measurements on the tape. The PS-SP makes a very good story pole because it is not cluttered and is easily marked; naturally it is much more portable than a story pole too.
The FlatBack tape is kind of unusual. Ordinarily, a tape like this would not be useful but it may be successful in filling a niche in the woodworking world. The benefit of the flat tape is that since the blade isn't curved, it is more accurate to measure or transfer a mark from the edge markings on the blade. Another advantage is that the tape can be used to measure curved or circular objects. Unlike other tapes, the hook on the FlatBack tape is fixed thus it would not be used to measure inside dimensions.
|Ergonomically, I've found that the tapes fit well
in my hand and are easy to use. The 16' blades are a little wider than typical and I
really like the hold button on the bottom. The tapes have a pretty strong recoil spring so
you have to take some care on retraction because they can bite you. The lock holds the
blade firmly in place as one would expect. The side that can be written upon is big enough
to be useful and both marks and erases easily. I've found that the pencil sharpener works
okay as long as the pencil wasn't previously sharpened by a standard sharpener, the
sharpening angle is steeper on the tape.
Not pictured is a Metric Left / Right tape (PMMR). In addition, FastCap also makes a peel and stick version of the PSSP and PMS tapes to be used on crosscut, rip fences or other jigs in the shop
As mentioned, the value of a tape measure is somewhat subjective for me, a lot of it boils down to ergonomics. I like these ProCarpenter units mostly because they work well and fit my hand. As simple as a tape measure is, not all brands even fulfill this basic requirement so stating what may seem obvious is worth stating here; their additional features are icing on the cake. I'm actually glad to see though that someone is thinking outside the box a little here and providing these additional features, I especially like the story pole idea and I've found the Standard / Metric tape is especially handy as a Euro machine owner.
In the interest of full disclosure FastCap provided this product to facilitate this review.