Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 9/26/00

Tool Review: Handy Tape
Seven WWA Members look at this new tool.

Afrim Hoxha (photo credit):
I chose to review this item because I have an older house and I have been doing a lot of remodeling. I always need my tape measure handy. I thought this Handy Tape would provide me the freedom of both hands as well as having the tape always ready for use. The item is made of nylon but you can order the leather version. There are different sizes depending on what tape measure you use. I chose the largest model because I use a 25 foot tape (USE 1.jpg).

At first glance I thought this would be worthwhile, however, it actually became quite uncomfortable after a while, especially with a large tape measure in it. My wrist area would perspire because of the strap. I don't want to say it's a bad product because it seems it would be a more efficient gadget if used with a smaller tape measure. For me I think I will probably store my tape measure on my tool belt.

Franco Clements:
I appreciate the opportunity to review the Handy Tape holder that you sent. The fabrication was good. It fit my wrist fine. It was easy to figure out and put into use and the large size fit my 25' tape pretty well though it was a little tight, probably because it says for 16 to 20 foot tapes.

I am accustomed to using a 1" wide tape so I might be doomed from the start to be uncomfortable with a holder located on the wrist. I find that my 1"x 25' tape is too heavy to be worn there and I also run the risk of "dinging" the furniture part on which I'm working. I believe from my experience as a framer and deck builder though, the Handy Tape holder would be just the ticket for the cut man in that occupation. It is a good idea. I believe there are workers who can and will use it.

Jay Towles:
What a great idea! That was my first thought when I saw the Handy Tape Holder. And you know what, it is a great idea. The Handy Tape Holder is one of those simple but effective items that make you say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

I strapped the Handy Tape Holder onto my left wrist, I am right handed, put a 16' tape measure in the adjustable tape measure holder, inserted a pencil in the pencil holder and went to work. It took a while to get used to having the Handy Tape Holder with the weight of the tape measure strapped to my wrist. It took even longer to break myself of my habit of sticking the pencil behind my ear. But after enough time had passed, I learned to use the device as it should be used and did not really notice the extra appendage on my arm.

The Handy Tape Holder is available in leather or nylon, and comes in three sizes. I tested the large nylon version. The device straps around the user's wrist with a nylon strap and is adjustable by Velcro sewn onto the strap. The tape holder is constructed of stretch nylon with a nylon/Velcro securing strap that goes over the top of the tape. The pencil holder is part of the tape securing strap sewn in to a tube. The pencil holder will accommodate a regular pencil, or a full sized carpenter's pencil.

I did find that the regular pencil was easier to get in and out of the tube. I tried the Handy Tape Holder with a 25' Starrett, a 25' Lufkin and a 25' Stanley Powerlock. All three of the 25 footers did fit, but just barely. Also, it was a bit cumbersome with all that weight strapped on to one side of my wrist. I used a 10' Lufkin and a 16' Stanley Powerlock with very satisfactory results, but my favorite is a Craftsman Posilock tape measure - it's the lightest 16' tape measure I have. Does it sound like I have a lot of tape measures? Well, I do, and they are scattered all around the shop. I will use a tape, sit it down, move to another area of the shop with my project, and then not have a tape. The Handy Tape Holder worked out well for me because I did not have to pick up, put down, search for, or clip on to my belt or my trouser pocket a tape measure at any time. It was nailed to my wrist! Right there whenever I needed it. Want to buy a good used tape measure? I have extra ones now.

The Handy Tape Holder is a great time saver for anyone who does not wear a full toolbelt with a tape measure pouch. You never have to look for your pencil or your tape measure, they are always right there near your fingertips.

Jim Barry:
Well, there's not a whole lot I can say about this product. Yes, it does fasten onto the wrist good enough with the velcro strips and it can keep a hold of a pencil on its location. But I see a serious safety issue in using this product while working with power tools, spinning blades etc. There's already enough concern over wearing jewelry and loose clothing without having a bulky tape measure strapped to the wrist. I only see this product as something that will get in the way more than keeping the tape measure handy. The clip on the back of the tape measure is meant to be used to hold the tape measure at the belt area or pant pocket, well out of the way. I suppose its ok to use for other tradespersons but only if they're wearing short sleeve shirts because I think a coat sleeve would be difficult to pass over this product when strapped over the wrist. However, there is room enough to strap this product on over a coat.

My personal opinion is that I wouldn't use a product like this or even buy it for that matter simply for that safety issues involved with woodworking and power tools in the shop.

Jeff Jager:
The Handy Tape holder is a product that may meet the needs of many, but is not as universally useful as I initially hoped it would be. The nylon version of the tool holds tapes quite securely on the wrist of the user. The model sent me held a 16 to 20 foot tape. I used this tool fairly extensively in building a 250 square foot deck, 14 feet high off the back of my home. I will quickly cover the following areas in my review: design, functionality, and personal thoughts.

Design: The tool design was solid with one specific functional issue. The elastic bands that run around the sides of the tape infringe on the locking mechanism of the tape. This simple design problem makes locking/unlocking the tape a difficult and two-handed task. Although it is simple to hold the tape, it limits the ability to multi-task. In my deck construction, I often held a board level from my stringer and liked the ability to use the tape to determine if the distances were correct. With the tape locked, this trick was possible, without it locked, it was a two person task.

Functionality: The Handy Tape was completely functional in keeping the tape available for use at any given moment. Although it still takes two-hands to get the tape started, the ability to hold the tape at the desired measurement and have an available hand for marking or recording was a great time saver. Although I must admit, the new "growth" on the inside of the arm was often in the way when not measuring. I am sure that with continued use, the tape would become less noticeable. With the short time I used the tape, I generally took the tape off when I was not doing a lot of measuring.

Personal Thoughts: The Handy Tape will provide individuals who do a lot of measuring a great way to always have their tape at hand. I believe the professions or persons who will gain the most from this tool include interior designers, cabinet designers, and any other individual who needs to do a significant amount of measuring. The device lends itself to easily measuring windows, cabinets, rooms, and anything else where the goal is to record the measurements and move efficiently to the next measurement.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to put the Handy Tape to the test and was very impressed with the tool.

Mike Reese:
At first glance, I thought the Handy Tape Holder looked like a good idea. However, after using it for a little while, I felt it was in the way too much. I think the smaller size would have been a lot more practical for me. A 25' tape is just too large to carry around on your wrist for intermittent use. It might be all right for someone using it constantly.

The other problem I found was that, in many cases I need to measure from left to right instead of right to left. I found it a bit awkward for that. I did like the quick, easy accessibility. It was nice not having to dig for it in my pocket or not having to clip it back on my belt.

Steve Coakley:
I asked for and received the holder that fit a 25' tape. It held the tape securely. Since I am a southpaw, I put it on my right wrist and headed out to the shop. It did not take long to realize that having it attached to your arm was too restricting. If you could always measure in the same direction it would be fine.

The following is a list of what I discovered:
1.. You need to use your other hand to operate the lock.
2.. Vertical measurements are quite difficult. As you feed the tape out, you need to bend it downward and you wind up looking at the back of the tape. This means that the tape needs to be twisted and held with your other hand. This makes marking the measurement a problem.
3.. Inside measurements are not possible. In order to measure inside, you need to hold the end of the tape with your left (or right) hand and since the back of the ruler is facing your elbow there is no way to get it butted against the other side.
4., Checking for square by measuring diagonals requires you to move around the corner of your bench. This is because the tape can only go in the direction that your arm is pointing.
5.. Safety in your shop. We all know that rings and wrist watches should be removed before going near any power tools. If I were to rip a board to 4", I would wind up with my right hand and a 25 footer between the fence and the blade. I am sure none of us would be comfortable making that cut and I don't see the Handy Tape Holder being used in my shop.

Editor's Note: You can learn more about the Handy Tape by visiting their website.

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