Don't be fooled into thinking "heavy duty"

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Review by Prplhrtjarhead posted 08-22-2012 01:26 AM 2475 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Don't be fooled into thinking "heavy duty" No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

First, truth in advertising. I work for a large trailer manufacturing company and pull my tape on average, 30+ times during a shift. When I purchased this, I was looking for something a little more commercial quality/heavy duty than the average shop tape that may get used 20 times a month.

The heft and rubberized grip of this tape are a definite plus as I have fairly large hands and work outdoors in all weather conditions. The large tape affords very visible readings which is also a plus. Also, the approximate standout (around 13 feet) is outstanding. I had the tape calibrated at my job, as accuracy is pretty big there and found it to be accurate to +/- 1/64th of an inch, which for this tape was 2x better than industry standard (1/32). But, really, this kind of accuracy, while very good, is easily erased by many factors, starting with the device used in marking one’s lines.

This is where it all comes crashing down for the Stanley tape.

I have had this tape for just under a month of daily use. It is now barely retracting. It is a self retracting type, not like the newer and more my preference, the auto lock out type. In any case, we have had great weather over the last few weeks and the tape has hardly gotten more than a light dew on it. I have wiped the tape down and used compressed air to blow any dust out. Still, the last 10 feet of tape has to be either held so gravity will pull it in or manually pushed in by hand. Annoying for sure when you have to do it as often as I do.

The likely culprit though, I believe, is the minor kinks it gets far to easily in the tape’s edges. I fear it will not last through September. So I will have an opportunity to test Stanley’s warranty and customer service. I’ll keep you posted.

In all, it is barely a serviceable tape for heavy duty applications, the purpose for which it was purchased, and the impetus for the review. It has great potential for light to medium duty applictions however, and it is those considerations as to why I gave it the two stars.

If you need a good, larger styled tape for the woodshop, for light to moderate use, this is your tape. If you are looking for a good heavy duty tape, keep looking.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2916 days

12 comments so far

View slopjock78's profile


70 posts in 3194 days

#1 posted 08-22-2012 11:22 AM

I would most definitely talk to Stanley about this one. i use this very same tape (well, the 25’ version) on a near daily basis, 5-6 times a week. And not in a wood shop, but on the job site remodeling houses. So i definitely put the tape through its paces. I’m on my 3rd fat max extreme. In fact, I just replaced my older one with the newer style extreme. I’m guessing I had the last one for roughly a year and it still worked flawlessly. the only reason i replaced it was the tape got a tear at about the 25” mark, and it was starting to cut my fingers when it would retract in. I also still have my original extreme bought several years ago that i keep in my truck if the one in my nail belt is not with me. it also still works flawlessly, but i got some glue on it from a commercial glue down carpet tile job. I just didnt like the feel of the glue on the blade, so i replaced it. Other then that, flawless tape and did not hesitate to buy a new one. I also use the somewhat less heavy duty fat max for trim work and I’m also very happy with it as well.

So i would think you got the one bad tape out of the lot and hopefully Stanley will stand by it and replace it free of charge. I would bet you will have a new impression with the next one you use

best of luck with whatever tape you use next

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

3399 posts in 4248 days

#2 posted 08-22-2012 12:19 PM

$1 at the dollar store. Ours is called the Dollar Tree. They, amazingly last at least $10 worth.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3324 days

#3 posted 08-22-2012 05:04 PM

I work at sales for a mechanical contractor. Our guys go through tapes like water, Stanleys included. They will buy the cheapest they can find and end up getting just about the same amount of use.
I personally own maybe 12 different tapes, and the two I use the most is an old Stanley, maybe 20 years old, and a fairly new $2.00 no-name unit I found at HD since it was the only one I found lately with MM on the blade. Both work faultlessly.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 3829 days

#4 posted 08-22-2012 09:48 PM

I have a FatMax 25ft my parents bought me for Christmas 2 years ago it still works great.
Recently I purchased a 16ft Stanley I tend to use it more because it is not so FAT.
I would go back to the dealer show him/her and ask for a replacement/refund.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2916 days

#5 posted 08-22-2012 10:42 PM

Clearly there are some fans of Stanley. I am as well. I’ve been working this job for about 6 months. The first tape I used was also a Stanley, also 30’ and most definitely on the lower end of their pricing. It lasted me about the first four months, give or take. But, given the more beefy design, wider tape, longer standout and such, I thought perhaps it was built to take a lot more use/abuse.

With all that said, I don’t think it is a bad tape, just not for use in a steel yard where it will get pulled a lot, every single day. Because of this post, I tracked how many times I used my tape today, 37 pulls. I think was pretty accurate in my estimation of how frequently I use it.

Again, very good tape, for light to medium duty purposes, just not a heavy duty tool.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 08-22-2012 11:05 PM

Craftsman I like the metal one that Big Lots has, it think its $2-$3 though.

View kajunkraft's profile


189 posts in 3020 days

#7 posted 08-23-2012 04:15 AM

Suprised nobody has mentioned Fastcap. I really like their flat tape. It won’t stand out at all, not even 1 inch but it is so much easier to mark measurements because it lays flat on your work. Their holster is pretty cool too. Goes on and off your belt easily and the tape itself has a hinged clasp to put it in the holster. There are two pencil sharpeners also, but don’t really work too good – their only for regular pencils v. carpenters pencils. Has a pencil holder too. The note pad on the side has come in handy from time to time. Only had it about two months now and use it a lot. Hope it holds up!

View rasp's profile


75 posts in 3068 days

#8 posted 08-28-2012 03:49 PM

flat back tapes are mostly for measuring on curved surfaces, if you’re on a job site you need at least 5-6 feet of stand out in my opinion, both metric and imperial graduations, and a super tough tape “tongue” up to 12 inches. fastcap does sell some nice tapes but they are usually specific to certain tasks

for these reasons i prefer a stanley fat max or lufkin on a job site, but once the tape gets bent, kinked, or knicks in the edges is time to replace it. nothing more frustrating than being ten feet up on a ladder and having your tape constantly messing up due to its ragged condition. i do not trust store brand tapes, mastercraft, benchmark, jobmate, etc

in a shop i prefer a smaller tape that can easily slip in and out of pockets, jeans, slacks, sweatshirts and coats , usually a 16m/8 foot , as i prefer to work in metric for most applications

i try not to let the tape retract at full speed, each time it yanks the tab a little bit. after about 500 full speed retractions you’ve probably yanked it out of calibration, which isn’t a big deal unless you’re the guy breaking out material at the saws

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 4048 days

#9 posted 09-02-2012 02:24 PM

I pick up tapes at estate sales. Also hand planes and other small wood working items. July I picked up 3 cast bronze cabinet latches for $1 each. That made me smile.


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3503 days

#10 posted 09-02-2012 02:37 PM

Thanks for the review, brother.
Rasp’s comments should be laminated somewhere. Real World, right there. Ask a dude that does it.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2759 days

#11 posted 01-28-2013 06:36 PM

you got a bunk one. I have been using then for 12 years and wont use anything else because of the standout.
I live in norther Indiana and work in all conditions. The last one I bought was a 16’ for building system scaffold.
I used it for a year in there and it still works great. that is rain, snow , shine, and mud. Keep in mind in an oil refinery and god only knows whats in the dirt.

View Prplhrtjarhead's profile


80 posts in 2916 days

#12 posted 01-29-2013 03:17 AM

Thanks for your feedback. I am thinking they are all bunk. I’ve tried others now too and all have about the same life span in the steel yard. Not a huge deal, but I don’t think there is one that will hold up. The chemicals and the rough edges of the raw steel are too much for the thin steel tape. Just my experience to date.

-- "We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." R. Reagan, "The Speech", 1964

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