Lufkin and Pi-Cobra are the two main brands of diameter tape measures that we carry. If you’re a regular user of these unique and useful tape measures, you know their special skill: measuring the diameter of pipes or other cylindrical items.
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Why do we call the diameter tape measure a calculator? Because when you wrap it around the circumference of a pipe or a post, it “calculates” the outside diameter instantaneously. It’s a calculator that never slows down because it doesn’t use batteries. The special scale is in inches or millimeters, and it is stretched out by the factor of pi (3.14159). That’s how it does it for you.
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Keep it clean. If you keep sand and dirt from inhabiting your tape, it will look good longer and last longer.
Line it up straight on the pipe. If you put the tape on a little crooked, you will get an erroneously high reading.
Clean the pipe. This makes sure that surface contaminants aren’t interfering with your measurement.
Use a felt tip marker to mark common measurements directly on the tape. Don’t be a hero. This tip will make your job easier.
Put your name on it. Valuable and handy tools have a way of walking away.
Buy only the best pipe diameter tape measure. Lufkin is a trusted brand name.
Keep one in every location that you work (and leave it there). I keep one in the office, my shop, my tool box, and in all my vehicles and boat. A diameter tape doesn’t measure only diameters. The other side is a regular inch tape (or metric tape). So it comes in handy many times.
Please post your own tips in the comments here. I’d be interested in what you come up with. Thanks.
Good question, because most people don’t have any use for one. A diameter tape measure is a measuring tape whose scale is stretched out by a factor of pi. This allows you to wrap it around a round object, such as a pipeline or tree trunk, and read its diameter directly on the scale. You don’t need to divide by 3.14159.
Here are some other names that people call these tapes:
Your pipe diameter tape measure is probably the most valuable and simplest tool in your toolbox. It will tell you the outside diameter of a pipeline (or your arm) when you wrap it around the circumference. What if you lost your pipe tape? How would you measure the diameter of a pipe or any round object?
Use a regular tape measure, if it is flexible enough to wrap around the pipe. A carpenter’s tape is made to stay stiff, so it won’t work in this case. Since the end hook won’t let you lay the zero mark against the pipe, you would have to start at the 1 or 2 inch mark. Read the circumference and divide by 3.14159. That’s a lot of trouble.
Use an expensive caliper, transfer the reading to a measuring tape, perhaps, then divide by pi. That’s a clumsy way of doing it.
Get a real expensive micrometer. Since they have a narrow range of measuring (1 inch), it would have to be a certain size to begin with. Then measure the diameter directly. Reading the markings on a micrometer is not the easiest thing to do. You have to read the shaft measurement, then add the tumbler measurement to it.
The diameter tape measure easily figures the diameter of a pipe or pipeline. All you have to do is wrap it around the pipe, and read off the diameter. Here are its mysteries..
Why is the “zero” mark not at the beginning of the tape? It is a couple inches away from the beginning of the tape.
Why does the end of the tape have a “loop” instead of a “hook”?
Why are some calibrated in 100ths of an inch, and some in 64ths of an inch, and some in millimeters?
By having the zero mark away from the beginning of the tape, you can easily line up the other part of the tape to the zero mark.
Since zero is not at the end of the tape, there is no need to have a hook there. What is helpful, is to have a metal loop to hold onto, when wrapping the tape around the pipe.
Different strokes for different folks. Automotive repair people prefer the 64ths of an inch calibration. Oilfield people prefer the 100ths of an inch version. And of course, some people use the metric system of measurement.