It doesn't cost much more to get this high-quality tape measure and for those dollars it works better so you work less!
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Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure

Tough, accurate and it stays where you put it!

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

Posted - 12-17-2010

Too many of us believe that all tape measures as made alike. While they often look very similar there are many subtleties that can have a real impact on performance in the home shop or workplace. In the mass of tape measures on the market the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure has to be a contender for the top spot. This tape measure is full of features that make it easier to use, rugged and an all-around better value. Whether you work in metal, wood or virtually any other material the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure is a very useful addition to your tools.

The Basics

The Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure looks tougher than most and there is a reason for that. Johnson puts the tape and mechanism in what they call a Job Site Tough case. After using the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure in the shop and getting a firsthand look I have no reason to doubt their claim of durability. The steel case even has a rubber over mold that protects the tape and mechanism but also gives you a better sense of grip especially when combined with the ergonomic shape. The back of the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure sports a heavy-duty belt clip so you can always have it handy on the job.

The thumb-operated blade lock is easy to use but has another feature built in. After locking the tape you can pull on the tape to lengthen the measurement and the lock disengages automatically. That makes it easier to use and in many cases a one-handed task.

The Tape

The two round shadows in the red tip (left) are the rare earth magnets that hold the tip onto metal pieces. The extra hook at the tip (left) allows you to use the tape upside down on round stock and still have a perfect scale to work with!
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The tape itself is 1-1/16”-wide and has large, easy to read scales printed on both sides. The printing is very clear with 1/32” resolution. The metal tape is given a distinct curved shape that keeps it rigid with a surprising amount of the blade exposed. I was able to extend more than 7-feet of tape consistently without it bending though the u-shape. To make the tape as durable as possible it has been coated with what Johnson calls their Blade-GardTM Nylon. This coating protects the tape and its markings from abrasions and scratches.

Even the end of the tape has been designed with the job site or shop in mind. The tip assembly is secured with four rivets rather than two as on most tapes. While that makes it stronger, the case also has a type of built-in shock absorber that “catches” the tape when it is retracted fully. This gives the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure a huge advantage in durability over cheaper models.

To enhance the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure for metalworking they added two rare earth magnets in the tip that hold it fat to the edge of ferrous metals. That lets you walk down a very long piece and get a good measurement without have to go back a put the tape back on the edge – more than once in many cases.

The printing of the scales is first rate and that makes it easy to read. Note that the small upside down tip is held by three rivets but you can see the fourth (just before the 2) that supports the main tip on the tape.
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The tip also has a separate hook on the top of the tape that makes using the scale on the bottom of the tape easier especially when measuring round stock where the tape would otherwise just slide off of the round shape. In addition to the end, the rounded shape of the tape lets it lay flat on rounded pieces to make those measurements more accurate.

In the Shop

Like many of you I have had many tape measures in my time, too often chosen because of a better price than better features. After using the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure in my shop for a few days my level of dumbness in buying those old tape measures by price rather than quality and features is becoming painfully clear. The Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure just works better and the magnetic end adds a bunch of accuracy by just holding it steady on my metalworking jobs.

The tape is stiff enough to help take clean measurements without a bow in the tape that adds to the dimension. The numbers are easy to read from odd angles and the markings are clear enough for my 60-sopmething eyes to see clearly when accuracy is important.

While the scales on most modern tape measures are reasonably accurate the rigidity of the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure tape and the magnetic end can make it even more accurate because you are taking measurements from where you want, not where the tape moved to as you went to the other end of the project. Plus you are not dealing with the inconsistencies of a flexing tape or the tip slipping off of the edge. Some of these problems might seem small but the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure all but eliminates them and that makes you more accurate and more productive overall.

The case and rubber over mold (left) are shaped to provide a comfortable grip. The back has a stout belt clip (right) so you can take this tape wherever it's needed.
Click images to enlarge

Conclusions

With a street price of just $11.75 (12-17-2010) it seems reasonably foolish to buy anything but the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure. I looked at the pricing for some of the “cheaper” tape measures and found that adding $5 or $6 gets you the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure which to me is clearly superior.

Most woodworking or metalworking experts advise using one tape measure for all of your layout and measuring needs so that any (tiny) error that might be in the tape itself remains constant over the entire job. With the Johnson’s Magnetic 25’ Tape Measure I think that we are safer focusing on consistency than looking for errors in the tape.

Visit the Johnson Level and Tool web site – Click Here

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