This Viral Tape Measure Hack Will Help You on Your Next DIY Project

Having trouble getting your tape measure right down into a corner? We tested a viral tape measure hack claiming to make this easy.

The tape measure is an amazing invention, and quite essential for nearly all building and DIY jobs. Fast, accurate measurements down to 1/16-inch are what a good tape measure delivers, and most measuring situations are simple and frustration-free, as long as you know how to use a tape measure. That’s because of the hooked end on modern tape measures, which makes it very easy to hook the tape over one edge of whatever you’re measuring, giving you a foolproof read of length or width on the other end.

Trouble is, not all spaces that need to be measured are so simple. Measuring inner spaces such as the length or width of floorspace between two walls, the inside dimensions of cupboards and cabinets and the height from floors to ceilings can be particularly tricky. That’s where a popular TikTok tape measure hack can help. Honestly, it’s not a new idea, and experienced DIYers have used this hack for years. Still, if it’s new to you, it can make your life easier next time you have to measure a tricky inner dimension.

What’s the Tape Measure Hack?

This tape measure hack provides a fast, easy way to measure inner dimensions when you have nothing to hook the end of the tape to and need to measure right down into a corner. It works by using the body of the tape measure itself as part of the measurement.

The first step is to find out exactly how long the body of your tape measure is. As shown in the hack, many modern tapes come with this figure stamped on the bottom of the case. Even if yours doesn’t, you can simply use another tape to measure your tape measure’s body, from the front end where the tape protrudes to the furthest point at the back.

@andy_cotterill The Tape Measure Hack that will change your life! Okay, maybe it will help your next project…a little. #woodworking #toolhacks ♬ original sound – Andy Cotterill

With this figure in mind, butt the flat, hooked end of the tape against the inner surface you’re starting your measurement from. Extend the tape while keeping the hooked end butted against the first surface until the body of the tape hits the opposite surface. Examine the exact spot where the tape protrudes from the tape measure body, note the number, then add it to the length of your tape measure.

For example, if you’re using a tape measure with a 3-inch long body to measure the width of a room in your house, and find that your tape gives a reading of 10 feet, 7 1/2 inches when butted up against your wall, simply add 3 inches to this figure, determining that the width of your room is exactly 10 feet, 10 1/2-inches. Don’t forget to check out this TikTok hack that makes tearing tape easier.

How Else Can I Use This Hack?

I personally use this hack all the time in my own DIY projects. It’s great for measuring the inner dimension of cupboards and cabinets when you’re building drawers or shelves to fit. It’s also a great way to determine the optimal length when installing flooring.

One project I found this hack particularly useful for was stair building. Some years ago, I installed a set of stairs between two walls. The only way I could measure for the treads and risers was by using this hack, and it worked beautifully. For that job, I didn’t even use numbers. I just wedged my tape measure into the space between the two walls, locked the tape in the out position, then carried it into my shop and used it as a marking template.

Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell has been a passionate DIYer since the mid-1990s, when he received his first childhood tool set. His rural upbringing gives him a lifetime of experience in all things DIY, from carpentry and fine woodworking to welding and vehicle repair, all of which he practices regularly from his self-built cabin in the woods in Northern Ontario, Canada. Robert has been a regular contributor to Family Handyman since 2020, where he writes from firsthand experience on a surprisingly wide variety of DIY topics.