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I’m often guilty of ranting on about the boneheaded policies companies enact, the products manufacturers get wrong, and the way things ought to be — I’m not really shy about it either — however I’m not enough of a snob that I won’t admit when things are right. This is my favorite tape, the rather low-rent Stanley 30-485 twelve-foot tape, and I love it.

I’ve had it for close to five years now and it’s seen better days. There are other tapes in the shop but honestly I just keep coming back to this little guy. Its feel and its light weight lure me away from better, more expensive units within arms reach. It doesn’t sport super-cool coatings or a big-ass spring in it, and I dig that.

Stanley threw it in as a freebie with a 10-piece screwdriver set, and after using it a while I just didn’t like anything else — which was a problem, since Stanley didn’t sell it by itself at the time. Recently they’ve fixed that. The model 30-485 goes for around $5, available online almost anywhere.

It’s not an uber marketing push, and most likely no one else will care about a cheapo tape — but I noticed. Though it’s a small thing that’ll earn Stanley snorts and scorn among the high-end-tape crowd, some of us out here like the cheap stuff and appreciate the opportunity to have what we want.

I ordered two of them this morning.

30-485 Tape [Stanley]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


7 Responses to A Small Tape, A Small Victory

  1. Aaron says:

    I have this exact same tape in my “everyday” tool box. Gets a ton of use. I like it because its small, but not too small. Perfect for those jobs around the house.

  2. Justin says:

    Stanley makes a great 10′ x 1/4″ tape with a useful “diameter” scale on the back of it. Nice to have when you work with pipe regularly. It’s about 2″x2″x1/2″, so it fits in your pocket very well. It’s not particularly good for measuring anything longer than 5′, but it’s a fantastic tool for smaller jobs.

  3. fred says:


    Wheeler Rex makes a pipe diameter tape:


    My pipe supplier use to give these away as gifts

  4. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    If it feels good do it! Nothing wrong with liking a cheap reliable tape! When I see Stanley or Lufkin fractional reads go on sale I always pick a couple up. Seems like we lose a tape a week on the crew, and comfortable, easy to use, cheap tapes are the best way to go.

  5. paganwonder says:

    These small tape measures fit easily in a pocket when scrounging around the salvage yard- my eye loses its accuracy when sorting thru stacks of doors and such.

  6. Jacob says:

    I use the exact same tape all the time, no idea where I even got it. But its much more convenient that my much larger 33′ tape I have.

    I call it progress when you can buy a useful tool that lasts for many years and costs virtually nothing.

  7. Michael W. says:

    I’m partial to the 12′ Stanley PowerLock. Slightly more expensive, but a little more durable because of the metal body (I tend to drop things). 12′ tapes are much more convenient for trim carpentry and furniture making, as well as just having with you all the time.

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