It’s inevitable: tape measures get dirty, start to rust, and before long they’re unusable! But look closely and you’ll see that it’s easy to recycle and repurpose an old tape measure.  

When I worked as a cabinet maker, we would take our old tape measures and snap them off into small pieces that we called stubbies. 

Stubbies are great for making short measurements, so if you have an old tape measure — maybe a rusty one with a busted hook — you can give it a new lease on life.

Want to repurpose your tape measure? Here’s what to do: Extend it past the 10- or 12-foot mark. What you’ll find is the tape will be really clean — almost brand new.

So, what you want to do is extend it and then just bend it. If you bend the tape measure and pinch it, the small portion you want will just snap right off.

I usually make stubbies about 8 to 10 inches long and bring them over to the bench grinder. You’ll want to grind them precisely, right down to 1-inch graduation.

I use stubbies at the table saw all the time. They’re great for setting the saw fence or for measuring the blade height.

So, you can accurately get the blade exactly where you need it.

Now, you’ve got this handy measuring tool, and your old repurposed tape measure has lived to measure another day!   

Watch the video above to find out more.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

Learn More