Different Types of Measuring Tools and Their Uses (2024)

Whether you are in woodworking, construction, plumbing, healthcare, or just a mere DIYer, measuring is one thing you will find yourself doing very often. Distance, temperature, angles, speed, time, water pressure, and more. The list of things to measure is nearly endless.

Of course, to get your measurements right, having the know-how is one thing, and knowing the correct tool to use is another. You have to pick the piece that works ideally for your specific needs.

Initially, choosing the ideal instrument for the job was a pretty straightforward process. However, with more tools having found their way into the market, settling for one can be a little overwhelming, especially now that most of them have overlapping uses.

In this article, we will be drawing a clear line between different types of measuring tools. Follow closely to know when to pick what piece.

Different Types of Measuring Tools and Their Uses

Here, you are going to find information on general information and uses of the Tape Measure, Tailor’s measuring tape, Ruler, Square, Calipers, Angle gauge, Pressure gauge, Speedometer, Thermometer, Micrometer, Compass, Measuring cups, Laser measure, Protractor, and Glucometer.

Tape Measure

The first measuring tool on the list is one we all know about. That’s why we have it come first on this list. A tape measure is useful in almost every setting, whether at home, garage, workshop, or any other. In fact, if there is one device you won’t fail to get in any tradesman’s tool kit, it has to be the tape measure.

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A tape measure consists of flexible pieces of metal that unwind to allow the user to measure the length, height, or depth of an object and then retract back into their shell for neat, convenient, and tangle-free storage when not in use.

A tape measure allows you to get the dimensions of whatever object you want in both metric and standard units. That’s because it has inches and centimeter measurements along its entire length. The device is available in different sizes ranging from 25 feet to a whopping 500 feet.

Usually, a tape comes with a metallic tip. This part hooks onto objects whenever there is no one to hold the end for you when measuring. Also, the metallic end is serrated and marks by running it forth and back on the point you want.

Tailor’s Measuring Tape

As we began by saying, many professionals need a measuring tape in their everyday activities. Tailors are good examples. However, their jobs call for a different type of measuring tape other than the one constructors, carpenters, and plumbers need. For them, a tailor’s measuring tape is what works best for them, just as the name suggests.

Although it is quite different from the version we all know about, the tailor’s measuring tape uses the same idea. It uses centimeters and inches as the units of measurements, and they all run along its entire length.

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However, there are a few differences between the two types. For instance, the most noticeable one is that it isn’t metallic but of a softer material that wraps around the arms and waists with ease.

A tailor’s measuring tape is an invaluable tool that contours with the body curves when measuring. This way, it ensures that tailors get more accurate measurements than when using the less-flexible metallic versions.

Also, the shell is another distinguishing factor between the two types of tapes. The standard tape measure winds into a shell. Nevertheless, the tailors’ version doesn’t have a feature of that kind. That’s why you are more likely to see dressmakers hang it around their necks when not in use.


We’ve all interacted with rulers from the early days of our schooling. As one of the most important measuring tools, a ruler is one of the tools we still need even in our professional lives. In fact, even with the simple design, not many professionals can do their projects from start to finish without the need for a ruler at any point. That’s especially true in woodworking, engineering, and construction.

The ruler we are talking about here doesn’t work any differently from the one you were using back in school. Just align it to the object you want to measure with the zero-mark aligning with the point where your measuring should begin.  

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Although it seems to do the same job as a tape measure, each of these tools has an area where it works better than the other. For instance, a ruler does well when measuring short lengths and when you want precision. It is also well-suited for projects that will require you to make straight lines after you do the measuring.

Rulers come in a wide array of materials. You can choose between wood, metal, plastic, and other types of constructions. Usually, the material you choose will largely depend on the profession you intend to use them. Plastic ones are more portable, but metallic versions emerge top when it comes to durability.

Also, it’s worth noting that line gauges/rulers come in different sizes. In school, the most common sizes are 6 inches (15cm) and 12 inches (30cm). For professional applications, the appropriate length of the ruler will depend on the nature of your projects.


Square is another measuring tool most professionals want to bring along in their toolboxes almost all the time.  It has a basic L-shaped design. This design comprises two rulers that join together at a perfect right angle. That means it can serve everywhere a ruler can and far beyond that.

A basic L-shaped square takes care of your perpendicular corners in your carpentry projects and others. It’s an indispensable piece for projects that require you to find right angles more often. Usually, the two rulers that join together don’t have the same length. Typically, you will get one arm measuring 24 inches and the other 16 inches.

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However, you can also get this measuring tool in other designs. The design to choose will depend on where you are targeting to use the tool. For contractors, T-shaped versions are the ideal squares for their needs.

A sliding T-bevel is another design of square you can choose. However, this kind works a little differently from the other types. This tool serves ideally in angle replication. To use, slide one arm to match the angle you want to copy and transfer it to where you want it.

Just as with the ordinary ruler, squares are available in different construction types. Wood, plastic, and metal are the most common construction types. And like with standard rulers, metal constructions are still the most durable but prepare to pay a few more bucks for them.


One thing about calipers is that the tool itself is more famous than the name. I mean, even if you haven’t heard of “calipers” before, chances are that you’ve at some point in life come across this tool. It’s a tool whose history dates back to the sixth century BC.

Calipers often come in handy in forestry, woodworking, metalworking, and medicine. Actually, the list of areas where this tool will turn helpful is long. The piece doesn’t seem to be the easiest to use. Nevertheless, you will like how it is straightforward to make the most out of once you grasp the basic concept.

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A calipers tool features adjustable jaws that move close and far from each other. To measure, you need to place the object between the tips. Then, adjust the jaws until they enclose the object. The display will then show how far the two jaws are, which turns to be the length between the two opposing sides.

The type of display will differ depending on the model you choose. Although the manual versions work just fine, calipers with digital displays are easier to read. That’s because they show the final reading you want on the screen— you don’t have to do any maths.

In a nutshell, calipers work to measure the length/diameter between two sides of an object. Most of these tools work for measuring the outside dimensions. However, we still have some versions that work on determining the internal length between two opposite sides.

Angle Gauges

Some projects will require a high level of angle precision. Before you make any angled cut on that piece of material, you have to be sure that it will fit where you want to use it. That’s one way to ensure that you get a professional-grade outcome. Now, one tool you will find helpful when it gets to that is the angle gauge.

Most woodworkers use this piece in setting the ideal blade tilt angle. By attaching the usually magnetic base to the blade, this unit shows the tilt angle. This way, it becomes easy for the user to adjust the saw blade to the angle that works well for their projects. Hence, an angle finder is one tool that will improve the accuracy level when making angled cuts.

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However, the usability of an angle gauge doesn’t end there. Actually, most professionals ranging from constructors to foresters to metalworkers more often need to find the angle of something. That enlists it among the must-haves for most professionals and hobbyists.

Like with most measuring tools, angle gauges come in analog and digital versions. The manual variety costs less and doesn’t run on batteries. However, the digital versions carry the day when it comes to ease of use and convenience.

Pressure Gauge

Pressure is something most professionals and DIYers want to measure often. It could be of air, water, or something else. Now, if you want to know the pressure of something, one tool that’s going to help you do that is the pressure gauge.

Of course, the tool a plumber needs for measuring the water pressure level isn’t exactly the same as the one a mechanic is going to use for the garage. However, they all work similarly.

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Actually, even the blood pressure monitors utilize a similar concept to see how hard your heart is working to pump blood through blood vessels. In fact, if you have used this tool to check your blood pressure at some point, it should be easy for you to get the concept of how pressure gauges work.

Over the recent years, pressure gauges have become more famous, thanks to the introduction of pneumatic tools. Whether you are a plumber, mechanic, woodworker, or even a DIYer, odds are you have an air tool in your arsenal. Socket wrench, drill, grease gun, nailer, hydraulic riveter, impact wrench, and needle scaler are a few of many tools that may require you to use a pressure gauge.

In a nutshell, no matter the kind of activities you handle in your everyday life, a pressure gauge is one tool that you will need at some point. That’s why it’s one of the essential tools for both commercial and home environments.


This piece will come in handy when it’s time to measure what the name says—speed! Of course, it’s a tool that not every professional should have, but it turns to be an invaluable addition where there is the need for one.

Speedometers are popular measuring tools in automobiles. They show how fast your car/bike is moving. Actually, it’s of absolute necessity for automobiles, without which you may find yourself in the hands of the law for failing to maintain the stipulated speed.

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However, keeping you from the ruthless traffic officer isn’t all a speedometer can do— a well-functional piece will help you manage your time better when on the road. With information on how far you are traveling, you can know the speed to maintain all through to keep your operations within the set time.

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Far from your car, a speedometer will also come in handy in other areas. For instance, the police officer you find down the road needs one to see whether you are speeding. However, their’s is more developed and usually comes in the shape of a gun.

Standalone speedometers are also popular in the market. Most cyclists buy these kinds for mounting onto their bicycles. Therefore,  a speedometer is a must-have accessory for anyone who wants to know how fast they are traveling.


A thermometer is one of the most popular measuring tools. We use it to measure the temperature of something. Initially, you could popularly find thermometers in hospital and veterinary centers. However, with time, they have become popular in homes. Actually, even as we speak, chances are you have one in your home.

Mostly, thermometers are for measuring body temperature. It could be of a person, pet, or something else. We also have other areas where having this instrument may come in handy. For example, you may need to place one outdoors to measure the outside temperature.

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For aquarists, a thermometer remains one of their staple tools. If at all you want those aquatic creatures lively, a temperature gauge is one accessory to own. With this accessory, you will find it easy to monitor the temperature of your aquarium.

Remember extreme temperatures, whether high or low can make life hard for your aquatic pets. Actually, most aquarists prefer to stick the thermometer to the walls of the aquarium for close monitoring.

Usually, thermometers use degrees Celsius and degrees Fahrenheit as their units of measurements. That’s because different parts of the world prefer different measurement scales.

When shopping for one, ensure it has the scale you need. Some thermometers allow you to read the temperature using the two units of measurements. However, some use only one measurement unit.

Thermometers are of two types—digital thermometers and analog thermometers.  The analog variety uses mercury to measure temperature. With an increase in temperature, the mercury at the end of the glass tube will expand over a length to give the temperature of something. The digital versions use internal systems to measure and display the results on a screen.


We won’t enlist micrometers among the most popular tools. However, they have been around for quite some time. The first micrometer was invented in the 1630s by William Gascoigne, an astronomer. Gascoigne was intending to use it alongside a telescope for measuring the distance between stars and celestial beings.

A micrometer works to measure the length, depth, and thickness of an object. You will find it mostly in engineering circle shops and machine shops, although you can also stumble upon it in other commercial places as well.

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A micrometer is similar to calipers in several ways. For instance, like a caliper, you have to place the object you want to measure between two ends—the anvil and the spindle. The spindle will then enclose your target until it lays flush between the two ends.

However, there are a few differences between the two. For instance, unlike the calipers whose readings are on a ruler, a micrometer uses a calibrated screw instead. The scale can either use SAE measurements (inches) or metric (mm), so you have to choose the measurement unit that works well for your needs.

Reading a micrometer can be at first confusing, especially when using an analog SAE version. However, once you have the hang of it, you will find it easy to use. With proper use, micrometers will give you accurate information.


A compass is also one of the essential measuring tools we have on the list. It’s a tool that we’ve used back in schools to draw circles and perform angle bisection. However, some professionals can confirm that the need for a compass goes beyond the classroom.

Of course, it isn’t a tool that every professional will need for their everyday work. However, if you are an architect, for example, a compass is one vital accessory you can’t go without even a single day.

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It comes in handy when measuring distance on a map or drawing circles on a piece of paper. You will also find a compass to play a central role when finding the distance between two points on a map. Doing technical drawings and product designing are also other areas where a compass may turn helpful.

In the most straightforward description, a compass is simply two pieces of metal that join together at the top. One end of the arm has a sharp point. This tip will pierce into the paper to keep the compass from shifting when drawing. The other piece allows you to attach a pencil or any other drawing material to it.

The two arms of a compass are adjustable. What that means, you can increase or reduce how wide they open depending on the size of the circles you want to draw. How apart you set the two metal pieces becomes the radius of the resulting circle.

Measuring Cups

Although it’s something you probably were not expecting to find on this list, it’s one of the measuring tools that most people need in their everyday life. After a busy day of work, you end up hungry, and the kitchen is the only place that will give you a lifeline once you get home. Now, that’s where you are more likely going to use a measuring cup.

Measuring cups are just cups that have a scale. At times they come in form of jugs, although the use is still the same—measuring ingredients. The units of measurements will differ depending on your location. However, they often use milliliters and ounces for measuring the amount of content.

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Measuring cups are available in a wide array of constructions. Mostly, they come in plastic, but you can also find them in metallic and ceramic versions. The amount you are going to pay for one will mostly depend on the material. If you want a plastic measuring cup/jug, you will pay less than for a metallic or ceramic version.

However, ceramic and metallic versions are more classy. Therefore, the battle on whether to get a plastic or ceramic/metal version is actually on price against class. The durability here may not be of much essence since they are for light-duty culinary applications.

Generally, a measuring cup is an inexpensive but invaluable measuring tool. Without getting it right on the amount of ingredients to add to that cooking dish, there are some recipes you will never prepare the right way.

Laser Measure

Flexible metallic tape measures work just fine to measure the distance between two points. However, at times you will need a faster means of getting measurements, especially when you are measuring a longer distance. Now, here is where most people prefer to go for a laser measure.

A laser measure sometimes referred to as a laser distance measurer, is an advanced electronic device that allows the user to measure the length of something almost instantly. It works just like the tape measure, however fast and using more advanced technology.

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This tool functions by sending a laser and then using an advanced internal system to calculate the distance it covers. The distance the laser can travel will depend on the capability of the tool and the strength of the laser.

The accuracy level is pretty impressive, with some boasting the accuracy range that measures to within 1/32 of an inch. Usually, the accuracy level is greater in laser measures that can cover a larger distance.

Some models are more advanced in that they won’t only measure the length or width of something, but also find the volume and area. You will find this feature convenient, especially when handling flooring projects or other jobs that require you to perform such calculations.

Of course, with the speed, accuracy, and convenience the tool brings in capturing the distance of something, we don’t expect this tool to come cheap. However, if it suits the nature of your project, it’s an investment that’s going to give you value for money.


Just like a ruler and a compass, you may have used a protractor back in school in a geometry class. Outside the classroom, protractors can also be a vital measuring tool for some professionals.

Actually, there are many areas where a protractor turns a must-have accessory. A case in point is when doing technical drawings that require you to measure or draw the angle of something. The main idea here is, whether it’s in school or at work, the work of a protractor revolves around drawing or measuring angles.

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Usually, protractors are of plastic with graduations printed on them. The vast majority of these models have a transparent design for visibility. However, protractors are also available in metallic options, although expensive and not as popular.

When talking about protractors, we have three main types: semi-circle protractors, full-circle versions, and tru-angle bevel protractors. The semi-circle versions have graduations running to 180° while the full-circle models have 360° graduations. The third type comes with swinging arms measuring 360°.

The applicability of the first two types is similar. Nevertheless, when talking about the tru-angle bevel protractors, they majorly serve in woodworking for measuring the angle to set a miter saw.


We already have lots of measuring tools on the list. The next piece we are going to look at is the glucometer. The unit falls in the category of medical measuring tools. Therefore, it’s one of the most important investments.

Just as the name hints, a glucometer is a medical instrument that measures the level of glucose in the blood. The tool uses smart technology to analyze a droplet of blood and tell you whether or not your blood sugar is in the normal range.

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They are common in medical centers, but having your own is a good idea. That’s especially true if you are suffering from type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Actually, a glucometer is a tool that needs to be at the disposal of every diabetic. At times knowing blood sugar level on time is all it takes to prevent further complications or even save a life.

Of course, to use this tool appropriately, you will need a little training— not because the concept is hard to grasp, but because you just want to be sure that you are doing it right every time you are measuring your blood glucose level.

The electronic device usually comes in a small and portable size for travel. Some models even work with smartphone applications to help you keep a record of your test results and provide more information as well.

Final Verdict

Pulling off some jobs is almost impossible without the necessary measuring tools. That’s why you have to invest time and money looking for the right paraphernalia for your project.

Of course, with lots of measuring tools out there doing almost the same work, it becomes pretty overwhelming to decide on the most appropriate piece for the job.

That’s why we took it upon ourselves to provide detailed information on different types of tools and their uses. The list may not cover all the measuring tools you need. However, it touches on some of the most popular measuring equipment.

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Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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