Not too long ago we went to the Milwaukee media event and saw some cool tools and accessories, including this tape measure. One thing we heard over and over was “Disruptive innovation”. Milwaukee doesn’t just talk the talk, but they walk the walk with this saying. You probably already know we are huge fans of Milwaukee hand tools and one of the reasons is disruptive innovation. Milwaukee doesn’t use some other company’s tool and then stick their name on it. They don’t copy another manufacturer’s tools and stick their name on it. Milwaukee actually takes time to think things through. What can we do to make this a better tool? If you look at their screwdrivers, pliers and other hand tools, you can see Milwaukee doesn’t sit back and think what’s out there is good enough. They talk with contractors, they actually think outside the box and make a new tool that is practical, just look at the Milwaukee pliers. They are pliers, but they also ream. Well enough about why we think Milwaukee is blowing the doors off the hand tool market, let’s talk about the Milwaukee Tape Measure.
I was at my local hardware store when I walked past an end shelf and saw this tape measure. So being part of Tools in Action and seeing it at the event, I had to pick it up and see for myself. I bought the 25′ tape, but they also had a 16′ tape. In the future they plan to have nine magnetic tapes and nine non magnetic tapes which will range from 16′ to 35′ and 5m to 10m. After getting home and finally being able to take it out of the package, I have to say this tape feels very nice and sturdy with rubber grip. Milwaukee designed this with a five point reinforced frame to help protect it from those high drops. I have to say the locking level is also quality. I have seen a lot of tapes where it is a pain to lock the tape and even harder to unlock the tape. I have also seen the ones where it’s very easy to lock, but they never really seem to work. With the Milwaukee, it’s easy to lock and it stays in place. Under the tape is a finger stop which I think is awesome. You can pull the tape to a length and just hold it in place with your finger. Once you let go, and the tape retracts, there is a metal blade guard to protect your finger from getting whacked. Milwaukee also designed this with your pants in mind. Instead of using a traditional belt clip, Milwaukee has a metal bar that will hold this tape to your pants or belt. The bar is nice because it slides on your belt easily, stays in place and doesn’t ruin your belt or pants. Some pretty cool stuff to the Milwaukee tape and that’s just the outside. Let’s check out the tape.
Pulling out the tape you will notice a bunch of things. First, the tape is wide at 3.5″ with a nice curve to help make the “stand out” 9′. The front side of the tape is yellow and the back side is white. On the back side, there is a blueprint scale that calculates 1/4″ and 1/8″ drawings. When you open this tape you will notice it looks a little different than other tape measures, well the coating. That is because Milwaukee uses a Nylon Blade Protection which resists contamination, wear and increase protection. We saw a test where Milwaukee sand blasted different tape measures and this Nylon feature held up awesome compared to the other tapes that looked like junk afterwards. The two things I noticed about this blade protection is first it was much easier to see in the sun and I didn’t get that glare. However if I made a pencil mark, it was harder to get off the blade than the traditional tapes. On the end of the tape, there are dual magnets which securely attach to EMT sticks from below and steel studs in front. These magnets are strong and work well. I could hold this to a metal object, walk away while letting the tape come out. It was strong enough to hold in place as I walked away. The hook at the end is nice and large so you can pretty much grab any material at any angle.
So is this tape tough and going to hold up? Well I didn’t take this on a job site, in fact I did one better, which I don’t recommend doing. I gave it to my 5 and 3 year old to play with. I have to say over the last year, they have easily broken over 15 tape measures and bent over 20 tapes. My 5 year old loves numbers and loves tape measures. He is always running around measuring everything in the house, which is awesome. However when he gets together with my 3 year old who loves throwing things, that’s when my stuff starts breaking. Both of them love opening a tape measure all the way and watching it speed back into the tape. To them it’s the funniest thing in the world. Yes, I know that is dangerous for a 5 and 3 year old, trust me, my wife reminds me every time so please save your email. They will sit there for a long time doing this over and over. Then once they get bored of doing it on the floor and up and down the stairs, then it always resorts back to throwing it against our concrete wall. I am not sure why, but they think it’s funny. Another thing they love doing is taking tape measures outside and trying to roll them down our sidewalk. After all this is done, it’s about the time they start fighting over the tape and the games end. Now they haven’t rolled it down the sidewalk yet, but they have stretched the tape out plenty of times and also have thrown it at the concrete wall a couple of times. So far the tape has held up. After seeing all my different tapes break and this one still working, I have to say I am impressed and think this is a tough tape.
All in all, I am saying bye to my Stanley tape. My Stanley was always by my side, but now it will be my Milwaukee. Milwaukee hit another home run with the redesign of this tape. I am so happy to see a company go out on the edge and change things and not just stay in a groove and put the same stuff out in the market place. Milwaukee hand tools and this tape are a fresh look at an old way of doing things.