Pro Tip: How To Scribe With a Tape Measure

scribe with a tape measureConstruction Pro Tips

Scribe a line with a tape measure

Scribing a straight line with nothing but a tape measure and a pencil is a great way to save time on the job and avoid using unnecessary tools. It’s also an essential skill that every rookie carpenter should practice and learn. The process itself is fairly simple, but it can take a few tries to learn how to do it consistently.

Step One:

Hold your tape measure in whichever of your hands is closest to the far edge of the board of the line you want to scribe the line onto.

Step Two:

Extend the blade of the tape a little past the length that you want to scribe. For example, if you are trying to draw a line that is ten inches away from the edge of the board, pull the blade out about a half an inch or so further than that.

Step Three:

With the rest of the tape still cupped in your hand, pinch the tape at the exact length you want to scribe and hold your fingers against the edge of the board (pictured above).

Step Four:

Hold your pencil firmly against the face of the claw of your tape measure. Make sure that you have a solid grip here, because if your pencil slips your line will be off.

Step Five:

Now that you are in position, slide the pencil and the tape down the width of the board you are scribing, keeping your pencil on the surface of the board and your finger pushed against its edge. As long as you are working off of a factory edge that does not randomly dip in some areas, you should be able to scribe a clean, straight line down the entire width of the board just by walking your pencil down it.