February 23, 2011

I-Mark 16' Tape Measure - Review


This one is kinda strange, but also kinda cool. It's a 'pencil-free' tape measure. Just pull out the tape and line up your measurement to the little red arrows at the mouth of the tape, lock it, and press the tape into your workpiece. On the underside of the tape is a little stamp that marks out a line. Like we said, kinda strange, but kinda cool.

I-Mark sent us one a while back and we've been using it off and on. The erratic use of it has come, not because we've forgotten about it, but because getting us to use a tape measure differently from the way we've always used one is like trying to get us to hold a fork in a new way. It's a lot to ask, breaking a habit like that.

imark_arrows.JPG imark_marking.JPG

Functionally, the I-Mark works pretty well. The tape lock is a large rocker switch that sits on the top of the tool. Unfortunately, it's tough to make a mark with the accuracy of 1/32" without the additional step of locking (and then when you're done, unlocking) the tape measure. For rougher lengths, like for framing, just pulling the tape to where you want it and bumping it against the workpiece is plenty sufficient

imark_under.JPG imark_mark.JPG

The stamp line is just under a half inch and we tested it against about six other tape measures and we can vouch for its accuracy. We can also vouch that after a day of using the tape, we had little stamped lines all over our fingers.

The belt hook has a quick draw release on it which puts the tape in your hand and leaves the hook on your belt. It's an OK feature but sort of unnecessary. We don't see anything wrong with the little metal clips that are on our Stanley tape.

One thing that's nice about the tool is that it has a little tab that flips down from the back which sets the tape body at a nice, even +4" measurement. For some insane reason, most tapes have you adding crazy numbers like 3-33/64th.

It's a fully functional tape and the stamp is right on the money, but like we said, it was hard to get in the groove of using it because it was so unfamiliar and the way we handle a tape measure is deeply ingrained in our lizard brain. But if your a young dog who can learn some new tricks, it might be something to check out.

What we really wished was that the I-Mark dropped a dot instead of a line. We recently got done with a job that involved an insane amount of radius layout lines, and if there was a tape that could help with that...man o man, we would have bought ten of them.

At I-Mark

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 23, 2011 6:00 AM
Recent Comments

Peter, I'm not familiar with those. I do know that Stanley just released a new version of their FatMax that has an autolock feature. Sounds similar to what you're talking about.

Posted by: Tool Snob at January 8, 2015 7:36 PM

The best tape I have found was the Stanley max 12' &
16' with air lock. Stanley has stopped making them though, because they out-lastst all other tapes. Are
You familiar with this tape.

Posted by: Peter A Dupuis at January 8, 2015 7:33 PM

Hurrah for the 4" body addition. Did they make that number easy to read? In addition to other tapes forcing you to do hard math, they also like to make the tape body length extremely difficult to read.

Posted by: BJN at February 23, 2011 4:30 PM

Yeah, you're right...looks exactly like that....but with a little stamp on the bottom. Funny.

Posted by: Tool Snob at February 23, 2011 1:38 PM

This looks like a modified Fisco Big T tape measure.

The Big Johnson is another rebadge, but without the marking attachment:


Posted by: ToolGuyd at February 23, 2011 7:49 AM
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