33 Types Of Measuring Tools – Convenient Guide Update 05/2022

types of measuring tools

It is a common misconception that the only way to measure something is with a ruler. In reality, there are many different types of measuring tools and their functions. This article will cover 33 most commonly used ones. Here we go!

1. Ruler

This has got to be the most commonly used and well known kind of measuring tool. It is a flat straight object with an inch/centimeter scale on it, providing easy way for finding size of objects or distance between them.

Digital Ruler

Digital Ruler

It operates using LCD display with cursor inside that allows to find length easily by just moving it to the point of interest and reading information at that position.

Holed Ruler

This one got introduced in schools to teach students to count and recognize numbers. Simple black object with 5 circles on it. As you can easily notice, each hole represents one number from 1 to 10, which is usually enough for school purposes.

Ruler Keychain

Ruler Keychain

It is a small ruler that has been attached to a keychain. A simple and efficient way of always having a ruler with you wherever you go.

Marking Ruler

Most commonly used tool in schools and offices. Its purpose is to help make accurate straight lines or other geometric patterns. There are many different kinds of these, but only three most popular: Pencil, chalk and pen ones, with the first one being the most basic and easy to replace if you lost or broke it.

2. Yardstick

This one resembles a ruler, but it is much thicker and has got wider scale. It usually measures in inches, so it can be used for measuring distances between buildings or objects up to 9’3″ (8 yards).

Fold-up yardstick

Fold-up yardstick

This model is mainly used for measuring interior spaces, like rooms or closets. It allows to place a ruler measuring up to 6’6″ (5 yards) in the middle of it, expanding its total length to up to 9’10” (9 yards).

Meter Stick

It is also known as a “yardstick” to Americans, but that is not the case. This tool measures length in meters (10cm/3.9″). It’s usually used by tradesmen and construction workers for measuring longer distances.

3. Tape measure

Tape measure

It is a long thin stick made out of plastic, metal or other materials with an attached small tape at one end that indicates size of the object it’s holding. It is used for measuring larger distances between 80cm (2.6′) and 600m (1940′).

Rotating Tape Measure

This model allows taping distance up to 4 times faster due to its special twisting and rotating mechanism. Such a tool, however, requires more skill to use because of its spring-loaded parts, which may break if used incorrectly.

Flashlight Tape Measure

This one is most commonly used by electricians for measuring long distances in dark rooms and corridors. It’s made out of a strong plastic and a powerful flashlight that can help illuminate the area to be measured.

Painting Tape Measure

It allows you to measure distances up to 3 times faster than with a regular tape. You do not have to readjust it between measurements due to this model’s special tightening mechanism, which guarantees accurate measurements each time.

4. Calipers


It is a very common tool used in manufacturing and engineering industries. A small device that allows to find exact size of the object by measuring its length, width or thickness. One of the most important features that distinguishes it from other kinds of measuring tools is ability to read results in fractions.

Small Calipers

This tool has a small jaw size, allowing it to measure something as thin as 0.5mm (0.02″). It is commonly used for jewelry making or artistic projects.

Large Calipers

This one is used for measuring very large objects, as its jaw size can be up to 10cm (3.9″). Mainly used in construction or engineering industries.

Calculator Calipers

These ones are a combination of two tools mentioned above: they have got both functions of caliper and calculator, allowing users to take measurements without having to place a ruler under the device and counting manually. It can be used both as a regular calculator or as an ordinary caliper, depending on the situation.

Vernier calipers

One of the most advanced and accurate models of calipers, it allows you to measure both linear and angular sizes with a very high precision (up to 0.01 in/0.25 mm). It can be used by engineers to determine exact size of any object or machine.

Other types that are commonly used but are not named above:

Electronic Calipers

This model allows to measure both linear and angular size with a great accuracy of up to 0.001 in/0.025 mm, which makes it the most accurate tool for measuring amongst all mentioned above. It is also very commonly used by electrical engineers as they can use electronic caliper not only to check size of wires, cables or even tiny chipboards but also to see what other measurements are inside the device using special built-in instrument.

Micrometer caliper

This is an electronic measuring tool with a very high precision, with digital display for calculations and automatic compensation of effects caused by thermal expansion. It can be used to find very small dimensions (as small as 0.001 mm) and measurements on both flat surfaces and cylindrical objects. It is also widely used in machine engineering to check precise performance of various machines or equipment components.

Calipers with Magnifier

This tool has a standard caliper, which works almost the same way as any other device of that kind (measures

5. Protractor


A device commonly used in geometry and arts classes to measure angles. It has a scale that represents 360 degree range, as well as two fixed points: one at 0 direction and another at 180 degrees.

Plane Protractor

This tool has got a ruler instead of a scale, making it easier to use and more accurate in measurements. The only thing you have got to do is rotate the tool around the fixed point until you reach desired angle or measurement.

Folding Protractor

As the name implies, this model folds in half, making it much smaller and easier to carry. Its parts are made out of plastic that won’t break if the tool is dropped or pushed against a hard surface.


It is a small caliper that has got two jaws and a scale (usually starting from 0). It allows to measure very close objects by reading results in micrometers (1 millionth of a meter) instead of millimeters that are used in cases when the object’s size is not a whole number or does not have any visible regularity. It is commonly used in electronics, watch and clock making industries.

Micrometer Screw Gauge

This tool has got a hollow cylindrical body with internal threads which are subject to precise measurement. Such measurements are then entered into the micrometer’s scale for reading the result in thousandths of a millimeter (0.001″). It is commonly used to check the quality of screws to be manufactured.

Micrometer Depth Gauge

This one has got a hollow cylindrical body, similar to micrometer screw gauges, but it may also have an internal scale for reading results in fractions. It is mainly used in construction and manufacturing industries.

6. Level


This tool allows to estimate horizontal or vertical angles of an object. Usually made out of plastic or metal, it contains a level and a scale that indicate the angle in degrees.

Laser Level

These ones use a laser beam to measure angles, which is more precise than using physical tools. It’s used in construction industry for placing machines on flat surfaces or when you need to measure the slope of the roof.

Level Compass

It is a special tool used to determine the exact center of an object. Its rotating disk has got four pins that are pushed into the surface, and after choosing desired distance between two pins user simply read the middle point from a scale on the edge of this device. This feature can be found in many different kinds of measuring tools.

Spirit level

It’s a tool used to measure the tilt of an object, usually made out of transparent glass with bubble inside. When user is sure that both ends are completely horizontal and vertical he can compare them to horizontal and vertical lines on the bubbles. When all 3 zero points are in line, then surface being measured is level or has got 0 degree tilt.

Construction Level

It’s a type of level with an extra element: two or more arms that aid in measuring different angles and at the same time indicate zero points for other measuring tools. It proves to be very useful when leveling irregular surfaces such as roofs or beams, among others.

Bulb Level

This one is placed on the scale and indicates zero points with red or white color. It’s usually used in order to compensate for uneven surfaces, as its levelness could be read by observing it sideways. This measuring tool is commonly used in construction of buildings, transportation lines (highways) and water pipes’ laying. It can also be used to level concrete.

7. Gauge


Height Gauge

These ones are used in construction industry and usually have got two elements: a ruler for measuring distances and a scale, showing the height at which something should be placed.

Distance Gauge

It can be said that this tool is the most popular in construction sites: it has got different scales for taking different kinds of measurements (for example: for measuring distances, heights, angles). It is mostly used in construction, engineering and watchmaking industries.

Depth Gauge

It’s a special tool used to measure the depth of materials or substances (for example: concrete at construction sites). Usually made out of white plastic or steel, it has got two hooks that are pushed to the material being measured, and a cable or tape is pulled until a marker on this tool stops. The distance between those two hooks is then entered into scale with corresponding units.

Surface gauge

It’s a basic, but useful measuring tool used in construction industry. It has got two legs that are pushed into the surface being examined and its distance from the surface is entered into scale. Its main advantage over other tools is that it can be read quickly; for example: if you want to know the distance between two different surfaces then with this tool it’s sufficient to just move it from one surface to another and read its distance.

8. Tachometer


It’s a special tool made out of clear glass with an internal needle pointing zero point and indicating the speed (tachometer) on its scale. It is mostly used in construction industry in order to measure how fast concrete hardens or dry walls are being installed, among others.

9. Chalk line

Chalk line

It’s a type of tool used to mark surfaces, usually made out of metal and contains internal string with synthetic fibers. The line is stretched until it reaches the surface where it draws a straight line. It can be found on construction sites and in industry for making outlines.

These ones are mostly used by watchmakers and have got two elements: a ruler and needles that indicate measurements. They can also be angled and locked in place.

10. Planimeter


These are similar to chalk lines, but are mostly used in electrical and electronics industries. They are usually made out of transparent plastic or glass, and usually have got a scale for taking different measurements (for example: height and width).

These are an improved version of planimeters, which can be used for measuring distances by calculating surface area (which then leads to measurement). They have got two elements: a ruler and a transparent plate with grid. Planners usually contain scales in order to measure dimensions from different angles.

11. Mammometer


This one is used by watchmakers to check the thickness of construction materials. It’s got a slit where the material is inserted and in its other end there’s an indicator that moves in accordance with the thickness of material.

These ones use optical principles for taking measurements, usually used by electricians. Their elements are a ruler and protractor that point zero points. They have got some advantages compared to other measuring tools: they can be stored very easily (they’re also light), their reading is accurate and they can be locked in place or angled.

These are made of plastic or glass, with a ruler and protractor for measuring angles. They usually have got some scales inscribed into them that can be read more easily (for example: the angle should be entered straight from the scale).


– How accurate are each type of tool?

Depth gauge: off by 0.05 inch (1 mm)

Surface gauge: off by 0.125 inch (3 mm)

Tachometer: off by 1% of reading, which is between 0.001 and 0.003 RPMs

Chalk line: depends on the type of material used for drawing

– Which is more useful for a construction worker, analog or digital meters?

Analog tools are more accurate than digital ones. The degree of accuracy of an analog instrument is usually defined by the order of its digits: for example, a reading in thousandths of an inch is considered more accurate than one in millimeters.

In case of a digital tool, it’s not as simple to define its degree of accuracy: usually the manufacturers sell those tools showing their level of accuracy in percentage, for example: 0.0625mm or 1/16″, which means that the reading will be off by 1/16″ (1.5mm) maximum.

Digital tools have some advantages, though: they’re more versatile and economic resources are unnecessary for their maintenance.

– What is the difference between planimeter and planner?

Planimeter: uses properties of geometry to calculate area, which then leads to measurement

Planimeter: uses basic rules of mathematics for measuring dimensions (for example: it’s possible to find heights by multiplying widths and vice versa)


Measuring tools are an essential part of many trades. This article has been a brief introduction to some of the measuring instruments used by professionals in different industries. From simple, low-tech devices like chalk lines and rulers to more sophisticated ones such as planimeters and manometers, these 33 types of measuring tools will help you get accurate measurements when building or repairing anything from walls to watches.

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