This is the new Craftsman Sidewinder tape measure. It looks a little unconventional, as the Sidewinder “offers a new take on an old standard.”
The Craftsman Sidewinder has a lay-flat design, for more stable one-person layout work, an automatic blade lock, and a writable surface so that you more easily keep track of your measurements.
Craftsman says that the Sidewinder tape measure is the most stable tape on the market. It also has an extending steel hook at the rear, which can hold onto the back edge of a board or workpiece.
It has fractional measurement markings.
Right now, it’s only available at Ace Hardware.
Buy Now(via Ace)
I can’t stop rolling my eyes at how this is being marketed. The extending rear hook seems like it could be convenient, but is described as being useful for repeated measurements and avoiding “difficult math.”
And the easy read tape makes reading fractions “a breeze.”
I haven’t made up my mind about fractional markings on tape measures, because I don’t use tapes with fractional markings. I passed along a new tape measure to a general contractor a few months ago, and both he and his son HATE the hard to read fractional markings that clutter up the tape.
I think that the odd numbered ticks at the bottom of the tape might be helpful. The even markings are deeper and easy to read, and the 1, 3, 5… ticks aren’t too obtrusive. Here is what it would look like without those unsightly fractional measurements:
It’s a little cluttered, but in my opinion so much better. And no, the tape isn’t dual-toned. The source image was a screenshot from the promo video. The top is greyed-out to draw focus on the fractional markings.
Here’s the promo video:
I’m left wondering about who they’re trying to sell this tape measure to. Well, not, they’re marketing it towards DIYers and I’m guessing gift givers.
Where’s the belt clip?
It has a writable surface, but you still have to keep track of your pencil.
If I need to keep track of a measurement but can’t find a scrap of paper, I take a photo with my smartphone or jot it down in a digital note on my phone.
No paper or no phone? I write on the workpiece. If I can’t do that, I find something else to write on. Heck, I could write on a cut-off. If need be, I could slice a very thin piece off a scrap 2×4, 1×4, or whatever, and use that for a few carry-with-me measurements.
My biggest issue would be finding a pencil, not something to write on.
The lay-flat design could be handy. I’ve been frustrated by falling-over tape measures before, and know that’s one of the reasons Milwaukee complemented their premium tape measures with flat-bottomed ones.
I really like my Craftsman tape measure, which is similar to the “standard” one they compare the Sidewinder to in the promo video. It has one of the best tape measure locks I’ve ever used. I still have mine, and am pretty sure I bought one for my father a few years ago when it was on sale. If so, and he can find it, I’ll have to trade him for it.
What’s your take on this? Innovation or gimmick?
Math and fractions are hard? 8-1/4″ repeated is hard to do? Take out a piece of paper and lay it out.
Did you check my math?
I can see the benefit of just having to extend 8-1/4″ for repeated measurements, or similar, but it’s not that much more trouble to jot down measurements on paper and space them out accordingly. And you can still move your tape measure or ruler around.
If the measurements were really tough, such as 7-7/16″, I could add up 7-7/16″ eight times, and could lay them out on a sheet or board, but it would be quicker and easier to use a story stick, ruler, or tape measure, and move it along, referencing it off of each last marking.
With the Craftsman Sidewinder, measurements are referenced off the edge of the workpiece, with the rear hook extended, but then off of each measurement. But if you’re referencing off each measurement, then what’s the difference between this method and taking the tape along with you? I’d simply move the tape, and then at the end check the measurement to ensure I didn’t compound my errors.
The lay-flat design seems convenient, but there’s not a lot of grip, compared to what I would have expected.
This is the best image of the tape measure’s rear side that I could grab from the promo video, showing the large writable surface. There’s a grippy-looking material around the perimeter, but is it enough to hold the tape in place?
This tape has me shaking my head.
To be fair, I did not see it in person yet. Maybe its user friendliness is good enough to counterbalance or even overcome my hesitations about the design. This has happened with some tools, where hands-on performance can trump hands-off pre-judgements and assumptions I have made based on product images, descriptions, and my past experiences and opinions.
Innovation or Gimmick?