How to choose  your measurement tools?

How to choose your measurement tools?

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

128 guides

Useful for measuring depth, space or verifying the tiny details, gauges like callipers are widely used in auto mechanics. Reading an angle, checking the squareness and the geometric data or measuring a tree's circumference: here are all the measuring tools you will need to complete those tasks and more! 

Important features

  • Slump cone
  • Gage block
  • Gauge
  • Angle gauge
  • Circumference tape
  • Crackmeters
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What tool for what measurement?

Any job site, no matter what the industry, is qualified primarily in terms of its accuracy. Different classes of work require a variety of types of measurements. Let's take a quick overview of the different types of tools so you can be equipped for even the toughest of jobs.

Slump cone

A slump cone is a galvanized steel cone used to determine the consistency of cement concrete based on the corresponding slump rate, expressed in millimeters (mm). The slump rate will indicate the concrete's strength, a crucial factor for building special structures such as roads and foundations, to name but a few.

Gage block

Composed of prismatic steel alloy parts that have been precisely assembled, gage blocks are used to produce and calibrate precise length measuring devices (in mm). Depending on their level of precision and intended use, blocks are divided into 6 grades (ranging from highly accurate to simple workshop configuration).

Scales and spring balances

Scales and spring balances are instruments for measuring mass and provide a reading in grams (g) or kilograms (kg). A scale works by making use of pressure: the object placed on its plate exerts a pressure which is transcribed into the corresponding unit of mass. A balance gets a reading by stretching: the object is suspended and the spring stretches, actioning a mechanism. The distance it stretches is translated into a corresponding unit of mass.

Feeler gauge

Also referred to as a "block", a feeler gauge is a metal blade with an exact thickness to check the spacing between two elements (known as "gap width"). It is a tool that is used primarily by automotive technicians and is most often available as a set of several gauges of different thicknesses.


This tool is primarily used to measure distance between the tip of the meter and the sliding measuring block. A micrometer measures in mm (millimeters). Highly efficient micrometers can feature an enhanced level of precision, to the tune of a hundredth of a millimeter (1/100th resolution).

Straight edge and scale

A simple, graduated tool used to measure a specific length, find out how long something is or to trace a line, most of the time expressed in mm. Straight edges are generally put to work in drawing while scales, usually composed of metal, are reserved for auto mechanics or workshops.


This is a very efficient tool for obtaining a precise measurement. A sliding calliper is composed of two heads: one is fixed, the other sliding (referred to as vernier). By inserting whatever element needs to be measured between the two heads, one then simply needs to read out the measurement indicated on the vernier. A calliper can be analog or digital, with the most accurate models featuring a resolution of 1/100th of a millimeter.

Profile gauge

A profile gaude is an instrument for verifying and measuring a geometric dimension or a shape. There are specific gauges designed for general elements such as cylinders, trees, drill bits or sprinklers but they can also be used for checking an angle, a latitude or a sphere.

Thread gauge

A thread gauge is a measuring instrument commonly available in the form of a set of blades. These blades are machined with extreme precision and can measure both male and female thread pitch.

Angle gauge

Either analogue or digital, angle gauges can accurately measure an angle (in degrees). The most accurate models can provide an angle to the 1/10th degree. They are often coupled with a bubble level.


Drawing instrument used to create circles. It may or may not be graduated, or be equipped with a pencil holder. The most accurate compasses are the ones that feature a lockable adjustment arch.

Measuring wheel

Also referred as a hodometer and commonly in use on roads or construction sites, measuring wheels make it possible to record important distances (expressed in meters). Unlike most measurement devices, the wheel is not necessarily required to measure in a straight line between two points. It can go every which way, since it only needs to be pushed while walking for the counter to start. The actual counter can be digital or analog.

Ranging rod

A raging rod is a pole or stake that is planted in the ground to signal a walkway, an obstacle or a measuring point. Of a highly visible color, ranging rods are about 2 meters long.

Optical square

Precision instrument used to line up or verify a field's basic geometric data (longtidue, latitude etc.). Optical squares is commonly used by landscapers, surveyors and topographers.

Measuring pole

Metallic and telescopic, it is used to measure anywhere from 1.5 to 8.00 m with the upmost precision. A measuring pole is commonly also equipped with a level, either bubble or digital, for even more precision.

Manual counter

A practical instrument that is used to count up. Analog or digital, counters are actionned by pressing a button.

Circumference tape

This tool measures either the diameter or the circumference (depending on the model's graduation) of a tube or a tree. It is composed of a flexible metal tape with millimeters markings and a sliding vernier.


High-precision device used to determine the evolution of a crack in a masonry structure. The crackmeter is either attached or simply placed directly on the crack to measure. Thanks to the markings it bears, it indicates the crack's width, with a resolution that can reach up to 1/100th of a millimeter.

Thickness gauge

This is a measurement tool which makes it possible, by enclosing an element between its two probes, for that object's thickness to be measured (expressed in millimeters). The range of the measurement depends on the thickness gauge model, as does the depth of the caliper. Another example of an extemely precise device, high end models can feature a resolution of 1/100 mm on average.


A very precise measuring device for distance (often at 1/100th mm), a comparator is often used to double check measurements. Mounted on a back plate, it can measure circularity, parallelism, or flatness. The actual measuring part is carried out by a mobile probe that is returned to the clock (analog or digital) face.

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More information

Measuring tools are just one of the category of tools you might require for your next job. To be properly equipped, follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

And to work safely:

Discover all our measuring tools!

Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 128 guides

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!

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