row2k Features
Rowing Hack: The Sanded Tape Measure
January 27, 2022
John FX Flynn

Handy measures in a handy place, centimeter-style

From time to time, we come across a cool hack outside of rowing that we realize might just help us out, well, inside of rowing.

This week's trick is a trick you might see some builders and carpenters use that could come in handy the next time you are rigging and taking measurements that matter: The Sanded Tape Measure.

The "How-To" on this hack? Just remove the label sticker on the "face" of your favorite 25ft/7.5m tape measure, go over the bare spot with some medium grit sandpaper (say 150-220), and scuff up the plastic just enough to create a small but super useful scratchpad where you can jot down important numbers as you measure.

The "Why-bother" on this one? Well, it can definitely help to be able to jot down rigging numbers when going through a whole boat--and this trip saves you from having carrying a notepad or clipboard with you from seat to seat. Instead, the tape measure--which is coming with you anyhow after all--becomes your jotting space, and keeps the numbers you might need to remember right in the palm of your hand.

The Sanded Tape Measure is really just a clever bit of repurposing, one that takes a tool you are already using and gets it to do double duty.

Since sanding the tape measure in the row2k toolbox, we've used it to jot down heel heights, catch angles and work-throughs, and even found it to be a handy way to take note of the number of a seat we wanted to go back and re-check as we went along. (Usually a seat where we spot something that needs fixing, like wonky pitch or slipped tracks, that is not what we are measuring for in the moment.)

An alternate route for this hack: painter's tape
An alternate route for this hack: painter's tape

This hack might even be worth dropping a few bucks for a new "sandable" tape measure--one that is a good color for writing on, like yellow, and that has a big flat area to repurpose--but you can always use a bit of painter's tape to create a similar "reusable writing surface" on any tape measure, even a metal one.

This hack can even replace one of our favorite hacks from wayback, The Gunwale Midpoint Notation, if you happen to be rigging a winged boat. With wing riggers, where the "midpoint" measurement--that crucial distance from the edge of the gunwale to the centerline of the shell--is the same at every station, you can just put that number on your tape measure and skip all that writing on the side of the boat. Jot once, measure eight times...or something like that.

So, if you want to speed up your rigging, and maybe even the accompanying arithmetic, then it might be time to grab some sandpaper and start scuffing up that favorite tape measure.

Have you come across a cool non-rowing hack that helps you row? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.

If you enjoy and rely on row2k, we need your help to be able to keep doing all this. Though row2k sometimes looks like a big, outside-funded operation, it mainly runs on enthusiasm and grit. Help us keep it coming, thank you! Learn more.


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