You don’t need a calculator to quickly find the center of something that’s an odd length, such as 37 5/8 inches. The smart folks at This Old House show us two ways to quickly divide a length in half using just your tape measure.

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In the video above, Tom Silva demonstrates the two methods. The first is easier because it involves only one tape measure:

Measure your item. In this case, a board.Round up to a larger number that’s easily divisible by two. In this example, 40 inches.Pull a tape measure diagonally across the board until the 40-inch graduation aligns with one edge.Make a pencil line at the 20-inch graduation line (half of 40). That’ll be the center of the 37 5/8 inch board.

The second method is to use two tape measures, pulling each across from opposite edges, and find where the identical measurement is. That’s the center.


Math is fun, but sometimes math shortcuts are even more fun.

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Ask Tom: How to Find Measurements Without Math | This Old House


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Is it just me, or do both of these seem overly complicated? Couldn’t you just fold the tape measure in half? That’s even easier with tailor’s tape.

Or I’ve also used twine; pull twine alongside the tape measure, cut it the same length and just fold that in fifty percent ...

As an aside, carrying twine is easier than carrying a tape measure also. One thing that twine can do for you that’s cool, if you are looking at a bunch of the same items to see if one will fit, like whether you can get a bed through your apartment door (or to fit in your room), cut a few pieces the length and width of the area you’re concerned about, roll ‘em up in your purse, jacket pocket, wherever, and take off. Now when you’re out looking for beds there’s no need to remember room dimensions or lug a tape measure everywhere, just stretch the twine out on the floor by the item and et voila, you’re done.

I should make my own show “This Old Man” with a bunch of tricks that are useful, but also absolutely guaranteed to embarrass the kids ;)