This versatile time-saver uses a simple story-pole principle. I call it the slip stick, and I use it to measure distances between floor and ceiling without running up and down ladders or bending my tape into hard-to-read compound bends.
The basic components of the slip stick are an old tape, a few pieces of 1x stock and whatever hardware you have around to make it work. The first component is a 7-ft. U-shaped housing, as shown in the drawing. The second is a 6-ft. runner that fits inside the housing, where it can slide up or down. The runner has a portion of a tape-measure blade screwed to it. The portion of the tape you’ll need is from the 7-ft. mark or so (attached to the top of the runner) down to about 13 ft. If you want to get fancy you can cut a concave curve into the runner, so the edges of the runner and tape will be flush.
Near the top of the assembly, I hold the two components together with a metal band that doubles as a reference point. It has to be precisely placed so that the tape at that point reads the exact length of the stick with the runner retracted. At the bottom of the runner I bolt a large washer on each face to keep the runner in the housing.
When my slip stick is closed, I can slip it under a ceiling of minimum height. With the 6-ft. runner extended, I can measure ceilings up to 13 ft. high. When I measure for a new wall in an old space, I cut the top and bottom plates and set one atop the other. With my slip stick on top of them, I can read the exact stud length without having to subtract the thickness of the plates.
Sam Yoder, Cambridge, MA
Edited and Illustrated by Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding #22