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Pull Push Rule: Master Its Uses & Uncover Measurement Secrets

The Pull Push Rule is an indispensable tool that has stood the test of time in precision measurement. From its historical origins to its contemporary applications, the Pull Push Rule is more than just a measuring stick; it’s a testament to human ingenuity in the realm of craftsmanship and engineering. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll unearth the secrets of the Pull Push Rule and learn how to wield it like a pro.

Table of Contents

The Basics of the Pull Push Rule

What is the Pull Push Rule?

At its core, the Pull Push Rule is a flexible measuring device used to gauge the length, width, and depth of various materials. It typically consists of a slim, retractable tape housed within a compact casing.

Who Invented the Pull Push Rule?

The Pull Push Rule has evolved over the centuries, with its modern incarnation being attributed to Alvin J. Fellows, who patented the spring-click tape measure in 1868.

The Classification of Pull Push Rules

There are various types of Pull Push Rules:

  • Pocket Tapes: Compact and suitable for everyday use.
  • Surveyor’s Tapes: Longer and used for measuring large distances.
  • Diameter Tapes: Used for measuring the diameter of round objects.

Each type comes in different brands, offering various features and build quality.

Importance of Pull Push Rule

The Pull Push Rule holds significant importance across various industries due to its precise measurement capabilities and its versatile applications. Here’s how it plays a crucial role in different sectors:

1. Manufacturing and Construction: It is vital in these industries for measuring raw materials, components, and distances. It aids in ensuring that components fit together correctly, spaces are accurately calculated, and structures are built to precise specifications.

2. Woodworking and Carpentry: In these crafts, it is used to measure cuts, distances, and dimensions. Its precision is key to ensuring that pieces fit together correctly, furniture is built to accurate dimensions and aesthetic design proportions are maintained.

3. Metalworking: It is essential for measuring sheet metal, rods, tubes, and other components in metalworking. It helps in ensuring that metal parts are cut and shaped to exact dimensions, which is crucial for the functionality and safety of the final product.

4. Automotive and Aviation: In the production and maintenance of vehicles and aircraft, it is used to measure parts, check alignments, and ensure that components fit together correctly. This is vital for the safe operation of vehicles and aircraft.

5. Surveying and Mapping: While other tools may be used for large-scale measurements, it comes in handy for smaller, precise measurements required in these fields.

Must-Have Tools and Materials

  • Pencils and Markers: for marking measurements.
  • Straight Edge: for drawing straight lines.
  • Calculator: for measurement conversions.

How to Use the Pull Push Rule

The Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pull the tape out of the casing and place it against the object you’re measuring.
  2. Read the measurement from the tape.
  3. Retract the tape back into its casing.

Detailed Explanation of Metric Measurement in the Pull Push Rule

Most Pull push rules come with two sets of measurements – imperial (inches and feet) and metric (centimeters and meters). The metric system is widely used globally and is based on the decimal system, meaning it is scaled in multiples of 10.

On a Pull push rule, the metric side typically starts at zero at the end of the tape and increases as you move along the tape. Each centimeter is usually divided into ten smaller units (millimeters). For example, if you see the number 30 on the metric side, it means 30 centimeters, and each smaller mark between the numbers represents a millimeter.

To read a measurement, simply stretch the tape across the object you’re measuring and note the number where the object ends on the tape. If the object ends between two numbers, you need to count the millimeter marks to get the precise measurement.

Example of Pull Push Rule in Action

Let’s say you’re a woodworker building a bookshelf and need to cut several planks of wood to the same length.

  • You first pull the tape from its casing and place the ‘zero’ end at one edge of the plank.
  • You then stretch the tape across the plank to the desired length – let’s say 70 centimeters. Make sure the tape is straight and level.
  • You then mark the wood at the 70-centimeter point on the rule.
  • After rechecking the measurement, you’re ready to cut the wood. You repeat the process for each plank, ensuring they’re all the same length.

This example demonstrates the Pull push rule’s practical use in achieving precision and consistency in a woodworking project.

Tips for Maintaining Accuracy

  • Use the Correct Side: Pull Push rules typically have both metric and imperial measurements. Ensure you’re using the correct side for your needs.
  • Ensure the Tape is Straight: When measuring, make sure the tape is straight and level. A bent tape can lead to inaccurate measurements.
  • Check the ‘Zero’ Point: Some Pull push rules have a small metal piece at the start of the tape, which accounts for its thickness. Ensure this is in the correct position (either pushed in or pulled out) when taking internal or external measurements.
  • Avoid Parallax Error: This error occurs when the tape isn’t viewed straight on. Always ensure you’re looking directly at the measurement markings.
  • Take Care of Your Rule: Keep your rule clean and free from damage. Even slight damage can affect the accuracy of measurements.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Not placing the tape flat against the surface, which can cause inaccurate measurements.
  • Not checking for damage to the tape.

Is the Pull Push Rule considered a tool or a material?

The term “Pull Push Rule” refers to a tool, not materials. It is a measuring tool used for taking precise measurements of lengths, widths, and depths. It is typically a retractable tape measure housed within a compact casing, which can be conveniently carried in a pocket or tool belt.

The tape itself is usually made of a flexible material such as metal or plastic, and it features measurement markings in either metric units (centimeters and meters), imperial units (inches and feet), or both. The tool is versatile and can be used in various industries and applications, including construction, woodworking, metalworking, and DIY projects.

It’s important to distinguish between tools and materials. Tools are items or equipment used to perform specific tasks, such as measuring, cutting, or assembling. In contrast, materials refer to the substances or components that are used to create or build something, such as wood, metal, fabric, or plastic. The Pull Push Rule is a tool used to measure materials and ensure accuracy in various tasks.

Further Classification and Understanding

How to Classify a Pull Push Rule

Pull Push Rules can be classified based on a few key characteristics:

  • Length of the Tape: The length of the tape in a Pull push rule can vary widely, typically ranging from about 1 meter (or 3 feet) for compact, pocket-sized versions, up to 30 meters (or 100 feet) for professional, large-scale applications. The length of the tape needed will depend on the tasks you’re planning to use it for. For instance, a carpenter or DIY enthusiast might find a 5-meter tape sufficient, while a surveyor or builder might need a 30-meter tape for measuring larger distances.
  • Materials Used in Construction: The materials used to construct the casing and the tape itself can also be a way to classify Pull push rules. The casing is usually made from a durable material such as plastic, metal, or rubber to protect the tape when it’s not in use. The tape is typically made of a thin strip of steel that’s flexible yet resistant to bending or kinking. High-quality tapes are often coated with a layer of nylon or other materials to help them resist wear and tear.
  • Additional Features: Additional features can further classify Pull push rules. These may include a locking mechanism to hold the tape at a specific length, a belt clip for easy carrying, a magnetic end hook for sticking to metal surfaces, or a digital display for easy reading of measurements. Some Pull push rules might also have markings for specific applications, like markings to help carpenters determine angles for common cuts.

What is the length of a Pull Push Rule?

The length of the tape in a Pull push rule is one of its most important characteristics because it determines the maximum distance that can be measured with the tool. As mentioned above, this can range from about 1 meter (or 3 feet) in compact versions up to 30 meters (or 100 feet) in larger versions.

The length of the tape is usually printed on the casing of the rule, and it’s also easy to determine by fully extending the tape and looking at the largest number on the tape itself. The length of the tape you’ll need will depend on what you plan to use the tool for. For most everyday tasks, a Pull push rule with a length of 5 to 8 meters (or 16 to 26 feet) is likely to be sufficient.

Applications of the Pull Push Rule

Woodworking Wonders: Crafting with Precision

In woodworking, it is essential for taking precise measurements, which are critical for the fit and finish of the final product.

  • Measuring Cut Lengths: When cutting pieces of wood to size, the Pull Push Rule is used to measure the length of the cuts accurately.
  • Marking Angles and Joints: Many Pull Push Rules have angle markings that can be used to mark out precise angles for cuts, such as miter joints.
  • Checking Dimensions: After making cuts, it can be used to verify dimensions and ensure that pieces will fit together properly.

Metalworking Mastery: The Metallic Edge

In metalworking, precision is often even more critical than in woodworking, and the Pull Push Rule is an invaluable tool.

  • Measuring Sheet Metal: When working with sheet metal, the Pull Push Rule is used to measure dimensions before cutting or bending.
  • Checking Tolerances: In metalworking, parts often need to be within specific tolerances. It can be used to ensure that parts are the correct size.
  • Layout Work: It can be used for marking out cut lines, bend lines, and hole locations in metalworking projects.

Other Industries Where the Pull Push Rule is Applicable

  • Textile Industry: For measuring fabric lengths and ensuring accurate pattern dimensions.
  • Construction: For measuring distances, materials, and spaces in building projects.
  • Surveying and Mapping: For taking smaller, precise measurements required in surveying fields.

Unique and Innovative Uses of the Pull Push Rule

  • Measuring Curved Surfaces: The flexibility of the tape allows it to be used to measure curved surfaces.
  • Height Measurement: By using it vertically, you can measure the height of objects or persons.
  • Drawing Straight Lines: The Pull Push Rule can be used as a straight edge for drawing long, straight lines.

Comparing the Pull Push Rule with Other Measurement Tools

Advantages of the Pull Push Rule over other tools

The Pull Push Rule, also known as a flexible rule or push-pull tape, offers several advantages over other measuring tools:

  • Versatility: It can measure both internal and external dimensions thanks to the sliding tip that compensates for the thickness of the tip itself​1​.
  • Convenience: Many models have a built-in locking mechanism that can hold the tape in place, preventing retraction until the brake is released. This feature facilitates single-handed use​.
  • Additional Features: Some models come with stud markings at sixteen-inch intervals, while others may have information like nail sizes printed on the reverse side. These extra features can be especially useful in construction and woodworking​.

When Other Tools Might Be More Appropriate

While the Pull Push Rule is incredibly versatile, there are situations where other tools might be more appropriate:

  • Laser Measures: For longer distances.
  • Calipers: For very precise internal or external measurements.

Care and Maintenance of the Pull Push Rule

How to Properly Store

  • Retract the Tape: Always retract the tape into its casing when not in use to prevent damage.
  • Keep it Dry: Store the rule in a dry place to prevent rust or corrosion, especially if it’s made of metal.
  • Use a Pouch or Holder: If available, store the Pull Push Rule in a pouch or holder to protect it from dust and damage.

Routine Maintenance Tips

  • Clean the Tape: After use, especially if used in a dirty environment, wipe the tape clean.
  • Check for Damage: Regularly inspect the tape for kinks, bends, or worn markings and replace if necessary.
  • Lubricate the Mechanism: Occasionally, apply a small amount of lubricant to the retraction mechanism to keep it working smoothly.

What to Do When it is Not Working Properly

  • Check the Retraction Mechanism: If the tape is not retracting properly, it might be due to dirt or lack of lubrication. Clean and lubricate the mechanism.
  • Straighten Any Bends: If the tape is bent or kinked, carefully straighten it out. If it’s severely damaged, consider replacing the rule.
  • Calibration: If measurements seem off, check if the end hook is loose or if the tape has stretched. In some cases, it can be adjusted, but replacement might be necessary if accuracy cannot be restored. With the detailed information provided in the application and maintenance sections, you now have comprehensive insights into the applications of the Pull Push Rule across various industries, as well as tips for its care and maintenance. By understanding these aspects, you can optimize the use of this versatile measuring tool in your projects and ensure its longevity through proper maintenance. Whether you are working with wood, metal, or any other material, the Pull Push Rule can be an indispensable tool in achieving precision and efficiency in your work.


Throughout this comprehensive guide, we have explored the intricacies of the Pull Push Rule, a versatile and crucial tool in numerous industries. From understanding its fundamental characteristics and importance in diverse sectors to dissecting its use and maintenance, we’ve delved into the many facets that make it an indispensable asset.

The Pull Push Rule, with its myriad of applications, plays a pivotal role in numerous industries. Its precision, versatility, and user-friendly features make it an invaluable tool for professionals and enthusiasts alike. Its impact on work quality and efficiency is undeniable, making it a staple in any toolkit.

We invite you to share your experiences with the Pull Push Rule in the comments below. Have you discovered any unique uses or tips for this tool? Do you prefer this over other measurement tools in certain situations? We would love to hear your thoughts and insights. Your experiences and knowledge can be invaluable to other readers, so don’t hesitate to engage. Thank you for joining us in this exploration of the Pull Push Rule!

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