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How to Make a Personalized Tape Measure

This personalized measuring tape is the perfect gift for dad! Laser engrave your own design, saying or name for a custom gift idea he'll love!

how to make personalized tape measures

Dads can be so hard to shop for! As you might have guessed, my dad is a woodworker, so I usually resort to giving him a Woodcraft gift card (which I can now give to him in a fancy laser cut gift card holder).

But when an ad recently popped up in one of my feeds for a personalized tape measure, I knew I could make my own using my xTool P2. Here's how!

Click here to download the SVG files from Etsy

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Materials

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Measure the side of the tape measure

The Pittsburgh tape measures at Harbor Freight are the perfect shape for this project. There's a recessed circle on the side that is just deep enough for the engraved insert.

Pittsburgh tape measure from Harbor Freight

Thankfully, the label is super easy to peel off. If yours leaves a sticky residue behind, you can use something like Goo Gone to remove it.

peeling label off tape measure

Measure the inside of the circle at the lowest point. I used calipers to get an accurate reading, but you could use the tape measure itself!

using calipers to measure the diameter of the insert circle on the tape measure casing

Create your laser design

Use the measurement you just took to draw a circle in your laser software. Then create your design! I used a combination of elements from Creative Fabrica and Canva, then cleaned them up in Adobe Illustrator.

tape measure designs in Adobe Illustrator

I made three Father's Day designs, and three everyday designs for this project. You can get them over in my Etsy shop!

Testing different materials

Most of the personalized tape measures I found online used thin plywood for the engraved design. I had some scraps of ⅛" birch plywood with 3M adhesive already on the back left over from one of my laser cut city maps, so I used that as a test cut.

testing wood insert for personalized tape measure in laser

While it fit great within the recessed circle, it sticks out a little too far from the casing. If you use tape measures on a regular basis, you know that they get dropped all the time! I can't imagine that thin plywood will hold up to abuse.

⅛" plywood sticks up too far from the recessed circle in the tape measure casing

I found some 1/16" MDF in my laser stash, and decided to give that a try next. It didn't engrave as nicely, but it does sit flush with the tape measure casing.

1/16" material sits flush with the outside of the tape measure casing

In my search of the Maker Shed for thinner material, I also unearthed a stack of laserable leatherette that I bought as a bundle from Houston Acrylic months ago. This stuff is so cool, and I can't believe I haven't used it yet!

It has two layers of colors on top of laser safe leatherette. You engrave away the top layer to allow the bottom color to show through. I decided to go with black with gold engraving for this project, and it turned out awesome!

black leatherette with gold engraving in xTool P2 laser

It sits below the surface of the tape measure casing, so it won't catch on anything and pop off. And it looks so nice!

personalized tape measure with black leatherette patch engraved in gold that says "Measure Once Cuss Twice"

With the tests done, it's time to cut the real thing!

Engrave and cut the leather patch

I recommend running a laser test grid to see what settings work best with your machine first. If you set the power too high or the speed too low, you'll engrave right through both layers and down to the leatherette material below. I accidentally reset the power and ruined the first batch!

leatherette patches for tape measure with power set too high

I found that 10% power and 500 mm/s worked great for my xTool P2, but yours could be different. I also increased the lines per cm to 200 to make the lettering really crisp.

xTool Creative Space settings for engraving leatherette patches

Before you put your final material in the machine, don't forget to put the 3M adhesive on the back. This stuff has a super strong bond once you apply pressure, so it won't come off accidentally.

3M adhesive on the back of leatherette for patches

Once I got the settings right, it only took a few minutes to cut and engrave the tape measure patches. Much better!

laser cut and engraved tape measure patches in xTool P2

Clean up and assembly

You might have some black or gold residue on the surface after engraving. I found that a microfiber cloth helps pull it away rather than smearing it around. A Magic Eraser also works, but don't rub too hard or it will remove some of the black coating on the leatherette.

using a microfiber cloth to clean up the engraving residue on the measuring tape patch

Then all you need to do is peel off the backing and stick it into place!

peeling off backing from adhesive leatherette patch

Double check that the lettering is straight and the patch is centered before applying pressure to activate the adhesive. Then you're done!

funny personalized tape measures

The enlarged fractions of an inch patch is perfect for those of you who struggle to read a tape measure. I know I'll refer to it every once in a while myself! I left some space at the top and bottom so you can add your own sarcastic sayings. 😉

Making a personalized tape measure for dad is so easy, and is the perfect gift for Father's Day!

personalized tape measures for dad

These would be perfect for a carpenter or woodworker in a shared workshop who always loses their measuring tape. Just slap on a patch with their name on it so it never goes missing again!

Want to make your own? Download the files over in my Etsy shop! You can find the Father's Day versions here and the funny ones here.

Click here to download the Father's Day SVG files from Etsy