It's one of those tools that lurks in every toolbox, workshop and apron pocket. It can also be found clipped to almost every tradesman's belt and that is, of course, the ever popular and indispensable tape measure.

Axminster Precision Tapes

Introducing the range...

Axminster have introduced a new range of tape measures under the Axminster Precision brand, here we take a first look at four. All have a 5m metric/imperial tape and each have slightly different features. The first features a 'Self Lock' button, which automatically locks the tape in position when it's extended, (pushing the button retracts the tape); the second sports a silver, stainless steel blade and the third is a very chunky 'Power Blade' with a wide, deeply curved tape which enables much greater extension without collapsing. The last tape measure has a manual 'hold down' button which clamps the blade in place and it has been rated Class 1.

Axminster Precision Tapes

Classes explained

Each has been designated as either Class 1 or Class 2 for accuracy, which is a measure of the tolerance the tape measure must achieve before it can be rated. Class 1 rated tapes are the most accurate and an error of no more than ±1.1mm over a 10m length can be anticipated, where a steel tape is used with a pulling force of 50N at 20°.

For the vast majority of users, a Class 2 tape is probably going to be more than adequate with a potential error of ±2.3mm over the same 10m length and most good quality tapes have this rating.

Class 3 tapes are rated as slightly less accurate but are still adequate for everyday applications around the home.

Whichever you choose, there's bound to be one to suit every application and pocket.