Stanley FatMax Magnetic Tape Rule

A durable case and blade, easy to read scale, magnetic hook, and long standout make this a great buy


Stanley FatMax Magnetic Tape Rule

It's pretty hard to get excited about measuring tapes (or tape rulers). Nonetheless, they're indispensible for just about every tradesperson. Considering how much abuse they can take on a job site, and how often they're used throughout the work day, it's not surprising that a tradesperson might go through four or five tapes a year. While they're available in a wide range of blade widths and lengths, the 25-foot retractable tape is probably the most common format.
Stanley has an astounding 58 different models of measuring tapes available. The newest model is the FatMax Magnetic Tape (FMHT33865) that has a number of features in common with the Stanley Beast, aka, the FatMax Xtreme Tape (33-890). As with the Beast, the FMHT33865 is designed for heavy duty job site use.

 A heavy tape for heavy duty use   
The FMHT33865 is twice the size of a 12' pocket tape. It weighs in at over 1 pound, and measures almost 2" thick, and 3" in circumference. As with most Stanley tapes it has a slide lock — this one with only 3/8" of travel, making it easy to lock and unlock the blade with your thumb. In the lock position the blade is held firmly in place. It also has the ubiquitous belt clip.

Rubber overmold for comfort and protection      
The tape has a high impact ABS case with a rubber overmold. The ABS can withstand a lot of punishment, while the rubber overmold provides a comfortable, slip-resistant hold (as well as adding some cushioning to the case). The seam between the two halves of the case is very tight, which should help keep debris and moisture from infiltrating into the case.

BladeArmor® protects the first few inches of the blade           
The blade is 1-1/4" wide, though due to the curvature of the blade, the edge-to-edge width is 1-1/8". The first 4-3/4" is covered with BladeArmor®, a patented industrial thermoplastic coating, which adds extra blade protection at the tip, where the blade is more susceptible to damage. The entire blade is covered with Mylar® polyester film that protects the blade from abrasion and adds to the tensile strength of the blade. It also helps to keep the markings from fading.
On the FMHT33865 you get about 11' of standout, which is particularly important on a job site, especially if you work alone. The longer standout is achieved primarily because of the wide blade. One of the drawbacks of a wide blade is that it has a more pronounced curve, lifting the edges farther off a work surface. For rough measuring this isn't an issue, but when you need to make precise measurements you'll need to roll the blade on its edge to contact the work surface. I confirmed the blade standout by extending the blade until the tip careened towards the floor (at just under 12'). At full extension the blade has a pretty a severe bow, though it simplifies grabbing onto a stud or joist with the hook.

(A) Foot measure; (B) Inch measure; (C) Stud marks; (D) Cumulative inch measure; (E) Truss marks         
The markings on the blade are very easy to read. The scale is in Imperial units with the graduations in sixteenths. A metric version of this tape (MFHT33866) is available.
The measurement layout is fairly typical. Along the top of the blade a series of black indicators mark out each foot. Between each foot mark is a scale, in red, from 1" to 12". Along the bottom edge is a cumulative inch measure, from 1" to 300". There are also stud layout marks every 16" (along the bottom edge of the tape), and truss layout marks every 19.2" (along the top edge). I like that the scale is in 16ths - too many graduations on the tape make it more difficult to take a quick reading. If I need more accuracy I switch to my smaller cabinetmaker's tape.

Tru-Zero™ hook ensures accurate measurements     

No bottom plate        
The 1-3/16" wide hook is firmly attached to the blade with three rivets. It has a large surface area, making it easy to grab onto the edge of a work piece. The middle of the hook is 5/16" deep, making it easy to hook stock.
The hook moves, of course, to keep the inside and outside measurements precisely the same. Stanley's Tru-Zero™ design ensures that hook measurements are within +/-1/32". Still, after several months of heavy duty use you'll want to check the accuracy of the hook.
I notice that there is no bottom plate, which might serve to add a bit more strength to the hook, as they do take quite a beating.

(A) Magnet; (B) Nail slot; (C) Pencil slot 
What sets the FMHT33865 apart from other tapes is the rare earth magnet integrated into the hook. It provides up to 4 pounds of holding power. Which means you can attach the tip to any metal surface, and then stretch it out a full 25'.
As you'll find on most tapes, there is both a nail head slot and a pencil slot integrated into the hook, which are helpful when you need to draw arcs and circles.

Use your thumb to control blade retraction         

Use your forefinger to cushion hook impact against the case            
One reason that a hook can become damaged is from constant slamming against the case when the blade is retracted. You can prevent this by using your thumb on the blade lock to stop the blade when the hook is about 12" to 16" from the case, and then release the lock to allow the hook to retract against your forefinger.
For under $30 the Stanley FatMax FMHT33865 is a good choice in a heavy duty tape measure. It has a very durable case and blade; an easy to read scale, and good standout.


  • 25' Mylar® coated blade
  • 1-7/8" x 3" x 3"
  • 12' standout
  • 1 lb 2 oz weight
  • Imperial scale in 16ths
  • 1-1/4" wide blade
  • High impact ABS case with rubber over mold
  • Tru-Zero™ magnetic hook with 4 lb holding force
  • BladeArmor® coating on the first 4-3/4"
  • Spread capacity 9-1/4" to 58-3/8" (see chart)
  • Limited lifetime warranty
COMPANY:Stanley Tools
SOURCE:Woodworking and hardware stores nationwide
Carl Duguay, October 2012
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!