Anarchist’s Gift Guide Supplement No. 2: IKEA Tapes


Today I had to return to IKEA to buy some sheepskins to outfit the stick chairs I’m building, and I was stopped cold by one of the company’s displays.

It was a bunch of 36” plastic flexible tapes, offered for free like the ubiquitous IKEA pencils. These tapes were plastic, marked in both inches and centimeters and were dispensed like you remove a page from a desk calendar.

I grabbed two (by accident). They are exactly what you need for measuring along unusual curves in the workshop. When I make chairs, I’m constantly trying to determine the length of a curve without resorting to math. Bending a metal tape measure around a curve is a crap idea. And so I usually steal a flexible cloth tape from Lucy’s sewing kit to do the job.

Now I don’t have to.

These silly free tapes are an absolute boon if you work in curves. And the price (free) is beyond fantastic. To thank IKEA, be sure to buy one of its $1 cinnamon rolls (and feed it to the birds outside) or sample the free cookies (they are made from the same material as the furniture, I suspect).

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to Anarchist’s Gift Guide Supplement No. 2: IKEA Tapes

  1. Ira says:

    If the furniture is made from the same material as the cookies, does that mean we can eat the furniture?

  2. Bob Easton says:

    Been carrying one of these folded up in my wallet for years. Very handy!
    No weight, no bulge, always there,

  3. Andrew Clayton says:

    Be careful when using these measuring tapes as they will stretch over time. DAMHIK

  4. johncashman73 says:

    Hey! I like those cinnamon buns. If they are fresh and hot, at least.

    I’ve seen those free tapes, but in my local Ikea, they are paper.

    • MDF is tasty right out the oven, too (so I hear).

      • johncashman73 says:

        Duh. But only if you cover it with cinnamon and molten sugar.

      • Gav says:

        I worked in maintenance for an MDF plant in Australia for a time. The only funny thing about it was the fact the plant was so out of date they had to get an out of date technician from Germany when it broke down so bad none of the local guys could fix it. After repairing the same section of warehouse wall for the third time because the forklift drivers used it for a pallet stop I lost my sense of humour and left to find it again elsewhere 🙂

    • Sadly the the free tapes in my local IKEA are and always have been paper.

  5. Steven Vlahos says:

    The same cookie cutter is also used to produce both the cookies and the furniture I hear. Amazing Swedish efficiency!!


    Steve (aka t_bickle)

  6. What? the word ‘anarchists’ in same sentence with a plug for a corporate giant that puts local furniture makers, and ma and pa furniture stores out of business ? These stores ruin neighborhoods and economies. These stores are part of the problem that is seen in world

  7. alan - planesaw says:

    Chris, You may know this, but FastCap has a flat tape for exactly your description — measuring curved or flat surfaces. And, it is only $8.75.

    • Michael Mavodones says:

      Those FastCap tapes will take a pencil mark and are erasable for use as a flexible story pole. Been using one for about ten years.

  8. Leo says:

    Another little step of your subconscious towards the metric system 🙂

    • I am fluent in metric – I have to be to work in Europe. I still prefer American Customary Units. Not because they are better but because all my tools are marked that way and I have to interact with others who use that system.

  9. We get them in from time to time in Christmas Crackers. These cheap plastic tapes are a must for any period furniture restorer too.

  10. Peggy Schneider says:

    I was in the Twin Cities yesterday and had time after the Minnesota Woodworkers Guild seminar wrapped up, so I stopped into Ikea for the first (and last) time. I didn’t find the free tapes. Ninety nine percent of the items I picked up were made in China. Even the Ikea chocolate was made in Spain. The meatballs were so so. I ended up buying a pillow for the cats and just shaking my head a lot. Sigh.

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