Being able to take measurements without using a ruler or tape measure is a useful skill to have because there are often times when you need to understand a measurement when there isn’t a measuring tool nearby. For instance, 4 inches is the same as 10.16 centimeters (101.6 millimeters), but that won’t help you understand this short length, will it?
However, if you know the length of some common everyday items, then you can turn almost anything into a measuring tool.
Here, we will look at eleven common things that are 4 inches long and ways you can create 4-inch measurements with common objects. From stationery to body parts, this guide will help you visualize short measurements without tools like a measuring tape.
4 Paper Clips
Small paper clips measure one inch in length, so if you have a pack handy, then you can measure any small length in inches by lining up these clips in a row, end to end.
To get a measurement of four inches, you would need four small clips, but you could measure any length so long as you had enough paper clips. Be sure to keep the paper clips in a row in a straight line to get the most accurate measurement. If you only have the larger size of paper clips, then these can work too.
Large office paper clips measure two inches in length, so you could use two of these to get a four-inch length. You could also use large clips to measure something of nearly any length of inches that is divisible by two.
A Credit Card
A standard debit card (as well as a credit card or most official cards) measures 3.375 inches long and 2.125 inches wide. It’s a thin and compact rectangular piece of plastic that is designed to fit in a wallet or purse.
By lining up a credit card horizontally with an object and marking the spot where the card ends, you can estimate the length of the object. Of course, this method is not as accurate as using a measuring tape, but in a pinch, a credit card can be a useful tool for rough measurements.
A Popsicle Stick
Craft popsicle sticks used for frozen desserts are a good tool to measure approximately 4 inches with because they have a standard size of just over 4 inches long.
The average popsicle stick measures 4.45 inches, so these aren’t ideal for measuring exact lengths, but they are good for mental visualization if you want to get an idea in your head of what 4 inches would roughly look like.
A Toilet Paper Roll
Toilet paper rolls are a standard size that is very close to 4 inches, making these an unusual yet handy measuring tool. The exact length of a toilet paper roll is 3.7 inches, so they are just shy of the target length of 4 inches.
They are very useful, though, because most people have access to a toilet paper roll, so if you are really struggling to figure out what 4 inches would look like, then simply head to a bathroom.
You could also line up toilet paper rolls if you wanted to measure a longer length divisible by 4, such as 8 inches, 12 inches, and 16 inches.
A quarter, or a 25-cent piece, is a coin that has a diameter measurement of one inch (0.955 inches, to be precise). This makes it an ideal tool for measuring distances if you don’t have a proper measuring device, such as a ruler or tape measure.
With a selection of quarters, you could measure any amount of inches. To make our goal length of 4 inches, you would just need to line up 4 quarters in a straight row.
2 Golf Tees
You can use sports equipment to get an accurate measurement of things. For instance, a golf tee measures 2 inches tall (2.125 inches to be exact)(. Just place 2 of them together, and you can measure 4 inches with ease. It may be slightly longer than 4 inches, but it should help measure objects that are around that length.
If you have more golf tees, you could continue lining them up to create any length that is divisible by 2, such as 6 inches, 8 inches, 10 inches, and so on.
While we’re on the subject of golf, you might as well whip a few golf balls out of your bag. They can come in handy as makeshift tools for measuring small objects since they’re only about 1.68 inches in diameter.
So, to measure things of about 4 inches, you can place 2 golf balls next to each other and guesstimate the remaining 0.64 inches, or you can use 3 golf balls and visually subtract the extra 1 inch or so.
An Average Hand Width
The width of an average person’s hand is 4 inches. To measure the width of your hand, you can go from the knuckle of your forefinger across to the knuckle of your pinky or measure right across the palm of your hand at its widest point, but not including the thumb.
If you are known to have small hands or large hands, then you won’t be the best candidate for using hands as a comparison for a 4-inch measurement without a ruler, and instead, maybe you could borrow the hand of a family member or friend who is nearby.
The best way to judge if a person will have average-sized hands is to base this on their height. People of average height, which is around 5 and a half feet, will have average-sized hands. You can also use your thumbs to measure lengths if you find this easier.
The average person’s thumb is one inch long, so you could move your thumb along the edge of an item to measure distances in multiples of an inch. For 4 inches, just repeat the size of your thumb length four times over.
A Business Envelope
A standard business envelope measures 4.125 inches wide and 9.5 inches long. This means if you want to get a somewhat accurate 4-inch measurement, just look at the smallest edge of a business envelope or fold the envelope in half and you will have a perfect square that measures 4 inches along each side.
The humble crayon may be small, measuring just about 3.5 inches in length, but it has the power to ignite creativity in both kids and adults alike. Its wax core delivers vibrant color to paper, leaving a mark that can bring drawings to life. But did you know that a crayon can also serve as a makeshift measuring tool?
By using a single crayon, you can approximate a length of about 4 inches. So, not only is a crayon a tool for artistic expression, it’s also a versatile instrument that can assist with basic measurements.
A baseball is a small but mighty object, measuring 2.86 to 2.94 inches in diameter. With its iconic white leather cover and red stitching, it’s easy to recognize. But this unassuming sphere packs a punch – it’s the heart and soul of America’s favorite pastime, and has been entertaining fans and athletes for over a century.
One baseball isn’t enough to get you to 4 inches, and two baseballs will get you beyond that length. So, do your due diligence to ensure that you’re getting the correct measurements using this classic sports ball.