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The 4 Most Popular Calculators for Construction

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When you got into the construction business, chances are you were passionate about building stuff, not math. And yet, there aren’t many industries as numbers-heavy as construction, and as a construction manager, you just have to deal with that.

Calculators for Construction

That’s why you need a good construction calculator. They’re portable and, unlike regular calculators, they’re built specifically to solve construction math problems.

There are a variety of options out there, doing a range of tasks from measurements to materials estimates.

It’s tough finding the right tools to run your construction business, and construction calculators are no exception. Which one should you choose? Or should you go with multiple calculators? That depends on what you want to get done.

I’ve combed through a selection of construction calculators and have reviewed the four most popular with reviewers at Amazon. They’re listed below in alphabetical order.

1. Construction Master Pro

(Image via Calculated Industries)

You’ll see Calculated Industries products a few times on this list, as the company appears to dominate the niche market of construction calculators. The Construction Master Pro is its flagship model when it comes to general construction calculators.

This device covers a wide range of activities associated with construction, from building to framing to concrete work. It features framing functions to “solve for irregular and regular hip/valley and jack rafters plus rake walls and cutting angles.”

But it’s not just for measurements. You can also use it to calculate how much material you need, the volume of an excavation project, and even how many truckloads you need.

If you have trouble converting between feet, inches, decimals, and fractions, this calculator has you covered on that, and it can even convert distances and areas on scaled maps and drawings into lengths and areas.

Another feature is its “paperless” tape that allows you to review the previous 20 entries so you can double-check your totals for accuracy.

There are other versions of this calculator, depending on your needs. Calculated Industries also offers the Construction Master Pro Trig and the Construction Master Pro Desktop.

What Amazon reviewers say:

“For so many years I would have to break down fractions into decimals to use them on my calculator then turn that decimal back into a fraction that I can actually use on my measuring tools. … Being able to do everything on the calculator makes my time in the shop much more enjoyable and it makes projects go a lot faster. I know these calculators have many uses, but I highly recommend it to any advanced wood worker.” — Elijah Stephens

“If you do any work with construction like cement pads, carpentry, even conversions, get this little jewel for the farm or work shop. I played with it for days then used it to order concrete for a new barn pad which I squared up with it first. Waste of concrete was negligible. Also used it for truss lengths in the barn repair. I do recommend sitting down with it, reading the manual and running through the examples to really learn the power it has.” — Wildlife

2. Jobber 6 Construction Calculator

(Image via Jobber 6)

This highly regarded calculator may look simple, but don’t underestimate its power, as it can do both basic and complex construction math and convert between U.S. and metric units.

For anyone who finds their eyes glazing over when faced with a massive array of buttons, the Jobber 6 has a keypad that is color-coded and grouped according to the functions of each button.

Like the Construction Master Pro, it’s able to recall previous entries to check for accuracy, going back as many as 16 entries with an additional six memory slots.

It’s a small device, weighing just 8 ounces and only 5 and a half inches in length.

The Jobber 6 is good for quickly calculating measurements for stairways, roofs, square ups, and just about anything else on the job site, but you can quickly transition to more advanced calculations like trigonometry if need be.

Interestingly, unlike other construction calculators, it provides a numeric range of 0-15.

What Amazon reviewers say:

“I am a detailer for a steel fabrication company and this is the only calculator that I will use. It does everything I need to do! I would recommend this to anybody who is looking for this type of calculator.” — shelby331

“I have been job using Jobbers since original, 2, 3, 4, 5 and the best of the best 6 for some 25 years. Retired now but I still keep a Jobber 6 on hand. Jobber 6 is the one to have.” — Charles A.

3. Materials Estimating Calculator

(Image via Calculated Industries)

Many construction calculators have some functions for estimating materials, but this calculator is exclusively focused on that task. Considering how much money you could lose by getting materials estimates wrong, this little yellow device could save you a bundle if you struggle with those calculations.

It has buttons labeled “Concrete,” “Gravel,” “Tile,” and others so you can quickly make calculations based on a specific materials.

This device is meant to help you quickly and easily calculate all costs and allowances so you buy the right amount of material no matter what the project.

For example, you can use the calculator to determine the number of tiles you need based on both the total area and the width of the grout, and you can convert that figure into yards, feet, inches, fractions, and meters — or even into square and cubic formats.

What Amazon reviewers say:

“What is 25 feet 7 inches divided by three? Of course you could do this calculation by hand – 25 feet times 12 plus 7 divided by three, then convert back to feet/inches, but this thing does it with a few clicks, and is accurate, and has a scrolling memory so it is it wins out over the manual method. It also does many other calculations and has a handy pouch for the manual and a integrated cover to protect it from dirt and spills. The yellow case is a nice touch so you can find it quick in a pile of tools.” — Michael Kolesnik

“I use this every day. A boss at a previous job bought me my first one, but I had to leave it behind when I changed jobs. Of course I immediately bought an identical one. Sure you can get a phone app that does the same things, but this is much more handy than a touch screen in a dirty greasy filthy dusty shop environment. And you can actually press the buttons with shop gloves on.” — Douglas Patton

4. Scale Master Pro

(Image via Calculated Industries)

This is a bit different from your standard calculator, but it’s no less important for any construction manager that wants fast and accurate area and volume takeoffs from blueprints and drawings.

The calculator has 72 built-in scales, including six custom scales that let you define any scale from plans that have been reduced, faxed, or are just otherwise out of scale. One reviewer even said this is the whole reason he bought the calculator.

This calculator is specifically designed for contractors, landscapers, plumbers, and anyone else that has to deal with lots of plans and blueprints. It can find linear measurements of any shape, which it can convert between scales and dimensions.

It has other features, like “two built-in memories; dedicated length, width, and height keys; push-button counter to keep track of items while rolling; switch for locking in mode, scale, and units while rolling; and a subtract key that allows you to deduct rolled distances,” according to the product’s description.

What Amazon reviewers say:

“I can fly through prints as an estimator with this thing. The wheel is adjustable, I liked that. It has a bunch of different functions I’ll never use and tons of scales. Really makes a huge difference when I’m measuring up walls and great for when things are curved. They sent me two extra batteries and an extra wheel. Wish I bought this a long time ago.” — Nicky Nacks

“I have been a civil engineer construction inspector for a total of 40 years now. 35 years with our local County and now five years in the private sector with several engineering firms. This instrument has been very helpful with me in the field. I can get a quick plan measurement without having to carry a 12 inch rule. Fits neatly in my pocket. Great new tool.” — Dan Durham

What’s sitting on your desk?

If you’re in the construction industry, you have to crunch numbers on a regular basis. So what are you using right now to do the job? If you’re just using a regular calculator, tell us about the problems you run into in the comments below. If you’ve got a construction calculator that you like, let us know what functions you find useful and what you’d like to see improved.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Dan Taylor

Dan is a content writer at Capterra, specializing in hotel management, construction and real estate. Outside the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, catching up with the latest offering from HBO or paying a visit to a new place.

Comments

Thanks for this article you helped me decide….just ordered the Construction Master Pro

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