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Thread: Calipers, Digital Dial?

  1. #1
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    Calipers, Digital Dial?

    The chair making classes I have taken so far have tested round straight and tapered tenons for correct size with a ruler or simple mechanical calipers. I had a hard time telling how much more needed to be removed by trying to fit a mechanical caliper over the tenons I was turning on a lathe. There is quite a large selection of digital dial calipers available for around $30. The Starrett model is about 3x the cost and seems to have the exact same scales. The time savings and peace of mind one of these devices could provide seems to suggest one would be more than worth the cost. I imagine these calipers provide at least as accurate a measurement as I can come up with trying to measure the distances with a ruler or ruler and mechanical caliper? I believe it would be handy to be able to check outside stock dimensions, mortise dimensions, tenon dimensions, inside groove dimensions....I'm sure the measurements would be much easier, faster and less strain on the brain.

    Peter Galbert came up with a caliper design that Benchmade now makes for turners. I believe this devise is specifically made to work in the groove made in turnings with a parting tool. For twice the money and a fraction of the uses though I think a digital caliper would provide a great deal more general woodworking utility?
    Last edited by Mike Holbrook; 03-29-2015 at 12:50 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi Mike

    A calliper for me is a general purpose tool, not just for turning. For the past number of years I have sworn by the Mitutoyo Absolute range of digital calipers. The model I use is #500-197-20

    I managed to find a couple on eBay quite cheaply, as these are expensive (more so than Starrett? I am not sure). The important features are that they have a long battery life and always return to the zero position on closing. They are reliable - which is all-important when measuring small numbers.

    You must take care with these on eBay since there are a number of fakes around, made in China. I suspect one I purchased was as it has stopped working. The other soldiers on.

    Anyway, I decided to buy a second digital calliper, and in my searchings discovered that Wexey make one. This has the additional feature of having imperial fractions, which is very useful. And cheap! http://wixey.com/calipers/index.html

    I've been using the Wexey for some months now and it have been very reliable and easy to use.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 03-29-2015 at 1:40 AM.

  3. #3
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    This is only my opinionů

    The Galbert caliper is a great design. My turning has not gotten to the point of needing such a device at this time, but maybe someday.

    Having a caliper that reads to .001" has many uses in a shop. My preference is a dial as opposed to a digital readout. Another option is a vernier readout.

    Outside stock dimensions are usually checked with my metal bench caliper that reads to 1/32".

    For mortise, tenons, grooves and such it is easier/faster to check against the mating part or to make a go no go gauge from a piece of scrap.

    For measuring tenons on a lathe SAE or metric wrenches can be used. For making bench dogs a 3/4" (19mm) wrench or 18mm for some European benches.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Mitutoyo are pretty much the 'gold standard' when it comes to digital calipers, and they are definitely not cheap. I have the 6" 500-7680-10 and they were over $160. They cost so much it seems that sometimes I am afraid to use them....

    I also have the Wixey - but they give me problems every now and then and I find them hard to turn on. In that price range ($30-$40) I like my IGaging set better. The display is bigger and they will also do fractions. (They also got much better reviews on Amazon compared to the Wixey)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  5. #5
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    Digital vs Dial.

    I have both varieties in Vernier Callipers and Dial Indicators. Some old school people swear by the dial callipers as the batteries in the Digital versions can often die just when you need the device the most. With ageing eyes, the Digital Callipers are infinitely easier to use but the accuracy on some of the cheaper ones may not be up to scratch for machinists but for woodworking they are perfect.

    You can't go wrong with the iGaging Digital Vernier Calliper sold on Amazon. It's probably only $40.

    For turning you get those inside and outside callipers in Digital too and again, I doubt you need 6 digit after the zero accuracy for wood.

    iGaging even has a nice set comprising of a Digital Vernier Calliper plus a Digital Micrometer.
    "If you have all your fingers, you can convert to Metric"

  6. #6
    All you need to know is here:


  7. #7
    I have several which I've collected over the years. 6" Starrett bought in 1970, 6" long jaw Fowlers, 12" Mitotoyo, and one of the cheap $30 digitals. All except the cheapos are dial type. I actually use the digitals the most for a single simple reason. It is easier for me to remember the reading when it is graphically displayed in almost 1/2" high digits than it is to remember the location/reading of the dial type. What that really says is that I am a visually oriented person. As for any caliper returning to zero, I've always found that when it doesn't happen it is the result of dust or small debris left on the inside of the jaws.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  8. #8
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    I have only ever used DIAL calipers. It is easy to interpolate to a 1/4 thousandth with them. On a dial caliper you are stuck with a 1/2 thou reading. Plus,batteries go bad. The Starretts were,at least,bad battery eaters. I hope they have improved them.

    The Mitutoyo are likely the most reliable of the commonly available types. Certainly their dial calipers have held up very well.

    Unless you have a very good sense of touch,and your calipers are properly adjusted, they are not all that accurate anyway. In things like fitting bearings,better use micrometers. Most of the time I use my dial calipers,though.I'm not rebuilding engines.

    I have an excellent Peacock dial caliper. When Enco,several years ago,started selling the Peacock brand again,I got all excited and ordered one. It turned out to be complete junk,though. The grinding was very rough. I sent it back. Too bad this nice brand must have been bought out by junk peddlers. Worse than anything Harbor Freight ever offered.

    My Starrett DIAL calipers are good also. But,I'll warn you that the first Starrett I had was way off on the internal measurement side. I had to send it back for repair. When I got it back,it was STILL way off. Finally,they sent me a new one. I have no idea how those calipers got out of their factory TWICE(even after special attention). Brown and Sharpe have been made by a variety of makers over the years. I think they are French made now. Used to be Swiss made,I think. They are o.k..

  9. #9
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    I abandoned my digital calipers or turned them into other tools:

    depth-gauge-2-003.jpg

    They're just too fussy for me for a lot of woodworking tasks. I find an easy to read dial quicker and easier as I rarely try to machine wood to 1/128"; I do that by hand. I do deal in imperial in the shop for therapeutic reasons and use the 1/64" tick mark dials with good success.
    "What kind of chump do you take me for?"
    "First class."

  10. #10
    I've used a Mitutoyo 500-196 for more than 10 years. I frequently use the metric scale so the digital option is perfect for me. Back then I believe I paid about $130.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  11. #11
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    It's very tough without a lot of practice to get accurate measurement with the classic outside mechanical/contact callipers.

    Another with Mitutoyo here, digital in this case out of circumstances (and it's been rock solid reliable and given fabulous battery life) for years. I was brought up on and feel a vernier type is the most reliable of all - very little scope to go wrong. A nifty accessory was a simple clamp on aluminium cross bar that attaches to the end of the scale that turns it into a much more useable depth gauge: http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster...uge-attachment (some of the budget ones don't have the central sliding bar that enables this)

    Wary of the various cheap brands, but some seem OK. I have a Wixey branded one that gets used for rough knock about (and to be fair it seems perfectly reliable for woodworking type dimensions), but as above it's much harder on batteries.

    This may sound a bit daft, but feeling the need for an easy means of getting accurate much larger measurements at times i took a chance and bought an Indian made 600mm verner callipers off EBay for about €80 (more now) plus postage - thinking it'd probably be rubbish. http://tiny.cc/5ph9vx It turned out to be a great buy, although who knows if they are all like that or not.

    Spent months trying to buy a used Mitutoyo in the UK, but kept on getting beaten out by tool dealers. The Indian model seems to be spot on. It's actually quite well made, and while the screws securing the bronze strips in the back of the head that control the fit on the scale needed minor filing to sort a fit issue it's otherwise been fine. It doesn't have quite the silky feel of a Mitutoyo, and the box wasn't up to much - but it's fine in use and perfectly functional...
    Last edited by ian maybury; 03-29-2015 at 9:45 AM.

  12. #12
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    It doesn't have the silky feeling of the Mitutoyo,but you don't notice". Sounds like you DID notice!!!

  13. #13
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    Errm, well… yes George. Just not the $600 or whatever a Mitutoyo in that size would cost worth of notice i guess.

    There seem to be some large size electronic models about at reasonable money too, i never got to check one out...

  14. #14
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    As with George when I worked in the machine shop we almost never used digital calipers, but rather used micrometers for everything. So I have one in my shop now for tool related purpose, the digital calipers seem quite fine for woodworking.

    I have an iGaging from Lee Valley that works well. I am transferring measurements using the same gauge, so slight inconsistency compared to absolute measurements is not so important, this was a practice I picked up at the machine shop as well, we always used the same gauge to measure parts that were going to work as an assembly or use one gauge as the standard. Not super critical for woodwork, but good practice is good practice.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  15. #15
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    I am transferring measurements using the same gauge, so slight inconsistency compared to absolute measurements is not so important, this was a practice I picked up at the machine shop as well, we always used the same gauge to measure parts that were going to work as an assembly or use one gauge as the standard. Not super critical for woodwork, but good practice is good practice.
    When I worked in a print shop we would do this with layouts and the tape measures or yardsticks we used. They all had disagreements at some point or another.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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