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Thread: Beall Tilt Box Angle Gauge Review

  1. #1

    Beall Tilt Box Angle Gauge Review



    A few weeks ago there was a thread on another forum about the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge, (one of many) and in that thread there was mention of a competing product called the, "Beall Tilt Box". I had just purchased the Wixey but I really wanted to see how the Beall compared to it. I ordered one and figured I'd return whichever unit I liked less. Here's the Beall Tilt Box http://www.bealltool.com/products/measuring/tiltbox.php


    Appearance: When I got the Tilt Box from Beall the first thing I noticed was that it feels much more substantial than the Wixey. It's a little bit larger but the case is made out of metal instead of plastic. Also, it uses a 9v battery so that also would contribute to the extra weight.

    The magnets are on the side of the box instead of the bottom. This means that when you zero the box it's not stuck to the table surface and you keep it upright when you stick it to the saw blade or other vertical surface. Obviously, when the saw blade is straight up and down, (90 degrees to the table) the Beall will read, "0.00 degrees". The Wixey magnets are on the bottom of the unit so you have to turn the unit on it's side to stick it to the saw blade. The Wixey readout is then sideways. No big deal but they are different in that respect.

    It has two buttons, one for power and one to zero it and to switch between functions. Switching between functions is another difference between the Beall and the Wixey. When you first turn the Beall on it goes into, "Absolute level" mode. You can use it like you would use a very short bubble level. According to the instructions you can recalibrate it easily too. Push the zero button again and it goes to, "Relative level" mode and zero itself. Pushing this button toggles the unit back and forth between the two modes. In order to re zero the unit for relative level mode you have to push the button twice. Once to take it back to absolute level and then again back to relative level. Another difference is that the Beall display goes to two decimal places to the right of zero whereas the Wixey only goes to one. But the second decimal place on the Beall only reads a zero or a 5. Still, that can potentially add a little more precision. More on that later. The other difference between the two boxes is how they measure the angles. The Wixey uses an internal pendulum while the Beall doesn't. I spoke to J.R. Beall and he told me it uses an electronic method instead of a mechanical pendulum but I don't know much more about how it functions than that. They definitely work using a different principal.

    Function: I wasn't too thrilled with the first Beall Tilt Box I received. Apparently it had only been available for a couple of weeks and there was a bug or two in the first ones shipped out. It was too hard to push the zero button and get the reading to actually read, "Zero". It would read .1 or .05 some of the time. I really had to work to keep from moving the box even slightly while zeroing it. When I called and talked to J.R. Beall he explained that the buttons on the one I received were harder to push than their second batch and that he would send me out a new one right away. He didn't even wait for me to send the first one back. I received it a few days later and there is definitely a difference between the two. It's easier to push the buttons on the new one because they stick out slightly farther. Therefore it's easier to keep from moving the box while it's being zeroed.

    One thing is certain, the Beall is definitely more sensitive to movement than the Wixey. I've used them both side by side and you do have to be a little more careful not to move the Beall when you zero it. But after playing with it for a little while it was easy to zero it on the first try 9 times out of 10. It seems to, "Calm down" a bit after it's been on for a minute or two and J.R. Beall suggested that I turn it on right before I need it, presumably to let the electronics inside settle down a bit. Still, it's not hard to zero it at all even when it's just turned on.

    I tested both the Beall and the Wixey side by side in a few different tests. First I set them both on my jointer table and zeroed them. I then picked them up and set them back down in the same spot. Both units went back to zero and I tried this several times. I then compared them on the face of my jointer fence. They both showed the fence to be right at 90 degrees to the table. I guess my Harbor Freight engineering squares are at least as accurate as both of these electronic boxes. On one end of my fence, which apparently has a very slight twist to it, the Wixey read 90.1 and the Beall read .05. Close enough to show me that they are both reading about the same thing, only the Beall is able to read a little more precisely.

    The final test I did was on my table saw. I zeroed both gauges on the table top next to the blade. I didn't place them on the MDF zero clearance insert I have because it's slightly scratched up and both gauges could rock slightly. The table top is smooth and clean and both gauges could sit flat to zero. I put both gauges onto the blade. They both indicated that the blade is right at 90 degrees to the table. The Wixey read 90.0 and the Beall read 0.00. Another accurate setup. I then cranked the blade over until the it hit the 45 degree stop. I guess due to sawdust buildup the stop allowed for a slight variance of a few tenths of a degree depending on how hard I cranked on the handle. But when one gauge read 45 degrees the other did too. I took both gauges off of the tilted blade and set them back onto the table. Both read zero again and then back onto the tilted blade. Both read 45 again. I cranked the blade back to it's 90 degrees to the table position and we were right back where we started. I repeated this test several times and both gauges were consistent. The only difference was that right before reaching 45 degrees the Beall would read 44.95 while the Wixey already read 45.0 When I cranked slightly farther the Beall then read 45.00 and the Wixey still read 45.0. To me this showed that that extra .05 reading of the Beall might be useful. But since both gauges have a claimed accuracy of +-.1 degrees it's arguable that this slight difference really doesn't matter.

    So what's the real difference between the two in my mind? I like the Beall better because: 1) it's made of metal instead of plastic. 2) A 9V batter is easier to find and probably cheaper than the smaller one on the Wixey. 3) I like the magnets on the side of the unit a little better than on the bottom. The readout is a little easier to read this way. 4) It's slightly larger. That won't make a huge difference but being a little larger I figure it might sit more consistently on a slightly uneven surface. This one's debatable but I thought I'd list it anyway. 5) It's a little more sensitive than the Wixey. This may be a negative for someone who doesn't have a steady hand but after a few minutes of playing with it I could zero it just about as easily as the Wixey. The advantage of the increased sensitivity shows up with the .05 decimal place and I saw the difference on both my TS saw blade and on the slight twist of my jointer fence. 6) Beall Tool Company has an 800 phone number and it's really easy to talk to J.R. Beal, the owner and inventor. Wixey doesn't offer any phone number at all and can only be reached by email. Mr. Wixey has been fairly quick to answer my emails though but a phone call, (even if it's not free) is much better in my opinion. 7) Both companies offer a good product and the end function of both units is very close. The Beall does offer a few differences that I consider to be improvements. They both retail at about $40. I've only had customer service with the Beall company and it was outstanding but I've heard that Wixey offers good customer service too. But without any phone number available I see the ease of resolving any problem or getting an answer to a question relying only on email, and I much prefer a phone call. Probably not a big deal to some people though. It's just my personal preference.

    Bottom line: In a few minutes I'm leaving to go down to the UPS store with 2 boxes to be shipped. One will contain the first Beall Tilt Box that I received, (I like the second one much better ) and the second box will contain the Wixey which is on it's way back to Woodcraft. I would have been happy with the Wixey if I had never heard of the Beall Tilt Box but now that I've tried them both I prefer the Beall. I don't think many people will be unhappy with the Wixey either but since I have to send one back I'll keep the one that I see as having the advantage. YMMV, of course.

    Bruce

  2. #2
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    Bruce,

    Thanks for a great review. When I think about one of these only being a bit more than a small metal 90 / 45 setup block I guess I'm sold. Nice to hear the differences.
    I am familiar with modern idioms but they are outside the vocabulary of what I want to say.

    - George Dyson (composer)



  3. #3
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    Nicely done write-up. I noticed Beall's site says the $40 is a (special introductory offer). Talking to the owner, did he mention what it's going to be when the intro offer stops? Just curious how they're going to compare to Wixey's on that point.
    Use the fence Luke

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the review. I was just going to order a Wixey tonight when I read your review. I will go with the Beall and let others know how I like it. Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    Bruce,

    Thanks for a great review. When I think about one of these only being a bit more than a small metal 90 / 45 setup block I guess I'm sold. Nice to hear the differences.

    Agreed about the price. For either brand, $40 for something that works so well and is so versatile is a bargain. People have payed a lot more, (people like me) for tools that are a lot less useful.

    Bruce

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Shepard View Post
    Nicely done write-up. I noticed Beall's site says the $40 is a (special introductory offer). Talking to the owner, did he mention what it's going to be when the intro offer stops? Just curious how they're going to compare to Wixey's on that point.
    Doug, I didn't notice that detail about the pricing nor did I ask J.R. about it. But when I showed both tools to a mechanic friend of mine who believes in only buying the best tools for his shop, he questioned why the Beall was the same price as the Wixey. He said he would expect the Beall to cost more. It may or may not really be an important point for a tool that measures angles but the Beall really feels and looks more substantial than the Wixey and it does have the, "Absolute level" feature along with the extra decimal place. Those features may not be important to some people or even most people but you are getting a little bit more for your money. Knowing what I know now, I would probably pay $20 more for the Beall than the Wixey if I had to do it over again.

    I own a $25 or $30 fractional dial caliper that I love and it's worked beautifully. Or, I could've payed more two or three times that amount for one that nearly identical only it has the, "Starrett" name on it. I don't believe that it's any more accurate or precise and it's not likely to be any more durable. With these two digital angle gauges there is actually a few differences between the two. Maybe not enough to pay more for one or the other for some people but that's just a matter of personal opinion I guess. I would always rather pay less and get more if I can but that's just the cheap skate in me talking.

    Bruce

  7. #7
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    Bruce, that's an excellent review. Thank you for sharing your results.
    Don Bullock
    Woebgon Bassets
    AKC Championss

    The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
    -- Edward John Phelps

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Warren View Post
    Thanks for the review. I was just going to order a Wixey tonight when I read your review. I will go with the Beall and let others know how I like it. Thanks again.

    I hope you like it and I would make the same choice as you if I hadn't already bought one. But to be honest, both companies make a very nice product and I don't think anyone would be disappointed with either gauge for such a cheap price. But since I want the most for my money I decided to keep the Beall.

    Bruce

  9. #9
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    I just orderd the Beall. I hope that mine works as good as yours Bruce. I had decided not to buy any more woodworking stuff this month and now look at what you did. I just kept thinking how handy it would be to have something like this.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Bookout View Post
    I just orderd the Beall. I hope that mine works as good as yours Bruce. I had decided not to buy any more woodworking stuff this month and now look at what you did. I just kept thinking how handy it would be to have something like this.
    Sorry Allen! I'm sort of in the same boat. I can't really afford new tools. Heck, I can't even afford new wood! But this was cheap and I have several uses other than for the table saw. Actually I don't use my TS much anymore because I use the EZ instead. But the TS isn't it's only use.

    Bruce

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Benjamin View Post
    Actually I don't use my TS much anymore because I use the EZ instead.

    Bruce
    This brings up a question. Can the Beall angle finder be used to square my blade on my circular saw when setting on a rail and using the antichip insert when using the EZ? May be underneath with a full debth of cut set? I don't know if there is enough blade surface available to make it work as I have not used one yet. I know that my cuts are not perfectly ninety degrees as when I am pulling the pieces together with pocket hole screws the wood pieces are not pulled together at a perfect ninety degree angle. I was hoping to avoid a bunch of trial and error.

    I hate to even respond to any EZ stuff as I do not want this to get crazy.
    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 05-15-2007 at 9:54 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Bookout View Post
    This brings up a question. Can the Beall angle finder be used to square my blade on my circular saw when setting on a rail and using the antichip insert when using the EZ? May be underneath with a full debth of cut set? I don't know if there is enough blade surface available to make it work as I have not used one yet. I know that my cuts are not perfectly ninety degrees as when I am pulling the pieces together with pocket hole screws the wood pieces are not pulled together at a perfect ninety degree angle. I was hopeing to avoid a bunch of trial and error.

    I hate to even respond to any EZ stuff as I do not want this to get crazy.

    Allen, I really haven't had the time or the wood to do any projects since I bought this tool. But checking the blade on my Hilti while it's on the EZ rail is something I had planned to check. I don't see why it shouldn't work fine. There might be a detail or two to figure out to make sure I get good results but I don't see any reason why it won't work. So far, however, I haven't had any problems getting perfect cuts with my EZ/Hilti combo. I was more planning on using it to set the saw for perfect bevels.

    Bruce

  13. #13
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    Bruce
    I only asked about the pricing as I'd hate their business to never get off the ground (competition is a good thing) because the Wixey was eating all their sales due to lower prices. If I didn't already have a Wixey (a Christmas present) I'd probably pay more for the Beall too based on your review, but a lot of people are going to percieve them as being pretty equivalent and just go for whichever is cheaper. Here's hoping that their non-Intro pricing isn't so much higher than the Wixey that this doesn't put them out of the game.
    Use the fence Luke

  14. #14

    Correction

    I want to correct an error I found in my review. I listed one of the advantages of the Beall as it having a metal case and that the Wixey is plastic. What I meant to say was that the Beall is all metal, (Except for the readout face) and the Wixey is metal with a plastic front and back. The sides are metal. Sorry.

    Bruce

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Bullock View Post
    Bruce, that's an excellent review. Thank you for sharing your results.
    I'll second that!

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