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Caliper/micro-meter recommendations

19 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hello Yodas,

Now that I have graduated grade school and moving up to my next level of building, its time for the all important accurate measurements.

What caliper micrometer do you suggest?

I prefer analog but am open to digital.

To me, digital is not "if it will break", but "when it will break".

But I'm open to digital as it's about whatever works well.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by aurfalien

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Posted (edited)

No expert on these, but when I used them for work we had analog Mitutoyos. Looked and Amazon sells the 6-inch model for about $98.

I have a couple cheap calipers. One is a plastic (nylon, I think) and analog. The other is steel and digital and came from Aldi of all places. They were $10, and ended up getting cleared out for $5! I'm guessing they aren't nearly as good as Mitutoyos, but for what I use them for they are fine.

I find I usually use the digital ones, and they're nice because you can toggle between inches and metric at the touch of a button. I take the battery out  when i'm done using them...read someplace the cheap ones, at least, tend to run down the batteries because "Off" isn't really off.

Edited by Don Sikora II

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Posted (edited)

 

...I prefer analog but am open to digital.

To me, digital is not "if it will break", but "when it will break".

But I'm open to digital as it's about whatever works well.

In general, I agree that some digital equipment is overly complex and can be failure prone. All my micrometers are old-school Central and Starrett analogs.

That said, I've had a Mitutoyo digital caliper since 1995, and it's still going strong. It lives with my mill and lathe, where repeatable precision is really important. I also have several cheap ($20 or less) Chinese knockoffs that I keep in various toolboxes at the places I work most, and on the model-car bench, and they ALL are still functioning just fine, with some being more than 10 years old. You DO have to replace the batteries every two years or so, more often if you use them really frequently.

The GREAT thing about digital is that almost ALL of them have buttons to switch the display from inch-decimal to metric. This can be really handy, because 1 mm = about one SCALE inch in 1/25. For example, say you're building a roll bar. Rather than having to convert 2" to scale, or .080" actual, if you're going through unlabeled styrene rod or tube, all you need to do is open the tool to 2 mm on the metric scale, and then measure your pile of styrene by the go / no go method. OR press the display button to convert to inch-decimal, about .080", and you can run to the store and buy a pack of .080" styrene.

I actually like to use analog dial calipers, but you need to spend more money to get a GOOD one, as the tiny and precise internal parts are less likely to be well-made in el-cheapos.

 

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted

I've used the Harbor Freight digital calipers for at least the past two years. They are perfect for scaling on my 3d printed projects. 

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Posted

I don't use those kind of tools as all my builds are done by "eyeball engineering."

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Posted

...I had some free Amazon points and got this one cuz I liked the colors :)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L7C6AZ8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

What's REALLY slick about that one is the fractional conversion on the display. I haven't seen that in a low-priced unit before. If the repeatability is really half a thou, as noted in the specs, it's good enough for just about anything short of all-out racing engines.

Gonna get me one too.  :D

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Posted

I have had an analog Mitutoyo since around 1990, when my (then) employer bought digital. It's a great caliper, but the crystal fell off. I found a place to repair it on Long Island. They mention that they do not repair any Chinese calipers. I found out why, for at least one brand. It was in the consignment section at the LHS. The rack does does come out. Forget repair, it can't even be taken apart for cleaning. I mail-ordered an ancient German caliper. It felt a little "gummy", so I took it apart and cleaned it. Now it works like new. Having said that, a cheap Chinese caliper should work just fine for building static display models. We're not building working engines.

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Posted

I have been using a $20 Stainless Steel Digital 6" caliper from Harbor Freight for over 10 years now.  Initially I did give it a bit of a tuneup as it didn't have smooth action, but other than that, all I change in it is the batteries. I'm suspect  that it uses the same electronics as the expensive brand-name calipers.  Hey, if it breaks and I can't fix it, I'lljust get another one for $20 (r even less if I catch one on sale).  Actually, don't tell anybody, but I already bought a spare (just in case). :)

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Posted

I've got a couple digital slide calipers from Loews. Had them for about what 10 years. Replace the battery every couple years and never an issue 

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Posted

Hi and thank you all.

I had some free Amazon points and got this one cuz I liked the colors :)

Pretty good customer reviews as well.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L7C6AZ8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I think you made a good choice there. I will have to get one for myself. My Mitutoyo dial caliper literally came out of the trash, and it is time for an upgrade.

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Posted

Ok, here is a little advise that most people(machinist included) don't know.  Starrett has a repair facility in Massachusetts. They will repair any of their tools for a reasonable price to like new condition and re-certify the accuracy to a new standard.  I have a lot of broken Starrett tools that I have picked up off the internet really cheap and had them repaired. With shipping and repair cost you will almost always be less that half the cost of new and I have always been very satisfied. 

 I use my 8" dial calipers all the time and love them.  There is a difference in Starrett or Mitutoyo tools that is worth paying the price for.  Yes, you can get a cheap pair from the swap meet or Harbor Freight but it you have that and a Starrett pair in you hand, you will immediately know the difference.  The good ones are very smooth and easy to adjust.  Since you now need accuracy, spend the money.  

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Posted

I can only add to what Pete recommended.  I've a few different Starrett measuring devices and had need to have one of them checked / cleaned.  Sent it to the factory and for a very reasonable price they did their voodoo and sent it back as good as new.  Can't beat their tools for accuracy would be my only other insight.   Cheers, Tim

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Posted

It would appear that the terms micrometer and caliper are being used interchangeably...not true. They are two completely different devices.

A micrometer looks like a lower-case "d" (or a "b", if flipped over); it can also remind one of a capital "P". Calipers remind me of a vise, opening or closing to obtain a measurement.

A micrometer, dollar for dollar, will provide a more accurate measure of an outside dimension (or thickness of a piece of material) than calipers; calipers, however, can also provide in inside dimension.

Just my two cents worth.

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Posted

Starrett is the de-facto tool for professional machinists. I have some of their items (like steel rulers) and there is not dout that they are top quality and will last you a lifetime (if you treat them right).  However for modeling a $20 digital caliper is more than sufficient. Like I said, I got mine decades ago and is more than sufficient for what I need. It is stainless steel and has resolution of 0.0005". More than what I need for building plastic models for my hobby.

I choose to spend the big bucks on other tools, like my Lindstrom cutters or a PACE soldering/desoldering rework station. Then there are Sheline mill and lathe. I also almost exclusively use PCB carbide drill bits with 1/8" shafts.

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Posted

I've got a Mitutoyo digital here thats been in constant  use since the early 1990s and other than battery replacement its performed without issue.

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Posted

A lot depends on what one plans to use a micrometer or calipers on, frankly.  If one is needing measuring instruments for say, precision machining of metals, then go with the highest-quality instrument your wallet can afford--the greater the precision needed,  likely the higher the price of a micrometer, for example.

On the other hand, if one is just needing (as in my case) to make measurements when working on a styrene model project, absolute precision (down to that ten-thousandth of an inch) isn't likely to matter, as one swipe of 400-grit sandpaper can remove more than that much plastic.

As I seldom have any need for NASA-like precision, but just to measure that bit of K&S brass rod, or a strip of Evergreen styrene--or simply to determine just what size that drill bit is, that I didn't put back in my "numbered-drill" index--then the $20 or thereabouts digital calipers I can get many pllaces, does JUST fine.

Art

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Posted

Hi and may thanks to all those who replied.

I got my calipers in and they work well.  I've already used them for several measurements and found the thumb dial very helpful when needing über precisio.

Being my very fist caliper, I've nothing to compare or critic against.  But they feel nice in the hand being a good decent weight.

 

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