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digital or dial caliper recommendations

Discussion in 'The Tool Shed' started by K5Kell, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. K5Kell

    K5Kell Guest

    Starting to get deeper into my schooling and into classes were I will be working with mills, lathes, cnc... In these classes I hate waiting around to use tools that are sometimes inaccurate especially when measuring so I figured I should probably just pick up my own calipers. Dont need anything bigger then a 6" or the top of the line for the time being but was hoping for some advice from someone with more experince on something good for a "beginner" but that will be durable. Thanks.
    -Kell-
     
  2. Muddytazz

    Muddytazz 1 ton status

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    Digitals are nice, but I prefer dials. Also, if your interested, i have an extra 4" caliper that I'd be willing to sell. Its a Mitutoyo and in excellent shape. Pm me if your interested.
     
  3. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    I've used a bunch of different calipers...my favorite by a long stretch is the Mitutoyo 6" digital though. Tough, accurate and idiot proof.

    Rene
     
  4. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    Brown & Sharpe is a good-value American-made caliper. Good accuracy, durable.
    Starrett is, IMO, the standard the others are compared to. You'll pay for their American-made quality, but treat it well and you'll pass it on to your grandson, just as accurate as when you bought it.
    Mitutoyo is, IMO, the other (Japan) standard. Same comments as above.
     
  5. garlicbreath

    garlicbreath 1/2 ton status

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    Every brand mentioned above is good. I work at a place that does contract work for boeing, pratt whitney, etc and our inspectors use all 3, starrett, brown sharp, and mitutoyo. I personally prefer 8 inch calipers though. Check your local pawn shops, I picked up a 0-1 mitutoyo digital mic for 30 bucks and had work send it out for calibration. Tell the pawn shop you want a week to have it checked out by one of your instructors though. If you plan on doing machining for a living, buy good now and you won't have to replace it later on. Whatever you do don't go for a no-name stainless one from ebay. They aren't even good for +- .005
     
  6. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I've been digging ever deeper into machining in the last few years, so I'm still learning. I have (and recommend):

    Most used by far: A cheap HF vernier caliper I got on sale for practically nothing. I love that thing and it sits out on top of my welder cart for easy access. Handy for checking drill bit sizes, bolts, metal thickness, marking off measurements with a scribe to weld or cut, and lots of other "needs to be more accurate than a tape but not gotta be down to 0.001" type stuff.

    I have a cheap dial caliper from HF that I very rarely use.

    I have a Fowler dial caliper I use when I need analog readout and it needs to be decently close.

    And I have a Mitutoyo 6” digital that I use only on the machine tools and take very good care of. This is my “final word” before the rare occasions when I need to switch off to Mics.

    One day I may run across a nice B&S or Starrett at a flea market or something, but it’s really not worth the cost for what I do.

    IMO, for "real machining tollerances" (that are appropriate to calipers that is) you really can't beat the value of Mitutoyo. And it’s about the only (sorta) “budget” import brand that won’t get you ostracized in a professional shop.
     
  7. SkulzNBonz

    SkulzNBonz 1/2 ton status

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    Starrett and Mitutoyo. I prefer the dial type, but dependent on accuracy requirements, a digital is fine.

    John
     
  8. K5Kell

    K5Kell Guest

    Yeah, I guess I should have been a little more specific about being a broke college student. I really wish I had the money to get a nice one from the start, but it looks like it will have to wait till after working this summer. Until then I picked up a 6" dial caliper from grizzly industrial. nothing fancy just something to speed up progress in this basic class. Thanks for all the input but be warned, I'm sure there will be more questions in the future :o .
    -Kell-
     
  9. outsider223

    outsider223 1/2 ton status

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    I have a 6" Mitutoyo dial. I never did get a good 'feel' for a digital one, but the only digital ones we had in school were the cheap ones. Maybe I'm old school, but thats what I learned on.
     
  10. Cmoe

    Cmoe 1/2 ton status

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    get your self a small set of calibration gauges.... that way you can get use to your calipers. Knowing and having the feel is important and can only be learned by practice.
     
  11. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    If stricktly budget minded, you can get Mitutoyo on ebay fairly cheap, particularly the dial version. Or if you want new, both Fowler and SPI from Enco seem dirt cheap and yet very decent quality. It's not B&S or Starrett, but they are less than half the price! Just looking at Enco's current catalog (online page 178) and they have 6" B&S white or black dial calipers for $87. In their "Hot Deals" (also on line) they have Mitu dials for $63 or digis for $83 and Fowler digitals for $56. And you can get free shipping. Just gotta decide what you want and need. If it were me, and planning for a career where they are needed, I would try for the Mitu or B&S dials on sale. If you just can't handle that, then go with the Fowler "Premium" for $39 on page 39 of their "Hot Deals".
     
  12. mofugly13

    mofugly13 1 ton bucket of rust Premium Member

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    The cheaper ones will serve you just fine. They all have to adhere to a set of 'standards'. I am a member of the American Gunsmithing Association, and in a way back issue of their monthly tech rag, a beginning gunsmith asked the same question as you did. The 'experts' answer was that they all have to be within a certain spec, and that the only real difference is how many times you can drop your caliper on the floor, abuse it, etc. before it goes out of spec. If you want I can try and find it and post it here. It was very sound advice, made sense. I've been using a $25 import for 5-6 years now, and I put it back into it's case when I'm done with it, and it still works as smooth as ever, and checks out fine on a couple gage blocks I have. Take good care of it, and it'll serve you fine. It's nice to have the high end Starret or Mitutoyo, but for starters, even a carbon fiber one like those sold by RCBS will be fine. Also, used calipers and micrometers can be had for very good prices on ebay. I got a really well cared for Starret micrometer and dial indicator for cheep.
     
  13. bgreen

    bgreen 1/2 ton status

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    I find the extra two inches of an 8" caliper well worth the purchase price. After having used 4's, 6's, 8's, 12's, 18's, 24's and 60's, If I had to choose only one, it would be an 8".

    As far as dial vs. digital, they both have their place. Digitals seem to be more durable because there is no rack to get chips or other derbis in. Try out both and choose the ones you like the best. Dials are, IMO, more accurate for comparison, but neither are capable of extremely accurate measurements.
     
  14. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

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    the only problem with digital is if you use them to say check say a bolt circle that has equal spaced holes and an equal amount of holes where there is holes at 180 degrees from each othed, and first you check the hole dia and set zero then you check from outside one hole to outside the hole at 180 deg. just like your checking a hole to give you your bole circle dia. if you forget to reset your zero when done that can lead to trouble. I have seen expensive parts scraped cause someone forgot to reset there digi cals back to zero with the jaws closed.
     
  15. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    Nothing is idiot proof...

    Rene
     
  16. bgreen

    bgreen 1/2 ton status

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    I your in the "biz" you should be checking zero on your calipers before each measurement. Even if your not, its good practice, a very good habit to get into. Scraping parts that cost thousands of dollars is unacceptable, scrapping parts that cost nothing but have even an hour invested in them still sucks. Taking 15 seconds to check zero can be worth MUCH more than the time it takes.
     
  17. K5Kell

    K5Kell Guest

    I like were your heads at :wink1: .
    -Kell-
     
  18. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

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    yes your right, and yes if I do use my digi's I do check them everytime I use them, even if there dial or digital. its just something that can happen and I have seen it first hand where parts have been scraped from a stupid mistake like that.

    it happened last week to a guy here thats kinda my helper from time to time in the shop. he's not a machinist but he has learned what I have tought him. he has been told to check and re-zero his digi's if he sets them to measure differently but being a rookie though he makes mistakes sometimes.

    that is how you learn sometimes by making mistakes. fortunately is was just tooling for the shop, and he is the owners son, so, well you get the picture. he can do no wrong.
     

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