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Author Topic: Choosing a new digital or dial caliper  (Read 271 times)
RknRusty
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Rusty K
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« on: May 18, 2017, 07:02:29 AM »

My trusty old Taiwanese dial caliper finally bit the dust. Or more accurately, the concrete. That's getting to be a problem now that my hands have turned into crows claws with age and abuse. So, one day I left an Aldi store with coffee, milk, onions, and a $14 dollar digital caliper... it should have been priced at $3.99, and I could've thrown it away and kept the batteries.

Whatever I buy should be at least a little shock resistant, if that's even possible. I'm now hot on the shopping trail and of course went straight to Google, where the only filter I checked was Stainless Steel, and on one page I checked Dial, on the other, I'm looking at Digital.

I like the dial calipers, but I'd have to buy two of them to switch between inch and metric. So I'll probably choose digital, and it would be nice if it had a hold feature for measuring in low visibility areas.

The big question is price range vs. quality. I don't need contractor grade, but I still want reasonable reliability that'll measure a piece the same every time. I assume stainless is the material of choice over aluminum. How much should I expect to pay for a tool that I use a lot, but won't rattle around in a toolbox or get wet, hot, or cold? Any preferred brand names?

We have a Grainger in town, as well as a couple of other professional tool suppliers. I'm leery of counterfeits and unusually good prices on eBay.
Thanks for any advice,
Rusty
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Rusty Knowlton
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Brett Buck
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2017, 07:54:02 AM »

I like the dial calipers, but I'd have to buy two of them to switch between inch and metric. So I'll probably choose digital, and it would be nice if it had a hold feature for measuring in low visibility areas.

The big question is price range vs. quality. I don't need contractor grade, but I still want reasonable reliability that'll measure a piece the same every time. I assume stainless is the material of choice over aluminum. How much should I expect to pay for a tool that I use a lot, but won't rattle around in a toolbox or get wet, hot, or cold? Any preferred brand names?

  I have had my Mitutoyo digital calipers for about 30 years now, and they cost around $125 at the time. Now I find the same thing is on the order of $500! That seems a bit much to me.

   Almost any of them will switch between metric and conventional. You probably don't need calibration certificates or SPC output, so I would search on price point with names you would recognize.


    Brett
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RknRusty
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 09:19:00 AM »

Thanks, Brett. You are correct, no certificates for just for building my own toys, and I'd only want to use SPC output if I had it, and then probably just to recall dimensions to write about for you guys.
Rusty
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C_Fretz 18Stingray1
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 09:44:21 AM »

Do you have a Harbor Freight by you?  They are cheap and will do what you want until they hit the ground.
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Chris Fretz (38)
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2017, 05:55:06 PM »

You should be able to get a Mighty-yoyo 8" set for about $200. Normal price at Mcmaster Carr.
For digital that is the only brand I would buy. I have tried others, both brand name and Chinese, they just don't work as well.
Solar powered version is handy, never have to change the battery. A bit more money of course.

Dial you can get a cheap Chinese one, they are generally quite accurate.
 I have a couple of them, for some tasks they are better than the digital. One set is well over 30 years old, and still very accurate.

You can also save a bit by buying 6" instead of 8". Most of what we measure to .001" is less than 6" anyway.

Pat MacKenzie
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RknRusty
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 08:31:25 PM »

Pat, thanks for the reply. $200 is more clams that I can bake, though I'd love to have one. I'll keep looking. I'm not averse to a pair of dials, one metric and one inch, unless I find one that's easy to read with both units on the same dial.
I'll let y'all know what I finally choose.

Chris, we do have an HF in town. They sell Pittsburgh brand among others. That must be made in Pittsburgh, China Lol, not your Pittsburgh.
I just want to make sure it works better than that piece of slag I bought at Aldi.
Say hi to B. for me.
Rusty
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DON'T PANIC!
Rusty Knowlton
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while you're doing it!

Jackson Flyers Association (a.k.a. The Wildcat Rangers(C/L))- Fort Jackson, SC
Metrolina Control Line Society (MCLS) - Huntersville, NC - The Carolina Gang
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C_Fretz 18Stingray1
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2017, 03:44:32 AM »

How about Fowler dials. They are not the bottom of the barrel and they are not the $100+ kind.

Chris
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2017, 04:26:04 AM »

I got these a few years ago at Home Depot for something less than $40.00.  Have so far been great.  Haven't tried a four foot drop test tho.

Dave


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RknRusty
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 04:50:35 AM »

That looks about right, Dave. I think I'll pay Home Depot a visit. After tomorrow, my spring contest season is finished, so I need to get back to projeckin', and I'll be needing them.
Rusty
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DON'T PANIC!
Rusty Knowlton
... and never Ever think about how good you are at something...
while you're doing it!

Jackson Flyers Association (a.k.a. The Wildcat Rangers(C/L))- Fort Jackson, SC
Metrolina Control Line Society (MCLS) - Huntersville, NC - The Carolina Gang
www.coxengineforum.com
Fredvon4
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« Reply #9 on: Today at 11:34:15 AM »

Hey Rusty...sorry late to post this

I have many, real good, big buck measuring tools (Mitutoyo, Starrett,) but for my hobby use-- I find the Lowe's 3" General Ultratech 1433 is my go to plastic POS for every thing...

Mostly cuz it is close enough, and can do MM, Inch, as in 0.0000 , and Inch fractions, like 1/8th with simple push of button

and it is cheap enough I have three of them all over the shop.... balsa area, drill press area, engine area...silver and never seem to get lost in the clutter

Best thing IMO--- is you could deliberately get pissed..huck it across the room, find it under a bench, and it will still tell you the balsa sheet is 1/16th and not 1/64ths

And if it did break, you are only out $18+/-

BUT the real reason I have this cheap tool...is the ability to do all three conversions for me instantly with button push...most other BETTER tools only give you Inch or MM and very few Inch fractions

I would never use this plastic tool for precise engine work or mill / lathe, metal working....but for Balsa and ply model airplanes it is a real neat bit of kit that does not need SWMBO approval to buy

https://www.lowes.com/pd/General-Tools-Instruments-Caliper/3138565?cm_mmc=SCE_PLA-_-ToolsAndHardware-_-SpecialtyHandTools-_-3138565:General_Tools_&_Instruments&CAWELAID=&kpid=3138565&CAGPSPN=pla&store_code=209&k_clickID=57efc3e0-23bc-441b-88d1-6342a108b35c&gclid=CJqI6rjNhtQCFYMCaQodRjoB8Q


The description sez 6"..... false---- it is a 3" caliper ----and can be found as low as $12 on line but around $15 is average.....find free shipping if you can....
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