Author Topic: Cheap calipers  (Read 1682 times)

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Offline Kraftt

  • Posts: 99
Cheap calipers
« on: November 09, 2022, 09:17 PM »
I'm sure most here already know about these except me.
More & more I need accurate job site measurements of existing depths, fittings, and parts that I can’t take with me or when a photograph is not enough.  So I’ve been thinking of retiring my beater Mitutoyo’s to the tool bag and buying a new pair.  But they’ll just get destroyed (and there’s really nothing wrong with them - for my purposes).
I thought maybe a bunch of $1.99 plastic calipers would suffice.  Also thought about ‘Almost Tools’ (H.F.) stuff but unless it’s nitrile gloves or a magnetic tray forget about it (even then I do not like supporting that place).
Now I’m not saying iGaging is a step up from Almost Tools but this pair of calipers had some decent reviews and fits the bill for something I can throw in my bag unprotected and not worry too much if they get messed up. 
I found a pair on ebay for $26.90 free ship + tax. So at 29.00, less than the cost of a pair of pliers, I’ll be fine if they last 6 months. I chose a fractional dial because it’s become second nature to convert fraction to decimal to metric in my head if needed but mostly because I just need fractional right now.  Yes, I could have got digital with all the benefits but I truly prefer a dial caliper.
Have to say I’m surprised a the ‘decent/good’ quality for the price.  So far not disappointed in any aspect. Don’t know what they coat them with at the factory (action was a little 'grity') but once you wipe them down with a cloth they are as smooth as silk.




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Offline Euclid

  • Posts: 273
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2022, 06:50 AM »
Thanks for that... I have aniGaging digital caliper which I've been delighted with - nicely made, dependably consistent, excellent battery life, good value and a good clear display. Only thing wrong with it is that I've currently mislaid it...

I didn't know that iGaging made a dial version - I could do with this to pack away in a 'travelling' tool kit and not have to worry about batteries.

Offline rmhinden

  • Posts: 535
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2022, 08:45 AM »
I have three calipers.   The two I like and use often are the:

iGaging Dial Caliper (imperial on the dial, metric on the straight part)
General Tools 141ME Metric and English Reading 3 Inch Slide Caliper (~$10 on Amazon)

I also have a digital imperial/metric caliper, but I don't use it very often.   

For the money, the General Tools one the best value.   

Bob



Offline jeffinsgf

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Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2022, 09:14 AM »
I have a pair that looks to be exactly the same without the iGaging logo. Bought them from Highland Hardware decades ago. Just looked and they still carry the same ones.

Offline Kraftt

  • Posts: 99
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2022, 10:51 AM »
..."Only thing wrong with it is that I've currently mislaid it..."   Lol, I liked that.

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I think I will pick up that General plastic vernier caliper.  It's compact which helps its stoutness / bending when ignored in the bag and wont stick up too high getting in the way of grabbing more used tools.  But also the plastic to throw an extra one in the electrical bag.

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I'm sure a lot of guys wonder why you would need a pair of calipers (job site) and 99% of the time it's true there's not much of a need for this precise a measure.  We all know by sight the size of the parts we are looking at.  But it's those few times a year or month where these save so much time when you leave knowing those exact dimension so that you can order or build offsite with confidence.

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 10166
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2022, 12:09 PM »
1. So I’ve been thinking of retiring my beater Mitutoyo’s to the tool bag and buying a new pair.  But they’ll just get destroyed (and there’s really nothing wrong with them - for my purposes).

2. I thought maybe a bunch of $1.99 plastic calipers would suffice. 

3. Now I’m not saying iGaging is a step up from Almost Tools but this pair of calipers had some decent reviews and fits the bill for something I can throw in my bag unprotected and not worry too much if they get messed up. I’ll be fine if they last 6 months.

I also prefer to use dial calipers over digital.  [big grin]

1. I'd retire that beater Mitutoyo to the shop rather than to the tool bag. They're constructed very nicely and will last you a life time. They also can become your go to "measuring standard" when you're not certain about the accuracy of the cheaper dial calipers.

2. All dial calipers have 2 major issues, the plastic dial cover scratches easily or it can easily fall off and the rack that moves the dial indicator hand pinion, can easily become contaminated with metal chips, dirt, dust...you name it. For those 2 reasons, I'd NEVER throw a dial caliper into a tool bag unprotected. These dial caliper sheaths, like the one shown, are made from stiff vinyl or leather and protect the caliper from its 2 main nemesis. They also take up little extra space in the bag as opposed to a plastic or wood case. The sheath also makes it easier to find the caliper in a crowded tool bag. They are universal in nature and will fit any dial caliper that you choose to purchase. Thus the Etalon caliper fits in the Helios sheath.

3. Again, throwing any caliper in a tool bag unprotected, no matter how inexpensive it is, is not a good idea. Murphy's law dictates that when you finally do need to use that caliper, it'll be in a non-functioning state. So, you've carried it around for months and now when you actually need it...it doesn't work. At that point it may have been better to carry a digital caliper instead, even though the battery is its Achilles heel, it would stand a better chance of surviving if carried unprotected. And replacing a dial caliper every 6 months seems like a bridge too far.   

Just my   [2cents]




Offline Peter Kelly

  • Posts: 180
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2022, 12:48 PM »
Shars house brand calipers are decent-ish if you don't need machine shop accuracy. Cheap enough that it's not a big deal if they get mangled or lost. https://www.shars.com/products/measuring/caliper?brand=Shars+Tool&limit=30

That said, gently pre-owned Mitutoyo, Starrett, B&S, Fowler, Teclock are the better choice if you're looking to save a few pennies.

Offline Kraftt

  • Posts: 99
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2022, 10:22 PM »
... I'd NEVER throw a dial caliper into a tool bag unprotected. These dial caliper sheaths, like the one shown, are made from stiff vinyl or leather and protect the caliper from its 2 main nemesis. They also take up little extra space in the bag as opposed to a plastic or wood case. The sheath also makes it easier to find the caliper in a crowded tool bag. They are universal in nature and will fit any dial caliper that you choose to purchase.

Perfect!  Caliper sheaths.  I had no clue.  Was perhaps going to find a narrow zipper pouch but you're right the tapered design and flap of the sheaths will make inserting them in a crowded bag a breeze as well as locating.  Thanks.

Offline tsmi243

  • Posts: 317
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2022, 03:08 PM »
I use these plastic ones from Lee Valley ALL the time.  Beyond accurate enough for choosing drill bits, setting dados, etc. 

The vernier scale is a joke, but eyeballing to 0.25 mm is not.  Try measuring a 6mm drill bit, then a 1/4".  You can see the difference without too much trouble.


Offline Chris Wong

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Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2022, 01:06 AM »
I bought a pair of combination metric/imperial dial calipers and they are awesome. The beam is graduated metric on top and imperial on the bottom, and the dial has one hand for each. Useful for conversions as well as measuring.
Chris Wong, http://FlairWoodworks.com and https://www.ultimatetools.ca/
First Festool was a free pencil.
Shipping live-edge cribbage boards around the world since 2010.

Offline tsmi243

  • Posts: 317
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2022, 01:26 PM »
Speaking of metric calipers-  I have a cheap set that does both, and the mm scale is 2mm per rev on the dial. 

Are they all that way?  Or can you get some that are 1mm per rev?  IDK why, but I find it distracting trying to count half-revs on the way up.... 

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5712
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2022, 01:33 PM »
Speaking of metric calipers-  I have a cheap set that does both, and the mm scale is 2mm per rev on the dial. 

Are they all that way?  Or can you get some that are 1mm per rev?  IDK why, but I find it distracting trying to count half-revs on the way up....

Yes, if the outer scale covers 1/10” then the inner will have to cover 2mm. Just trust the linear mm scale. It’s easy to tell if you’re closer to the exposed increment or the next, then check the needle position.

Offline Kraftt

  • Posts: 99
Re: Cheap calipers
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2022, 04:07 PM »
On my econo pair I noticed that the dial needle hovered quite high above the face making readings subjective depending on viewing angle.  Looked at a Mitutoyo and saw that their needle curves down.  So I pulled off the acrylic lens / bezel and bent the flat needle (and tip) down towards the dial face using a pair of tweezers (takes some persuading). Now the needle tip hovers much closer to the the printed face.