How Did I Live Without You?

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Blog entry by Iffy posted 09-19-2007 06:58 AM 1333 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today I received the 6” dial caliper I ordered. I’ve been woodworking for 4 years and today feels like the first time I’ve actually known what something measured. Before I just held up a Starrett 6” rule to whatever I was measuring and went from there. Close enough? Sure. Maybe. But this caliper is a whole new world.

I ordered the 6” dial caliper from Grizzly ( based on folks in the FWW forums saying that the precision offered by the Grizzly was good enough for woodworking and I think they’re right on the money. Even if I somehow got something to match down to the .001”, it would probably be different tomorrow and different still the day after that.

So what did I build first with my new tool? Runners for a replacement crosscut sled. Although once I started cutting the runners, I realized that I didn’t need the caliper (I just cut until they fit). But I used it anyways to get some practice. I think I’ll put it on my nightstand as I sleep tonight. A sort of security blanket for the woodworker.

8 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3930 days

#1 posted 09-19-2007 02:15 PM

I don’t have one of those but have occasionally wished for one; usually when trying to match up a bolt. They tell me more than I want to know about wood. Anything below a 16th is too small for me. Like you found on the sled runners, I just make it fit. Not for everyone but it works for me. Good subject for a blog.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4004 days

#2 posted 09-19-2007 03:55 PM

I bought a digital caliper last year that changed a few things for me. It allowed me to be able to set my stacked dado in about 1/50th the time. They are decent things to have in the shop.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View DaveJ's profile


73 posts in 3891 days

#3 posted 09-19-2007 04:18 PM

I had a similar experience as Iffy – bought a caliper after seeing reviews in FWW. It’s extremely handy, and I would now miss it terribly. As others have implied already, just like any tool, it’s useful in some situations but not all.

I hadn’t realized it until after owning mine for several weeks, but you can measure depth by using the end of the rod that projects as you move the caliper in and out.

I recommend getting a caliper that shows both fractional inches and hundredths to avoid having to convert between them.

-- Dave J. Eagle, ID

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 3992 days

#4 posted 09-20-2007 10:36 AM

I’ve used one of the fractional ones for several years. It’s really handy for thicknessing wood with the planer, as well as making sure your tenon cheeks stay parallel when you tweak them with a plane.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4295 days

#5 posted 09-20-2007 03:21 PM

I’d cry if you took away my calipers and 6” combination square.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4282 days

#6 posted 09-20-2007 03:45 PM to have one.

View WayneS 's profile


34 posts in 3899 days

#7 posted 09-20-2007 04:51 PM

Picked up a Darson digital yesterday, makes things a lot easier.

-- Wayne - Newbie looking to learn!

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4368 days

#8 posted 09-20-2007 11:10 PM

I agree on the digital caliper.

But I’ve also got a handful of a plastic caliper from Harbor Freight. I think i pay about 2.00 each for them. I use them when I’m selecting rough sawn lumber or other woods because it will get to 1 /128 of an inch of you want to work the logarithmic scale. But the regular scale is 1/16” of an inch and it works fine for me. I have them laying all around the shop. bandsaw, tablesaw thickness sander.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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