dial vs digital indicators

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Forum topic by trz posted 09-02-2011 04:18 AM 3247 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View trz's profile


90 posts in 2727 days

09-02-2011 04:18 AM

anyone here use the digital indicators , and how do you like them compared to the traditional dial indicator?

28 replies so far

View GSwoodworker's profile


74 posts in 3532 days

#1 posted 09-02-2011 04:48 AM

I am a machinist and use dial indicators every day. The only thing I like about digital display is converting from inch to metric by pressing the button. I work half my day in inch and the other half in metric. Other than that I would not waste my money on digital. What ever you buy, chose a quality one, spend a little extra. I have seen the cheap one’s and top notch tools there is no comparison.

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4165 days

#2 posted 09-02-2011 04:59 AM

I have both in my shop and more often reach for the digital.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3460 days

#3 posted 09-02-2011 08:59 AM

Digital is easier for my eyes to read because the digits are larger. There is no backlight, so if your ship is dim, the display would be difficult to see.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View Flyin636's profile


57 posts in 2734 days

#4 posted 09-02-2011 11:02 AM

Dial type will help stave off Alzheimer’s a little better/longer,haha.

There’s rm for both…..I tend to grab a dial more often here.Flyin636

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3522 days

#5 posted 09-02-2011 02:08 PM

I find analog or dial read out calipers and indicators a lot easier to use for most things because they give a better and quicker comparative reading. They just give a lot more visual information. I use vernier reading measuring tools when accuracy is critical.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3802 days

#6 posted 09-02-2011 03:21 PM

Hey lwllms – Why do you think verniers give you more accuracy? (Just curious.)

-- Joe

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3315 days

#7 posted 09-02-2011 03:37 PM

I prefer digital. The last one I purchased has a fractional readout option and I have decided I do not like that. I’d rather use decimal digital readouts.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3399 days

#8 posted 09-02-2011 03:52 PM

I have a HF digital one that doesn’t work anymore because I dropped it. It was like $30. I bought their $13 dial indicator the other day…it is bigger, heavier, and very well built…quite a surprise, actually.

It also doesn’t need batteries.

Now I haven’t tested it yet in terms of precision, but I it helped me realign my jointer tables/blades in no time.

I do have a Kobalt digital 6” caliper (Lowes) that I REALLY like.

To me, if I’m setting up equipment and need to see variances from a zero point, then the dial indicator rocks. But if I need to look down and read a precise measurement, then the digital is really nice.

-- jay,

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4126 days

#9 posted 09-02-2011 04:45 PM

I have both and like the digital for one reason because I can switch from inches to mm. The mm’s can be devided in 1/2 very easily then I can move the caliper to the “1/2” figure and switch back to inches if needed it sure is easier than deviding “most” inch measurments in half…...hope this makes sense?

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3163 days

#10 posted 09-02-2011 06:21 PM

The problem with digital is that you believe the number, when the stated accuracy isn’t that good, and the real accuracy is often not as good. If you have a high end DTI or caliper, with a recent calibration, this is less of a problem, but it’s still there. Analog DTIs and calipers tend to have somewhat less of the problem. This is really a user problem rather than a tool problem, but it’s very real.

Having said that, I have a digital caliper that I like a lot, but I don’t believe the last digit in absolute readings. My cheapo HF analog DTI is pretty good (and a great value), but not as good as my antique Federal analog DTI.

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 3127 days

#11 posted 09-02-2011 06:41 PM

I have both and think the digital is a bit easier to use. There is no needel to watch bounce around.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2873 days

#12 posted 09-02-2011 06:54 PM

I use to use analog calipers. They worked great, but were pretty easy to misread. I now use a set of digital calipers I bought from Harbor freight. They were under $20. I periodically check them with a 1-2-3 block and feeler guages. Accuracy has never been a problem.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3107 days

#13 posted 09-02-2011 07:00 PM

I like the digital – it’s mostly because of my eyes getting worse.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3549 days

#14 posted 09-02-2011 07:44 PM

I have a Starett dial caliper, 2 HF dial calipers and a digital caliper. I never use the digital anymore and I am sure the battery is dead. The dial calipers have never disappointed me.
The Starett is top quality construction and the 2 HF dial fraction calipers seem to be just as accurate as the Starett from comparison measurements I have done..they are just not as solidly constructed but for $20 you can’t go wrong. I keep the Starett on my workbench and the HF’s by my planer and drum sander so I always have one nearby.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3522 days

#15 posted 09-02-2011 08:04 PM

”Why do you think verniers give you more accuracy? (Just curious.)”

There’s no mechanical interface, nothing to wear or get out of adjustment. As long as the device was well made and not abused, it’ll always be accurately repeatable.

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