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A dial caliper is a handy tool to have. It allows precision measurements of outside, inside, and depth dimensions, up to a full 6 in. And the dial is easier to read than vernier calipers.
I find calipers especially helpful when measuring the thickness of a board, particularly when thickness-sanding thin stock. I also use it regularly to measure mortise depths and the diameters of round tenons.
However, because most calipers are made for machinists, the tool reads in decimals. But woodworkers use fractions almost exclusively, so dealing with decimals becomes a nuisance. Recently, I was more than happy to get my hands on a dial caliper that reads in fractions of an inch. Actually, the tool has two scales—a large outer scale in fractions and an inner scale in decimals.
The fractional scale is calibrated in 1/64-in. increments, accurate enough for most of my work. But when I need to get fussier, it’s easy to place the pointer between the lines, effectively providing a reading of 1/128 in.
Although this stainless-steel tool doesn’t have the overall quality of an expensive machinist’s caliper, it’s more than suitable when I’m measuring wood. Indeed, when checked against gauge blocks, it was dead on. The tool is also nicely finished. And the parts slide smoothly.
The fractional caliper is available from Highland Hardware (now known as Highland Woodworking, 800-241-6748, www.highlandwoodworking.com) order part No. 06.50.08.
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