NewBe caliper question

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Ever since I read a few weeks ago about building a router sled, I thought that a caliper (digital?) might be a useful tool to have around. For instance, in the article I read, they used a caliper to measure the distance between steel rods emanating from the router base.
In looking at them online, I've noticed quite a range. Some are over $100. Inexpensive stainless-steel ones are available for about $14.00. HB has a different one on sale this week for $9.99. Junk? Accurate enough for woodworking? At this point I don't even have a workspace, but I have been collecting a few tools. I can imagine using such a tool also to help measure the width of a guitar neck that I intend to carve (rasp). Seems like it might be useful to calculate a nut's size too, so that you would choose the right wrench or socket the first time.
Please educate me a little...what do you think? Do the "old fashioned" plain metal calipers, the ones that look sort of like a compass used for circle-drawing, have any advantages? I think in high school I used one of those and then held it up to a ruler (for some turning work).
Thanks Bill
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Bill wrote:

I have two dial calipers left over from a previous life. One is a stainless steel version that reads in fractions, the other is a 6" Starrett. They usually gather dust, as the more woodworking I do, the more ways I find to direct mark without measuring at all.
The most useful caliper in my shop is this: <http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/11869
I can carry it in the apron, and measure inside and outside with plenty of accuracy.
As a newbie, there's going to be plenty to spend money on that's much more useful than a dial caliper.
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Wed, Jan 16, 2008, 7:07am snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (BARRY) doth sayeth: <snip> The most useful caliper in my shop is this: <http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/11869 <snip> Yep. Except mine's a el cheapo plastic model.
JOAT 10 Out Of 10 Terrorists Prefer Hillary For President - Bumper Sticker I don't have a problem with a woman president - just not Hillary.
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Bill wrote:

over $100. > Inexpensive stainless-steel ones are available for about $14.00. HB has a > different one on sale this week for $9.99. Junk? Accurate enough for > woodworking?
IMHO, an accurate dial caliper is a bit of overkill for wood working where +/- 1/64 (0.015) is good enough for most work.
Having said that, I have a Chinese wonder, $20, 6" dial caliper that gets a lot of use measuring things like drill bits, screws, etc, to confirm size.
Lew
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It's a good investment, though, for those jobs (aligning tools, building jigs) that can benefit. I got a 12" caliper for woodwork use and don't regret the expense (about $40).
My last bookcases were fitted with sliding half-dovetail joints, and I used feeler gages to set my jigs to accuracy of +/- .003". After assembling the shelves, they stand up fine and don't rack at all, with no fasteners or even a back. It's all tight joints held by friction.
On the other hand, a second shelf set with the same jigs made four days later was a botch. The wood in the jigs had time to shrink.
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My calipers ran about $10 from Menards. They're Vernier calipers and I find them useful for measuring here and there. What's really useful is the ability to take an inside measurement, lock the calipers, then verify that something I'm working on will fit.
I almost never use them in my straight woodworking projects. The tolerances and sizes are more flexible and larger than the calipers.
Puckdropper
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I have used the plain slide caliper, a cheap dial caliper, a more expensive stainless steel dial caliper that measured in 64th's and several months ago I bought a Lee Valley digital display to .0005", fraction to 1/128, and metric stainless steel caliper. The longer I have it the more I use it. I thought I would never use the metric mode but it comes in real handy when using my Festool Domino. I pretty much use it daily. I bought it at the introductory price of $29.99, IIRC it is now about $40.
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"Leon" wrote

Have you seen all those "jigs" for the Domino in the latest Woodhaven catalog?
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Geez no! soooo, it went to the site just now and only see the Domino Kit 966D which is a version similar to what I already have. Are there more in the catalog? Would that be the Fall 2007 catalog?
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"Leon" wrote in message

It may have been the Fall, although I think I just got in December 07.
Looks like they may have modified one of their multiple part, "biscuit cutter" jigs for the Domino. IIRC, all the paraphernalia for the Domino took up a couple of pages.
I'll see if I still have it and save it for you.
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I'd appreciate that.

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I use my rusty vernier caliper every now and then. Sometimes for an actual real measurement but usually just to get a rough idea of what the size is. Or to use it as a gauge. If the vernier measures X and I try to slip it over something and it doesn't fit, then its not X and needs to be planed, ground a bit more. Most of the stuff I do, particularly woodworking, doesn't require an exact .32685" measurement. Does it really matter if a table top is .75" or .74" or . 76" thick if your plan/design calls for a 3/4" thick table top? Just make sure all the boards are the same thickness when you are done. I do advise getting stainless rulers or calipers since my non stainless ones seem to have acquired a patina of rust over the years.
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Bill wrote:

Likely accurate enough for woodworking.
I bought the Lee Valley digital calipers. Some of the things I've used them for:
--checking mortise depth (combination square also works) --checking drill hole depths (hard to fit a combo square in there) --checking tenons to make sure they're the same width and thickness at various points (big bed frame members, awkward to test-fit) --checking plywood thickness to set up dado stack with fewer test cuts --checking plane shaving thicknesses (for bragging rights)
Chris
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Bill said:

Well, the term caliper covers a variety of tools. Some used for comparison and others for actual measurements. For woodturning, I use the type of caliper you mention above. Doesn't measure, but is useful for comparison purposes - especially since the jaws are deeper than standard 6" measuring calipers.
I also bought a Hempe nylon dial caliper years ago for $7. It turned out to be very useful for measuring stock thickness, depth of drilled holes and mortises, drill and bolt diameters, etc. Measures ID and OD. I began making segmented woodturnings, where absolute precision is mandatory, and bought one of these for $30:
http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID 47
Major markings in English Fractions to 1/64", and the inner scale is marked in hundredths/decimals. I use it a lot, but I'm anal...
I've got machinist's micrometer calipers, but they are of no real use in woodworking. .0005" accuracy is moot when the wood swells and contracts with seasonal moisture changes more that .004".
FWIW,
Greg G.
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Go with the HF one, other places sell the same on for 30.00 plus, all the do is add some nice stickers. Accuracy is plus/minus 0.01mm/0.0005". More accuracy than you will ever need.
Jim Simmons

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Thank you for all of the thoughtful replies to my question!
Bill
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HF has a coupon this week for their 6" digital steel caliper. A great buy IMO. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?ItemnumberG257
On the web it's 15.99, but they sent out a coupon for 9.99.
I think I have the same one.. and it's plenty accurate enough for all ww tasks.
For $10 I'd get one. In fact I may get another

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What is the coupon code? Usually with HF if you know the magic 3 alphanumeric final characters then you get the right price
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I have had the same one for about 2 years. It works well for me and even if it is not accurate to 0.001" as claimed -- even if it is 10 times less acurate -- it is still good enough for me.
I often use it for measuring screw and drill bit diameters.
I have not been as pleased with the even cheaper all-plastic version. I belive it has resolution down to only .01" which is a lot when ur measuring drill bits in 64ths.
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I picked one up today and am very impressed with the apparent quality. I feel like I got a bargain.
While I was there I noticed they had a "marking gauge" (for marking mortises and such) for $11.99. I wasn't sure whether that was a bargain or not. What do you think?
Bill
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