The lifetime of a precision device is critically dependent on how
you treat it.
I've had good service from a cheap Harbor Freight caliper.
Problem is that the battery is always dead. Reviews suggest
that's a problem with many of the "less than top tier" devices.
I have to take out the battery when I'm not using it. I have more
than one, so it's not a single defective unit.
I wouldn't call it a serious problem if I used it a lot.
I don't, so it's always dead.
I can buy a lot of batteries for the $100 difference in price.
I'm far more likely to drop it than it failing because of bad
My Mitutoyo has an extra half-digit of readout. And the battery
is always working.
I like to verify what I say, so I turned on the Mitutoyo.
Battery dead! But I've had it three years. No idea
how old the battery was. Good enough.
Ditto, I got one from Amazon for ~$20.00 takes one SR44 Battery which
does not seem to last long. Came in a sturdy hard plastic case, accuracy
is very good. If I don't drop it, it should last my life time.
There are 3 basic types of direct-read calipers. Vernier, dial, and
digital. Vernier calipers use a vernier scale and have NO dial.
Digital calipers use an electronic digital readout and require
batteries. It also has NO dial. A dial caliper is completely
mechanical (NO battery), like the vernier, and the measurement is
converted, mechanically, to a dial with a rotating needle to indicate
The only folks still making professional quality dial calipers are
Starrett, Mititoyo, and Brown & Sharp. None are cheap. My best dial
caliper is an old B&S. I was not aware they were still being made,
....you might also look for Scherr-Tumico brand. Not sure they still
Vernier and digital calipers have NO dial, but are usually much
cheaper. My first set of calipers were vernier. Accurate enough, but
almost impossible to read when one's eyesight starts to go. I've also
seen all-plastic vernier and digital calipers. I'd avoid these.
Quality dial calipers can still be had, but they are not cheap. I've
seen cheapo (specially plastic) digital and vernier calipers for under
You might look at General Tool. They can be found in most US store
chains, like True Value, Walmart, etc. Relatively inexpensive tools,
but usually of decent usable quality. I think my first vernier
calipers might have been General Tool. They were fine when I
had 20-something eyes. ;)
nb --geezer mechanic/machinist
But, of course. Rotary phones are good for
I'll paraphrase a joke someone on this list
wrote: I hollered at a bunch of misbehaved
kids and told em to stop. They just stood
there and kept blinking.
I keep a set of the cheap plastic ones in the car, and in the shop; they
come in handy for quick measurements, or for going to the yard to buy
Of course I have a digital set (accurate to 0.0005) in the shop for when
I need the accuracy, and for layout.
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