Why is it a troll?
I have a GREAT set of fractional dial calipers that I bought from Lee
Valley. I find fractional dial calipers much more useful for
woodworking than a decimal version. My fractional set also reads in
decimal for those times when decimal is more appropriate.
To the OP: I remember the review, but for the life of me can't
remember the magazine. I subscribe to "FWW", "Wood" and "popular
Woodworking", so that may narrow it down. I'm personally very happy
with the these:
Well, this could in fact be a troll. Maybe he's the guy who wrote the
review. Or maybe he works for the advertising department of the magazine
that published it and wants to build readership. Or maybe he works for the
company that makes the fractional calipers that got the highest rating. Who
knows. Or maybe we're being a little hyper about this and he actually just
wants to get a copy of the magazine and read it.
I just got the Woodcraft September catalog flier, and I really got a laugh
out of what they had to say about their new fractional caliper:
"It didn't exist so we had it made for us! One turn of the dial equals an
inch, a feature that no other dial caliper has."
Well, I've had two fractional calipers for quite a while, and both of them
are one turn to an inch. I've been seeing them in woodworking tool catalogs
for years, and I don't think I've ever seen one that wasn't set up that way.
In fact, there was such a review sometime in the last couple of years in, I
believe, a magazine with the initials FWW, in which they gave the highest
marks to the calipers that had the fractional measurements on the outside
ring, with hundredths on the inner ring. They gave extra points to calipers
that were marked in the major fractions such as 1/4, 1/2, etc., with
intermediate marks in 64th's.
I have two fractional calipers of my own: a 4" plastic one, and a 6"
stainless steel one. Both came from Highland Hardware (now Highland
Woodworking). The 4" one lives in the pencil cup on the bench most of the
time, and the rest of the time in an apron pocket. The only problem with it
is that every time I use it I need to check that the dial is zeroed. And
it's marked only in 64th's on the inner ring. The other one is completely
satisfactory: Marked in 64ths and major fractions on the outer ring,
hundredths on the inner ring. The Highland catalog now also shows a model
from Starrett, at a rather high price.
I had the same trouble with my 6" version from Lee Valley. I cured it
by setting it to zero and putting a small dab of hot melt glue on the
rim. It has not moved since, though I think I can break off the glue
if it ever becomes necessary.
You know, I thought about doing that too. But I decided to leave it alone,
since I'm firmly in the habit of re-zeroing every time I use it. And it's
always possible that someday I might want to use it to measure a difference.
Maybe I'd be sanding down an oversized dowel to fit a hole. I'd measure the
hole diameter and zero out the dial, then when i miked (calipered?) the
dowel I'd be directly reading out the amount it was oversized.
But a tiny dab of silicone sealer would be easy to break or to cut with a
I have no experience with the Lee Valley calipers so couldn't say but, as
for the Starrett, I wouldn't recommend any of their dial calipers. Contrary
to popular belief, Starrett does not do all tools well. They are just like
any other manufacturer. Some good, some bad.
Specific complaints about the LV were that the dial is only calibrated
every 1/8" and that it was a bit too expensive. Since the price they
mention looks like the Canadian one, I suspect they screwed up and that
it's a bit better deal in US$, which is what I assume the others were.
The Starrett thumb-wheel didn't grip easily, it was made in China, the
dial markings were "coarse", and the beam was only marked in decimals,
and it was way too expensive.
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