Gunsmithing Good Calipers?

Victor Co Heather

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I've been using a $20 pair of Lyman calipers for a few years now and finally broke down to buy a decent set.

With a little (very little) research, I found Mitutoyo brand seemed to be one of the best. A friend directed me to McMaster-Carr and I got to say THAT PLACE IS AMAZING! A Fing wet dream of mechanical tools and such.

I picked up a set of heavy duty, solar powered calipers that go to ten thousandths. Pretty sweet yeah? Cost about 200 clams. I'm pretty happy so far.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#calipers/=8cj750

Calipers.jpg
 

MinorDamage

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Re: Good Calipers?

Mitutoyos are the best when it comes to digital. I like Browne and Sharp or Starrett for dial calipers. You picked well.

Josh
 

TapoutSniper

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Re: Good Calipers?

All of the calipers we use in the machine shop I work in are either Mitutoyo or Starrett. For my home use I have Starretts. I like both but you cant really go wrong with either one.
 

AlabamaShooter

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Re: Good Calipers?

Mitutoyo are the only calipers that we use at the plant. They hold up well and are accurate.
Does it have a battery backup, we have a set at work that were solar and in dim light they crapped out a couple times.
For the bench I like my good ole Sterrett's
 

300sniper

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Re: Good Calipers?

now check the price of that at msc direct and then enco. i bet you get it for quite a bit cheaper.

mcmaster carr is great because they have everything. msc direct has just about everything, have 40% off sales now and then, next day ups shipping and a kick-ass "big book". enco has quite a bit of tooling also and cheaper regular prices and lots of sales.
 

300sniper

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Re: Good Calipers?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Cry one time and get the Starrett's.
Buy American!
Cheers,
LG </div></div>

do you have a part number for the american made starrett digital callipers? what exactly do you feel a starrett calliper will do that the mitutoyo won't?
 

bsalbrig

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Re: Good Calipers?

The Starrett calipers cant keep up with Browne & Sharpe. I like the idea of an American caliper but they are nowhere near the quality of Browne & Sharpe.
 

Lumpy Grits

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Re: Good Calipers?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bsalbrig</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Starrett calipers cant keep up with Browne & Sharpe. I like the idea of an American caliper but they are nowhere near the quality of Browne & Sharpe. </div></div>

110% correct...My Starrett's are my "gun box" calipers.
My tool chest ones are B&S.
Cheers,
LG
 

border_reiver

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Re: Good Calipers?

I buy B&S digi coolant proof calipers b/c they seem to put up with the sulfur oil I work with better than any of the others including Miti's..Otherwise I'd have the B&S dials..

As far as Starrett, they aren't all USA made..there was a Starret plant in Jedburgh Scotland, though I don't know if they were making gaging, but also Brazil, China, and the dominican republic..
 

300sniper

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Re: Good Calipers?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm old school and use dial type.
Won't own a digital.....to many problems with'em.
What buying the Starrett does? It keeps Americans working.
LG
</div></div>

so just the "starrett" name alone means that it is made in america? i don't believe that to be true.

one more thing, i have a cheap, less than $20 harbor freight dial calliper that measures exactly the same as my expensive mitutoyo. i still keep the cheap one at home for reloading and other things and use the mitutoyo at the shop. if i am measuring something critical, i'm not using a dial calliper anyways, i am using a mic.
 

The Shottist

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Re: Good Calipers?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm old school and use dial type.
Won't own a digital.....to many problems with'em. </div></div>
The digital is accurate to .0005
Dials are accurate to .001
The magnetic media is permanently embedded in epoxy.
Digital allows re-zero at any point.

The digital units don't jump when going from zero to 4.xxx when there is a spec of debris in the rack and pinion because there is no rack and pinion. That was always my pet peeve with my Starret dial caliper. I just ordered the Mitutoyo from Amazon (best prices and free shipping) and am looking forward to retiring my dial caliper.
 

300sniper

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Re: Good Calipers?

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: The Shottist</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
The digital is accurate to .0005
Dials are accurate to .001
</div></div>

be honest now, are you really accurately measuring to a half thousandth with a calliper?

with a dial, you can tell if you are closer to the next line or the previous line, a digital you can't. i think that is the only reason they read out to the half thousandth.
 

LongRifles Inc.

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: The Shottist</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm old school and use dial type.
    Won't own a digital.....to many problems with'em. </div></div>
    The digital is accurate to .0005
    Dials are accurate to .001
    The magnetic media is permanently embedded in epoxy.
    Digital allows re-zero at any point.

    The digital units don't jump when going from zero to 4.xxx when there is a spec of debris in the rack and pinion because there is no rack and pinion. That was always my pet peeve with my Starret dial caliper. I just ordered the Mitutoyo from Amazon (best prices and free shipping) and am looking forward to retiring my dial caliper. </div></div>



    Calipers are rulers with a speedometer.

    If your thinking it'll actually qualify a dimension 4 places to the right of the decimal I encourage you to go look at any metrology laboratory in the US or any ISO certified job shop. I'll bet my FFL you won't find machinists or QC techs using a caliper for anything less than +/- .005" on a print. The shops that I worked in wouldn't even allow a set on the work bench in most cases. If it were the case why would anyone (like me) drop 1800 bucks on a full set of Mitutoyo micrometers or $7500 bucks for a Brown/Sharp Digital Height Stand? let alone inside mics, pin gauges, etc.

    Use any cliper (and I mean ANY) longer than a month and you'll likely need to calibrate. Wipe off the blades, clam them together, and hold up to a light source. If you see a ribbon of light between the two they aren't right. ANY LIGHT means they are junk. Drop them once on anything harder than the pillow you rest your head on and they should go to one of two places: the trash can or to a service center.

    A healthy human eye has about a 2 micron resolution. So if you see light that means they are at least that far out of calibration/parallelism. Rotating the dial to zero or hitting the reset button in an effort to compensate is only fooling the person using them. This is because the dimensioning will vary depending on the amount of pressure used on the thumb wheel and by the location along the blades that makes contact with the part. (since they aren't parallel your introducing a sine error)

    Digital anything that depends on a battery for a power source has no business in a shop IMO. 12 years ago I used a set that had a low battery condition. The low battery indicator failed and as a result about $3500 worth of material was scrapped at the saw before the job even made it to the 1st op.

    Calipers are very handy tools and I own several pairs of good ones, just don't fool yourself into thinking they are more than what they really are.

    Good luck.

    C
     

    bohem

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: C. Dixon</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: The Shottist</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm old school and use dial type.
    Won't own a digital.....to many problems with'em. </div></div>
    The digital is accurate to .0005
    Dials are accurate to .001
    The magnetic media is permanently embedded in epoxy.
    Digital allows re-zero at any point.

    The digital units don't jump when going from zero to 4.xxx when there is a spec of debris in the rack and pinion because there is no rack and pinion. That was always my pet peeve with my Starret dial caliper. I just ordered the Mitutoyo from Amazon (best prices and free shipping) and am looking forward to retiring my dial caliper. </div></div>



    Calipers are rulers with a speedometer.

    If your thinking it'll actually qualify a dimension 4 places to the right of the decimal I encourage you to go look at any metrology laboratory in the US or any ISO certified job shop. I'll bet my FFL you won't find machinists or QC techs using a caliper for anything less than +/- .005" on a print. The shops that I worked in wouldn't even allow a set on the work bench in most cases. If it were the case why would anyone (like me) drop 1800 bucks on a full set of Mitutoyo micrometers or $7500 bucks for a Brown/Sharp Digital Height Stand? let alone inside mics, pin gauges, etc.

    Use any cliper (and I mean ANY) longer than a month and you'll likely need to calibrate. Wipe off the blades, clam them together, and hold up to a light source. If you see a ribbon of light between the two they aren't right. ANY LIGHT means they are junk. Drop them once on anything harder than the pillow you rest your head on and they should go to one of two places: the trash can or to a service center.

    A healthy human eye has about a 2 micron resolution. So if you see light that means they are at least that far out of calibration/parallelism. Rotating the dial to zero or hitting the reset button in an effort to compensate is only fooling the person using them. This is because the dimensioning will vary depending on the amount of pressure used on the thumb wheel and by the location along the blades that makes contact with the part. (since they aren't parallel your introducing a sine error)

    Digital anything that depends on a battery for a power source has no business in a shop IMO. 12 years ago I used a set that had a low battery condition. The low battery indicator failed and as a result about $3500 worth of material was scrapped at the saw before the job even made it to the 1st op.

    Calipers are very handy tools and I own several pairs of good ones, just don't fool yourself into thinking they are more than what they really are.

    Good luck.

    C </div></div>

    Beat me to it. Thank you! It always makes me chuckle when someone tells me that calipers are accurate to x.xxxx" because the display said so. If it really was true then there would be no reason for micrometers or optical comparators or the litany of other methods for making true 4+ decimal place precise measurements.

    Well said
    smile.gif
     

    Lumpy Grits

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: The Shottist</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: lumpy grits</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I'm old school and use dial type.
    Won't own a digital.....to many problems with'em. </div></div>
    The digital is accurate to .0005
    Dials are accurate to .001
    The magnetic media is permanently embedded in epoxy.
    Digital allows re-zero at any point.

    The digital units don't jump when going from zero to 4.xxx when there is a spec of debris in the rack and pinion because there is no rack and pinion. That was always my pet peeve with my Starret dial caliper. I just ordered the Mitutoyo from Amazon (best prices and free shipping) and am looking forward to retiring my dial caliper. </div></div>

    So, how long have you worked the "shops"?
    Calipers WILL get you close for "rough" work(with in .005").
    I can't help it if YOU can't keep your tool clean.
    Cheers,
    LG

    LG
     

    pschwenke

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    I'll take the FFL, thank you very much. To be honest, our shop uses calipers everyday to +/-0.002 tolerances. That's really not a problem. However, anything below this, we use micrometers. Brown & Sharpe and Mitutoyo calipers are very good. We do check the calipers & micrometers to a known standard traceable to NIST standards. With 22 years experience to back it up.

    Calipers are a very valuable tool, just not for high precision measurements. Plus or minus 0.005" is pretty easy if you pay attention.

    Paul
     

    cal50

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    Calipers-
    I have always hated starrett calipers. The ones with a gear rack or digital without a gear rack. Mit-I-yoyo is what I have used for + 20 years. It's a "feel" or personal preference but I never likes Starrett calipers or dial indicators. For versatility digital calipers are nice to have around and if you develop a good feel for using them and don't spring the jaws they will serve you well. They are in use in our QC lab and they have their place.

    Accuracy wise I have no problems with .001 repeatability as I did an R&R with them a while back for measurement uncertainty.
    Try a few different makes in your own hands then decide.
     

    scout67

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    I like my Mitutoyo digital calipers. I have several pair from 4" to 12". They are what I use everyday. Mine are all battery, no solar. I have mine on 10 hrs a day 5 days a week. And the battery will last 6 months. So, no solars for me. I like the dig. because they are much more resistant to trash causing problems. Calipers are good tools and fairly acccurate. Calipers are like anything else, you must understand their limitations.
     

    Glen Seekins

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    I like my mitutoyo digitals, but i call them rulers. They are a tool just like everything else. For real measurements i have a Fowler elecronic height guage that is just shy of amazing.

    Now, with some practice a guy can get dang good with calipers. I have one set i can measure very well with. Thats one set out of about a dozen around here. Coolant and floors are very hard on calipers. Watch the tips on each end for burrs. Bad calipers have scrapped more parts that i care to talk about..
     

    Clark

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    Re: Good Calipers?

    My wife challenged me to design a low cost fat meter ~ 15 years ago.
    I fell flat on my face trying to get amplitude imunity on the phase detector.

    My cousin did the electrical and software design of the Mitutoyo coolant proof calipers [Harsh environment model now].

    He used a 3 phase oscillator with magnetic phase position sensor. He got plenty of amplitude immunity.
    He got a patent and everything.

    That makes me look stupid, but I got a pair of the calipers, and was using them tonight making a mounting plate for a 5" chuck to fit on an old 6" Yuasa rotary table.