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Caliper tools | basic 8 types & BENEFITS ILLUSTRATED

You are going to need caliper tools,whether it is an engineering project for school, a DIY home improvement project, or the creation of a state-of-the-art airliner, . Precise measuring is crucial in building and creating. Nearly any project, big or small, requires accurate measurements.

Imagine a world where everything is measured approximately. Bridges and buildings would not have the solid foundation that we rely on and clothes wouldn’t quite fit the way they should. 

Caliper as a Measuring Tool

Calipers are measuring tools that offer you accurate, precise measurements. They calculate the distance between the opposite sides or ends of an object, such as determining the thickness of something or measuring the inside, outside, depth, or step using two adjustable jaw-type pieces. 

Industries such as science, woodworking, mechanical engineering, construction, metalworking, carpentry, and more have used calipers for many years. History has shown caliper tools were used in ancient times.

Though, one should know that a quick internet search or a walk down the aisle at your local home improvement store will prove that there is more than one caliper available. 

Choosing the right one will depend on the project at hand. 

Types of Calipers

Because you are looking for precise measurements, you will need to use the tool designed to measure them specifically. Hence the reason there are so many different types of calipers.  

Dial Caliper and Fractional Dial Caliper

Dial calipers are mostly used for measuring thickness and small movements with great accuracy. A rack and pinion system sends the locomotion of the caliper jaws to the movement of the dial. You can read the measurements in either .1 inch or .001 inch intervals based on where the hand is pointing. 

Fractional dial calipers are created like regular dial calipers but are designed to be read fractionally in 64ths of an inch, to be exact. As a result, those who need it have an accurate measurement without having to do any mathematical conversions. 

Vernier Caliper

If there was a ruler-style caliper that can do it all, it is the vernier caliper. It measures the outside, inside, depth and step. 

This caliper gives you an easy reading using either an imperial scale or a metric scale so that you have no conversions. And, because of its ruler style, it feels comfortable and easy to use. 

Vernier calipers have been renowned as one of the best, most accurate measuring tools of all time. 

Digital Caliper

Keeping up with new technology, this caliper is one of the newest available and has, as its name suggests, a digital screen. That means there is no more need to strain your eyes and try to read the small print of the scale. Measurements are easy to read on the digital display.

Digital calipers can take measurements of the outside, inside, depth, and step. 

Inside Caliper

An inside caliper is used for gauging internal dimensions as in a hose or pipe. They are also commonly used to determine the inside dimensions of grooves or holes.

Using the two legs facing outward, you extend or narrow them by manually adjusting the screw to obtain the precise measurement.

Outside Caliper

An outside caliper is designed for measuring objects using its bow-shaped legs turned inward. This will allow you to take external/outside dimensions, This tool is often used when seeking a precise measurement of round, spherical objects or various 3-dimensional objects. 

The jaws of the caliper use a spring mechanism that locks and holds it in place to get a proper reading. 

Divider Caliper

The divider caliper is used for scaling between two regions. It has two legs with sharp tips and is often referred to as a pair of compasses. To measure, you would put a point at each spot and take note of the linear distance between them. 

Oddleg Caliper

Designed with one leg straight and the other bent, these calipers are used to determine the distance from an edge. The scriber (the straight leg) marks a specific distance parallel to the edge. 

This type of caliper (also known as a Jenny caliper or a hermaphrodite caliper) is most commonly used in woodworking, metalworking, and plastics. 

Micrometer Caliper

With measurements located on the thumbscrew, these calipers are used for making precise calculations of diameters, thickness, and lengths. It has a c-shaped frame with a jaw that clamps to an object for extract measurements. 

Micrometer calipers often have a smaller measuring range with a higher resolution. 

Renown Brands

There are several different brands of calipers that seem to find their way into the toolbox of people in all sorts of industries. The most renowned brands of calipers are: 

  • General Tools
  • Starrett
  • Mitutoyo Calipers
  • Pittsburgh

Dial Caliper vs. Digital Caliper

Dial calipers and digital calipers are essentially two versions of the same type of tool. Let’s break down each one, including its key features and limitations. 

Dial calipers use a dial that measures 1/1000th of an inch increment. They use a rack and pinion for accurate movement, displaying the measurement on a large dial. Require careful review to ensure precise measurement. 

Digital calipers are easy to read with a large, distinct display. It is presented instantly and in any format of your choosing. Keep in mind that digital calipers are not waterproof and can be hard to read in bright light. 

It is important to note that both the dial and digital calipers are great choices since they are the most user-friendly and offer a clear reading without too much need for interpretation. 

Different Application of Caliper

As mentioned, calipers are used in all types of industries. Because of their versatility, different forms of these caliper tools can be used in a variety of settings. 

  • Health, nutrition, and fitness professionals use skin-fold calipers to determine body fat levels. 
  • Schools use them in science classes, measuring things like seedlings in biology or engineering, or physics applications. 
  • Auto and aviation mechanics use calipers to manage the intricate parts of a machine and make it function properly.
  • Surgeons use calipers when performing procedures on the human body. 

And that’s just a few applications! 

Common FAQs

What scale of measurements do calipers provide? 

While it depends on the caliper, most provide the imperial and the metric scales. 

How accurate are calipers’ measurements? 

Due to their design, calipers can give one of the most accurate, precise measurements. This includes inside, outside, depth, and step. 

What is the biggest downfall of a caliper? 

For many, it is the small print of the scales. You have to have good eyesight to clearly read the measurement. Thanks to newer digital models, using analog calipers is no longer a necessity. 

What is the easiest caliper to use? 

Digital and dial calipers are the easiest to use – and they offer the most accuracy, too. 

What is the best caliper to measure a large distance? 

Outside calipers are the best option for distance, especially when referring to measuring large pipes. 

Mapping uses calipers regularly, but what type? 

Whether it is the distance on a map, figuring nautical miles, or drawing up construction plans, the divider caliper is the best choice. Also known as a compass, it measures the distance between two locations.

What is the retainer part of a caliper? 

The retainer holds your measurement steady. It keeps the unit from moving while you calculate the measurement. 

Precise measurements make many things in our world function property. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or what you need to measure, there is a caliper designed to get the job done.