|calipers most used in my collection (tap or click on photos to enlarge)|
Normally, the two six inch calipers that immediately come to mind when the word "caliper" is mentioned are the dial or digital calipers. I have one of each. Why? I purchased the dial caliper and used it for years before the digital caliper came to the market place. The digital caliper is the easiest to read; however, I still use the dial caliper the most because of habit and no battery is necessary. I use the caliper to measure wire, drill bits, plastic rod, and brass tubing to determine their external diameters and styrene, brass and other materials for thicknesses. I also can use the caliper to determine the internal diameter of brass and plastic tubing. The caliper is also a very useful depth gauge. I have one more caliper which is just a simple four inch caliper purchased from Garret Wade. I use this caliper on every project I work on. If you do not have a caliper in your tool collection I encourage you to get one.
|calipers: digital on top, 4" in middle, dial at bottom|
I find I use a caliper for small measurements rather than a rule. I open the caliper to make the measurement between two points, move the caliper to the material, hold the caliper so one bar edge touches the edge of the material to be cut and place a rule next to the other side. I do this at the top, middle and bottom of the cut line and remove the caliper. I now mark the cut line on the piece if it is to be cut with a saw. If a knife is used to make the cut no marking is necessary. Just keep the rule in place when caliper is removed and then use the knife and run it along the rule to make the cut. I have enclosed a photo to attempt show how I use the caliper to do it.
|Measurement being transferred to styrene via caliper|
In addition to the above described calipers, I have acquired two special calipers that have an HO scale rule, the scale I model in. One such caliper is a stainless steel one made by Pacific Fast Mail (PFM) years ago. I was lucky to have one offered to me for purchase by a modeler knowing I was a scratch-builder. Of course, being a "tool junkie" I had to have it. I am glad I purchased this caliper as I use this caliper most on structure projects to take and transfer measurements of parts I need. A valuable tool I wish was still available to a model railroader. Other than the PFM caliper I have a plastic one made by General with a HO Scale which still can be purchased for your tool collection. With either of these calipers you can take a measured distance and transfer it to your project material. The General caliper in addition to the HO scale does have an O scale as well. If this type of caliper is available for other scales I do not know.
|calipers with HO scale|
Another tool I have in the tool drawer for measurements is a Starrett Co. 1" micrometer. A micrometer is a gauge that measures small distances or thicknesses between its two faces, one of which can be moved away from or toward the other by turning a screw with a fine thread. I use it to measure wire or drill bits to find the size just as the caliper; however, it can not be used as a depth gauge like the caliper. The micrometer is a handy; however, not a necessary tool you need in the tool drawer.
|An old Starrett 1" micrometer|
Again, if you do not have a caliper in your tool collection, I encourage you to purchase one. I am sure you will find it will become a valuable measurement tool for you as it has for me.
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