Alignment Tool (Calipers instead of a Dial Indicator)

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Project by USCJeff posted 09-10-2012 05:43 AM 3187 views 10 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t own an accurate dial indicator. Against pretty sound wisdom and experience, I bought one from Harbor Freight breaking the #1 rule shopping there (If it measures or has a battery, thou shalt not buy). Funny thing is, the calipers I used came from HF, measure, and have batteries as well. I replaced them a while ago and haven’t touched it until recently when conceiving this project. The important thing in this set up is being able to take a measure and transfer that to another spot to test alignment. They work perfect for that as they lock well.

Anyhow, the pictures give most of it away. I used a piece of MDF and made it to fit the miter slot very snug. I drilled toe hole for the threaded insert and threaded that into place. Using a matching machine screw and the appropriate allen wrench it allows one ot remove the calipers. I’m not sure all calipers have to same measurements, but I drilled overlapping small holes as true to the shape of the calipers as I could. A little filing squares it off.

The application is straight forward. Take measurements at the front and back of the blade/fence and make adjustments as needed.

Note: If you’re using calipers (that you like) in this manner, make sure to pad the bottom of the machine screw or it will leave an indentation on the calipers.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

9 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


8709 posts in 3028 days

#1 posted 09-10-2012 11:19 AM

Neat idea Jeff, thanks for posting.

View Dusty56's profile


11850 posts in 4139 days

#2 posted 09-10-2012 02:11 PM

I saw something similar to this just last week. Good job : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View MisterBill's profile


411 posts in 2703 days

#3 posted 09-10-2012 02:19 PM

Pretty ingenious!

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3774 days

#4 posted 09-10-2012 03:07 PM

I do the same thing with my tri-square. It has a lip that I can butt up against the right side wall of the miter slot. It locks effectively and allows me to make sure that my table saw fence is the same distance from the miter slot on both sides of the table. This is critical with the crappy fence that my old craftsman table saw has. I am one of those that wants my fence perfectly parallel to the blade.


View DanoP's profile


135 posts in 2790 days

#5 posted 09-10-2012 09:40 PM

Zero it out on the left hand side of the blade and you have a thin rip gauge.

-- We've got enough youth. Let's search for a fountain of smart.

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3284 days

#6 posted 09-10-2012 09:48 PM

Mmm, very clever!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4193 days

#7 posted 09-10-2012 10:38 PM

Seeing that tightening wrench makes me wince for your calipers – even if they are HF.
Do you use it to measure the differences along the fence like an indicator?, or just lock it down once it touches the fence at the closest gap and eyeball it from there?

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View sedcokid's profile


2735 posts in 4050 days

#8 posted 09-11-2012 12:23 PM

Looks like a decent idea, however one must be careful not to damage those calipers…. Being a toolmaker and used to using precision tools, I would never use a screw in this maner on my tools. That being said… is pretty ingenious!! Congrats on the Daily Top 3!!!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4519 days

#9 posted 09-11-2012 06:57 PM

Jim & Chuck: I don’t use these calipers for measuring anymore as it proved inaccurate. But yes, I wouldn’t suggest using a nicer Starrett square (or the like) in this manner. There is an indentation on mine. I use the same spot, but still. The nicer measuring tools come with fancy cases for a good reason!

Jim: I don’t take a measure. I just get the fence (or blade) close to it and adjust and lock the caliper to the contact point. The measure in this case doesn’t matter so long as it matches front to rear.

Dano: Haven’t thought of the thin strip use. It essentially does the same thing as the standard jigs you see. I’ve always like the jigs with the bearing attached to the contact point.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

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