Nice little woodworking Calipers for the money

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Review by HungryTermite posted 01-21-2010 08:49 PM 4583 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Nice little woodworking Calipers for the money No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I picked up the Cen-Tech 6” Digital Fractional Caliper over the holidays for $25 at Harbor Freight. It seemed like a pretty decent price compared to what I had seen for similar models at other stores. Overall I like it a lot. I have used regular calipers before but this is my first set of digital calipers and I have to say I am never going back. I bought this model because it does fractions but I don’t really use the fractions setting because I tend to think in thousandths of an inch at work so it’s easier to measure things that way. The parts seem well made and the display is nice and large and easy to read even in low light levels like I have in my garage. It came with a nice little ABS plastic case to store it in, although as a project to learn some new skills, I will probably make one out of wood and just keep all the foam lining.

As far as accuracy goes I think it does a pretty good job. The accuracy listed on the unit is +/-.001 inches. I don’t have any gauge blocks to check this against but I do have some nice fasteners. I had access to 5 aerospace quality, close tolerance fasteners. The ones I had were 5/16 diameter and about 1.25 inches long. Each one comes in its own thick (1/16”) plastic sleeve so the shanks don’t get damaged before they are installed and they cost about $100 each so I would say they are adequate reference standard to measure the calipers against. The shank diameters are supposed to be between 0.3110 and 0.3120 inches.

I got 4 readings of 0.3115 and 1 reading of 0.3120. Also, when I re-checked the readings after resetting the zero on the calipers, I got the same exact readings, so the repeatability isnt too bad. I know this is not enough samples to be statistically significant and I know that the fasteners could have been out of tolerance to begin with. I also know that the accuracy could theoretically be different over different length scales but I dont have any 5 inch diameter fasteners to check and the length tolerances on bolts is not good enough to use as a reference. However, I still think that this level of apparent accuracy is fine for my needs.

Is it a Starrett? No. Does it cost as much as a Starrett? No. I give it 4 stars instead of 5 because I am not sure about how long it will survive, although the return policy at Harbor Freight is pretty good so I could probably just trade it in if it died.

I recommend it. YMMV.

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

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4 comments so far

View Viking's profile


882 posts in 4000 days

#1 posted 01-21-2010 09:36 PM


I have that one and am very pleased with it except it eats batteries. I now remove the battery after use.

Thanks for the review.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Clarence's profile


125 posts in 3911 days

#2 posted 01-21-2010 10:48 PM

I got one last week at my local HF with a coupon for $16. To check it I measured the spacers and shims that came with my Freud dado set, the sizes of which were shown on the container. All were exactly on the money.

-- Getting old is a good thing, but being old kinda stinks.

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4454 days

#3 posted 01-21-2010 10:59 PM


I got a similar one from a different store for about the same $, never worked quite right, kept on reseting itself while I was using it, and losing power. replaced it for another, worked well for a week, then started acting up. I now use it as a secondary caliper non digital (batteries both died). and I got a non-powered dial caliper as my go-to caliper. that one is phenomenal. never causes issues, always ready for work, and precise.

not trying to bring this post down… just wanted to share another view of these digital calipers that maybe not many people are aware of until it’s too late. I hope yours works better.


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View wookie's profile


154 posts in 3889 days

#4 posted 01-22-2010 03:14 AM

I looked at this at HF too. Brought a Wixey for $30 at my local Woodworkers Shop. It also does fractions. I find that I use it all the time. Had trouble with the battery compartment and contacted Wixey by e-mail. Barry Wixey immediately contacted me and said they were having trouble with that on some models and send me out another one ASAP. That’s what I call customer service.

-- Wookie=Wood Rookie

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