It's made of plastic !

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Review by richgreer posted 06-03-2011 03:49 PM 4152 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
It's made of plastic ! No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I use my digital calipers a lot and I tend to be hard on them. I’ve dropped them and poured stuff on them and it seems like I am buying new ones often.

I saw this particular caliper on sale for half price – only $14.99. I didn’t need one at the time, but I know that I will eventually need another one so “why not?”.

I never imagined that it would be made of plastic. It has a very cheap, flimsy feel to it and it does not have the normal little turn wheel that helps you set it more precisely.

It offers fractional measurements which means it will give you a measurement to the nearest 1/128th of an inch. I’ve never had one with fractional measurements before and I am not sure that is a very valuable feature.

Relative to other digital calipers I have, I’ll give this one credit for having an easy to change battery and it uses a relatively common battery, CR2032. Other calipers I own require you to remove 2 of the tiniest screws I have even seen.

I have a number of measuring and marking tools that I normally keep on a magnetic bar on a wall close to my workbench. These include a ruler, small square, marking knife and calipers. Well, I can’t keep this caliper handy on that magnetic bar.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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4541 posts in 3878 days

18 comments so far

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3639 days

#1 posted 06-03-2011 04:37 PM

I have one word for you…”plastics.”

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3757 days

#2 posted 06-03-2011 05:34 PM

It will be interesting to see how they do over time. Hope you will get us an update after you’ve used them a while. They may be great. After all, Mont Blanc pens, and Nikon cameras are plastic.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4569 days

#3 posted 06-03-2011 05:52 PM

I have five Nikon cameras and none of them are plastic. I guess you are referring to some of the point-and-shoot Nikons.

Just a sign of the times for most stuff. Buy it, use it, break it…. and repeat.

- JJ

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Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 3968 days

#4 posted 06-03-2011 06:10 PM

I have a Wixey Caliper. metal, easy access battery, CR2032, and they have a precision feel. I keep a supply of that battery type in the shop, since I have about 5 different Wixey items. They all work well.

I have noted other brands around, but right now, I don’t think I will buy any other brand. My calipers, and other measurement instruments, as well as a bunch of other stuff, reside on my measurement tote. So I don’t leave the calipers lying around, since the tote is at the site of action in the shop, and it invites putting the caliper away when I am done. Hence, less likely to drop.

Wixey stuff hasn’t been the cheapest, but they have good quality.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3788 days

#5 posted 06-03-2011 06:21 PM

My only iGaging item is a precision 24” straight edge and I love it. However, it has stayed my only item by them because there were some that I contemplated purchasing, but after checking them out, passed. They seem to offer tools at a very reasonable price, but the quality of one model seems to differ dramitically from others. From what I have seen, a brand like Wixey is very consistent and I suppose that is part of the price.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View JohnnyQ's profile


14 posts in 3943 days

#6 posted 06-03-2011 07:20 PM

Curious how it is going to behave with large temperature variations. I am guessing this is a 6 in caliper, and ABS plastic. A 30 F temp change will cause this to grow/shrink 0.003

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3878 days

#7 posted 06-03-2011 07:28 PM

I don’t think we will have much of a temperature change in my heated and air conditioned shop.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4569 days

#8 posted 06-03-2011 07:59 PM

I agree with what everyone is saying about Wixey. They make good stuff. I usually keep my battery operated gizmos in the house during the winter, since I only run the heat when I’m in the shop. The cold will zap a battery pretty quick.
- JJ

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 3493 days

#9 posted 06-03-2011 08:09 PM

Hi Rich,

I’ve got that same caliper, got it from Rockler. (And I’ve got some other metal 6” caliper from Woodcraft – not sure who the manufacturer is – it does NOT have the fractional readout).

I was disappointed when I got it too. I’ve had it probably 6 months and actually ended up using it more than my other one BECAUSE it has the fractional readout. It’s nice not to have to convert decimal to fractions (if your drawings are in fractions). Then there’s times where it’s cool to be able to get a measurement and click the button to convert between dimensions.

The main thing it’s done for me is to make me want a metal fractional caliper.

I’m always afraid I’m going to break the small piece off when you have the gage opened up. I’ve got a couple of small dings in the jaws from running it across something (a nail?) and had to try to smooth the jaws back out.

I think I paid even less for mine, but I wish I’d just used the money towards a Wixey or some metal, fractional version.

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 3968 days

#10 posted 06-03-2011 08:18 PM

The Wixeys read fractions when you get close. I have the Wixey readout on my TS, and it gets used all the time. I have the angle gizmos as well. Like them all. Mail order always is a crap shoot, unless you know exactly what you are getting or are dealing with a company that is fairly reliable and generally high quality.

“Buyer beware” is still the watchword.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3807 days

#11 posted 06-04-2011 03:17 AM

Wixey all the way here. I did have one that was made out a composite of some type, it was very good. It was damaged and I went Wixey, since I had the angle product.

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4142 posts in 3912 days

#12 posted 06-04-2011 03:52 AM

Hmmm, my stuff is Starrett, from my machinist work. I’d hate to spend that kind of money now, though.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3493 days

#13 posted 06-04-2011 04:39 AM

I have the non digital fractional caliper from the dreaded Harbor Freight. It is one of my favorite tools and has stood up to a lot of use/abuse.No batteries to replace. It measures ID,OD,and depth and has proven very accurate for my shop. If it ever dies Ill buy another just like it. Guess I should have made this a review!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Pete Jansen's profile

Pete Jansen

250 posts in 3724 days

#14 posted 06-04-2011 04:47 AM

Use the dial type Harbor Freight like gfadvm said. I use them at home and sometimes at work. They are accurate to within a couple thousandths. If you’re doing woodworking with a call out below .001, my hat’s off to you.
They’re cheap, work great, last forever in a woodshop and never need batteries.

-- Lovin' sawdust in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 3968 days

#15 posted 06-04-2011 05:35 AM

I think you are right on the money. I just use the digital because I am lazy…...don’t have to interpolate. I have an old dial type, and it works just fine. But I beg to differ with you…....I challange a call out below 0.01…..(-:

Below that there is no significance with wood…......I suspect….....just can’t see the differnence. A film of glue, or finish will demolish that.

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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