8" Digital Caliper with Metric or SAE Readout.

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Review by RonInOhio posted 01-04-2013 12:47 AM 5104 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
8" Digital Caliper with Metric or SAE Readout. 8" Digital Caliper with Metric or SAE Readout. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Perhaps it is a little premature to give a fair or accurate review on this tool. But I have
seen some reviews and issues in past reviews, (on 6” models) and thought I would weigh in
with my first impressions with the 8” Pittsburgh caliper .

We woodworkers rely on accuracy and reliability of our measuring tools. Its important that
we have at our disposal several ways to measure. One helpful measuring device is the caliper.

With it you can measure very accurately and in small increments, often to within thousandths
of an inch or hundreds of a millimeter.

The Pittsburgh brand 8” digital caliper are made in China or Taiwan and are available
at Harbor Freight stores.

The caliper comes with a foam lined plastic folding case. The caliper is wrapped in a cellophane sleeve. There is an
extra battery along with operating instructions and a silicon packet to keep moisture at bay.

The accuracy of the 47260 8” caliper is listed at +/- .02mm/.001”

I don’t have at my disposal any reference setup bars so I couldn’t do any verification on
the accuracy.

One common issue I noted in reviews of the 6” version of this caliper were the batteries
going dead and the auto-shutoff not working.

Maybe that was a glitch in some of the first of these that came out several years ago, but
I haven’t experienced any battery problems as of yet.

If I turn the unit on and set it down, the unit shuts off in ~ 3 minutes. But more on current draw
later in review.

The unit does not remember the last measurement after it shuts off.
So zeroing is neccessary after a shutoff.

Operation is straight-forward. There are three buttons located on the slide. Also the slide contains the digital readout display and a locking screw to lock the slide at a position along the scale.

A button to switch units between inches and millimeters is located top left on the slide. An on/off button is located bottom left. And the zero button is located bottom right.

Simply push the on/off button to turn unit display on.

To zero the unit, close the jaws using the roller thumb screw, then push the zero button. You can zero
the unit with the slide at any position along the scale.

I found the slide thumb roller to have some slop/play in it. Only digital caliper I have used so I
have nothing to compare to.

But if you don’t place your thumb just right on the wheel, there is some noticable play in the wheel which sometimes will not close or open the slide/jaws as smoothly as you would like.

I think this just takes some getting used to using the thumbwheel.I would imagine top dollar digital calipers don’t exhibit this “play” in the slide.

Not a one trick pony. Measures inside diameters and measurements, outside diameters, and depth measurements.

The rule/scale has a metric scale on top (mm) and imperial (inches) at the bottom. Each inch is further divided up
into 1/10 inch divisions. Easy to see yellow divisions on a black painted backgroud.

Directy above the large (outside) jaws that are used for outside measuring, there are small (inside) jaws that are used for….. you guessed it. Inside measurements.

Also there is a depth gauge built in to the tail of the scale and readings are taken off the display.

Digital electronics have come a long way in the last few decades. Even the economy priced units are quite capable of precision measurements to several decimal places.

I found an immediate use for the caliper as I had to assemble a router table and had several bags of screws and hardware of differing sizes. The only way to identify the parts (aside from visual comparing them and guessing) were by comparing my measured dimensions, to the parts list size and description of each piece.

Made it simple to seperate all the screws and associate them to the part numbers in the instructions.

Referring back to some of the battery issues some have experienced with these units .

Apparently many chinese made calipers do not stop drawing current when the unit is turned off. While the display is turned off, they continue to draw almost the same amount of current.
Perhaps as much as 20 uamps.

This is much more than other established brands. In some units the accuracy can be effected dramatically with just a little change in battery voltage.

Its therefore recommended to use Silver cells instead of the Alkaline button batteries. Silver cell button batteries exhibit much more stable voltage across there shelf life and may give much longer useable life than alkaline batteries in these units. Use SR44 batteries instead of LR44.

Before recommending these to anyone I will update this review in a few weeks after I have had more time with them and see how the batteries do. I paid around 26 dollars for mine at Harbor Freight after a 20% coupon was used.

While we all have our go-to measuring instruments, its good to have some versatile ways of measuring things while working on projects around the shop.

While I certainly wouldn’t call this a go-to measuring device that I feel I can always rely on, (at least not now) it will have its place alongside all my other measuring and layout tools, and certainly be very handy to have around.


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11 comments so far

View dustyal's profile


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#1 posted 01-04-2013 01:56 AM

I have this Pittsburgh model… I use it. I don’t fuss with it. I don’t know how accurate it is, however, it is accurate enough for me. So, no problem. I agree with the review.

But, if I go to grab a caliper, I most often reach for my manual analog version. Don’t know why… but I have always preferred analog gauges to digital.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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721 posts in 3674 days

#2 posted 01-04-2013 02:17 AM

Does your analog have a dial indicator or do you read off a scale ? I can see getting comfortable with one over the other.
As far as accuracy, it helps to have this capability, but for most wood measurements, its far more than we need. For machinery alignment however, its good to have.

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 3852 days

#3 posted 01-04-2013 02:55 AM

I am a toolmaker by trade and I have used calipers for almost 40 years – I have used and own both dial and digital calipers. The only issues that I have with digital calipers is that they use batteries. In my wood shop I have a digital height gage and digital calipers. These two items both take the same batteries and thus I always keep at least 2 spares on hand. They have the most uncanny ability to “die” when needed most. I’d say you made a good purchase !

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#4 posted 01-04-2013 08:08 AM

I’ve got this tool and I have the one that shows fractional inch measurements. I’ve checked the measurement on them against rulers, etc. I have found them to be highly accurate. I haven’t had an issue with the batteries running out but I haven’t used them a ton.

I think these things are great. My one complaint is that I think the small metal part that sticks out the back would be easy to bend or break. But it hasn’t happened yet so perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Get the one that can do fractional inches. It also does metric and inches in decimals. If you get the one that displays in fractional inches you don’t need the other.

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#5 posted 01-04-2013 09:29 AM

<quote>Get the one that can do fractional inches. It also does metric and inches in decimals. If you get the one that displays in fractional inches you don’t need the other.</quote>


That seems kind of like a bummer. Why would they even sell the decimal display models ?

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#6 posted 01-04-2013 08:48 PM

That’s an extremely good question and one that I’ve wondered about myself. The fractional one costs a bit more but that can be mitigated with a coupon.

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#7 posted 01-04-2013 08:51 PM

I own the Mitutoyo brand of this kind of unit. I was given the Mitutoyo at a job I worked, so I didn’t have to pop the $100. To be honest, I don’t see the $70 or so difference between the Pittsburgh and my Mitutoyo. If I had to start all over, I’d probably go back to dial since that is what I usually reach for these days, but when you turn on the digital, the Pittsburgh unit is just fine for woodworkers.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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#8 posted 01-04-2013 10:44 PM

The majority of the digital calipers sold have the option of displaying the readout in fractions, decimals, or in metric measurement.

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721 posts in 3674 days

#9 posted 01-05-2013 06:06 AM

I must be missing something. Maybe its the verbage. But my experience is that if you want
a digital caliper to display fractions of inch in fraction form, you buy one that says its fractional.
Most I have seen are decimal.

Like this page from Grainger for example.

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301 posts in 3852 days

#10 posted 01-05-2013 11:26 AM

I could be mistaken but most of the calipers that I have used have a switch on them that lets you choose what you would like the display to show – metric, decimals , or fractions

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915 posts in 2902 days

#11 posted 01-05-2013 09:46 PM

Harbor Freight sells two of these:

That’s the one that can do fractional readings. Item number 68304.

That’s the one that does decimals only, though it displays both inches and metric in decimal form. Item number 47257.

I ended up with both and both seem equally accurate. The one that can display fractional inches is more versatile and I’d get that one.

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