As a metalworker, measuring is among the tasks that I find myself doing more often. I guess the case is not different for the woodworkers and DIY homeowners. Now, when measuring the length of a workpiece, I rely on a ruler or a tape measure.
However, when taking small measurements such as the external or internal diameter of a bolt, I will need a tool designed for that. And yes, it’s at this point that I find a dial caliper handy. In fact, I currently own five dial calipers all from different brands.
A dial caliper is majorly used for measuring internal and external dimensions, step, and the depth of an object. It comes with two scales, the main scale, and the dial scale. The readings of the main scale are determined by checking the position of the reference edge on the scale while the dial scale readings are gotten by determining the mark indicated by the pointer in the dial scale.
Although dial calipers are normally durable and accurate, there is still the need to do a little research on the one that will deliver the best value for money.
In this review, I have combined my extensive knowledge together with the experience I have to sift out the market’s top options.
I have presented the 11 top-notch options on a list, clearly bringing out the uniqueness of each model to make it easy for you to pick your favorite. Let’s set the ball rolling!
- Dial face reads in both inch (black) and metric (red).
11 Best Dial Calipers
#1 Fowler Stainless Steel Shockproof Dial Caliper
I bought this Fowler shockproof dial caliper seven years ago. I still love the fact that it holds up nicely even after all these years. In fact, it doesn’t even look like giving up anytime soon. I love the stainless steel construction of the unit. In fact, hardened construction was one of the things that convinced me to buy the caliper. Unlike some steel tools that catch rust after a few months or years of use, the hardened construction of this model resists rust.
The American-made caliper features a heavy-duty spring which makes it among the most precise models you will get in the market. The knurled lock screw allows me to lock the jaw in place so that I get consistent measurements. The dial graduations are of 0.01 inches. In other words, a complete circle of the pointer results in 1-inch movement in the main scale (0.01inches x 100). The caliper measures between 0-6 inches which I find very suitable for most of my applications.
I also like the fact that it features a covered rack. This property ensures that dirt and debris do not clog the gear, eliminating the chances of measurement errors. The tool came with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty to show that the manufacturer has full confidence that the product will not disappoint.
- It is very rugged.
- The graduation marks are cleanly cut to make reading quick and accurate.
- The weight is good.
- It would be better is the price was slightly lower.
#2 Starrett 1202F-6 Dial Caliper
Although I have not used this dial caliper before, I have a friend who values it very much. In fact, you can hardly convince him that there exists a better dial caliper than this. And yes, taking into consideration the number of years he has used it, together with the amazing features it packs, it would be unfair for me to deny that it’s also among the market’s top options.
Just like the preceding model, the model comes with graduations of 0.01 inches that run from 0-100. However, unlike the caliper discussed earlier, Starret 1202F have extra graduations on the dial that express measurements in fraction form. All the graduations come in sharp black marks that he finds very easy to read. My colleague loves the dual dial scaling since he doesn’t have to convert the readings from decimals to fractions whenever he wants them in fraction form.
The measurement tool also features a durable lock screw that allows him to hold the moving jaw in place for convenience in repeat measurements. The rack teeth of this model point down to ensure that dirt and debris do not compromise the accuracy of the tool by clogging the gear.
- The durable plastic case provides storage when the tool is not in use.
- The dual graduations deliver user convenience.
- It is easy to read.
- It is not exactly cheap.
#3 Anytime Tools Dial Caliper
This caliper is my latest addition. In fact, it arrived just a few months ago. All the other calipers that I had only gave the measurements in inches. This meant that I had to convert the readings if at all I needed them in metric form. However, after coming across this model as I was surfing, I was convinced that it would be of great help since it expresses measurements in both imperial and metric form.
And yes, after acquiring it, it has greatly simplified my work. I like the fact that the caliper only goes at an affordable price that suits just about any pocket of a serious metalworker and woodworker. The inch calibrations come with black marks while the metric ones are expressed by the use of red marks on the dial. This dial caliper gives accurate readings and measures the internal, external, step, and depth of an object provided that it is below 150 millimeters, an approximate of 6 inches.
The unit has a very rugged construction that feels as if it will last for decades. In fact, it comes with hardened steel construction just like the Fowler shockproof dial caliper. The sliding surface is raised to prevent the graduations from wear and defacement. The covered stainless steel rack prevents the cases of clogging at the gears hence the unit gives me accurate readings in every attempt.
- The finish is excellent.
- The ability to express measurements in both metric and inch form is a plus.
- The price is good.
- It can only measure up to 6 inches.
#4 Mitutoyo 505-742-56 D6″TX-6 Dial Caliper
My cousin Bob has always supported Brazil in the previous world cups. In fact, it has been his favorite team since his early childhood. It was his 29th birthday, and as it is the custom, he was expecting something special from me; not just because I was a relative, but because I was also his closest friend. And yes, after a week of trying to figure out the perfect gift for him, I came up with an idea! Do you mind giving a guess? Well, being among the DIY enthusiasts, I was convinced that getting him a dial caliper from Brazil would be a wise decision. And indeed it was!
This tool comes with an improved design that delivers an ultra-smooth sliding and reliable shock absorption. The removal of tin coating facilitates smooth sliding without compromising the wear life of the tool. The lock screw holds the jaw where the user wants it to ensure accurate measurements.
Mitutoyo 505-742-56 D6″ TX-6 Dial Caliper measures the outer diameter, internal diameter, depth, and steps. Therefore, Bob finds this model very useful in most of his applications. The six-inch caliper features a black dial face, unlike the typical white. In different terms, he finds the caliper easier to read than other models he had used before.
- The caliper holds a setting well after locking.
- The thumb roller provides easy adjustments with one hand.
- The hard plastic case nests the caliper nicely when not in utilization.
- Under very rare occasions, the unit may come with a white dial face.
#5 HFS (Tm) 0- 6″ ; 4 WAY DIAL CALIPER
For those that are operating under small budgets, I highly recommend this model. In fact, comparing the price to its quality, I can confidently argue that the dial caliper gives the best value for money. Although by looking at the price is easy to think that it gives an inaccurate reading, that’s very far from the truth. In fact, the tool delivers great accuracy of 0.001 inches which compares to that of the other expensive models.
The unit has covered racks to ensure that it maintains accuracy throughout the service life. HFS dial caliper comes with stainless steel construction of the highest quality. This construction delivers years of longevity. The satin chrome finish steps up the aesthetics when simultaneously protecting it from corrosion.
The ability to measure the depth, inside diameter, outside diameter, and step means that you should find it an ideal choice for all your measurements. The shockproof dial guarantees the durability of the scale while the thump roll allows for exact positioning. After positioning, use the slide lock to hold the reading in position.
- The case is padded to avoid scratching the finish.
- The dial scale is in inches for greater versatility.
- It is very lightweight.
- It may not offer something much special apart from the low price.
#6 Starrett 3202-6 Dial Caliper
After seeing how my friend values the Starrett 1202F option, I got the desire to try out a dial caliper from the same manufacturer to see if it’s worth the praise. However, I didn’t go for the exact model as my friend’s, instead, I chose to try out this newer option. And yes, it’s a decision I have never regretted, and neither am I going to anytime soon! This dial caliper is of rugged stainless steel construction for extended durability.
Just like my other stainless steel calipers, this model maintains the factory-fresh look even after using it for over two years. The thumb-operated adjustment knob allows me to adjust the unit to the required settings with ease. The series offers a range of 0-6 inches.
However, unlike the other caliper by Anytime Tools that express the dial face readings in both metric and inches, this model only gives the measurements in inches. The graduations of 0.001 inches make it very accurate. The markings are also very sharp and clear to eliminate chances of misreading.
- The durable red case gave me the first impression.
- The finish is durable.
- It is pretty lightweight but sturdy.
- May not be the right option for those that don’t like China products.
#7 Accusize Tools – 0-12″ x 0.001″ Precision Dial Caliper
My first time to come across this model was when I paid a visit to my uncle’s workshop a few months ago. After getting attracted by the beautiful finish on the tool, I was impressed to know more about the tool. And yes, from his experience, I couldn’t see why it should miss in the list. The ability to measure up to the range of 12 inches makes it one of the customer’s favorite. In other words, it offers double versatility of the 6-inch models. Therefore, if you are in the lookout for a unit that can suit most applications, this would be a good place for you to invest.
The caliper is of premium-grade stainless steel material that stands the test of time. The hardened construction of the measuring face also ensures longevity while beautiful satin finish gives it an attractive appearance. The satin finish also protects the steel construction from the effects of harsh elements, making the caliper a good option for the people that work in outdoors.
The graduation intervals of 0.0001 inches mean that the unit is micro-lapped to ensure great accuracy. The clamp allows for repetitive setting while the deluxe case makes it easy to store and carry the tool.
- The dial is very clear.
- The accuracy of 0.0001 inches per six inches is impressive.
- The small size allows for use in confined spaces.
- The thump wheel rattles a little.
#8 iGaging 6″ Dial Caliper
Every time I see this model, I remember where I started. Still being new to metalworking, I hadn’t established myself very well financially and couldn’t afford the expensive models. Luckily, despite the very affordable price, this unit came with very high-quality steel construction for exceptional strength. In fact, if you came to my workshop, I will have a hard time to convince you that it was my first purchase since it looks newer than some of the later arrivals.
I like the fact that the dial scale gives measurements in both decimal and fraction form. This feature eliminates the hassle of converting decimals to fractions which can be very time consuming especially for those that take Math for rocket science. The graduations of 0.01 inches mean that a complete revolution moves the reading on the main scale by an inch.
The 4-way measurement is also an added advantage since it makes the unit very versatile. However, unlike the preceding model from Accusize Tools, this unit has a measurement range of 0-6 inches which may not be enough for some applications.
- The price is affordable for a starter.
- It gives measurements in both fractions and decimals.
- The plastic storage case is rugged.
- The graduation of 0.01 inches means that it doesn’t give the best precision.
#9 Shop Fox D3208 Fractional Dial Caliper
I still hold the memories- It was two years ago in the month of August 15th. It was my birthday party, and as usual, I had thrown a bash and invited a couple of friends. Amazingly, among the gifts I had received was this dial caliper. And yes, in all the birthday gifts that I have received, I rate this above all others. The dial calipers come with precise stainless steel construction.
This construction is not only durable and scratch resistant but also does not corrode like some models. The unit gives 4-way measurements; inside, outside, depth and step to suit multiple applications. The dial scale shares some similarities with my starter model since the graduations are expressed in both fractions and decimals at the intervals of 1/64″ and 0.01″ respectively. Therefore, if you want to enjoy the convenience of expressing your measurements in decimal and fraction form without having to perform calculations, this choice should suit you.
Personally, I saw this as a good tool for home use in measuring board thickness, depth, and the internal diameter. The adjustable jaw slides smoothly by turning the thumb wheel and locks in place using the screw located at the upper side near dial.
- The locking feature adds convenience in repeat measurements.
- The gears do not skip.
- The dial markings are crisp.
- The graduation interval of 0.01 inches means that it doesn’t give the very precise reading.
#10 Brown & Sharpe 599-579-12-1 Dial Caliper
Although this is not among the long list of dial calipers I have used in my career, I know a number of professionals who have been using it for quite a while. Most of these professionals majorly love it because of the great accuracy it gives when it comes to measurements.
The dial scale has intervals of 0.001 inches to give readings up to the thousandth digit. In other words, the pointer makes a complete revolution for every 0.1 inches. Therefore, the inaccuracy level of the unit is so negligible to make it ideal for professional applications.
The dial measures 1.25 inches in diameter. Therefore, the diameter is neither too big to fit in confined spaces nor too small to make one strain when reading. Just like the other models discussed earlier, this tool has a solid construction that gives it extended durability.
- It is a decent caliper.
- The build quality is great.
- The case is very solid.
- Some users don’t love that it isn’t made in the US.
#11 Anytime Tools Premium Dial Caliper
Just like my most recent addition, this dial caliper comes from Anytime Tools. In fact, it is among the best selling models currently in the market. Most customers love the high precision of the gears and the double shockproof design. Some delight in the micro-lapped graduations of 0.001 inches that gives measurements up to the thousandth value.
Although the measurement range of 0-6 inches may not be enough for most users, a good number appreciates that this range suits most of their applications. The solid steel construction withstands even the toughest outdoor elements for unmatched durability. The thumb wheel rolls smoothly to allow for easy adjustments when taking measurements while the knurled lock holds the jaw in exact setting for consistency in repeat measurements. A good number of users also love the quality of the padded case that comes with the dial caliper.
- The construction is durable.
- It allows for quick and precise adjustments.
- The dial scale is clear.
- It would be better if it came with a broader measurement range.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How accurate are dial calipers?
The accuracy of dial calipers may vary. Some models have an accuracy level of 0.01 inches over 6 inches when used correctly. However, most dial calipers have an accuracy of 0.001 inches over the same length. To know the accuracy of the dial calipers, check the number of decimals in the dial scale to see what each graduation interval represents.
What is inside caliper?
This is the caliper for measuring internal dimensions. It could be the diameter of a hole or a bolt. Normally, the jaws, in this case, face outwards (reverse jaws), unlike the other jaws that curve inwards. In dial calipers, the reverse jaws are normally located at the opposite end of the larger jaws.
What are the types of calipers?
There are three main types of calipers; the vernier calipers, dial calipers, and digital calipers. Vernier calipers have two scales; one running at the top and the other at the bottom. One of the scales is normally fixed while the other (vernier scale) moves with the jaw. The dial calipers on the other side have the main scale and a dial scale. The digital calipers are the newest arrivals on the market and express the measurements in a digital format. Unlike the other two calipers, digital calipers use a battery and are the most expensive. However, they are the easiest to read.
In a nutshell, if you are among the people who take measurements more often, a dial caliper is a must-have tool. These calipers are generally affordable and can last for years under proper maintenance. Their precision is also very impressive and the readings are very straightforward to make. And with the above list, picking the ideal option for your job has just gotten simpler!
- 11 Best Dial Calipers
- #1 Fowler Stainless Steel Shockproof Dial Caliper
- #2 Starrett 1202F-6 Dial Caliper
- #3 Anytime Tools Dial Caliper
- #4 Mitutoyo 505-742-56 D6″TX-6 Dial Caliper
- #5 HFS (Tm) 0- 6″ ; 4 WAY DIAL CALIPER
- #6 Starrett 3202-6 Dial Caliper
- #7 Accusize Tools – 0-12″ x 0.001″ Precision Dial Caliper
- #8 iGaging 6″ Dial Caliper
- #9 Shop Fox D3208 Fractional Dial Caliper
- #10 Brown & Sharpe 599-579-12-1 Dial Caliper
- #11 Anytime Tools Premium Dial Caliper
- Frequently Asked Questions: