11 Best Dial Calipers in 2021 with a Reliable Buying Guide

Do you require precise measurements of stuff very often? Want something that will ensure a perfect fit in your wood projects? Or are you looking for a versatile tool that will let you measure random things easily? Well, if the answer to one of these questions is a yes for you, then what you are looking for is a dial caliper.

However, with the overabundance of units that are available in the market, it will be a little challenging to sort out the best dial calipers and pick one of them for your daily works. But as you have found us, you will not have to worry about a thing anymore.

We will guide you through, and hopefully, by the end, you will be able to easily pick one that will meet your daily measuring task’s requirements.

Why Dial Calipers?

Well, there are many tools available in the market that will let you measure things in woodworking, like speed squares, tape or digital protractor. But not all of them will be able to offer you as much precision as the best dial calipers tools. With these, you will not only be able to get precise measurements in dry conditions but also damp conditions.

Dial Calipers

Alongside that, these do not require any sort of battery to operate. That means you will not have to worry about changing the cells and running out of juice while you are trying to get a precise measurement of something. This mechanical operation also makes them economically and environmentally friendly.

11 Best Dial Calipers Reviews

With the overabundance of options in the market, it will be quite easy for you to get bewildered while trying to choose one for your daily measuring tasks. But we are not going to let that happen. That is why we went through the most popular ones that are out there and picked only the ones that are worth your money. These are:

1. Fowler 52-008-706-0 Stainless Steel

Fowler 52-008-706-0 Stainless Steel

Dial calipers are one of the tools that are generally used for heavy-duty applications. While doing so, they might have to withstand many impacts and collisions. In that case, if they do not come with a well-built body, they will not be able to offer an extended overall lifespan.

This unit from Fowler comes with heavy-duty stainless steel construction. The body is shockproof and has anti-backlash control integrated into it. That means it will not be able to withstand daily abuses in heavy-duty tasks but also will be able to offer you an extended service.

The body also has an exterior coating that will let it resist corrosion and rust. With that, you will be able to take this to measure a wet piece of equipment without having to worry about it catching rust and corroding.

Alongside that, it also comes with a heavy-duty spring that will offer you precise measurements. You will not have to worry about your cuts for the wooden project that you are putting so much effort into.

The rack that the unit features is covered. This covering will make sure that dirt and other debris do not get into the gear. Because of that, the possibilities of the gear clogging and having measurement errors will be minimal.

It also comes with a knurled screw that will lock the sliding jaw in place. With that, you will be able to get consistent measurements every time.

Pros

  • Features a shockproof body
  • Comes with a heavy-duty spring
  • Offers precise measurements
  • Rack has a covering
  • Knurled locking mechanism is included

Cons

  • Some units ship with faulty dials
  • A bit hard to zero it in after frequent measures

2. Starrett 1202F-6 Stainless Steel, White Face

Starrett 1202F-6 Stainless Steel, White Face

Getting one of the best quality dial calipers will not only ensure you precise measurements but also will make sure that the measurement errors are minimal. And, this one that Starrett is offering is a good competitor for that category.

The unit comes with a thumb-operated roll that is extremely easy to dial. It will let you make fine adjustments to the calipers without having to use two hands. You will be able to hold the thing that you want to measure with one and measure it using the other one.

It also comes with a locking screw too. With that, you will be able to lock the sliding jaw in one position. After that, you will be able to get a consistent measurement in each of the tries.

Alongside that, it comes with rack teeth that you can point down. After that, foreign matters will not be able to invade into the gear system and clog it. That means it will be able to offer you an extended lifespan and will provide a minimal amount of measurement errors.

The unit also comes with a durably constructed body. All the components are of stainless steel, which will increase the overall lifespan further. As the gears are of the same material, they will be able to output precise results every time. You will be able to make exact cuts in your wood projects at ease.

Lastly, the unit comes with a spring-loaded double pinon that has integrated anti-backlash control.

Also Read On: Top Spokeshaves For Your Wood Projects.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a locking screw
  • Keeps foreign materials away from the gears
  • Features a durable overall construction
  • Outputs a minimal amount of measurement errors

Cons

  • Gears strip off after a prolonged use
  • Body tends to catch rust

3. Anytime Tools DUAL Reading Scale METRIC SAE Standard

Anytime Tools DUAL Reading Scale METRIC SAE Standard

While most of the units will be able to read in one specific measurement system, few can read in two different systems. And this that is from Anytime Tools one is one of them.

As we have mentioned above, the unit comes with a unique reading scale that can measure in two different systems. They are differently marked as well. The black one is in Decimal inch, and the red one, on the other hand, is for Metric. You will not have to convert the numbers after each of the measuring sessions.

Alongside that, the unit is durably constructed too. It features a stainless steel body that is exceptionally sturdy. You will be able to take this with you for carrying out heavy-duty measurement tasks without having to worry about it breaking.

The rack that the unit comes with has a protective cover. This cover will ensure that the internals remains free from foreign materials. As a result, the possibilities of the gear clogging degrades substantially. You can expect to get precise measurements out of this with a minimal rate of measurement errors.

Other than that, the sliding surface for the scale is slightly raised. This raised surface will protect the unit from defacement of graduations and will also prevent occasional wears. That means it will be able to serve you for an extended amount of time.

It also comes equipped with dual springs that are heavy-duty. The anti-backlash control will make sure that the gear teeth do no jam.

Pros

  • Can read in two different measurement systems
  • Features a durable body
  • Surface is a bit raised to prevent wears
  • Comes with two heavy-duty springs
  • Has integrated anti-backlash control

Cons

  • Requires calibration out of the package
  • Bottom retainer bar that is on the backside is of flimsy plastic

4. Mitutoyo 505-742-56 D6"TX-6 0.1"/Rev, 0"-6", 0.001"

Mitutoyo 505-742-56 D6"TX-6 0.1"/Rev, 0"-6", 0.001"

Among all the ones that are available in the market, the ones that come with smooth sliding gears are the ones that are easy to use. An excellent example of a unit such as that would be this one that Mitutoyo is offering.

First of all, unlike most of the units, this one comes with an innovative gear mechanism. This gear mechanism is exceptionally smooth, and it will let the slider glide through like it is on butter. You will be able to make adjustments within a matter of seconds.

Other than that, the body also features durable overall construction. It is stainless steel. With that, it also features a shockproof design. That means you will not have to worry about losing the calibration if your drop the unit accidentally. Also, because of the sturdy body, you can expect it to last for an extended amount of time.

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It comes with a tin coating on the sliding surface. This coating does not only makes the sliding mechanism smoother but also protects it from wearing over time. With that, you can expect it to have the same smooth sliding action after prolonged use.

Just like most of the scales that are out there, it also comes with a locking screw. Because of this screw, you will be able to lock the dial-up at one position. And after that, you will get a consistent measurement in the measuring session.

Pros

  • Smooth sliding mechanism
  • Has a tin coating that prevents wears on the sliding surface
  • Comes with a locking screw
  • Features a shockproof body
  • Offers precise measurements

Cons

  • Does not have any coating to resist rust
  • Some units ship with a cracked lens

5. Hardware Factory Store (Tm) 0-6" 4 Way

Hardware Factory Store (Tm) 0-6 4 Way

You will stumble upon a plethora of units while searching for one of the best dial calipers ever made. But not all of them will be able to offer you as much accuracy as this one from Hardware Factory Store will.

Let us talk about the highlighting feature first. It comes with a measuring dial that has a 0.001 inches accuracy. With that, you will be able to measure the cuts of your projects precisely and will not have to worry about the cuts not fitting into place afterward. Your woodworks will be a piece of art.

Just like most of the units that are out there, it also comes with an adjustable bezel. After rotating it, you will be able to reset to zero quickly. It will also let you easily switch between different baselines.

Alongside that, it also features a locking knob that you can activate whenever you want. After activating it, you will get a constant measurement throughout the measuring session.

Besides that, the graduations that the scale features are microfine. They are easy to read and are widely spaced. You will have no trouble at all trying to measure equipment precisely with this scale.

The package comes with a padded case that will let you carry it with you. Other than that, the body is shockproof as well. That means you will not have to worry about the calibration getting messed up if it bumps with any other equipment or if you drop it accidentally.

Pros

  • Has a 0.001 inches accuracy
  • Rotation bezel
  • Comes with a shockproof body
  • Includes a padded case
  • Features a locking thumb roll

Cons

  • Some units ship with a defective zeroing mechanism
  • Lens is not that durable

6. Starrett 3202-6 Hardened Stainless Steel

Starrett 3202-6 Hardened Stainless Steel

In the market, the best rated dial calipers are those that have the perfect combination of durable body and offers precise measurements every time. This one that is from Starret is the one that can represent them adequately.

To begin with, it comes with a sturdy body. The construction is of hardened stainless steel. All the crucial components are of that steel. That means it will be able to offer you measuring service for an extended amount of time without showing any signs of wear and tear.

Just like most of the units that are out there, it also comes with a locking mechanism. The roll will let you lock the sliding jaw, and after that, you will be able to keep the dialing bezel at a fixed position. With that, comparing the dimensions of different equipment will become an easy task.

Alongside that, it also comes with an adjustable bezel. You will be able to adjust it and will be able to zero the measurement dialer up within a matter of seconds. Calibrating it will not be any hassle at all.

The unit is extremely versatile too. It can provide a precise measurement of I.D, O.D, and other sorts of depths. With this, you will not have to get another tool to carry out all those measuring operations.

Lastly, it comes included with a case that has cushioned foam. With that, you will be able to take it with you in different places without having to worry about any transportation damages.

Also read: Hardware Organizers Reviews.

Pros

  • Features a durable overall construction
  • Adjustable bezel
  • Has a locking screw
  • Exceptionally versatile
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons

  • Tends to lose the zero quite often
  • Sliding mechanism feels a bit stiff

7. Accusize Industrial Tools Stainless Steel, in Fitted Box, P920-S212

Accusize Industrial Tools Stainless Steel, in Fitted Box, P920-S212

In your search for the best budget dial calipers, you will stumble upon plenty of options that are going to be from different manufacturers. But not there will be hardly a few that will be able to offer you as precise measurements as this one can.

To begin with, just like most of the high-end units, this one also has a direct reading capability of 0.001 inches. With that, you will not have any trouble at all in getting precise readings of the necessary equipment that you require to fit in your projects.

Alongside that, the unit is extremely versatile too. You will be able to measure the depth, outside and inside of the things with this. That means you will not require a separate scale to carry out those measuring tasks.

The measuring surface is micro-lapped and has precision grounding that will enhance the accuracy further. It has a rating of being accurate to 0.001 inches per 6 inches.

Furthermore, the scale also features a chrome finish that makes it easier to see the numbers. Also, the graduations are engraved crisply, which means you will have no trouble at all in case of seeing them while measuring.

It also comes with a clamp that will let you fix the slider for a repetitive measuring. The rack of the body is covered, which means that the environmental debris and other small stuff will not be able to get in the internals. With that, it will be able to reduce the measuring errors substantially.

Pros

  • Offers an excellent value proposition
  • Comes with a covered rack
  • Has an accuracy of 0.001 inches
  • Scale has engraved graduations
  • Features a clamping mechanism

Cons

  • Ships with a poorly designed case
  • Thumb knob is a bit stiff

8. iGaging 6" Fractional & Decimal Inch

iGaging 6" Fractional & Decimal Inch

Having a double system scale with you in the case of measuring tasks can be very convenient. With them, you will not have to make manual conversion after each measurement you take. And a good example of those type of units would be this one that is from iGaging.

Just like the label states, the unit comes in two different measuring scales. Both of them have a different coloring that will make it easier for you to distinguish them. The white marking is for the fractional inch while the green one is for the decimal one. You will be able to work with both of them at the same time.

Alongside that, the unit is quite sturdy as well. The overall construction is of stainless steel. With the hardened body, it will be able to offer you extended service without showing any signs of wear or breakage. Carrying out heavy tasks will be no issue at all for this scale.

It also comes with a plastic case that will make it easier to carry it around. The case has padding inside that will ensure that the unit does not face any hard impact during transportation.

Other than that, the unit outputs extremely precise measurements too. The accuracy is 0.001 inches per six inches. You will not have to worry about getting faulty measurements with this one. It also comes with a thumbscrew that will let you lock the sliding mechanism.

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Pros

  • Comes with dual scales
  • Features a locking thumb screw
  • Body is exceptionally durable
  • Padded case
  • Has an accuracy of 0.001 inches per six inches

Cons

  • Rack does not have any covering
  • Sliding mechanism is not that smooth

9. Shop Fox D3208 Fractional

Shop Fox D3208 Fractional

Are you in the market looking for a versatile dial caliper? Want something that will let you measure steps? Then you should have a look into the D3208 from Shop Fox.

First of all, as we have mentioned, the scale is extremely versatile. Unlike most of the units, it can also measure steps. That means you will be able to measure depth, inside, outside, and steps too. With all that, you will never need any requirement for other sorts of measuring scale for carrying out measuring tasks.

It has precisely engraved numbers in it. The numbers on the dial are black, and the background is white, which makes it easy to see. These micro-fine graduations will allow you to measure stuff precisely and will lower the change of measurement errors.

Just like most of the units, it also comes with a covered rack. With that, you will not have to worry about foreign materials getting inside and clogging the gears. You will get precise measurements every time because of the covering.

The overall construction of the unit is quite sturdy too. It is of stainless steel and has an appropriate coating that will let it resist rust and corrosion. That means you will not have to worry about it getting rusted if you work in a relatively damp environment.

It also comes with a sturdy case that will make it easier for you to carry it around. The box has padding inside that will prevent any transportation damages that might occur.

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Can measure steps
  • Comes with a sturdy case that has padding inside
  • Features covered rack
  • Has micro-fine graduations that are easy to see

Cons

  • Thumb knob is not that precise
  • Only comes in imperial unit

10. TESA Brown & Sharpe 599-579-12-1 Dial Caliper, Stainless Steel

TESA Brown & Sharpe 599-579-12-1 Dial Caliper, Stainless Steel

If you regularly work in a damp environment where your tools get merged with water, then you would need something that has appropriate rust resisting coating. In that case, this one is one of the scales that are perfect for your type of work environment.

To begin with, it features a sturdy stainless steel body. This durable body will be able to withstand the occasional drops and impacts easily. That means you can expect to last for an extended amount of time, even with working in a heavy-duty work environment.

Alongside that, the body has an exterior coating that will let it resist rust and corrosion. With that, you will be able to take it with you to measure equipment that is in a damp environment. You will not have to worry about it catching rust over time.

Just like most of the units, it also outputs precise measurements. The accuracy of the graduations is 0.0001 inches. It also has a revolution that is equivalent to 0.100 inches. The rack that is on the scale has a covering.

This cover will protect the internal gears from foreign materials. As a result, you will not have to worry about it clogging and giving measurement errors.

Lastly, it comes with a 1.25 inches diameter dial that features a lock screw. After activating it, you will be able to keep the sliding jaw in position. With that, you will get consistent measurements every time.

Pros

  • Features a rust-resistant coating
  • Has a sturdy overall construction
  • Outputs extremely precise readings
  • Comes with a covered rack
  • Thumbscrew lock for the slider

Cons

  • Some units do not ship with the thumbscrew lock
  • Calipers are a bit stiff out of the box

11. Anytime Tools Premium Dial Caliper 0-6"/0.001"

Anytime Tools Premium Dial Caliper

We are going to end our best dial calipers tools reviews with this unit from Anytime tools. They are one of the manufacturers that have an extensive lineup of reliable tools, and this one is one of them.

First of all, the unit comes with a durable body. It features a double shockproof design. Because of such construction, you will be able to use this in a heavy-duty work environment without having to worry too much.

The solid stainless steel body will be able to resist rust and corrosion. You can expect it to last for an extended amount of time.

Moreover, the unit also comes with high-quality gears that will output precise measurements. Alongside that, the zero parallel tolerance that it has will ensure that you get accurate numbers in each measurement session. The precision of the dial is 0.001 inches in graduation. It has a range of six inches.

Other than that, the unit is extremely versatile too. It can measure the depth, external and internal measurements of any equipment. Besides that, the unit comes with a case that will let you easily carry it around. It has appropriate padding inside that will ensure that the scale is safe from all the occasional impacts.

The thumb roll that it comes with will let you adjust the settings on the go. It also comes with a knurled lock that will ensure consistent measurement in every measuring session. You will get accurate results every time.

Pros

  • Comes with a double shockproof design
  • Features a sturdy stainless steel body
  • Includes a padded case in the package
  • Offers precise measurements
  • Comes with a thumb roll and a knurled lock

Cons

  • A bit hard to reset to zero
  • Some units ship with a broken case

What to Look for Before You Buy?

The best dial calipers for machinist are those that will offer a decent overall performance. To get one of them among all of the units that are available in the market, you will have to keep some factors in mind. The factors are:

Overall Build

The overall build quality of the scale is an important factor that you should consider before you make a purchase. If you opt for a unit that does not feature sturdy overall construction, you might have some components that will fail in the long run.

Dial Calipers

You will not be able to use them for an extended amount of time. That is why you should make sure you opt for a well-built unit.

Coating

Other than the overall build quality, you should also factor in the exterior coatings as well. You should check whether the tool comes with an appropriate coating to withstand the damp environment and resist rust and corrosion.

With that, you will not be able to measure wet equipment without putting your tool into a risk of catching rust.

Besides that, the coating will enhance the overall lifespan of the tool further. You will be able to use it for an extended period, and the body will show no signs of rust and corrosion.

Rack Covering 

While most of the units will have some sort of covering over the rack, many might not ship with one. The ones that do not have any covering have the possibility of getting clogged.

Foreign materials will be able to get in the rack and jam the gears inside. As a result, the operation will not be as much smoother as it was when you got the unit. That is why you should factor in the rack covering as well.

Locking Screw

You should also keep the thumbscrew into consideration. Many of the units will not have it on the body. If the one that you are shooting for does not come with one, you will not be able to lock the sliding mechanism into place.

Dial Calipers

And without that, you will be able to get a consistent measurement and will not be able to compare the measurements between two different stuff.

Sliding Mechanism

The sliding mechanism is an important factor when it comes to having an accurate measurement of equipment. If the mechanism is not smooth, you will have trouble in getting precise numbers. Alongside that, there will be chances of measurement errors with the unit that has a stiff slider.

Carrying Case

Many of the manufacturers will include a carrying case in the package. They will generally have padding inside them. With those, you will be able to carry your tool with you anywhere without having to worry about it getting damaged while transporting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does a dial caliper operate?

This type of measuring tool operates using a pinion mechanism and a rack. The linear movement of the jaws is transferred to the dial indicator that indicates the exact measurement using a rotary motion. On the other hand, the dial works with the gears that are inside it. The rotary motion depends on the dial.

2. How accurate are dial calipers?

The overall accuracy will depend on the quality of the dials. A decently built unit that comes with high-quality gears and smooth sliding mechanisms will be pretty accurate. However, they will not be as accurate as of the digital measuring tools that are out there. Those will be more accurate than a mechanical measuring tool.

3. What is the accuracy level of dial calipers?

The ones that feature a good overall build will have an accuracy of 0.001 inches for 25 percent of the dial revolution.

4. Do the body of the dial caliper catch rust over time?

If the unit that you have does not come with an appropriate coating to resist rust, it will catch rust over time. Alongside that, it might also corrode over time.

5. Is it possible to disassemble the dial and clean the gears?

It is possible to clean the gears by disassembling the dial. But you are going to require advanced tools and a good magnifying glass for that. If your unit is jammed or if it is not functioning optimally, we would recommend you to take it to an expert or claim the warranty.

6. How often should I calibrate my dial caliper?

Just like most of the measuring tools, you should re-calibrate your dial caliper at least once a year. Alongside that, if you are getting a little off reading in between that period, you should have it calibrated.

7. Will I find an aftermarket carrying case for my dial caliper?

Most of the units will ship with their own carrying case. However, if your one does not come with one, you will surely be able to get one from the market.

Final Words

Getting one of the best dial calipers will not only make it easier for you to work on your wooden projects but also will help you in getting accurate measurements of different equipment. And we hope that we were able to help you in case of choosing one.

With that, we would like to conclude here by wishing you good luck and hoping you get accurate numbers each time you measure anything.

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