I'm setting up my shop with a metal lathe and babbit equipment - never owned any Micrometers & calipers.
What's the best to get?
I would prefer a digital one with out batteries - I found a few that look like they have old odometers and don't say anything about batteries etc.
Travis, my tools of choice are Mitutoyo brand. These are readily available, are of excellent quality and are robust.
I don't know of any digital types which are not battery powered. They use so little power it is not of any concern.
The type you mention having a dial are a development of the original vernier scale types. The dial indicators made them easier to read. Then along came digital.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
I agree with Mitutoyo. Micrometers are more accurate than calipers, so if you are measuring something where thousandths matter dearly, use the micrometers. You will need a good set of telescoping gauges with your micrometers for taking inside (bore) measurements. Mitutoyo makes those as well.
I hate to admit it but the digital stuff is a must for me as I have trouble reading a micrometer these days. I need those nice clear numbers.
My personal preference is Mitutoyo brand. Very high quality and will last a lifetime with proper care. Do be carefull when purchasing near the lower end of the price range, there are some entry level products that Mitutoyo has made in Brazil, don't recommend those. So if it's Mitutoyo, and made in Japan, I highly recommend it.
As for the electronic digital micrometers/calipers, I use mine all day everyday, and they have performed flawlessly for the last 10 years. One thing to watch out for in the electronic world is look for a mic with a conventional graduated thimble. Some Mitutoyo and many other brands have done away with the graduations, and if the battery dies you are up the creek without a paddle. At least with the graduations, when the battery dies, it's still a mic... not a paperweight.
I don't own any of the mechanical digit micrometers, but I see them on the shop floor from time to time, they are fairly common. They do cost a bit more than conventional mics, but for about the same price you can have a electronic digital that reads out to .00005" (that's 50 millionths). Where the mechanical digit only reads .001" and can be deceiving if you don't double check the thimble reading, and you still have to decipher the .0001" veneer.
When it comes time to buy, you need to get on the email list for ENCO. They constantly have sales and free shipping days. They don't carry everything, but they are the only company that will apply a special sale price to everything in their catalog. I found out the hard way when I ordered a $600 mic from MSC on a 30% off promo, only to get the invoice at the end of the month for full price... I should have read the fine print!!
all good advice above, good tools are just that, good. the old name brands are the best, but 3 times the price. are you a neat and tidy guy with a spotless shop? if you are like me, 5 projects going at once, shop looks like a bomb went off, buy the chinese junk from enco. careful or not, once every couple years it falls off the table, or gets grinder snot , or paint over spray, and then you dont have to cry, just get another on the next order. if you double check before that last cut, the cheap junk works just fine imho
When i bought my Starett 12" caliper 30 years ago the change from 200.00 would have not bought your lunch at Micky D's! No big deal as it is still in use 30 years later!! You asked for the best,and made in the USA!! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
My shop is the one Clayton described, so I use this. $21.49 at HF.
I have never bought a new micrometer or calipers. All my stuff is second hand, from swap meets, pawn shops, market stalls where ever. Over the years I have built up a collection of Mitutoyo micrometers from 1" to 4", a set of their snap gauges, a nice English Moore and Wright inside micrometer set, two Mitutoyo digital calipers. I have also succumbed to the metrics, with three of the smaller micrometers. These get little use!
My 1" - 2" micrometer, still in its case with the setting anvil and adjusting tool, cost me $15 at a swap meet. You don't have to pay retail unless you need it in a hurry.
Allan from down under.
HF seem to work just fine and the price is in my budget.
My best buy was some years ago; a neighbor had a yard sale; I wondered over and bought a "C-clamp" from her for $1. It was kinda small, but was marked "Starrett" and had real fine threads on it!
I have no idea why she had it, as there was nothing else even close to machinist tools there!
Many decades ago I bought my lathe at an estate sale, and it came with a pile of tooling, including all sorts of mics, all Brown & Sharpe or Starrett. Since then I have picked up a few at swap meets or yard sales, so I'm very much like Allan!
The one Steve Jelf just posted will work just fine.
BUT 8 out of 10 may have to be calibrated I mean
the reedout. Its simple just go on UTube for instructions. Whatever I do, I don't trust just
(one) sometimes using three mics. Calipers or guess o meters
get you close, for most things good enough. Another
words mic with one like Steves then mic with a
Starett or Mitt. And then few yrs back at a antique
car swap I found a set 1" to 6" Starett's for
25 bucks (guy had no clue what he had)
I also have a fleet of digie batt ones too but hate things with batterys.?
You can believe this or not, but I bought one of those "cheapy" little gray plastic calipers at the hardware store for something less than ten bucks and it seems just about as accurate as my Mitutoyo! So far anyway, and like somebody said, to be honest about it, it's probably accurate enough for stuff I do anyway! Great to take along to a swap meet or the hardware store of whatever,......harold
I have a set of blue point I got from snap on a few years back, digital with no batteries. Best I remember they were not real expensive, seem to be accurate and easier to see plus you can still read the measurement on the barrel if you like. KGB
My micrometers were inherited. They are Starett's from the 30's and can read to the 4th decimal place. They are left over tools from Brewster Aircraft (read-probably borrowed by my Dad).
The point in mentioning them is that they are technically still actually in an NIST traceable quality system, I use them all the time, and the instrument tech who is responsible for some 4000 'tune-ups' per year tells me that mine is the last one to go 'out' and the easiest one to bring 'in' out of all that he cares for.
I also have issue with vernier lines on the mic's and just can't see the difference unless I'm in bright sunlight...so......
I bought a set of digital Verniers a few years back from HF. That's right, HF and I love them! I bought the cheapo's with the idea that I would decide if I liked a display type BEFORE spending serious money. So happy with the HF, I'll stay with the cheapo's. I have the opposite problem now...if the sun is too strong I have to push 'memory' and walk into the shade to read it.
Not cost effective for home use, the Bees Knees are Mitutoyo Snap Gauges with a PC output... I went snap throughout the factory because you guessed it...I was losing hours and hours and hours of coffee machine debates among the tool-makers and first class machinist over who could measure the most accurate with regular micrometers! It got worse when there was a quality question on a product piece whose tolerance range was in the 4th decimal point. Snap gauges do away with that and putting them into a PC is brilliant to actually fill in Excel fields direct.
my personal preferance is Starrett and i use and recommend Starrett ! price is high , but i have used my mics for over 40 years they still check and certify regularly ...excellant feel and balance and USA made ( LS STARRETT) ...i currently have a set of new SPI ( Swiss Precision Instruments) 0-6" micrometer set listed in the MTFCA classifieds ...price is $200 + postage ...these also have a very good feel and accuracy and include the setting standards ( SPI mics. were display set ) ...i also have a set 0-6" Grand Rapids Industrial Products mics. listed at $100+ postage ...these are the heavy frame China mics. with standards ( Grand Rapid set is used ) ...always an optimist ...gene french
The Chinese mics I purchased work fine and are accurate. Not so with the dial calipers. You need to get the better quality pieces. The older stuff is better than the newer, so I buy calipers off eBay. Expect to pay $80 for a good B & S, Starrett, etc.
I wouldn't by a Japanese anything! I would stick with Brown and Sharp, or Starrett. There is an old brand called Slocum which is good too. Lets hear it for the USA!
My dad taught me to use micrometers many years ago.
You need a gentle touch to read anything beyond .001 inch but it can be done.
He "taught me right" because years ago I was having some work done by a "master" tool and die maker and he asked me to check something he was doing for me.
(I think he was trying put me in my place by proving that I didn't know how to do it!)
When I was done he smiled and said, "You know your stuff!"
As for calipers, I have a few sets and they are good for maybe .001 if you are careful.
Inexpensive offshore brands you generally have about a 30% to 40% chance of getting a good one right out of the box.
The HF and other inexpensive brands especially those made of plastic are fair. I've had them in my lab for calibration and can generally get them to come in with an amount of work ( on calipers mainly ID and OD measurement faces, step and depth faces are more problematic ).
My preference is Mitutoyo and Starrett. Mitutoyo calipers are easier to repair.
If you are going to purchase, buy the best you can afford and a gage block. If a micrometer set there should be a setting block that can be used to zero the mic and can be used to check the calipers.
One of the handiest and cheapest lathe tools I use is the dials from Harbor Freight. You can pick them up for under ten dollars and they compare exactly with Starett dials. The big improvement is cutting the stock mount off and bolting H F round magnet to the back. For a total cost of just over ten dollars with the magnet they don't slip or move when checking and if you drop one its not like dropping a high dollar tool to replace.
I think digital read out micrometers became available many years ago by the Slocomb company. They referred to them as "Speed Mics". Slocomb are USA made, high quality micrometers. They are available in different sizes, and styles, including a depth micrometer.
The KR Wilson tool boxes sold to Ford Dealers and repair shops in the late 1920's originally came with regular Slocomb micrometers. The punches in the tool box were from Starrett, and the screwdrivers were made by Stanley. Properly cared for, they will last several lifetimes.
Of course I also have Starrett micrometers and dial indicators. As stated above, they are probably the best quality obtainable.
You just can't do high quality work without high quality tools (in my opinion).
Well I went out in my shop to see what I had tucked in my toolbox, and found a starrett that my father in law gave me years ago "he found it on a trash can" and I was shocked I never sold it at one of my garage sales for 50 cents.
I watched a few YouTube shows on how to read it and it's not too hard to figure out once you de-code it.
I'll get the larger 1-2" starrett off eBay to go with it, and I'll get another 0-1 and 1-2 starrett battery less "digital" to go with them, as well as a starrett dial caliper. While I'm at it I'll get a nice wooden box for them.
Thank you so much for your responses!
I've added a photo of the one I had I almost sold a few years ago - it will get use now!
How can I clean it up and make it look new?
No question, Starrett is the best. My 1 inch mike I bought used is a Starrett. The 2 and 3 inch are Chinese and accurate but not Starrett quality. My 6 inch dial caliper is Chinese and very good quality. I have a set of 6 to 12 inch USA made mikes that were given to me by a friend. If one can buy USA made used items they would be the best. Chinese certainly beats none at all and will suffice. My 1936 11-inch South Bend lathe is certainly not the most accurate but I did get my $300 dollars worth.
I have a Lufkin 2" that came in a tool box of stuff I picked up a while back. I don't have much experience with it, or with micrometers in general. What is the consensus of those in the know as to the quality of the Lufkin mics?
Lufkin made good stuff, not as good as Starrett or Brown and Sharpe but certainly good enough for the Model T workshop.
Thanks Ted. I have had some other Lufkin tools that were good quality. It has a good feel. I think you are right that it is certainly good enough for anything I will need for my Model T work.
Lufkin Rule had a plant in Saginaw,Mi and i worked with a millwright who had worked at that closed plant. Is there anyone who work's with those who make the hf junk? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.