Best Digital Caliper

Measure twice, cut once. 

The adage is true, whether you’re a professional engineer or machinist, a carpenter, or a DIY enthusiast. Taking the most accurate measurements will add up to better workmanship and less aggravation. 

Woodworking, metalworking, mechanical engineering, and machine work all require precise measurements. Digital calipers are more accurate for these kinds of jobs, plus they are much easier to read than old-fashioned dial calipers. 

Adding a digital caliper to your toolbox can deliver the precise measurements you need accurately and quickly. Digital calipers make jobs and projects easier while improving their quality, all at a reasonable price. Calipers range in cost from less than $10 to more than $100, so the amount you invest will depend on the level of durability and accuracy needed. 

I’ve rounded up a list of the best digital calipers on the market to take the guesswork out of your shopping experience. I’ll also offer some guidance on how to choose the right digital caliper for your needs and cover some FAQs about using these handy tools. 

5 Best Digital Calipers

Check out my top picks for the five best digital calipers you can buy for a home workshop or even a pro garage.

Best Overall: Mitutoyo Absolute Scale Digital Caliper 

The digital display of this Mitutoyo model shows measurements in metric and inches in increments of 0.0005 inch for precision. 

Its electromagnetic sensor is resistant to dirt, oil, and water. This model is the most expensive and the highest quality of our choices, so it might be best for professionals or those who take their projects seriously. 

Specs

  • Measures 0 to 6 inches in 0.0005-inch increments
  • Stainless steel
  • Accuracy to 0.001 inch

Pros 

  • Versatile, as it measures in metric and inches and can measure inside, outside, depth and step values 
  • Sensor is resistant to dirt, water, and oil 
  • Precise measurements  

Cons 

  • Does not turn itself off when not in use 
  • Most expensive of the choices 

Best Mid-tier Option: Neiko Electronic Digital Caliper 

Three measuring modes – inches, millimeters, and fractions – plus a reasonable price make this Neiko model a must for your tool collection. This caliper also includes an extra LR44 battery and a storage case. This model is suitable for professional or personal use. 

Specs

  • Three Measures 0 to 6 inches in 0.0005-inch increments

  • Stainless steel

  • Accuracy to 0.001 inch

Pros 

  • Large LCD screen is easy to read 
  • Versatile measuring of inside, outside, depth, and step with its probe and two sets of jaws 
  • Bargain price 

Cons 

  • Not as durable as other models 
  • Difficulty reaching manufacturer 

Best for DIY Use: VINCA Electronic Digital Vernier Micrometer Caliper 

Reasonably priced and fit for both home and professional use, this VINCA caliper features stainless-steel construction and is designed for smooth sliding. This VINCA caliper also comes with an extra battery, but this model is not compatible with a USB cable. You will need a VINCA DTCR-03 cable to transfer data to a computer, and that’ll require a separate purchase.

Specs

  • Measures 0 to 6 inches in 0.0005-inch increments
  • Stainless steel
  • Accuracy to 0.001 inch

Pros 

  • Economical price 
  • Suitable for home or professional projects 
  • Comes with an extra battery 

Cons 

  • Cannot be connected to a computer with a USB cable 
  • Not as durable as other models, reviewers reported 

Best Budget Option: Adoric Digital Caliper 

This Adoric caliper has the most economical price of all the digital calipers PVC Workshop reviewed and is our recommendation for the amateur woodworker or home DIY enthusiast. It comes with a spare battery and has an automatic shut-off feature that will keep batteries from being drained accidentally.  

Specs

  • Measures 0 to 6 inches in 0.01-inch increments
  • Plastic
  • Accuracy to 0.01 inch

Pros 

  • Lowest price of those we reviewed 
  • Comes with extra battery 
  • Automatic shut-off feature 

Cons 

  • Not as durable as alternatives
  • Turns on really easily (even with a slight bump), resulting in battery waste

Best for Easy Use: IGaging ABSOLUTE ORIGIN Digital Electronic Caliper 

This moderately priced digital caliper from iGaging has several plusses. Resetting to zero isn’t necessary, as the iGaging model does that automatically. Whenever this iGaging model is turned on, the large, easy-to-read LCD screen displays the actual sensor position and is ready to start measuring. This model is compatible with a standard USB data output. 

Specs

  • Measures 0 to 6 inches in .0.0005 increments
  • Stainless steel
  • Accuracy to 0.001 inch

Pros 

  • Resistant to splash water and dust 
  • Moderately priced among models PVC Workshop reviewed 
  • Comes with a two-year warranty 

Cons 

  • Not as accurate as other models
  • Sluggish and inconsistent readings 

Buyer’s Guide 

Before you look for the best digital calipers for your projects, consider how you will need to use those calipers and how easy they are to use. Any tool that’s difficult to use makes a project more difficult. 

As a professional, I appreciate a job well done. To get the results you want, you’ll need to buy the best tools needed for the job. With this in mind, here are my recommendations for considerations as you purchase the best digital calipers for your projects.  

Transferring data 

Some models allow for measurement data to be transferred to a computer via a cable. Not all models are designed to be used with a USB cable, though. If this feature is important to your projects, be sure you have the cable needed. 

Capabilities 

The best digital calipers share similar features. These features include the ability to measure the thickness or depth with a depth gauge, a step gauge, and caliper jaws for measuring the inside and outside dimensions of an object. They can also include buttons to set readings as standard or metric, and in some models, as fractions. Digital calipers should also include a zero or reset button to set your current position to zero. 

The span of digital calipers is important for professionals and craftsmen. Zero to 6 inches is the most common span, but digital calipers measuring up to 12 inches are available.  

Some digital calipers slide, but a thumbwheel is also common. The best models have smooth jaw movement and a sensitive thumb wheel, making taking measurements easier and more precise.  

Auto Shut-off 

A handy feature in some models is the ability to shut off automatically after several minutes of inactivity. This can save you from needlessly draining your battery when you forget to turn off your digital calipers. Few things are as annoying as reaching for your digital calipers only to find that the battery is dead!  

Durability 

Less expensive digital calipers have plastic bodies, but the most durable digital calipers are made from stainless steel. This not only makes for smoother movement in digital calipers but makes them sturdier for more frequent use. Digital calipers that are resistant to dust, dirt, and water splashes will have a longer life than those without this protection. 

Readability 

Ensure your choice of digital calipers has an LCD screen that’s large enough for you to read easily. This will reduce the chance of errors when you are writing down measurements. 

FAQs 

If you still have some questions about choosing the best digital caliper, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you on your journey.

What is a digital caliper? 

Digital calipers are much easier to use and much more accurate than dial calipers. These precision tools can be used to take internal and external measurements as well as depth and step readings. You may also make fewer errors since the LCD screen is far easier to read.

A vernier caliper works much like a slide rule. You can read measurements along the shaft of the instrument. Dial calipers, as the name implies, have a dial where you can read measurements. 

Digital calipers are more accurate than these mechanical options, providing more precise measurements.  

Measurements are only as accurate as how they’re read and recorded, though. This is where digital calipers really shine. With their large LCD screens, digital calipers are much easier to read, and some models can transfer measurements to your computer via a cable.  

They do require special treatment for the best results. While you might carry your digital calipers in your toolbox or keep them in a workshop, remember that they are calibrated, electronic instruments, and should be treated with care for best results.  

How does a digital caliper work? 

The technology of digital calipers may seem like magic, but they work by courtesy of science made affordably. Digital calipers use sensors that run the length of the beam of the tool. As the distance at the jaw is changed, the sensors detect the change in the triggered electrical charge.  

As the sliding jaw travels along the scale, a series of rectangular plates detect these changes and send a signal to a chip in the caliper. From there, the measurements are calculated and displayed on the LCD screen.  

How do you use digital calipers? 

The most precise digital calipers will give you inaccurate measurements if you use them incorrectly in your project. So, how do you use digital calipers the right way?  

Make sure that you start from a zero setting each time you begin a new measurement. Many models reset to zero automatically, but some do not. 

You also want to make sure you are positioning your digital calipers correctly when measuring. In general, the inside of the jaws should be parallel to the object when measuring outside dimensions and perpendicular when measuring internal dimensions.  

Consult the owner’s manual of your digital calipers to make sure you are operating them properly.  

How can digital calipers improve your projects? 

Using digital calipers in your mechanical, metalworking, or woodworking projects will add a higher degree of accuracy to the measurements you take. Digital calipers are more accurate and are much easier to read than dial calipers. Whether you are a professional or enjoy DIY projects, you’ll appreciate the ease and precision digital calipers can bring to your work. 

How do you care for digital calipers? 

Keep in mind that, although they are tools, digital calipers require greater care because they’re calibrated for accuracy. If they are not maintained and stored properly, your digital calipers could take inaccurate measurements. Finding this out during a project could cause a huge amount of aggravation. 

  • Properly caring for your digital calipers means making sure they are ready for use the next time you need them. That means making sure they are turned off, so as not to drain your battery
  • Always store them in their case, safely away from the dangers of water, dirt, and dust.  
  • Keep your digital calipers in a low-humidity environment and away from any corrosive chemicals. Keep digital calipers away from excessive heat. 
  • Avoid dropping your digital calipers, as this could affect their accuracy in the future. 
  • If you aren’t using your caliper for a while, remove the risk of leakage and corrosion by taking out its battery.  
  • Lightly oiling the shaft of the caliper will keep movements smooth. This is important, as smooth sliding will make your work go faster and your measurements more accurate. 
  • Keep your digital calipers owner’s manual and warranty documents on file for reference as needed.  

Once you’ve purchased your digital calipers, careful maintenance and storage will keep them accurately measuring for years to come.  

Conclusion 

Just as there are differences in projects, there are differences in preference among workmen regarding the best digital calipers. If you’re a DIY enthusiast, a less durable model might work out fine since you only use the caliper occasionally. But if you’re a professional carpenter, machinist, or engineer, durability is crucial.

Professionals in woodworking, metalworking, or engineering should invest in higher quality digital calipers that are more durable since they’ll use their calipers more often than a DIY enthusiast would in a home workshop.  

Regardless of what product you pick, digital calipers offer ease of use and highly accurate results. They’re a handy addition to your toolbox, and even buying the best digital caliper won’t break your budget. 

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