Published : 02/22/2023 12:13:17

In the previous article Mister Worker™ explained to you how to understand which caliper you should use. Now it’s time to define how to use calipers and how to read them: each type has its own features, so you have to choose the one you think is the best for the measurements you need to take. The best model is the digital one, no doubt. It’s extremely accurate and easy to use, but a lot of professional workers do prefer to use vernier or dial ones

What is the definition of a caliper?

A caliper is a manual device used to measure to an accuracy of tenths, twentieths, fiftieths, or hundredths of a millimeter. This instrument is usually used to measure thicknesses of sheet metal, diameters of wire or pipe, and the like. The most popular models are the twenty-sixth calipers.

This product consists of several parts, which we see below: 

  • A fixed part graduated in millimeters or inches;
  • A movable slide, placed on the graduated part;
  • An additional graduated scale with millimeter notches;
  • A rod integrated with the cursor that protrudes from the opposite end as it slides and allows depths and heights to be measured.

What is a caliper used for?

Let's get more specific about what we can measure with this tool. What are the 4 ways to use a caliper? Whether it is digital, nonius, twenty-sixth, centesimal, etc., using the caliper it is possible to detect 4 values:

  • Outer diameter of an object, using the outer caliper of the caliper.
  • Inner diameter, detected with the inner caliper of the tool.
  • Depth of an object, thanks to the gauge's depth probe.
  • Distance between two points or surfaces, by means of the caliper jaws.

Who uses the caliper?

The caliper is a tool used by professionals of all kinds in order to complete a variety of types of projects. Mechanics, for example, use them to measure the dimensions of screws, bolts, crankshafts and other components. In addition, the caliper is widely used by engineers to measure the dimensions of machine parts, equipment, as well as electronic components. In addition, it is commonly used by carpenters to measure the size as well as the thickness of wood so that they can make accurate cuts. 

In general, the caliper is used by anyone who needs to accurately measure the size of an object or part of an object.

How to use a caliper

One of the most frequently asked questions is “How do you measure an object with a caliper?”. All you have to do is simply put the jaws against the object you need to measure, based on the measure you need to take. Then, you can read the measurement on the scale or on the display, depending on the kind of calipers you’re using.

Depending on the measurement you need to make, the caliper can have different features:

  • External measurements: it has two jaws designed to be tight against the outer walls of the object.
  • Internal measurements: it has two jaws designed to measure the distance between the inner walls of an object.
  • Depth: it has a rod designed to go all the way down a hole and then measure its depth.
  • Universal: it is equipped with a combination of jaws designed to make multiple measurements.

How do you read a caliper

How do you read a caliper?

How you read caliper numbers depends on the model of the instrument you are using. Let's see below how to read vernier, dial and digital calipers.

  • How do you read a vernier caliper?

First of all, let’s see how to use a vernier caliper. By pressing on the release control located at the bottom of the nonius you can distance the upper and lower beaks. Read the following steps to understand how to read a nonius caliper:

  • Read the integer value: look at the main scale of the caliper and locate the integer value closest to the end of the jaws of the caliper. For example, if the integer value closest to the jaws of the caliper is 3, note down the value 3.
  • Read the nonius value: look for the nonius scale (a smaller scale next to the main scale) and locate the nonius line that is aligned with one of the main scale lines. The corresponding nonius value is indicated by the number of the nonius line. For example, if the nonius line is aligned with the third line of the main scale, the nonius value is 0.3.
  • Calculate the total measurement: to calculate the total measurement, add the integer value to the nonius value. For example, if the integer value is 3 and the nonius value is 0.3, the total measurement is 3.3.

In the case where you need to measure depth, you have to place the opposite end of the fixed part on the outer edge of the object and you have the rod rest on the bottom. 

It is important to be very careful to use the correct units on each scale. The calculation can be complicated in some cases because the value of the nonius may vary depending on the gauge model. For this reason, it is important to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to understand how to read the specific nonius gauge you are using.

Is the vernier caliper in mm or CM?

The units of measurement for a vernier caliper can vary, depending on the specific instrument. However, most models are dual-scale and can measure in both millimeters (mm) and centimeters (cm). Some models may also have an additional scale in inches (in).

It is important to note that when using a Vernier caliper, you should always pay close attention to the scale and unit of measurement being used to avoid errors in measurement.

  • How do you use a dial caliper tool?

As for measurements made with the vernier caliper, when using a dial caliper the first thing you need to do is close the jaws. After that, loosen the dial nut and set it to zero before fixing it and taking the measurement. You may need to loosen a screw above or below the dial before you can rotate it. If so, remember to re-tighten the screw when you're done. Then, you can read the values ​​on the scale and dial: the needle should indicate a value that makes the measurement even more precise. The unit of measurement is indicated on the front face of the dial.  In order to obtain the final measurement, when using a dial caliper you will need to add up both the values ​​you read on the main scale and those on the dial scale. Please note: to get the correct measurement, you need to multiply by 0,01 all the numbers you read on the dial indicator. Furthermore, the dial caliper can also be used in wet environments and, thanks to its watch, provides more accurate and easier to read measurements than the vernier one. 

  • How to use digital calipers

As anticipated at the beginning, digital calipers are the most popular ones because they are characterized by various advantages, such as their ease of use, the numerous measurement modes they offer, their durability over time, their wide measuring range and relatively low costs. In addition, the digital caliper generally does not give reading errors.

But how do digital calipers work? The digital caliper is a high-precision measuring instrument used mainly in mechanical engineering and construction. Regarding this type of caliper, a digital electronic indicator is mounted on the slider which detects its movement, while a millimeter scale is normally engraved on the body. The displays with which these gauges are equipped normally have a resolution of 0.01 mm. Generally the reading of digital gauges is centesimal but there are also penta-millesimal gauges, characterized by a reading displayed at 5 thousandths of a millimeter.

The evolution of electronics has allowed the creation of miniaturized indicators with very low consumption, so much so that they can be battery powered.

Digital calipers are the perfect tools when you need to take extremely accurate measurements, specially on small objects. First of all, before taking any measurement, you need to zero the tool, so that you are sure to take exact measurements. Then you can start using it to measure thickness or depth dimensions like a classic caliper: you can read the measurements directly on the display and store it in the calipers memory.

How accurate is a digital caliper?

Digital calipers are generally considered particularly accurate, with most models having a resolution of 0.01 mm or 0.0005 inches. This means they can measure to within one-hundredth of a millimeter or one-two-thousandth of an inch.

The accuracy of a digital caliper depends on several factors, such as the quality of the instrument and the manufacturer's specifications. Most digital calipers are designed to be accurate to within ±0.02 mm or ±0.001 inches, although some high-end models may have even greater accuracy.

Calipers for sale on Mister Worker™

In conclusion, we would like to recommend some excellent quality calipers for sale on our website, in addition to the specimens already mentioned in the previous article. For example, the high-quality 0-150 mm vernier caliper Metrica 10061, made of hardened stainless steel, has four measuring functions, a firm screw locking, and a matte graduated scale. It is one of the best vernier calipers of our catalog and is the ideal product for mechanical measurements.


If you are looking for a depth gauge, then we recommend the Metrica 10820, suitable for measuring tyre profiles. Like the product previously described, it is made of stainless steel; moreover, this product is characterized by the needle shaped so that it can enter the grooves of the tyres.

The Stahlwille 77371005 electronic vernier caliper is the perfect product for measuring tyre treads. Its display is large and easy to read, also thanks to the 9,5 mm-high of digits. In addition, it has a display accuracy of 0.01 mm / 0.0005 " and can be turned on and off very easily, thanks to the on/off push button located just below the display. By purchasing this electronic caliper you will also receive a 1 x 3 V Lithium-battery CR2032. Another electronic caliper that deserves to be taken into consideration is undoubtedly the Tesa Technology 00530140 universal digital vernier caliper: the cursor is equipped with a guide that facilitates sliding, making it smooth and fluent. In addition, its wide high contrast display facilitates reading of values ​​and the tool is optimally protected from liquids and dust.This digital caliper is powered by a 3 V lithium battery of the CR2032 model and has an incredible autonomy of 12,000 hours.

One of the best dial calipers we offer is undoubtedly the Wiha 27082, applicable for external, internal and depth measurements, equipped with a 35 mm diameter value display dial. This latest feature is shock resistant. Also, this model is great for making comparative measurements. Wiha dial caliper 27082

The Tesa Technology 00510004 dial caliper is also a fantastic product, as the integrated shockproof device makes it highly durable. In addition, its large, high-contrast dial makes it easier to read the measurements taken.

Take a look at the Fervi C041/150 MONOBLOCK digital caliper, realized in high-quality stainless steel for improved resistance. This product offers 3 measuring functions, as well as a big LCD-screen that allows a clear, immediate value reading. Last but not least, check the FACOM 816 universal caliper, which provides an accuracy of 1/20th - 0.05 mm and is suitable for interior, exterior, depth measurement. Its vernier, which endurance is 20 000 cycles minimum, is equipped with a guide for a better thumb position. 

Continue to discover the wide assortment of digital gauges and calipers for sale in our shop at discounted prices, with the advantage of prompt delivery wherever you live.  

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