Choosing a Digital Caliper

Calipers are one of the most useful instruments in the jewellery maker’s toolbox and a tool that has added more accuracy and ease for taking measurements both for the seasoned professional and home/hobbyist use, but choosing the right one from the vast selection of models on offer can be like navigating a minefield.

There are lots of brands offering calipers in different price ranges so learning the basic factors about them is essential.

Caliper Type

Various options of caliper are available for different applications but the majority of users would find the digital caliper of most use. Commonly, these are often referred to as digital Verniers which isn’t strictly correct as the Vernier caliper isn’t digital but has a main scale and a sliding secondary scale. A vernier is used for making precise measurements as is a digital caliper. Digital calipers are recommended for the utmost accuracy.


When choosing your caliper look closely the weight, body material, dimensions and sturdiness of the caliper you are considering using. Most of the best calipers are made from high quality stainless steel, being durable and water, dirt and oil resistant.

Battery Life

Most digital calipers come with automatic shut off. This is useful to prevent battery wastage. Batteries for them aren’t particularly expensive but they always seem to fully pack up just when you need them, ignored the flashing ‘battery low’ indicator and don’t have any spares 🙂

Ease of Use

They’re all pretty much simple to use in the lower end of the price range, high end tools include features such as data output but this isn’t really too relevant for most users

Check for a caliper that has a sturdy construction, a readable display, smooth jaw movement and a sensitive thumb wheel.


The price of digital calipers varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. These tools are surprisingly affordable but for greater accuracy and performance you have to spend more money (as with most things!).

Mitutoyo are arguably considered to be the industry leaders and you’ll pay for the privilege of owning one but they should give years of accurate measurements and be worth the money. However, in reality, there are cheaper options that will last the distance and around the £30 – £40 mark should be adequate.

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