View Full Version : Vernier vs. Dial?

11-11-2004, 12:09 PM
First, the Craftsman vernier caliper made in Italy that I complained about several months ago has, after a lot of soaking in very light oil and a lot of sliding back and forth, finally loosened up to where it has become the caliper I reach for first, even over a Mitutoyo dial caliper.

So, I don't mind using a vernier but I'm looking at height gauges. I've never used one and I thought I should ask before making a fairly expensive purchase if reading a vernier on a height gauge is a royal pain because it's sideways? (Vernier vs. Dial?)

Any recommendations on model and source for a good hobby quality height gauge?


11-11-2004, 12:15 PM
well, I screwed up some parts because I had a brain fart reading a dial caliper, so I can only assume the amount of screwups would go up exponentially using a Vernier scale. I like LCD displays because it's hard to mis read.
However, for height guages, I sure do like the prices on the verniers.

11-11-2004, 12:32 PM
Reading a vernier is no different on a height gage vs. a caliper. Do look for a reecently manufactured one though, the older Starret and B&S verniers were only about an inch long and need a magnifying glass to read.

11-11-2004, 12:33 PM
You can find a selection of height gages on ebay. I bought a used but in good condition venier type 10" Polish made one last year for a total cost of about $30 with shipping. I thought I would like to have something a little bigger than the 6" height gage I purchased from Grizzly:
a couple of years earlier. I can read the venier OK, but many times I find that the convienence of the smaller gage with the dial makes it the one I most often use. I think that I would probably pick something more like this:
if I was starting over again. The only thing about this gage and for that matter the 10" Polish gage I have is that you really need a suitable sized surface plate to use it, that means an 18 x 24 plate or larger. I have used it on a smaller 9 x 12 plate but you don't have much room to operate.

Of course the size of the height gage you buy should depend on the size of the stuff you need to measure. You can probably get a pretty good deal on a 24" (or bigger) venier height gage on Ebay, but unless you need a gage that big, you may be surprised how big it is. Perhaps a little too big for working on model engines like I do, but maybe just right for tractor parts.

Paul Alciatore
11-11-2004, 12:56 PM
I cut my teeth on a vernier. I find them no easier or harder to read in any orientation. Like CJ said, some were poorly laid out and that, not the orientation, made them hard to read. Some are set up with a wider spacing on the vernier lines and that can help a lot. Also the contrast between the metal surface and the line color is an important factor. And the crispness of the lines at the edges where the regular and vernier scales can effect readability.

As for vernier vs. dial, I find that verniers take longer to read and they are readable to only +/-0.001". Sometimes it is hard to tell which of two lines is aligned. On a dial you can see the reading much quicker and can read them to perhaps 1/4 or 1/5 of a thousanth so there is less doubt about the actual reading. I am not talking about the accuracy of the instrument, only the readability. I have an inexpensive dial caliper and it is only accurate to +/-0.001" but I can easily read the dial to 1/4 or 1/5 so there is less doubt.

Paul A.

Mike Burdick
11-11-2004, 01:11 PM
Here’s an interesting link regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of caliper style, Vernier, Dial or Electronic: