How to read a vernier (caliper)

Step 2: Course reading #1

So let's read a measurement off of the caliper.

First, a quick math refresher. Whole numbers (1,2,3, etc.) are followed by a decimal point and an endless number of zeros (2.000000). We are going to be working with the 3 places to the right of the decimal point. The first number to the right of the decimal point is a tenth of an inch (1/10), the second number signifies a hundreth of an inch (1/100), and the third number signifies a thousanth of an inch (1/1000). A human hair is about 3 thousands of an inch (0.003), give or take a thousanth. This number (0.456) is read as four hundred and fifty-six thousands.

If you noticed, the "handle" of the caliper has a scale that starts from zero on the left and goes up to 6 inches on the right, in this case. Other calipers can be much longer in length. The big number in the center of the scale is the inch number. In this case we are looking mostly at the area AFTER the first inch mark on the left, and then we see the number 2 on the right, which indicates the second full inch. Notice that each inch is divided into 10 equal parts with the numbers 1 through 9. That makes each one of those lengths 1/10 of an inch (0.100). And then each amount of space between each 1/10 of an inch has 3 lines - which breaks each 1/10 of an inch into 4 equal pieces. Each one of those little pieces, therefore, is twenty-five thousanths of an inch (0.025) long. There's also a scale on the bottom of the picture. It starts at zero, there's a 5, a 10 and a 15. It goes up to 25, but the image doesn't show that. THAT, is the vernier part of the caliper. Notice that the line for the 0 (zero) is to the right of the second line after the number 3. Since we know that there is a large number 1 to the left of the image that we can't see (which signifies 1 whole inch), let's write that down (1.) and we'll put the decimal point in. The 3 is to the left of the zero on the vernier, so we'll add that to our number (1.3). The zero line is to the right, of the second line after the 3. So there is at least fifty thousanths there (0.050), but there's more. Notice how the zero line is just a smidge to the right of that second line after the 3. Now look at the large 2 and notice that the vernier line of 13 is to the LEFT. So the trick is to find which lines on the vernier lines up exactly with the scale on the center. In this case, it looks like 6...but let's get a closer look.
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