Introduction: How to Use a Dial Caliper

Made by Arif Gunduz

Step 1: Identify the 6 Main Parts of the Dial Caliper.

The inside faces are used to measure the inside length of an object. The outside faces are used to measure anything that can fit in-between them. The reference edge is used to keep track of the larger increments of measurement. The dial and pointer is used to identify the length of an object up to a ten thousandth of an inch. The blade is used to measure the depth of an object.

Step 2: Zero the Dial Caliper

In order to get an accurate measurement you must first zero the dial caliper. This means closing the caliper, loosening the dial lock, rotating the dial to show zero, and then tightening it once again.

Step 3: Use the Reference Edge to Tell How Many Tenths of an Inch the Object Is

Depending on where the reference edge lines up you can tell the measurement of the object up to a tenth of an inch of precision.

Step 4: Interpreting the Dial

The Dial measures up to a ten thousandth of an inch. each mark on the dial represents one thousandth of an inch and between those are where you can measure to the ten thousandths. For example the picture above represents 0.037 of an inch.

Step 5: How to Measure an Object Using Outside Faces

To measure an object using the inside faces first place the object in-between the two faces like shown above. Then using the reference edge identify the length of the object. For example the length of the object shown is 1.437 because the reference edge shows 1.4 and the dial shows 37.

Step 6: How to Measure the Depth of an Object

As seen in the picture above simply extend the blade until it touches the bottom of the place you want to measure and use the refence edge and pointer to get the precise measurement.

Step 7: How to Measure Step Length

Using the inside measuring faces place the top measuring face on the base of the object and measure the step length using the other inside face as shown in the picture. Use the refence edge and dial and pointer to get the precise measurement.

Step 8: How to Measure Inside Length

Using the two inside faces place them inside the place you want to measure and extend until you are touching both sides of the object as shown in the picture. Use the refence edge and dial and pointer to get the precise measurement.

Step 9: Understanding the Limits of the Dial Caliper

The dial caliper is only 6 inches long and will not measure any longer than that. There are 4 measurements you can make with a dial caliper and those are outside diameter/object thickness, inside diameter/space width, step distance, and hole depth.

Step 10: References

1. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Step 11: 4 Common Mistakes Made

A mistake a person can make is not zeroing in the dial caliper which would make the measurements incorrect. Another mistake is using the base of the outside faces to measure something which makes it inaccurate. Not tightening the dial when measuring is another common mistake which leads to inaccuracies. Finally measuring not using the reference edge but another part of the dial caliper is also another common mistake.

Step 12: Summary

The dial caliper is a very useful handheld measuring tool with unrivaled levels of accuracy. While mastering the dial caliper can be difficult it can make all types of measuring easy and intuitive. Overall I hope this instructable has helped you understand how to use the dial caliper.