If I had to pick a tool that I just love and use constantly, it would be my dial calipers. I have a couple of the inexpensive Harbor Freight models laying around the shop and and basically have a panic attack if I misplace them, really.
Though they’re just a high precision measuring tool, I find that I use them for comparison measurements all the time, as well as for centering holes, scribing lines along an edge, etc. I’ve even used them on sewing projects and since I’m not doing precision machining the cheap ones are more than adequate.
Here’s a primer on using them:
My favorite things about them include:
- I don’t have to compare a measurement to see if a drill is big enough for a bolt. Just measure the bolt diameter then physically compare it to the drill.
- The points of the jaws are generally hard enough to scribe a light line in soft metals, wood, and plastic, it makes marking a spot to be drilled or cut easy.
- They are easier to see in lower light than a ruler and I’m getting old so…
Get yourself a set and you’ll find all kinds of uses for them. They also make a great gift as you really can’t have too many laying around if you’re a tinkerer.