Using a caliper as a height gauge

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Board of Directors, Vice President
This has come up a few times and I explained what I use but I am not sure it was clear so I figured I would snap a picture and explain...

A couple of notes about the photo - The cracks on my caliper display are not from clamping it; it got smacked pretty good once and I was pleasantly surprised to find it still worked fine, so I didn't replace it. You don't need really two spring clamps; I had an extra one as a counterbalance so it would stand by itself for the picture. Normally I just have one and hold it steady with one hand while cranking the height wheel with the other.

That's a $6 HF caliper with a $3 aluminum roofer's square behind it. The spring clamps might push the total price over $10, but I doubt it. Plus all the parts have other uses.
No it isn't super secure, so I turn off the TS or router to adjust blade or bit height. :rotflm:
Kidding aside, I don't use this to measure anything in motion so it doesn't need to be very secure. Just make sure the caliper's slide moves freely and the caliper body does not.

Anyway, you just clamp it on, open it, turn it on and zero it. It then measures height as you raise it. There is a "-" that shows up but don't worry about positive versus negative numbers; it's just absolute distance in either direction. Slide it up and down a few times to make sure it returns to zero. If it doesn't, you don't have the caliper secured well enough. But as I said earlier, it doesn't take much to keep it in place.

You can get a lot fancier with this concept. If you cut a C out of a piece of plywood, you can put a dowel in the bottom attach a caliper to the top with a dowel also attached to it, zero it with the dowels together and accurately measure thickness in the middle of something.

You can mount a spring clamp on a planer or sander and just leave it there so you can do something like this quickly. You only need a square the first time if you establish good reference points (like a piece of tape to line the edge up with).


Corporate Member
Very ingenious! :icon_thum
Do you check the blade insert with a dial indicator to make sure it's coplanar with the table top? I'd imagine that could skew your height readings.
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