Galbert Caliper — The Woodturner's 'Tape' Measure

With measuring devices, you don’t often find a wholly new tool. And this one is so complete a departure in both design and use from that which it improves on. When I first saw the Galbert Caliper its use was not even apparent at first. Let’s face it , most “new” tools are simply evolved from their predecessors. It’s rare that you find an entirely new species. But such is the case with this remarkable new spindle turning measuring tool.

With a traditional turning caliper, you set the opening by measuring, or with a comparative gauging device such as a mating part. The Galbert Caliper doesn’t require a pre-measured size. The user can simply read the current cutting diameter right on the caliper, by following the built-in scale. Want 1″? With the parting tool cutting and the caliper riding in the kerf of the cut, you simply stop cutting when the scale indicator reads 1″. Done.

What’s truly remarkable about this tool is that you can move continuously along a turning to cut varied-diameter dimensions using just this one tool. You never need to stop and change caliper dimensions, or have several calipers already set to the dimensions you need, so your work speeds along quickly. You can see this tool in action here.

The inventor, Peter Galbert, is a Windsor chairmaker and his need for speed as a production spindle turner led him to create this clever device. He calls it “the turner’s tape measure” and that’s an apt description. With the tool engaged in the spinning work, it can measure in the 2-1/2″ to 3/4″ range. To measure between 1/2″ and 3/4″, you have to remove the parting tool from the work.

The tool is very well made and can be easily calibrated should it come out of register. The Galbert Caliper is currently available at an introductory price of $79.50 plus shipping. According to the Galbert web site, that price will change to $124.99 on July 1, 2009. I was frankly shocked at the introductory price. The soon-to-be-regular price is in the neighborhood of what I expected , and it’s worth it.

- Steve Shanesy

Steve Shanesy is the publisher and editorial director of Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine, and an avid and accomplished turner. His new DVD, “Turning Basics for Furniture Makers,” will be available in June.

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