In Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs

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One of my favorite tools from the Studley tool cabinet are his register calipers, which are displayed prominently on the right-hand side of the cabinet. These calipers were common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell out of favor when dial calipers became inexpensive.

Since first encountering these locking calipers I began using them in my shop (and at the lumberyard) for a wide variety of chores. They are great for checking turnings, mortise lengths and (of course) stock thickness. They measure inside and outside dimensions and are much more compact than carrying around a 6” dial caliper in your shop apron. They also are more durable – dial calipers are fragile and sensitive.

Now Woodpeckers has redesigned the register caliper and is offering it in stainless steel with brass components. Many original calipers were nickel-plated, which flakes off and makes them difficult to read. The dimensions on the Woodpeckers version are laser-engraved for clarity.


The calipers are offered in two sizes: 3” and 4-1/2” (they are also offered in metric). The tools are made in the United States. These are “one time” tools that Woodpeckers takes orders for in advance and then ships them when they are made. Order by Nov. 9, 2015. These will be ready in March 2016.

For more information on the calipers or how to order them, visit this page at the Woodpeckers site.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Lee Valley Tools also sells its version of the register caliper which are smaller – 1-3/4” capacity. More details are here. Full disclosure: I’ve not seen or handled these tools from either company. But both companies have reputations for making solid tools.

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    I have a non-vernier set of calipers that I inherited from my Dad. He was a machinist and millwright. He sold all his precision measuring /marking tools when he retired, but a few tools of low worth he kept. The calipers are sliding jaw type from General (still in production, as I’ve seen them advertised. They are accurate to 1/32″ and for what I use them for, that’s plenty. Mostly, I use them for rough thickness measurements for planed lumber, tenons, etc. They are small enough for a shirt pocket and really inexpensive.


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