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3 April 2016

How to make digital calipers

Run, Forrest, Run!

There are callipers and then then there are calipers. The ones I'm interested in today are of the digital variety and used to measure things. Specifically, I want some digital calipers to help me get the thickness right for the top and bottom of my up-coming archtop guitar build project. The idea is that I can use my new tool to measure the thickness of the wood, thereby removing yet one more excuse for me buggering it all up.


Let's backtrack a little bit. This digital caliper project has been on the boil for quite some time. Remember when I made the c-clamps recently? I talked about how I thought that the comb joints I was using for the clamps would work perfectly for a digital caliper. And indeed it did. What I might not have told you at the time was that I cut the wood for the caliper project at the same time that I cut the wood for the clamp project. Crafty eh! Ha ha.


Here it is, all glued together.

Mrs Uke took me aside today and asked me when I'm going to stop making tools and just get on with making the guitar?

When I'm good and ready, was the reply. Surely there can't be much more that I want to make before I get stuck in? You bet there is! Ha ha


I bought this measuring dial from a guy in China for about £12 all up. It arrived late January and ever since then I've been wondering how the hell I would attach it to the body I'd made.

This weekend I figured it out! I took off the back of the dial and in its place I screwed in a credit-card shaped piece of plastic. The idea was that I would then screw this plastic to the body. Would it work? Read on...


First things, first.

I trimmed down the body to get it all straightened up and then quickly reaslised that I wasn't going to have enough room to stick everything. No problem... I glued on a couple of extra bits of wood. The best thing about this part was that I got to try out my new spool clamps. Ha ha. They worked a treat!

If you look really hard in this picture you'll see that I'm adding a little height to the top arm and a little width to the bottom arm.


I drilled hole in the bottom arm to fit a bolt with a rounded nut. That will act as the bottom of the caliper. And then I fitted the dial to the top arm. The challenge was to get the two to meet in the middle... which I did! Woohoo!

Here I am all excited, measuring a scrap of wood. Lovely!


I wasn't initially going to do any more with it, but I had a little time on my hands so I rounded off the body, stained it and gave it a coat of varnish. Looks peachy doesn't it!

I showed my son it earlier and he said that it is "rubbish". Don't be fooled... this is just his way of saying that he really likes it and that I make him proud. I told him that I can measure things with it. He asked me to measure the table. Smart arse! I love him dearly.


I'll end with a close-up of that famous comb-joint that I fashioned with my table-saw.  I wonder how wide it is? ;-)

It's a little uneven when you get this close to it, but the technique has worked surprisingly well. I've still got the jig, so I may have another go at something like this in the future. 

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