Watchmaking 101: how to use calipers

Calipers, often overlooked, often misunderstood. I have been around these things since I was a child. Many of you readers already know that my dad is a goldsmith and he uses these all the time. We have over 20 laying around the house and it took  me until 2018 to understand how these things work. 

In short: an analog caliper is used to measure a distance/thickness. HOW DFQ DO YOU USE THEM? Wel you put the thing you wand to measure between the blades. The 0 will give you the rough measurement. In this case +-13mm. But how to get more accurate? Well you see those number from 0 up to 10? The point where the line of one of those number match with the line on the calipers indicate the number after the dot. In this case the 7 lines up with a line. --> the piece of wood measures 13.7mm. Sorry that these calipers aren't the cleanest, again my dad is a goldsmith and uses them a lot.

For watchmakers there are also calipers made out of plastic with a clock. I personally prefer this one due to the softness of the blades as this won't scratch up any surface.

What else can you do with calipers? We often use them in the goldsmithing shop to score pieces of sheet silver. Get a straight line on it before you saw it. You can also use the other part of the calipers to measure in between 2 points. For example to measure the lug width of a watch. At the bottom there is also a pin to measure the depth. Personally I only use this on my guitar to measure the action. 

We are not done there yet. We also have some calipers especially made for measuring the thickness of a piece of plate. These work in a fancy way. Personally i never use them.

To end: my micrometer. It is my baby to be honest. When I (accidentally) got it, I thought I would never use it and just sell it. These are crazy expensive, there is now one on ebay for around 500 euros. If you ever get the chance to get one, do it! on paper these are made to measure the thickness of a trainwheel or a pivot. I happen to use them a lot for restoring rolex bracelet. Shameless plug, e-mail me if you need some bracelet work --> with ' rolex bracelet' in the title xoxo

Stay ready for the next 'episode' of watchmaking 101 where I show you how to sharpen a screwdriver blade!