Best Digital Caliper for the Money

Precise projects call for precise tools. And when we’re talking about CNC machining, we’re talking fractions of inches, not yards. Unfortunately, tools capable of ultra-accurate readings can run away in price, while the measurements given by cheaper models can be so far off that the tool itself is useless.

Fortunately for you, we’ve gone on the hunt and found the best value digital calipers on the market.

Name

Awards

Where to Buy

Starrett 798A-6 0-6" Digital Caliper

Best Digital Caliper < $200

Mitutoyo 500-196-30 0-6" Digital Caliper

Best Digital Caliper < $150

iGaging Absolute Origin 0-6" Digital Caliper

Best Digital Caliper < $50

VINCA DCLA-0605 0-6" Digital Caliper

Best Digital Caliper < $25

Best digital caliper under $200

Starrett 798A-6 0-6" Digital Caliper

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Pros

IP67 rating
Quality all around

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Pros

Price tag

Admittedly, this caliper from Starrett is not going to be for everybody. Mostly because it comes with a hefty price, but if you have the extra cash lying around, the 798A-6 is absolutely worth the money.

Starrett has been making tools of all types for decades and the level of quality they have been able to hold over that time is remarkable. While they have been able to produce heirloom quality tools for a variety of uses, their measuring tools stand out as easily some of the best stuff on the market.

Starrett micrometers have long been the gold standard of precision and their digital calipers are very much up to the task as well.

The 798A-6 has an accuracy of 0.001″, or 0.254 mm and a resolution 0.0005″ or 0.010 mm. More importantly, this isn’t a spec pulled out of left field somewhere. These calipers easily meet the specified accuracy. In fact, we have found that many exceed the listed accuracy and are accurate to 0.0005”. They don’t spec it, so there is no guarantee but likely you will find them more accurate than they claim.

In addition, this set of calipers holds its zero extremely well so you won’t find yourself resetting them often like you might with a budget tool.

The 798A-6 is made of high-quality stainless steel. The parts that are not stainless steel such as the LCD display feel well made as well. No cheap thin plastic here.

Speaking of the display, it is large and easy to read. A nice feature of the display is that it comes with a limited number of buttons to fiddle with. A button to switch from inches to millimeters and another to turn the unit off and on are the only two buttons present. The on/off button can be held to zero the caliper at any location for taking measurements relative to a standard. Keep it simple.

One feature that is so-so is the battery life. It is listed as one year which is good but not as long as some other high-end calipers such as the Mitutoyo 500-196-30 which lists a three-year battery life.

The battery life of this Starrett caliper is likely hampered by the auto off feature which takes 30 minutes to kick in. Something closer to 5 minutes would likely have been more than sufficient and kept the juice flowing longer. Making sure to turn the tool off after each use can help increase the life of your batteries.

Still, this battery life is very good and stacks up well above what you find with cheaper digital calipers, but it is one of the few areas where the 798A-6 isn’t the cream of the crop.

While they are noticeably well built, the included case is a welcome addition that will work to keep your caliper safe when it’s not in use. Way too often has a set of calipers been bumped off a bench only to hit a hard concrete floor. Stashing your prized calipers away when not in use will add an additional layer of protection.

The main reason for the high price tag of these calipers is the tools protection from the elements. In the electronics industry, there is a rating called an Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which measures the amount of resistance a device has to dirt, water, and other contaminants that can mess with the device.

The Starrett 798A-6 digital caliper has an IP rating of 67. When reviewing other digital caliper models, you will find that most have no IP rating (no protection from water, coolant, dirt, etc.). The majority of digital calipers that are IP rated will have an IP rating of 54. We won’t get too far into the details here but be aware this is a large jump in protection even when compared to the IP54 rated calipers. If you want more info about IP ratings, jump to the IP Rating section of our Things to Consider list below.

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about accuracy. This is the main reason you need a digital caliper after all. This caliper from Starrett, like many others they make, is extremely accurate. Additionally, it holds its zero very well which means you won’t be constantly resetting it to maintain that accuracy.

To sum it up, you’re going to have to pay a pretty penny for this caliper, but due to its build quality, IP67 rating and most importantly, the excellent accuracy, it’ll likely be the last caliper you ever need.

Best digital caliper under $150

Mitutoyo 500-196-30 0-6" Digital Caliper

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Pros

Highly accurate
Long battery life

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Pros

No IP rating

You may recall another article we wrote where we ranked this Mitutoyo as the best overall digital caliper on the market. Our opinion has not changed. While this caliper is on the pricier end, it’s cheaper than the Starrett yet still incredibly accurate and durable. We really think it’s worth the money, and that’s not the fumes from the wood finish talking. We mean it.

The 500-196-30 caliper is made of stainless steel and has an accuracy of 0.001”, or 0.254mm and a resolution of .0005” or .01mm. The accuracy is what is important here and this caliper is right in line with the best of the best when it comes to accuracy. Similar to the Starrett 798A-6, the accuracy that Mitutoyo is able to provide will exceed what they have specified the accuracy to.

Again, they aren’t guaranteeing this level of accuracy but it really goes to show the level of quality found in these calipers.

We also appreciate how well-marked this caliper is. The scale and large display are very easy to read and there’s no mistaking the on/off, zero/abs, or in/mm buttons.

Something that could be easily overlooked is just how fast the caliper is. The display updates very quickly when taking measurements. Switching from mm to inches is accurate and instant. Don’t blame the caliper if you accidentally take a metric reading, these bad boys are spot on.

While this caliper from Mitutoyo might not be IP rated, it is still well protected. It doesn’t have the same level of protection that the Starrett caliper has but it will hold up well to light dirt, dust, and coolant. I wouldn’t submerge them in anything or hit them directly with coolant, but besides that you should find they are pretty resilient. I suspect they don’t have an IP rating because the battery cover doesn’t seal well enough to meet spec. Speaking of batteries…

A truly standout feature of this digital caliper is the battery life. We’ve used a lot of digital calipers through the years and none have the battery life that this one has.  Cheaper models generally run out of juice in a span of months. Higher quality tools like the Starrett will last longer, usually about a year, possibly more depending on use. This Mitutoyo caliper claims a 3.5 year long battery life! I don’t have time to check that claim, but I do know I can’t remember ever changing a battery in any of the Mitutoyo calipers I own or have worked with. These things are always ready to take a reading.

All in all, the Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is a top shelf tool. Most of the digital calipers from other high-quality manufacturers will be in this same price range and as a result they should be benchmarked against this caliper right here.

If money is no option, it makes sense to go with the Starrett 798A-6 to get a couple extra bells and whistles, but if not then this Mitutoyo is the best option. This caliper sets the standard for what you should expect from a digital caliper.

Best digital caliper under $50

iGaging Absolute Origin 0-6" Digital Caliper

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Pros

Two-year warranty
IP54 rated

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Pros

Battery life

The iGaging caliper finds a nice middle ground between the expensive, incredibly accurate and highly durable models above and cheaper models that start to have questionable accuracy.

Made of stainless steel, this caliper has an accuracy of +/- .001” or .02mm, and a resolution of .0005” or .01mm. This is in line with what you would expect from a good quality caliper.

Perhaps the best feature of this caliper is its IP54 rating. It isn’t as good as the IP67 rating of the Starrett caliper we noted above but it still amounts to a solid amount of protection from the elements, especially because this is a budget friendly tool.

Another plus that is unusual for lesser priced tools is that iGaging gives you a two-year warranty on the caliper. Most manufacturers (even the really good ones) only give a one-year warranty, if any at all.

The IP54 rating plus the two-year warranty means iGaging stands behind this caliper and it should be up to task for quite some time.

One downfall worth mentioning is that the iGaging caliper does lose accuracy as the battery power winds down. The problem here is that there’s no way to track the battery level.

We recommend checking your zero regularly to make sure you aren’t in need a new battery. The process is quick and easy. Also, remember to keep some spare batteries on hand for this reason as well.

While the battery issue isn’t ideal, we still think this iGaging caliper provides great value in terms of accuracy and overall build quality. The IP54 rating and two-year warranty are just the cherries on top.

Best digital caliper under $25

VINCA DCLA-0605 0-6" Digital Caliper

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Pros

Price

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Pros

Cheaper calipers generally less accurate

If you’re brand new to CNC machining, or if your budget is looking a little bit tight this year and you need to save on a caliper, one option would be to go with the VINCA DCLA-0605.

Though it’s a fairly cheap tool, it still provides a good amount of accuracy. The VINCA caliper has an accuracy of +/- 0.001″/.0254 mm and a resolution of 0.0005″/0.01mm. Remember, when picking a digital caliper, accuracy should be your main focus.

Additionally, this caliper comes with a case. For the price you’re paying, this isn’t a bad freebie, especially if you’re taking this caliper with you from site to site. Heck, even if you’re not travelling with your tool, it’s a good idea to protect it to ensure they remain accurate and protect them from the elements.

Another feature we like on this VINCA is the RS232 port. The port lets you plug the caliper straight into a computer to digitally transfer readings. Even just this slight bit of automation is a nice safeguard since inputting wrong measurements will cause your machine to make the wrong cuts, thereby ruining your project altogether.  

It’s worth noting that one of the nice features of these calipers can also be a pain. They turn on automatically when you slide them. The display also turns off after not moving for a bit.

In theory this is great but even the slightest movement or vibration can cause the display to turn on which drains the battery quickly. Luckily this can easily be remedied by gently turning the lock screw when you put them away to keep them in place.

This set of calipers from VINCA isn’t perfect, but they are accurate and cheap. I wouldn’t plan on them lasting forever but at this price point, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Neiko 01407A 0-6" Digital Caliper

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Pros

Cheap
Measures in inches, mm and fractions

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Pros

Display is awkward to read

The Neiko 01407A is another solid option in the same price range as the VINCA.

When it comes to this end of the price range for digital calipers, you will find that many are the same Chinese manufactured tool with different branding slapped on top.

In this same vein, the VINCA and Neiko calipers have very similar displays which both read in inches, mm and fractions. This LCD is large which makes it easy to read but because they read in fractions (which aren’t that useful for most people) the last few numbers on the display are smaller which makes them a little awkward to read. It’s not a dealbreaker, but just something that takes a little getting used to.

So, let’s get down to brass tax with these super budget calipers from Neiko and VINCA.

To be honest, we don’t really see a whole lot of differences between these two models. They offer similar accuracy, and both come in at around the $25 mark with similar features.

Just remember that these aren’t the kind of tools you will pass down to your kids but they will get the job down for a fraction of the price of the higher end stuff.

For these two calipers, our recommendation would be to buy whichever model is cheapest at the time. Keep your eye out for sales on these two models, and just go for the lower price. 

Can you find a cheaper digital caliper?

Sure, you can find calipers out there for dirt cheap. But you’re going to get what you pay for, so if you’re only willing to drop $10 on a caliper, just know that it’s not going to be very accurate.

We think it’s always going to be worth it to spend an extra ten spot on a nicer caliper. The two missed trips to Starbucks will be worth it for a tool that is both more accurate and more reliable.

Things to consider when looking for a digital caliper

Battery life

button cell battery for micrometer
Typical digital caliper battery

You might have noticed some of these calipers have a tendency to drain batteries, while others will last years on a single cell. Though most batteries aren’t incredibly expensive, they do add to the cost of the tool and it can be pretty darn inconvenient to have a dead tool and no backup batteries.

If you don’t go with a digital caliper with a long battery life, make sure to pick up some backup batteries to make sure your tool is always ready to go.

Measuring accuracy

After reading this review, you might’ve noticed that every caliper on here claimed the same measuring accuracy: +/- 0.001”. For Starrett or Mitutoyo, you can take them at their word for just about any spec.

If you are thinking about a tool on the bottom of the price range, then keep in mind that it might not actually meet the accuracy listed by the manufacturer. For this reason, we have prioritized accuracy in our budget friendly options above all other features.

If you need highly precise measurements that can be trusted without question, you better think about purchasing a more expensive caliper especially if you plan to use it for your day job.

Measuring accuracy vs resolution

Accuracy is how close a reported measurement is to the true value being measured. Resolution is the smallest change that can be measured.

Think about your car’s speedometer: Accuracy is how closely your speedometer measures the car’s true speed. Resolution is all of the little hashes on your speedometer, which indicate the speedometer can only measure in whole miles per hour (i.e. the speedometer reads “20 mph,” not “21.38 mph.”).

Be careful you don’t confuse the two. A digital caliper may give a reading (have a resolution) out to half a thousandth (0.0005”) but only be accurate to a thousandth (0.001”).

Measuring range

Every caliper we listed here measures 0-6”. This is by far the most common measuring range of calipers. You’re generally not going to need to measure sizes over 6”, especially as a beginner or hobbyist. If you are working in a machine shop, then likely the shop will have larger range calipers that can be used when needed.

0-6” calipers strike a great balance between measuring range and ease of measurement. Using a large caliper to measure smaller features can be very awkward. Use a 0-24” caliper to measure a 1” hole diameter, and you’ll quickly see what we mean.

IP ratings

As we mentioned earlier, an IP rating is the amount of resistance a device has to dirt, dust, water, and the like.

A lot of digital calipers – especially cheaper ones – have no resistance at all. If a caliper is IP rated, the average rating is IP54, which provides limited protection from dust and splashes of water. Honestly, for most people, IP54 is really all you’ll need for a caliper.

But some may want a more rugged caliper, and in that case there are some digital calipers which are rated IP67. This means they are virtually impervious to everyday dust and water.

With that being said, IP ratings don’t account for clumsiness, so if you drop your caliper on a concrete floor, it won’t matter what your IP rating is.

Below is a useful chart we made to help you navigate IP ratings. The first digit in a rating is protection from solids, while the second digit denotes protection from liquids.

ingress protection (IP) ratings solids description
ingress protection (IP) ratings liquid protection

Cases

Speaking of protection, some calipers will come with a case. These are precise measuring tools, which means they can be a bit delicate at times. It’s definitely not a bad idea to either buy a caliper that comes with a case or purchase your own.

Cases protect your investment and make locating your tool easier.

Materials

A good rule for calipers is to find one made from stainless steel. Though you may find models made from carbon fiber composites or plastics.

Again, we recommend a stainless-steel model, but the other kinds do have their benefits. A carbon fiber caliper is much less likely to scratch up wood, for example. They’re also non-magnetic, if that would be an issue for you.

Keep in mind the materials that you plan to work with but for most people, we recommend stainless steel calipers.

Best Engraving Pens for Every Budget and Material

Engraving pens come in a wide range shapes, sizes and capabilities. You want to find the one that is just right for you project.

As you read our guide to the best engraving pens, make sure to keep your planned project in mind to determine what tool will work best for you.

Some applications such as jewelry engraving will benefit from a smaller tool for more precise strokes. Other materials such as metal or glass will engrave better with a more powerful tool such as one of the engravers by Dremel below.

No matter what you are working with, we have laid out the best tools on the market and an extensive list of items at the bottom of the article for you to consider when looking for your right fit tool.

Name

Awards

Where to Buy

Dremel 8220-1/28

Best Overall Cordless Engraving Pen

Tidalpool Easy Etcher

Best Budget Cordless Engraving Pen

Tacklife PCG01B

Best Value Cordless Engraving Pen

Dremel 290-01

Best Corded Engraving Pen

IMT Scriber

Best Manual Engraving Pen

Best Overall Cordless Engraving Pen

Dremel 8220-1/28

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Pros

Power
Warranty
Case

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Cons

Bulky compared to some engraving pens

The Dremel company is so associated with rotary tools that many would refer to a rotary tool as a Dremel like they would call any facial tissue a Kleenex. There is good reason for this. Dremel has been making well made rotary tools for decades.

This cordless version is on the larger side when compared to your typical engraving pen but with the added size comes added power. Power that will allow you to do more with your tool. The tool has an adjustable speed that can run at 5,000-35,000 RPMs.

With all that power it would be easy to think the battery would be a big concern. Luckily, the 8220-1/28 charges to full battery in only an hour.

The Dremel 8220-1/28 comes with a nice variety of accessories and bits that will allow you to carve, engrave, cut, grind, sharpen, clean, polish and sand your projects. Speaking of all those add-ons…

The included case does a nice job of containing the tool and various extras.  Which is great because many of the bits are small and it is a good idea to protect them, so they stay sharp for the next project.

The Dremel 8220-1/28 has a quick-change collet that makes changing out all those tools a snap. This is definitely one of the features that sets it apart form many other tools.

The other standout feature is the 2-year warranty. Most other manufacturers don’t even include a 1-year warranty. It’s obvious that Dremel stands behind their product.

So, if you are looking for a versatile tool capable of performing a variety of operations and working with many different kinds of materials, think about going with the Dremel 8220-1/28.

Best Budget Cordless Engraving Pen

Tidalpool Easy Etcher

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Pros

Lightweight
Easy to control
Included stencils

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Cons

May be underpowered for some materials

The Easy Etcher is an excellent engraving pen for beginners. The tool is so lightweight that engraving with it is as close to using an actual pen as you will get. The Easy Etcher is actually about the size of a standard marker.

The rubberized grip also helps keep the engraver under control while using it. While the 12,000 RPM speed may seem under powered when compared to other engraving pens, it actually helps keep the tool stable during use.

Runtimes will vary depending on the type of material you are working with, but the Easy Etcher runs on AAA batteries which means there is no waiting around for the tool to recharge. The batteries aren’t included but other extras are.

The Easy Etcher comes with 10 sets of stencils that make engraving text or designs on your material a piece of cake. It also comes with a nice starter selection of bits that allow you to create a variety of textures and finishes.

The Easy Etcher won’t be the be all, end all for engraving every material but it is a great tool to get you started without breaking the bank.

Best Value Cordless Engraving Pen

TACKLIFE PCG01B

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Pros

Adjustable depth setting
Warranty

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Cons

Hard to install bit
Loud

While the TACKLIFE PCG018 is not as nimble as the Easy Etcher it does a good job of making up for it in the power department. With similar price points, it would be wise to determine whether power or maneuverability is more important to you.

The PCG018 has 3 speed settings of 5, 10 and 15,000 RPMs. This means it will work well for a variety of materials.

This TACKLIFE engraving pen is cordless and rechargeable. It charges over USB which has some benefits and drawbacks.

The charge time is fairly long at 2 hours but with a runtime of 90 minutes it lasts long enough to complete most jobs.

Additionally, the tool comes with 31 different accessories for engraving, sanding and finishing along with a case to contain them all. Two collets to accommodate different bit sizes of 3/32” and 1/8” is also a nice addition.

The TACKLIFE PCG018 is a solid choice when it comes to cordless engraving pens.

Best Corded Engraving Pen

Dremel 290-01

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Pros

Adjustable depth setting
Warranty

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Cons

Hard to install bit
Loud

The Dremel 290-01 is different than most of the other engravers on this list. Instead of being a rotary engraver, it has a vibrating tip that moves in and out. Basically, it operates like a mini jackhammer.

Corded engraving pens like this Dremel have some advantages and disadvantages.

Being corded means that you are tethered to your power outlet and it can be slightly cumbersome to work with the power cord snagging on objects in your work area. The 290-01 is pretty lightweight though which makes maneuvering it around your workpiece a little easier.

A nice benefit of using a corded engraver is that you won’t ever run out of power. This is helpful for harder materials that may take multiple passes to get the amount of engraving you desire.

The power of the 290-01 is controlled with a dial that allows five depth settings. This works well to adjust for different material types such as wood or rock. All that power comes with the side effect that the tool is quite loud when running. You should expect it to be noisy. It is a power tool after all but take note that the other tools on this list are quieter.

There are a couple minor downfalls for the 290-01. The biggest one is that the bit can be difficult to install. The set screw that locks it is tiny and it can be challenging to work with.

Also, the provided stencil comes in handy but is somewhat lacking. Many other engravers come with a wider variety of stencils so keep in mind that you may want to purchase some extra stencils if you plan on engraving a lot.

On the plus side, just like this engraving pen’s cordless counterpart, the Dremel 290-01 comes with a two-year warranty which is well above what most competing engravers come with.

Overall, the Dremel 290-01 is a solid engraving pen. A couple minor inconveniences are balanced nicely by the higher, non-stop power that comes from being always plugged in.

Best Manual Engraving Pens

IMT Scriber

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Pros

No power required

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Cons

Doesn't engrave deep

If all you need is something basic and reliable for engraving then the manual scriber from IMT may be your best bet.

It requires no batteries or power cord. The tool is extremely lightweight and its tungsten carbide tip will engrave a large variety of materials including steel, ceramics and glass. If you are working with plastics though, a powered tool would be a better choice.

The IMT scriber will actually perform an operation that is more akin to scratching your material than actually engraving it. For many use cases, this is more than enough. Just keep this in mind when choosing your engraving pen.

It also comes with extra tips in case one snaps. They are somewhat brittle because they are so hard. They aren’t fragile but can break if you aren’t dropped or handled roughly. Luckily, the scriber comes with a protective cap that will help shield the point from damage.

The IMT scriber is definitely more low tech than some of the other engraving pen options available but if all you need is a simple engraver then it may be a great choice at a cheap price.

Things to consider when buying an engraving pen

Safety

Remember that these tools can be dangerous, especially to your eyes. Be careful handling them and use eye protection to protect you from things such as flying chips or broken bits.

Corded vs cordless engraving pens

Corded engraving pens generally have more power than their cordless counterparts. The downside is that the cord can get in the way and make the tool more difficult to maneuver. The easiest engraving pens to use are those that are lightweight and battery operated.

Cord length

If you choose to use a corded engraving pen to have more power, keep in mind that the length of the power cord is very important. If the cord is short, then make sure that you have an extension cord handy because some of the power cords can be very short.

Speed

RPMs do not equal power. Being able to adjust your RPMs over a wider range is more beneficial than simply having a higher RPM overall. Different materials will require different RPMs. In general, materials such as glass or metal which are harder will benefit from a higher RPM and softer materials will engrave better at lower RPMs.

Bits and accessories

It is a nice bonus for an engraving pen to come with a good selection of bits and accessories but not a necessity. There are many bit or accessory kits available that allow you to perform different types of engravings or finishing to your piece for a fairly cheap price.

Extra bits aren’t required to start but before too long you will definitely want to expand your bit collection if your engraving pen doesn’t come with many. Different bits will allow you to different styles of engraving.

Battery

If you go the cordless route, make sure you find a tool that charges quick and has a long runtime.

Cheaper tools tend to run off standard AA or AAA batteries which means they can run out of power quickly but also that more power can easily be on standby. Keep extra batteries nearby but consider the amount of power you will need for your project when choosing which engraving pen to go with. Harder materials require more power.

Warranty

Pay attention to the length of the warranty for your tool. Just like many other power tools, a good warranty is a solid indicator of the quality of the tool. This doesn’t mean that good tools don’t come with shorter warranties, just that it is something to be mindful of.

Stencils

Stencils can be very important for getting the correct design on your part. There are many different stencil kits available but it is definitely a bonus to have a couple to start with. Creating visually appealing designs freehand is going to take some practice so having a template to follow when getting started will be helpful.

Engraving vs cutting

Engraving pens are just that, engravers. They generally are not meant for cutting. If you are looking for a tool that is capable of doing more than simply scratching the surface of a part, then you will want to look into something with more power like the various Dremels or other higher power rotary tools.  

Related articles

For more information check out these related articles:

Best Deburring Tools [Based on Materials & Budget]

For your project to be truly complete, you have to smooth down any rough cuts and remove the burrs from any raw edges or holes. This is not only going to make your projects look better, but it’s going to make them safer as well; there won’t be any jagged edges that can cut your skin or tear your clothes.

This is where a deburring tool is comes in handy. While there are countless deburring tools on the market, we’ve made picking a tool easy for you.

That’s because we’ve scoured the internet, read all the reviews, and have some experience ourselves, and we’ve found the five best deburring tools on the available.

Name

Awards

Where to Buy

AFA Tooling Deburring Tool Kit

Best Overall Deburring Tool

YXGOOD Hand Deburring Tool Kit

Best Value Deburring Tool

Vastools Deburring Tool

Best Ultra Cheap Deburring Tool

Mavast Aluminum Deburring Tool

Best Deburring Tool for Metal

ORX Plus Tools External Deburring Tool

Best External Deburring Tool

Best Overall Deburring Tool

AFA Tooling Deburring Tool Kit

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Pros

Cuts a wide variety of materials
Aluminum handle
One-year warranty

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Cons

None

One thing we really love about this deburring tool is just how versatile it is.

This thing will help you deburr all kinds of materials from brass and steel to aluminum, copper, PVC pipe, wood and more. It also works well on plastics without melting them and does a good resin art too.

With so many different applications and coming in at such a reasonable price, it’s easy to make this our best overall deburring tool.

The kit, which is really just the tool and extra blades, comes with 15 blades. This includes 5 each of 3 different types. Each type works well with different materials.

One set of blades is for softer materials such as copper, wood, and plastic. The next set is for medium harness materials including aluminum, brass, and steel. The last set, which is designed for more difficult materials works well with stainless steel, tungsten, and other similar metals.

When you pick the right blade for your material, it will improve the finish of your break edge or chamfer that you are applying to the part.

Beyond its versatility, this deburring tool is also going to last you a long time.

The knurled aluminum handle provides superior grip and lends an overall solid build quality to the tool. This deburring tool can take a beating and still get the job done. Plus, with the extra replacement blades, you won’t need to worry about purchasing anything else, even if you do roll it off your workbench onto the concrete.

This tool from AFA Tooling comes with a swivel head which comes in handy for a number of different reasons. For any of you lefties out there, you can purchase this tool without having to worry about how you’ll hold it or risking using it with your right hand. The swivel head also means you can deburr your project, even if it has some weird angles or hard to reach places.

Lastly, when you buy this AFA deburring tool, you get a one-year warranty. Given the number of materials this tool can work with, the replacement parts, the swivel head, the warranty, and the price, we think this is the best overall tool on the list.

Best Value Deburring Tool

YXGOOD Hand Deburring Tool Kit

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Pros

10 HSS replacement blades
Swivel head

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Cons

Cannot cut through harder metals

If you’re looking for a mix of utility and price, you can’t go wrong getting this YXGOOD deburring tool kit set.

For one, it can be used on a fair amount of materials, including plastic, copper, aluminum, silver, and wood. While this list may leave out some of the harder metals, given what you’re going to pay for the tool, that’s more than fair. Additionally, you can pick up some replacement blades that are meant for harder materials if you find you need them down the road.

Speaking of replacement blades, the tool comes with 10 of them, all of which are HSS (high speed steel). This means that the blades will work on a good number of metals without dulling too quickly.

Also, like many of the nicer deburring tools, this one has an aluminum handle, so you know it’s going to be a nice and sturdy tool.

No one wants to bust a plastic handle while zipping along, deburring the edges of their parts.

Also similar to nicer models, this tool has a 360-degree swivel head, so you can use it whether you’re a righty or a lefty and it can be used in all kinds of strange angles and in the nooks and crannies that might be hard to reach with a tool that doesn’t have a swivel head.

All in all, this YXGOOD hand deburring tool is a really nice addition to your toolkit.

The only negative here is that the deburring tool can’t cut through quite as many materials as the tool above, but, again, given the price of this tool, that makes sense. Remember, you can always get some more robust replacement blades if you find you end up needing them.

If you want to get the most value out of your dollar, we recommend this deburring tool.

Best Ultra Cheap Deburring Tool

VASTOOLS Deburring Tool

plus symbol

Pros

Low price
Swivel head

minus symbol

Cons

No replacement blades

If can swing a few extra bucks, I definitely recommend going with one of our other recommendations. Let’s face it, these aren’t the most expensive tools under the sun.

While 50% more expensive may sound like a lot, when some of the tools can be had for under 10 bucks, it really isn’t that bad.

With that said, maybe you do need to pinch every penny. Maybe your significant other is a little cranky because you just laid out a decent chunk of cash for that new 3d printer. Every situation is different. I get it.

If this sounds like you then this deburring tool from VASTOOLS will likely get the job done well for you. In fact, working with 3d printed plastic and similar soft materials.

Where this tool will start to struggle is if you start trying to work with anything much harder than aluminum.

The fact that it can work with metals at all is excellent for a deburring tool on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

It also features a swivel head like our other recommendations as well as an aluminum body. When you start looking at tools in the ultra-budget category, you’re going to quickly see that most aren’t built as well and can be pretty limited in the materials that they can work.

Above all, we recommend making sure to get a deburring tool with a swivel head. It makes deburring in tight spots much easier and this tool is about as cheap as you can go and still get this feature.

Best Deburring Tool For Metal

MAVAST Aluminum Deburring Tool

plus symbol

Pros

Comes with multiple blade types
Excellent customer service

minus symbol

Cons

None

If you already know that you’re going to be doing a lot of projects with metals, you should really consider purchasing this deburring tool from MAVAST.

While it is more than capable of cutting wood, it can also easily deburr stainless steel, steel, copper, aluminum, plastic, PVC, and tin. And this is not just the manufacturer hyping up their own product, numerous other reviewers have testified that this tool can cut through hard metals without leaving behind any chatter and or gouging of their project.

Harder materials will dull up your blades quicker which is why this kit is great for metals. It comes with a whopping 21 different blades. This includes 11 standard HSS blades,5 BK3010 black HSS blades, and 5 BS1018 silver HSS blades, suitable for cutting stainless steel and other hard metals.

With this much versatility and toughness, you absolutely need to buy this deburring tool if you plan on mainly using metals. You’ll be glad you have ample replacement blades and the right blade for your material as well.

This tool also comes with many standard features you would expect, such as the swiveling head so that both right-handed and left-handed users can operate with the tool without a problem.

Another nice thing about purchasing a MAVAST tool is their customer service. The company has a great reputation for helping customers with any questions that come up. If things aren’t working like you planned with your project, it is always nice to get some quick support.

Best External Deburring Tool

ORX PLUS TOOLS Deburring External Tool

plus symbol

Pros

Works with wide variety of materials

minus symbol

Cons

Limited application

While these external chamfer/deburring tools have a little bit more of a limited use, that does not mean it’s not worth keeping one in your toolbox.

If you’re unfamiliar with these tools, they’re ideal for repairing damaged bolts and tightening nuts in their place. This means you don’t have to replace expensive or hard to find bolts, which can save you some cash – and some frustration – in the future.

To use this tool, you simply place it on the end of your drill. But be sure that you use an extremely low speed while you’re using it, or you could make the damage worse.

This particular ORX tool only works if you use it in a clockwise direction. Further, it works on a really wide range of materials, including stainless steel, hardened steel, mild steel, copper, brass, aluminum, fiberglass, wood, and plastic.

There is one downside to the tool, and that is the edges cannot be sharpened. With that said, because it isn’t an everyday use tool for most people, you’ll likely find that the tool never needs to be sharpened anyways. 

All things considered, we like this deburring tool because even though it has a limited range of uses, it does exactly what it is supposed to and does it well.

Things to consider when purchasing a deburring tool

Left hand vs. right hand

If you’re right-handed, you’re a bit luckier as far as this goes. Most machines and tools are made with right-handers in mind, so it’s the lefties that have to do the extra research.

Luckily, all of the tools in this article come with a swivel head, so you can adjust the deburring blade to fit whichever hand is dominant.

However, this may not be the case for all tools, so be sure to check the specs. If you’re a lefty and you don’t see a swivel head, you should probably reconsider buying the tool.

Spare parts

Even if you’re just a hobbyist, you’re eventually going to wear out the blade on your deburring tool. So while you may save money upfront by not buying a tool with replacement blades, eventually, you’ll be out of luck.

Many deburring tools online will come with extra blades, and it may be worth the extra investment.

Customer service

As always, don’t discount customer service. You may need to return an order, or you may have questions about how to use a tool, and when a manufacturer answers your questions promptly and respectfully, that’s always nice.

You can also usually tell the level of customer care by how well a package is wrapped when it arrives at your door. The shipping process can take a beating on your tools, and if they aren’t well wrapped, this can significantly lower the lifespan of your tool.

A well-packaged tool tells you that the manufacturer really cares about quality service.

Final thoughts

Deburring tools are fairly straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you should go with any old tool. As we noted above, all tools are certainly not created equal.

Our best overall choice from AFA Tooling does a wonderful job working with a good range of materials and packaging that capability up in a solid body that is built to last.

One last note, keep in mind the types of materials you plan on working with and how much use you plan to give it. The blades you get will make a big difference in the success of any of your projects or builds.

Pick a high quality deburring tool and you won’t be disappointed. Not only does it add a nice, professional finish to your project, but it can help with safety too. No one wants to get cut or tear a piece of clothing on a jagged edge. Deburr it!

PL on Blueprint – What It Means and Compared to Similar Callouts [With Examples]

What does PL mean on an engineering or manufacturing blueprint?

PL is an abbreviation for places. This notation will be shown with a number associated with it such as:

Chamfer 0.010” x 45 degrees 4 PL

When the PL note is used, it should be very clear what feature, edge, etc. that the callout applies to. Unfortunately, what was obvious to the person drafting the print and what is obvious to the person down the line reading it, does not always match up.

When in doubt ask the customer or someone higher up the food chain.

PL example on a blueprint

The example below shows two chamfer callouts that use PL notation. 

manufacturing blueprint that shows two chamfers with PL callouts

This is just a section of the blueprint but the overall part shape is square. The 4 PL refers to the 4 edges on each side there the main surface (S1 & S2) meet the sides of the part. 

Therefore the part should be chamfered at 0.5 x 45° all around on one side and 2.0 x 45° on all around on the other side.

Blueprint notes that are similar to PL

The #x format (2x, 4x, etc) gets used often in place of the places note. The PL example given above could be changed to either of the following and the requirement would remain the same:

Chamfer 0.010” x 45 degrees 4x or Chamfer 4x 0.010” x 45 degrees

Related articles

// Symbol on Blueprints [What It Is, How To Check It & More]

What does the // symbol mean on a blueprint?

parallelism gd&t symbol
The GD&T symbol for parallelism

// is the GD&T symbol for parallelism. For the parallelism symbol, notice how the two lines of the symbol run together. They are parallel to each other. 

How to read a parallelism blueprint callout

The blueprint item that contains the parallelism callout is called a feature control frame.

The components of a feature control frame are shown below.

 

feature control frame description with parts identified

The parallelism symbol would be inside the first box to indicate the type of tolerance.

The tolerance amount is listed in the middle box. This tolerance is in the the same units that the rest of your blueprint is in. Many times this will be listed in general tolerance block of the blueprint.

The datum reference is the feature that the feature with the parallelism callout will be compared to. In the example below, datum A is on the left and the right side has the parallelism callout attached to it. 

This feature control frame reads “the right side of the part must be parallel within 0.02 to datum A”.

parallelism callout with feature control frame

How to check for paralleism

Other GD&T symbols

GD&T symbols are used to control the size, form and/or orientation of the different features on a part. 

Check out the list below to learn about other GD&T symbols and if you want a more in depth guide that includes then check out our Complete Guide to Blueprint Symbols

gd&t symbols
gd&t symbols

Related articles

26 Types of Micrometers [Includes Pictures & Descriptions]

Micrometers come in many shapes and sizes. 

Our comprehensive list covers all of the most common and many uncommon micrometers found in machine shops, garages and workshops around the world.

Read on to see how many you’ve used or how many you even knew existed.

The most common types of micrometers

Outside micrometers

anytime tools 1-2" micrometer
Anytime Tools 1-2" Outside Micrometer

Otherwise known simply as mics. Your standard everyday micrometer. Used for measuring outside diameters, lengths, widths, thickness, etc. Commonly available in 1” measuring ranges.

The typical accuracy of an outside micrometer is 0.0001”.

Inside micrometers

mitutoyo inside micrometer set
Mitutoyo Inside Micrometer Set

Used for checking internal widths, diameters, and bores. The typical accuracy of an inside micrometer is 0.001”.

Depth micrometers

Starrett Depth Micrometer

Used for measuring the depth of slots and holes as well as the location of various steps. They tend to be less accurate than a standard micrometer. Most will have an accuracy of +/- 0.001”.

Styles of micrometers

Standard vernier micrometer

The old standby. This type of micrometer has been produced for decades and I’m sure will continue to be around for many more years.

They feature a rotating thimble that has a vernier scale wrapped around it. This scale is matched up with the scale on the sleeve to obtain your measurement.

Digital micrometer

mitutoyo digital micrometer
Mitutoyo Digimatic Digital Micrometer

Many of the micrometers listed are available as a digital version as well. Do not expect anything different between a digital and standard micrometer other than the display.

They have the same accuracy. Digital vs non digital is just a matter of preference.

Mechanical counter/digital mics

mitutoyo mechanical counter micrometer
Mitutoyo Digital Counter Micrometer

A less popular option, some of the micrometers listed can be purchased as a mechanical counter version. Some of the manufacturers call them digital, but the term is misleading.

Personally, I have never found them superior to other mics. I would avoid them. You can expect their accuracy to be in line with a standard micrometer of the same type.

Micrometer sets

anytime tools micrometer set with case and reference standards
Anytime Tools Micrometer Set

Because micrometers have a smaller measuring range when compared to some other precision measuring tools such as calipers, they are often purchased as a set. Micrometer sets are commonly available in 0-3”, 0-6” and 0-12” varieties with many other less common sets being available as well.

Micrometers with different spindles and/or anvils

Carbide tipped anvil and spindles

Carbide tips provide additional wear resistance for a micrometer, especially one that may see extra heavy usage. While they can be useful in this regard, the carbide tips are more brittle and have been known to chip.

For most people, your standard stainless-steel spindle and anvil will be good enough but both types work well.

Non-rotating micrometers

These micrometers work well for a number of applications. The spindle on this type of micrometer doesn’t spin to increase the accuracy of the measurement. It also has the added benefit of being less likely to damage surfaces where surface finish is extremely important.

Micrometers with rounded anvils

These micrometers allow you to measure features that are not flat such as the wall thickness from the edge of a hole another surface.

Micrometers with interchangeable anvils

mitutoyo interchangeable micrometer
Mitutoyo Interchangeable Anvil Micrometer Set

Often seen on large micrometers. Interchangeable anvils usually allow a single micrometer to measure over a 6” range in 1” increments.

Imagine a 12” micrometer that can swap anvils to measure any 1” range up to 18” and you will get the idea.

Blade micrometer

mitutoyo blade micrometer
Mitutoyo Blade Micrometer

Blade micrometers are used for measuring narrow features such as grooves, slots and keyways. The spindle of a blade micrometer won’t rotate to allow accurate alignment and measurement of your part.

V anvil micrometer

These micrometers are used to check for an out of round condition, sometimes called lobing. They are often used in the centerless grinding industry.

Tube micrometer

anytime tools tube micrometer
Anytime Tools Tube Micrometer

Used almost exclusively for measuring the wall thickness of round objects such as…you’re never going to guess.

Alright, I’ll tell you. They measure tubes! Surprising, I know!

The anvil on these micrometers is more rounded than what you would see on a micrometer with rounded anvils

Pitch-diameter micrometer

These micrometers have a special anvil and spindle to allow them to measure the opposite sides of a thread. The anvil has a double v shape while the spindle is pointed.

They have an overall measuring range such as 0-1” or 1-2” like a standard micrometer but also have a range of threads per inch or mm that they are capable of measuring.

Multi-anvil or universal micrometers

Starrett Mul-T-Anvil Micrometer

These micrometers allow you to switch the anvil so that the tool can take multiple types of measurements. One multi-anvil mic can take the place of an outside, tube and rounded anvil micrometer all in one.

Groove micrometers

Groove micrometers are used for taking measurements of grooves and other small features. Their low profile allows them to be used in tight spaces.

Disc micrometers

fowler disc micrometer
Fowler Disc Micrometer

This type of micrometer is frequently used for measuring thin sections of a part such as a sheet of material or the ribs or fins on a component. Often, they come with non-rotating spindles to keep the thin material from being twisted and giving an incorrect measurement.

Micrometers with special frames

Micrometers with insulated frames

outside micrometer
Mitutoyo Micrometer With Insulated Frame

Heat can cause metal or other materials to expand. When this happens, your part can appear to measure larger than it actually is. The same principle affects your measuring tool as well. This is why many micrometers will have an insulated grip to keep you from transferring your body heat to the micrometer and affecting the measurements.

Bench micrometer

Bench micrometers work like a combination micrometer and micrometer stand. They are used when the part to be measured can be brought to the workbench and will provide all the same benefits of using a good quality micrometer stand.

Sheet metal micrometers

mitutoyo sheet metal micrometer
Mitutoyo Sheet Metal Micrometer

Sheet metal mics will allow you to take a measurement away from the edge of the material. Useful for working with, well sheet metal duh but also other materials where you want to get closer to the center of the part and need the clearance to be able to do it.

Hub micrometer

Hub micrometers are used when a shallow frame is needed such as when you need to insert the tool into a hole to take a measurement.

Micrometer head

mitutoyo micrometer head
Mitutoyo Micrometer Head

Micrometer heads don’t have a body or frame. They are used for all sorts of applications where an adjustment needs to be made with a great deal of accuracy.

Some common uses are for in fixtures as well as machine setup.

Special application micrometers

Crankshaft micrometer

A specialized set of micrometers that have a larger than normal measuring range that allows them to take measurements you might need when working with crankshafts.

This range is typically from 1 ½” to 3 ½”.

Disc brake micrometer

Another special application micrometer. They are used for measuring the depth of the grooves in your brake rotors. Like the sheet metal micrometers, they have a frame that allows measurements farther away from the edge of the brake rotor.

Paper gage micrometer

Used in the paper and printing industries, these micrometers feature wider spindle and anvils that help keep them from compressing the material being measured to make sure the readings are accurate.

Micrometer accessories

Micrometer balls

starrett micrometer ball
Starrett Micrometer Ball

This attachment allows a standard outside micrometer to function like a tube or rounded anvil mic. The attachments do reduce the overall measuring range of your tool so keep that in mind.

Additionally, you will need to subtract the size of the micrometer balls into consideration when calculating your measurement.

Micrometer stands

grizzly industrial micrometer stand holding micrometer
Micrometer Stand Holding A Micrometer

Micrometer stands can give you a third hand when using your micrometer. While they work well to give you more freedom for maneuvering your part, they also help to reduce any heat transfer to the micrometer which could affect your measurement.

Related articles

For more information check out these related articles:

Bilateral Tolerance Guide [Examples & Explanation]

What is a bilateral tolerance?

A bilateral tolerance is a plus or minus tolerance (+/-). It allows variation from the nominal size in both a positive and negative direction. 

In most cases, the bilateral tolerance will be specified as equal in both directions such as 10.0mm +/- 0.5mm.

This is not always the case though and a bilateral tolerance does not need to have equal positive and negative tolerances. 10.0mm +0.2mm/-0.3mm would be an acceptable bilateral tolerance as well.

Here are some quick bilateral tolerance examples:

  • 5.5″ +/- 0.25″
  • 5.5″ +1.0″/-0.5″
  • 25.5mm +0.1mm/-0.2mm
  • 30.6mm +/- 0.3mm

Notice that in each of the examples there is allowed variation (tolerance) from the nominal size in both directions.

A tolerance of 25.5mm +0/-0.2mm would not be a bilateral tolerance because it has no tolerance in the positive direction. This would be an example of a unilateral tolerance.

Bilateral tolerance symbol

There is no GD&T symbol for a bilateral tolerance.

Per ASME Y14.5, the notation for a bilateral tolerance is to show a plus and a minus tolerance associated with a nominal dimension and neither of them is a zero.

Want to learn how to type GD&T symbols with no special fonts needed?

How to read a bilateral tolerance

Let’s start with our examples from above

  • 5.5″ +/- 0.25″
  • 5.5″ +1.0″/-0.5″
  • 25.5mm +0.1mm/-0.2mm
  • 30.6mm +/- 0.3mm

Now let’s break it down so you can see what the nominal size is as well as the top and bottom ends of the tolerance zone.

Nominal Size

Bottom of Tolerance

Top of Tolerance

5.5"

5.25"

5.75"

5.5"

5.0"

6.5"

25.5mm

25.3mm

25.6mm

30.6mm

30.3mm

30.9mm

Bilateral tolerance examples

Types of bilateral tolerances

Equal bilateral tolerance

bilateral tolerance blueprint example
An example of an equal bilateral tolerance

An equal bilateral tolerance will have equal plus and minus tolerances such as 6.35 +/- 0.025 as shown in the example above. 

Unequal bilateral tolerance

An example of an unequal bilateral tolerance

An unequal bilateral tolerance will have plus and minus tolerances that are not the same and neither is zero such as 17.0 +0.1/-0.2 as shown in the example above.

Bilateral tolerances compared to other tolerance types

Bilateral tolerance vs unilateral tolerance

A bilateral tolerance allows a tolerance in both directions.

A unilateral tolerance allows a tolerance in only one direction.

A bilateral tolerance is plus AND minus tolerance. A unilateral tolerance is a plus OR minus tolerance.

Here are some examples of unilateral tolerances:

  • 10.0mm +0/+0.5mm
  • 5.515″ +0.010″/+0.015″
  • 2.325″ +0/-0.005″
  • 4.5mm -0.2/-0.3mm

Bilateral tolerance vs limit tolerance

A bilateral tolerance specifies a nominal size and a plus/minus tolerance. These values are used to determine the tolerance range for a feature.

A limit tolerance skips the calculation step and simply gives you the tolerance range.

The table below shows bilateral tolerances with their equivalent limit tolerances.

Bilateral Tolerance

Limit Tolerance

10.0 +/-0.5

9.5 - 10.5

5.525 +0.025/-0.050

5.475 - 5.550

7.55 +/+0.15

7.40 - 7.70

2.324 +0.005/-0.010

2.314 - 2.329

Related articles

Unilateral Tolerance Guide [Examples & Explanation]

What is a unilateral tolerance?

Basically, a unilateral tolerance is a type of tolerance that is only allowed in one direction. Either an all plus tolerance or an all minus tolerance.

Here are some quick unilateral tolerance examples:

  • 10.0mm +0/+0.5mm
  • 5.515″ +0.010″/+0.015″
  • 2.325″ +0/-0.005″
  • 4.5mm -0.2/-0.3mm

Notice that in these examples, all of the allowed size variation is in one direction. The direction can be positive or negative and zero is allowed.

Unilateral tolerances are often used to specify dimensions that require a specific fit with a mating part.

unilateral tolerance blueprint example
Unilateral tolerance shown on a blueprint

Unilateral tolerance symbol

There is no GD&T symbol for a unilateral tolerance.

Per ASME Y14.5, the notation for a unilateral tolerance is to show a plus or a minus tolerance associated with a nominal dimension. It is acceptable for one of the specified tolerances to be zero.

Want to learn how to type GD&T symbols with no special fonts needed?

How to read a unilateral tolerance

Let’s start with our examples from above. 

  • 10.0mm +0/+0.5mm
  • 5.515″ +0.010″/+0.015″
  • 2.325″ +0/-0.005″
  • 4.5mm -0.2/-0.3mm

Now let’s break it down so you can see what the nominal size is as well as the top and bottom ends of the tolerance zone.

Nominal Size

Bottom of Tolerance

Top of Tolerance

10.0mm

10.0mm

10.5mm

5.515"

5.525"

5.530"

2.325"

2.320"

2.325"

4.5mm

4.2mm

4.3mm

Regardless of what the nominal size is, the requirement for each of these unilateral tolerance examples would be that the dimension must fall within the top and bottom tolerance range. 

Unilateral tolerances compared to other tolerance types

Unilateral tolerance vs bilateral tolerance

unilateral tolerance blueprint example
A unilateral tolerance example

A bilateral tolerance allows a tolerance in both directions.

A unilateral tolerance allows a tolerance in only one direction.

A bilateral tolerance is plus AND minus. A unilateral tolerance is a plus OR minus tolerance.

If we take the unilateral tolerance from the picture above and convert it to a bilateral tolerance it could be either:

  • 39.75 +/- 0.25
  • 39.7 +0.3/-0.2
  • 39.6 +0.4/-0.1

Notice that the important feature of the tolerance is that it has both a positive and negative tolerance. Neither side of the tolerance is zero.

Unilateral tolerance vs limit tolerance

A unilateral tolerance specifies a nominal size and a plus or minus tolerance. These values are used to determine the tolerance range for a feature.

A limit tolerance skips the calculation step and simply gives you the tolerance range. Instead of a nominal size and a tolerance, the top and bottom of the tolerance range are directly listed.

Let’s compare some unilateral and limit tolerances to see how they differ:

Unilateral Tolerance

Limit Tolerance

10.0 +0/-0.5

9.5 - 10.0

5.525 +0.025/+0.050

5.550 - 5.575

7.55 +0/+0.15

7.55 - 7.70

2.324 -0.005/-0.010

2.314 - 2.319

What is a unilateral tolerance used for?

A unilateral tolerance is most often used to specify a tolerance associated with a specific fit such as a clearance fit or interference fit.

Related articles

What is a G04 Code? [With Lots of Examples]

The information below is meant for beginners. If you are experienced with CNC programming, then you probably already know this stuff and much more. If you are new to CNC programming, this is the place for you.

Please note that some of the topics below could include more information on the subject. However, in the interest of keeping things simple for those just starting out, they have been left out of this G code guide.

Ready to learn? Let’s go.

Code

G04

Name

Dwell

Description

The machine will stop moving for a set amount of time

What does a G04 code do?

A G04 code makes the cutting tool stop moving for specified amount of time. Following that amount of time the machine will proceed to the next line of code.

When to use a G04 code?

G04 codes are used for multiple reasons. They are used on lathes specifically, to break the chips. This way you don’t end up with one super long, razor-sharp chip.

They are also used to improve surface finishes on both lathes and mills.

What to think about when using a G04 code?

There is some variation to how G04 codes are called out. The difference is how the dwell times are listed.

Depending on what brand/controller your machine is, the following can change:

Letter used in callout to list time

Common letters are F, P, U, and X.

Seconds vs milliseconds

1 second = 1000 milliseconds

Decimal or no decimal

Some controllers require a decimal. Some don’t allow a decimal. Some allow either way but treat the number different based on whether you use the decimal or not. Real standardized stuff ain’t it?

Still, these differences should help you troubleshoot any program issues you have related to a G04 dwell code. Check out the examples below to get a better understanding of how you might see dwell codes on your machine.

I am not experienced enough with all brands of CNC machines. I would like to add a list here that tells the most common ways to callout a G04 command based on the CNC manufacturer.  If anyone has experience with a variety of machines, please leave a comment below and I will make sure to add the info to the post.

4 G04 code examples and descriptions of what they do

Example #1

N005 G04 P3

This is line number 5 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

P3 is the amount of dwell time = 3 seconds.

Example #2

N040 G04 F5.0

This is line number 40 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

F5.0 is the amount of dwell time = 5 seconds.

Example #3

N040 G04 F5

This is the same line as above, on the same controller. The decimal changes how the machine reads the code.

This is line number 040 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

F5 is the amount of dwell time. In this case, 5 milliseconds = .005 seconds.

A big difference. Watch those decimals.

Example #4

N100 G04 U5

This is line number 100 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

U5 is the amount of dwell time = 5 second.

CNC codes that are similar to G04

The table below lists all of the other G codes that control movement like a G04 code does.

What is a G03 Code? [With Lots of Examples]

The information below is meant for beginners. If you are experienced with CNC programming, then you probably already know this stuff and much more. If you are new to CNC programming, this is the place for you.

Please note that some of the topics below could include more information on the subject. However, in the interest of keeping things simple for those just starting out, they have been left out of this G code guide.

Ready to learn? Let’s go.

Code

G03

Name

Circular interpolation, counterclockwise

Type

Modal - stays on until changed

Description

Circular movement at a specified feed rate in a counterclockwise direction

What does a G03 code do?

A G03 code is a circular movement CNC G code. It is used to move the CNC table and/or spindle from its current location to an end location along a specified radius (R) in a counterclockwise direction.

When to use a G03 code?

G03 codes will usually be in the lines of the program that are used to cut the part. The G03 code allows the programmer to cut a full circle or portion of a circle.

F and S codes are used together with a G03 code to specify the feed rate and spindle speed. An R code is used as well to tell the machine what size radius to move along.

What to think about when using a G03 code?

Units

First, make sure you know what units you are working in. Moving 10 inches instead of 10 millimeters is a big difference.

A G20 (inches) or G21 (mm) code should identify the units you are working in before your G03 code.

Absolute vs incremental mode

The second thing to look for is whether you are working in absolute (G90) or incremental (G91) coordinates. The most recent G90 or G91 code in the program will determine which mode you are in.

Absolute coordinates will move from a set zero location such as your machines home location or a specified location on your part.

Incremental coordinates will move relative to your current position. See our posts on G90 and G91 codes to learn more about the differences between absolute and incremental coordinates.

Start and stop locations

Lastly, make sure you understand where you are currently position wise (X, Y & Z location), where you will be moving to and if there is anything in between the two locations.

The G03 code will move the machine in a circular arc to your new location. You don’t want anything in the way or to miscalculate your stop point. Clamps or vises can be easy to forget about and run into. Crashing your machine is never a good time.

3 G03 code examples and descriptions of what they do

For the examples below, we will assume your machine is in absolute mode (G90). If you are working in incremental mode (G91), the resulting movements will be different.

Check out our guides to G90 and G91 G codes to understand the difference between the two movement types.

Example #1

N085 G03 X1.0 Y2.0 R1.0

This is line number 85 of the program.

G03 sets the movement mode as circular, counterclockwise.

X1.0 Y2.0 is the location the machine will move to. There is no Z axis movement in this line.

R1.0 specifies the size of the radius that the machine will move along.

Example #2

N060 G03 X3.5 Y3.5 R0.5

This is line number 60 of the program.

G03 sets the movement mode circular, clockwise.

X3.5 Y3.5 is the location that the machine will move to. There is no Z axis movement in this line.

R0.5 specifies the size of the radius that the machine will move along.

Example #3

N477 G03

This is line number 477 of the program.

G03 sets the movement mode circular, clockwise.

There is no location specified on this line. The machine will not move based on this code line.

CNC codes that are similar to G03