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Measuring Tools

by J.Peter

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I have three measuring tools I use on a regular basis. I use them for all kinds of things. I use them to measure parts dimensions to order replacement parts, I use them for measuring the width between lugs to fit new springbars. My favorite thing is to use them for making new parts, but they don’t get enough of that kind of use. Here I will discuss each.

Vernier Calipers VernierCalipers These are my most frequently used measuring tool. I use them on a daily basis. This pair is Swiss Made by TESA. I prefer analog to digital because I find them to be more reliable. This particular pair is very sturdy, some inexpensive ones I’ve used seem to flex in the hand (which yields inaccurate results). Accurate to 0.02mm they are sufficient for most applications. They will measure both inside and outside diameters. I use them for measuring springbar and bracelet pin diameters, for measuring screw thread tap sizes, for determining spring bar sizes, bracelet and strap widths, and much much more. I use them to double check drill bit sizes before drilling and for checking mainspring dimensions before ordering a new one. Honestly, I couldn’t live without them. While they are the only pair I’ve ever owned I have used some others and the only other ones that have come close were made by Mitutoyo. If you want digital Mitutoyo is probably the way to go. The one thing digital can offer that analog does not is the ability to switch between metric and standard measurements. I almost always use metric in my world and the conversion is done easily enough that it doesn’t bother me.

Micrometer Micrometer made by TESA of Switzerland also. Great tool for measuring pivot diameters when making new pivots or burnishing a pivot. Extremely useful when turning any cylinder because the jaws are perfectly parallel and made of tungsten carbide. When closed down on the cylinder it is easy to detect any imperfection. They are also more accurate than the vernier calipers; accurate to 0.01mm. When tightened down on the object measuring they have a built in clutch which slips to keep you from tightening too tight and producing an inaccurate result because you dig in with the jaws or cause them to flex. On the downside they don’t get into tight spaces as well as the vernier calipers do. I prefer this handheld micrometer to the bench micrometers with heavy bases because you are free to turn it any angle and it can be used at the lathe easily.

JKA-Feintaster My bench micrometer is made by JKA-Feintaster of Germany. I am told this company is no longer selling this tool and I got mine on closeout. I’m sure you could find one on eBay and it would be well worth it. On the left are two very pointed jaws which will fit into the smallest spaces. On the right is an attachment specially designed for measuring shouldered pivots, like balance staffs. This tool is absolutely indispensable for properly measuring the dimensions of a staff. It can measure shoulder to shoulder, pivot to pivot, or shoulder to pivot without any problem. The table under the right jaws can be raised to support the item if needed. This tool is mounted in a wooden box but it can be removed if desired (the underside is not well finished however. It is accurate to 0.01mm as well but with the very large dial it is easy to read dimensions down to 0.002mm. One rotation of the hand around the dial is one millimeter. Another nice feature is this tool is spring loaded so it always offers equal tension on the subject when measuring. Great tool!

Accurate measurements are key in my line of work so I work with fine tools and keep them calibrated to a standard.

Do you have a favorite tool or do you know of another tool that you prefer? If so, leave a comment.

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  1. Posted February 9, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I have a JKA-Feintaster tool like you describe above. It was left over from my father, who was a watchmaker. I am trying to sell it. Do you have a suggestion of where I would go to find a buyer, besides EBAY? The local ‘jeweler/watchmaker’ has no need of one.
    Thanks for your time.

  2. J.Peter
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    eBay is the most common place. Your local watchmaker was a good idea. You might try posting it on or approach the gentleman at the link on the right side under CoSylDa Design.

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