How to Measure With a Vernier Caliper


Vernier calipers are measuring devices used by machinists to measure parts after completion or during the manufacturing process. Modern versions include multiple ways to measure including inner and outer dimensions as well as depth and step measurements. Although harder to read than dial or digital calipers, many experienced machinists prefer them due to the lack of moving parts compared to their more advanced and malfunction-prone brethren.

  • Use a set of vernier calipers to measure the O.D. of a part. The O.D. is the outer dimension and many machinists must cut parts to specifications noted on a blueprint. Open the vernier calipers and place the item to be measure between the two large jaws. Close the movable jaw on the right side as the left jaw is held against the left side of the part. Note the measurement on the slide.

  • Use a set of vernier calipers to measure an I.D. An I.D. is an inner dimension and many newer vernier calipers are capable of reading this dimension. Close the calipers all the way to the zero point on the slide and insert the smaller jaws sticking out from the top into the part to be measured. Slide the movable jaw away from the fixed jaw until each of the small jaws is touching either side of the inner dimension of the part and note this dimension to compare to a standard or blueprint measurement.

  • Measure a depth using a vernier caliper. Pull the movable jaw away from the stationary jaw so that the thin stick is extended outwards. Place the small depth stick in the hole to be measured. Slowly lower the slide down on the part until the bottom of the slide reaches the top of the hole. Slowly bring the stick and calipers out of the hole. Read the measurement on the slide to get the depth of the hole in question.

  • Measure a step on a part using the vernier calipers. Open the jaws enough to place the calipers flat against the surface of the step. Face the calipers with the slide upwards with the flat front on them touching the wall of the step. Slowly close the jaws until the movable slide front touches the front surface of the step. This will tell you the distance from the wall to the stepped area.

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  • Photo Credit Geir Pettersen/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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