How to Read a Vernier Caliper

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A vernier caliper is an instrument that is used for measuring objects in a precise manner, and many vernier calipers will be broken into increments of 1/128th of an inch. Learn about digital calipers that have replaced vernier calipers with help from an auto mechanic in this free video on car repairs and mechanics.

Part of the Video Series: Auto Repair & Mechanics
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Video Transcript

How to read a vernier caliper. A vernier caliper is an instrument that is used for precisely measuring objects. It can measure the outside of an object or the inside of an object depending on which side you use. The vernier caliper gets its name from the fact that it uses a vernier scale. The typical vernier caliper has large increments. In the case of this caliper, it's in inches and on the primary scale, you have inches, eighth inches, quarter inches, and the smallest increment is a sixteenth of an inch. On the vernier scale up above this breaks the incrementation down to 1/128th of an inch, so in order to read a vernier caliper, you first look at the zero mark on the scale and you see where it's closest to on this particular, on the larger scale and in this case it's just under a half inch and so that would be seven sixteenths and then you follow the vernier scale across until you find the mark that closest lines up to another mark. And in this case it would be the one, two, three... the seventh mark on the vernier scale and so that would be seven 1/128ths. So if you add seven 1/128ths to seven 1/16ths you get your measurement. The vernier caliper has been more recently replaced with either a dial caliper which uses a needle dial to indicate measurement or a digital caliper which I actually uses a digital display to show very precise measurements.


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