The 10 Best Micrometers

Updated June 08, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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Essential for mechanical engineering and machining of parts that require precise measurements, these micrometers and digital calipers provide the accurate readings needed to keep all kinds of equipment within exact tolerances. Our selection includes choices for the skilled hobbyist or professional craftsman. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best micrometer on Amazon.

10. Neiko 01407A

With a bright, clear, digital display and efficient, one-button switching between inches and millimeters, the Neiko 01407A is designed for effortless operation whether you're in the field or in the lab. This model may not stand up to heavy or full-time use, though.
  • shaft has a depth measurement probe
  • very affordable price
  • not very accurate
Brand Neiko
Model 01407A
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Absolute Origin

Once set, the Absolute Origin uses high-accuracy memory technology for keeping track of its original position, which eliminates the need to constantly reset the device to zero. Its battery lasts for two years of light-duty use.
  • connects to computers via usb
  • backed by 2-year warranty
  • fine-tuning knob can start to slip
Brand iGaging
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Platinum Fractional

Capable of recognizing size differences as tiny as 5/10,000 of an inch, the Platinum Fractional has a hardened frame perfect for delivering precise, slip-resistant adjustments. It comes with a small screwdriver that makes replacing the battery fast and simple.
  • case made of high-impact plastic
  • three different-sized models
  • lcd screen somewhat dim
Brand Capri Tools
Model CP20001
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Carrera CP8812-T

With a heavy-duty construction of stainless steel and a titanium alloy head, the Carrera CP8812-T is an affordable machinist-grade tool that provides superior durability, and effectively gauges inside, outside, and depth clearances up to 12 inches.
  • thumb wheel fine-tunes the calipers
  • auto-shutoff feature
  • memory recall can be inconsistent
Brand Carrera Precision
Model CP8812-T
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Disc Brake Gauge

Providing good value for a specialized task, the Disc Brake Gauge by Anytime Tools was custom-designed for auto mechanics. It shows imperial and metric readings on its high-contrast LCD, while its 3.5-inch throat depth accommodates even large rotors.
  • conical anvils can measure grooves
  • range of two-and-a-half inches
  • outside dimensions only
Brand Anytime Tools
Model 203944
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. Premium Machinist

Accurate to 1/10,000 inch, Anytime's Premium Machinist lets you take precise measurements using its classic ratchet- and fixed-thimble design. This straightforward solution to your medium-duty, precision gauging needs is sure to fit any budget.
  • calibration wrench included
  • laser-etched and glare-free dial
  • sturdy and reliable
Brand Anytime Tools
Model pending
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. IGaging Large Display

Perfect for the hobbyist machinist on a budget, the IGaging Large Display is a popular and easy-to-read way to measure very small items. Connect the device to a computer's USB port via SPC cable (not included) to input dimensions directly into your favorite design program.
  • comes in storage case
  • includes ball attachment
  • zero- to one-inch range
Brand iGaging
Model pending
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

3. Mitutoyo 500-196-30

Capable of tackling the most demanding jobs, the high-accuracy Mitutoyo 500-196-30 measures up to six inches in increments of 0.0005 of an inch. Proprietary technology renders it resistant to foreign substances like oil and dirt, and both a case and a battery are included.
  • reads absolute or incremental sizes
  • gauges inside or outside dimensions
  • made by industry leader
Brand Mitutoyo
Model 500-196-30
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

2. Starrett T444.1 Ratchet-Stop

Maintain the tightest clearances in any shop using the Starrett T444.1 Ratchet-Stop, with a renowned brand name reflecting a superbly-balanced construction. Special heat insulators ensure that the high-accuracy parts won't expand or contract over time.
  • satin-chrome finish resists rust
  • comfortable and easy to handle
  • locking spindle for stability
Brand Starrett
Model T444.1XRL-1
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Mitutoyo 293-340-30

Made by one of the top names in digital calipers, the Mitutoyo 293-340-30 features carbide-tipped measuring faces suitable for use in harsh working conditions. Take accurate, reliable readings with its consistent pressure and long-term durability.
  • great for professional applications
  • rugged ip65 construction
  • high precision for close tolerances
Brand Mitutoyo
Model 293-340-30
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Engineering Precision On A Small Scale

Modern conveniences are oftentimes things we underestimate or take for granted when we're so used to their normal operation. When opening a refrigerator door, for example, the expectations are that the light comes on inside and that the food contained on its shelves will be cold. We don't necessarily contemplate the dimensions of the fridge's components or why they've been shaped a certain way.

It's easy to overlook the amount of engineering involved in the construction of such appliances. However, without careful measurements and consideration for the size of small components, appliances like the fridge wouldn't be able to do their jobs adequately. When it comes to mechanical engineering and the machining of small parts that require precise measurements, a tool like a micrometer will be able to deliver a significantly higher level of accuracy than an ordinary tape measure or ruler alone.

Similar in design and application to a caliper, the micrometer (also known as a micrometer screw gauge) is a tool that measures the depth, length and thickness of very small objects, depending on the type being used. Examples of the tool's application include measuring the thickness of a sheet of paper, a wire, the diameter of a hole, the length of a screw's surface, or the depth of a slot on a piece of metal.

A typical micrometer has a series of both stationary and moving components. The tool's thick, C-shaped frame contains all of the non-moving components, including the anvil, lock nut, and sleeve, while the mobile components consist of a thimble, spindle, and ratchet. In order to take accurate measurements, an object must first be placed between a micrometer's anvil and spindle. The thimble is then spun in one direction, moving the spindle either closer to or farther away from the anvil until an object has been gently pinched between the anvil and spindle faces. The lock nut prevents the spindle from turning. The sleeve is equipped with internal threads that allow the spindle to move, as well as a linear scale that will determine an object's measurements. Located at the end of the tool's handle, the ratchet is responsible for limiting the applied pressure from the spindle to ensure it doesn't grip the object too tightly.

Versatility is one of the tool's major benefits, particularly if it's a specialized micrometer that comes with interchangeable anvils or other components. Why is its level of precision so important? Because many everyday objects require a certain type of construction, thickness, or evenness throughout, the micrometer has been specifically-designed to detect these measurements to ensure a high level of accuracy when manufacturing small parts.

Making The Most Out Of A Micrometer

There are several practical considerations to keep in mind when investing in a micrometer to meet your needs, one of the most important being the tool's durability. The anvil should be made out of either hardened steel or carbide. Both materials are good for use in abrasive industrial environments and will stand up to years of heavy use. Insulated frames that resist excess body heat will also come in handy when trying to ensure measurement accuracy. A solution with extra padding can prevent the tool's components from expanding or contracting over time.

When precise readings are important in your line of work, spring for an option that includes an LCD screen. Aside from making measurements easy to see, the addition of a digital display will also help improve overall accuracy, particularly when it is equipped with a zeroing out function. A zero function allows the tool to automatically calculate differences between measurements, minimizing the need to work out those differences in your head or with a calculator. The inclusion of a digital readout is often accompanied by an instant unit conversion function that makes it easy to change between metric and Imperial measurements.

Depending on your trade, a specialized micrometer can come in handy when working with a variety of different objects of varying depths and thicknesses. One with interchangeable anvils, for example, will allow you to adjust the tool accordingly without having to purchase several types.

Measurement And Innovation Through The Ages

The evolution of the micrometer has a rich and deep-rooted history in terms of human innovation as it relates to the building of various objects. The concept of measurement in terms of machining and engineering dates back to the construction of the pyramids of ancient Egypt. Although the principle of screw threads was utilized by the Greeks to raise water from one elevation to another, it was not used for measurement purposes until the 17th century.

In 1638, English astronomer William Gascoigne used the concept of threads to measure the distance between stars by finely adjusting the screw threads of his telescope. By 1639, Gascoigne invented the caliper micrometer, which consisted of a rotating handle attached to the end of a threaded rod that was itself connected to a movable jaw. Measurements on this device were recorded by counting the number of revolutions the handle would make against an attached disc.

British inventor Henry Maudslay developed one of the first tabletop micrometers by the early 19th century, referred to as the Lord Chancellor, which marked the beginning of precision measuring instruments. In 1848, French inventor Jean Laurent Palmer received a patent for the first handheld micrometer called the System Palmer, known for its U-shaped frame after which many of today's micrometers have been modeled. By the end of the 19th century, micrometers were being mass-produced and used in machine shops in an effort to improve product quality by means of measurement accuracy during the manufacturing process.

Mitutoyo founder Yehan Numata is widely credited with the release of the first commercially-available micrometer in 1937, followed by an increase in production demand for the tool by 1941 for the war effort. The measuring range for the micrometer increased significantly by 1953.

Today's micrometers are available in standard and specialized types to meet the needs of any machining task.

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Last updated on June 08, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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