Cheap micrometers

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

hugov

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2021
Messages
61
Reaction score
25
Location
UK
I've been getting into some machining recently, and find myself in the market for a micrometer or two, and potentially some other instruments (DTI and magnetic base/holder, bore gauges etc). I am a Mitutoyo fan, generally very impressed with their quality having used some dial callipers for the past 15 years that were my grandfathers – at least 50 years old, but still work and looks as new. However, I won't use the micrometers particularly often and am not machining to particularly tight tolerances, and thus am reticent to spend hundreds (two mics at >£70 each, DTI at >£100, etc). So I'm looking at cheaper options, but don't just want to get a generic Chinese one of Banggood for a tenner. Amazon seem to have some Starrett mics under £40 (example), and Moore & Wright ones under £30 (example). Does anyone know if these are good quality, or are they just rebranded generic Chinese ones? Generally, are these still decent brands? Finally, any recommendations for good price-to-quality measurement brands? Thanks!
 

hugov

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2021
Messages
61
Reaction score
25
Location
UK
Obviously Moore & Wright has been great quality (which is why I listed it alongside Mitutoyo and Starrett) – I was wondering if they still are, or if they outsourced production or sold their brand like so many other great British tool brands of old.
 

AES

Established Member
Joined
18 Feb 2011
Messages
5,321
Reaction score
671
Location
Switzerland, near Basel
With respect, particularly as far as micrometers are concerned, I think you're worrying far too much. I take your point about M&W & Starrett, examples of both of which that I use were inherited from my Dad who bought them in about the 1930's. So no idea what they're like now.

But while I would maybe concerned about a cheapo DTI, what's to go wrong with a mic, even a cheapo mic?

Provided the thread is accurately ground (and I can't believe even a Chinese copy of M&W or Starrett wouldn't be, even if it's "only" a cut thread); provided the anvil and spindle ends are both square and flat; what else is there? Not a lot IMO, especially if, as is most likely even on a cheapo mic, there is a method of adjusting the barrel nut if any slop does occur. So especially as you say you're not too concerned about tolerances (I assume +/- a thou (inches) or tenth of a mill will do nicely?) then I'd say just go for it, almost regardless of where it comes from.

OK, granted, I wouldn't be quite so blase about a DTI, there could well be too much slop or poor meshing of the gears in a cheapo DTI. So there I guess the best bet would be either to try a cheapo DTI in the flesh somewhere, or buy from an on-line retailer with a good returns policy. (While I haven't noticed any DTI's in either Lidl or Aldi, IMO, if available there then they should fit the bill nicely). And someone with a good rep for tools, such as Axi (just an example of the top of my head) should IMO, do you nicely.

Just my own opinion and HTH
 

Wildman

Established Member
Joined
30 Jan 2012
Messages
1,043
Reaction score
79
Location
Ilfracombe
let me know what sizes you are looking for, I may be able to sell you some good quality mics for a reasonable price
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
3,170
Reaction score
1,228
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
The two you linked both put Asia down as the country of origin. A manual Starrett 0.0001", 0-1" micrometer here is in the $200Cad range. Triple the cost of the ones you referenced. The Chinese one sold from the same industrial supplier are about $70Cad. Equivalent to the ones you linked without the big name (maybe counterfeit, I don't know).

For over two dozen years my job was measuring and when I was getting tools for my hobby I bought a set of 6, 0.0001", 0-6", carbide faced, manual mics with setting standards in a wooden box. I took them to work and checked them against our calibration standards and all of them are as good as any of the Starrett, Brown & Sharp, Moore & Wright and Mitutoyo manual micrometers. At the time I paid under $100 for the set.

The Chinese are just as capable of making anything any other company can unless you ask them for low quality tools. You can by the name brand tools if you want to but the Chinese ones will serve and you will have money left over to get a set of gauge blocks to check your measuring tools with and have money to spare. Where I wouldn't skimp is on a digital calliper and for that I would get a Mitutoyo. None better unless you want to look at Swiss made.

So I am saying don't fear a Chinese micrometer. If you did get one that was as bad as you fear, send it back. 😉

Pete
 

Peri

Established Member
Joined
11 Jun 2012
Messages
419
Reaction score
492
Location
Shropshire
Cutwel do a (I think) 'Own brand' called Insize. At the college we buy them for the students to use, they're passable.


AVE's take on 30 quid M&R's

(Edit - might be the occasional swear word knowing AVE)

 
Last edited:

Spectric

Established Member
Joined
19 Feb 2015
Messages
3,863
Reaction score
2,033
Location
North Cumbria
The Chinese are just as capable of making anything any other company can unless you ask them for low quality tools.
If they were that bad then how come they have a space program and are now world leaders in missile technology. They just make what you ask for or they can find a market for which means there must be people out there willing to buy cheap tack so up your game and they will just follow.
 

hugov

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2021
Messages
61
Reaction score
25
Location
UK
To be fair, I'm a big fan of quality Chinese tools and buy lots of them (e.g. Quangsheng hand planes for woodworking) – like others have said, they can make things to just as high a quality as anywhere in the world. What I'm not a huge fan of is the generic, unbranded or white-labeled, made by the lowest bidder tools that flood Amazon, eBay, Alibaba etc. I know some formerly great brands have sold their brands and they now get applied to products in this category, and I was just looking to avoid those.

The two you linked both put Asia down as the country of origin.

I don't trust Amazon metadata, and in fact (at least on Amazon UK), the Starrett mic lists USA as the country of origin (but it also lists "seamless cups with underwire" in the features bullet points......), and the Moore & Wright one lists RGDTOOLS as the manufacturer and shows no country of origin. Hence my confusion :)

In addition, the Moore and Wright one I linked looks identical to the Mitutoyo, with a different sticker on it, and also identical to countless other ones under various brands, leading me to thing that either M&W sold their brand or outsourced production or perhaps buy from one of these white label makers, hopefully QC themselves, and put their sticker on it.
 

clogs

just can't decide
Joined
24 Jul 2020
Messages
1,540
Reaction score
859
Location
Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
I believe that RGD buy in from India as well as Asia.....
I was dissatisfied with the last tools I bought from there...never again.....
also their spares for Myford can be hit n miss.....
just sayin....
 

Ollie78

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2011
Messages
1,394
Reaction score
637
Location
Wiltshire
Within any manufacturers range there are quality levels and standards. It is unlikely you will need ceramic gage blocks or the accuracy required in the aerospace industry.

Surely if a given micrometer is certified to a specification then it should really be fine, if it doesn`t meet the specification then you can send it back.
The problem comes when you have to test/ measure the specification which will require more reliable and higher accuracy of measuring device, this could be a slippery slope ending with a very empty wallet. Chasing microns is an expensive and dangerous game, you could end up having philosophical debates about flatness.

I stick to woodwork where half a mm will probably be fine. Or maybe a quarter or.......

Ollie
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
3,170
Reaction score
1,228
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
The mics I bought were from an internet store importing from China and selling direct called Shars Tools. They now sell a lot more than they used to including Mitutoyo. The price comparisons were from a Western Canada industrial supplier that carry tools from the big boys to the import and they will stand behind their products. If you stick to similar companies rather than Amazon/eBay sites you will get a consistent level of quality that might cost a little more but they stand behind their tools. Everything has a tradeoff. If I were going to buy Asian sourced tools I would consider getting through Alibaba, Aliexpress, Bangood or similar direct from the maker. I have had good products bought that way and you can message them to ask any questions.

Pete
 

Fergie 307

Established Member
Joined
28 Dec 2019
Messages
1,130
Reaction score
552
Location
Sandy Bedfordshire
Both Indian and Chinese tools seem a bit pot luck to me. Good ones can be very good, but some are really only fit for the bin. If you find a good brand, stick to it. Only good thing is they are generally not that expensive, so if you do get a lemon it's not a disaster, and you can always send it back. I think it's probably a good idea initially to buy from a UK supplier. No real incentive for them to sell you junk, but if they do then returning your chinese/Indian naff tool back to them should at least be fairly straightforward.
 

bp122

Expert at Jibber-Jabber
Joined
20 Aug 2019
Messages
774
Reaction score
348
Location
Haddenham
It also depends on whether you are looking at digital options or analog, new or old.

I got myself an old, used Moore & Wright micrometer from eBay auction for £9 and it is accurate as hell and a joy to use. Absolute bargain for the quality.

As per the quality of the digital mitutiyo ones, they are just about the best I have seen. In my last job designing high precision surgical power tools, I had access to a whole range of mitutiyo internal and external mics with different ranges. Although we only used them rarely as most of our tolerance ranges were +/- 5 to 10 microns so we relied on a cmm.
 
Last edited:

redhunter350

Established Member
Joined
17 May 2018
Messages
96
Reaction score
35
Location
North Lancashire
Inspector Pete has summed it up very well in my opinion! You don’t say whether you are looking for imperial or metric ?
Quality always pays dividends long term, all my original measuring tools purchased mainly during my apprenticeship (1960/65) are of British, Swiss, American or other European origin, all are imperial, however I decided to buy a set of metric mics for occasional use and like yourself did not want to spend the Earth, I purchased a set from Amadeal and have to say at around £40 for the set of 4 they are amazing value. I have checked them against slip gauges and they are all accurate.
One thing I would be carful of is Mitutoyo digital callipers — one of the best in my opinion but should you decide to purchase one do so from a trusted supplier, there are lots of “look a-likes” — copies, very good looking copies but not to Mitutoyo standards so beware!
 

gog64

Established Member
Joined
19 May 2018
Messages
286
Reaction score
177
Location
herefordshire
we use micrometers and thickness gauges hundreds of times a day and, well they get dropped, tea spilt on them, etc etc etc. Consequently I buy a few every year! The last batch I bought from DML and I was impressed with their service and products. Their “own brand” are frankly unbelievably good for the price. If you’re ISO9001 and need certificates, the tracing certificate is pretty much as much as the instrument! The action is smoother than my (expensive) Mitutoyo. I also bought a couple of their ABS cheapies for rough and ready (0.1mm) work and they are really nice to use and accurate.
 

Gerry

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2007
Messages
291
Reaction score
38
Location
Newton Aycliffe, County Durham
we use micrometers and thickness gauges hundreds of times a day and, well they get dropped, tea spilt on them, etc etc etc. Consequently I buy a few every year! The last batch I bought from DML and I was impressed with their service and products. Their “own brand” are frankly unbelievably good for the price. If you’re ISO9001 and need certificates, the tracing certificate is pretty much as much as the instrument! The action is smoother than my (expensive) Mitutoyo. I also bought a couple of their ABS cheapies for rough and ready (0.1mm) work and they are really nice to use and accurate.

If you buy a set of slip gauges (grade 1 or 2) which are UKAS certified you can calibrate the micrometers yourself. The tracability to national standards is through the slips.

Gerry
 

Latest posts

Top