30 Different Types of Measuring Tools

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Various measuring tools have been developed over the years to serve different purposes. From laboratory activities, construction, and cooking, to woodworking projects—these tools are indispensable to almost any industry!

If you’re unsure which tool is right for your work, I’ve listed the different types and their specific uses along with key insights in this guide. Let’s start!

Analog Measuring Tools

#1: Angle Locator

Angle Locator

As a manual tool, an angle locator can be found in most construction sites and woodworking or carpentry shops. As the name implies, it calculates angles, ranging from 0 to 90 degrees.

Albeit limited, an angle locator is one of the best measuring tools to use for accurately recreating angles of slopes, corners, etc. This also comes highly recommended to measure angles in small spaces. 

The reader is placed on the two ruler-like ends, which will determine the angle. These are also equipped with a magnetic foundation that will make it easier to attach to metal materials. 

#2: Bubble Inclinometer

Bubble Inclinometer

A bubble inclinometer determines how steep an incline is. It functions much like a lever. You simply place the bubble inclinometer near the joint you wish to measure. 

Simply set the bubble inclinometer to zero. Then proceed to determine the difference as it goes through the changes.

#3: Caliper

Caliper

A caliper is one of the most common measurement tools to get readings between two points. It ensure accurate measurements with its two adjustable tip points. 

There are analog and digital calipers available in the market today. But, a digital caliper is more convenient when reporting accurate data. Calipers are one of the oldest measuring tools that have been in use for many years. 

Vernier

A vernier caliper is a linear instrument that can recognize lengths up to 0.02 mm. It is commonly used for measurements of depth, diameter, and length. 

Inside

An inside caliper is generally utilized to measure the interior of an object. It is designed with two legs that are inverted to one another. These legs are further connected by a screw and nut mechanism. 

Outside

An outside caliper is generally utilized to get the measurement of the exterior of an object. It is designed with two legs that are inverted and plugged through a screw and nut mechanism.

Caliper

Odd-Leg

Odd-leg calipers are also known as hermaphrodite calipers or odd-leg Jennys. It is generally utilized to mark a line at a set distance from the edge of the work. Its bent leg is run across the edge to mark the intended distance. 

Divider

A divider caliper is popularly known as a compass. It is used in marking out locations on a map. 

The points of the divider are sharpened to act as scribers at the same time. One of the legs is placed on the dimple from the center, and the other leg is pivoted in order to scribe on flat surfaces. 

Divider Caliper

It results in the formation of a circle or an arc.  

Dial

A dial caliper can report the final fraction of a millimeter or inch. This device is a small, precise rack and pinion drive with a pointer on a circular dial. It allows direct reporting, which saves users time to glance through a vernier scale. 

The pointer rotates one time every inch or 1 millimeter. 

#4: Compass

Compass

A compass is highly valuable, particularly for creating precise circles based on a radius or diameter. It’s one of the best tools used for bisecting angles and splitting lines evenly.

#5: Level

Level

A level is also known as a bubble level or a spirit level. It measures whether the angle is level and of equal balance. 

Levels are designed in various sizes and formats. This tool is designed with one or more glass vials fixed into the level and filled with a colored liquid. The liquid will slightly fill the vial with an air bubble inside.  

#6: Pressure Gauge

Pressure Gauge

A pressure gauge is also a most common measuring tool used in various industries. They’re essential for reading the pressure of liquids and gases. These gauges are not just limited to industrial applications; they can measure air pressure and even blood pressure.

When working in industrial and commercial environments, it’s important to consult the manufacturer’s guide before using them.

#7: Height Gauge

Height Gauge

Similar to a pressure gauge, a height gauge is another instrument considered an industrial measuring tool. It can be used to measure the height of different objects. 

Dial

A dial height gauge is a dial indicator to set the measurement height. These devices are designed with a mechanical dial. It has a needle pointer that permits ease of reading. 

Vernier

A vernier height gauge is commonly utilized to measure a vertical dimension based on a reference ground. It is designed to have a graduated scale fixed finely on the ground. 

#8: Feeler Gauge

Feeler Gauge

A feeler gauge is also known as a thickness gauge. A feeler gauge is commonly utilized to determine the clearance between materials. 

This gauge is an excellent tool to calculate narrow slots, small spacing, and identifying fit between materials. 

#9: Radius Gauge

Radius Gauge

A radius gauge checks the concave radius found on the corners or shoulders. It is important for layout work and inspecting components in different industries. 

#10: Pin Gauge

Pin Gauge

Pin gauges are commonly utilized to gauge bore features. These are useful when measuring the straightness of a relatively deep bore. 

#11: Thermocouple

Thermocouple

A thermocouple is designed with two dissimilar conductor wires. The wires are made from different metals and are held together at one end. The resulting junction is used to measure ambient temperature. 

#12: Thermistor

Thermistor

Thermistors [1] are known to have a considerably high coefficient of resistance. It is designed from semiconductors of the solid type. The suitable measuring range is -100 degrees Celsius to 300 degrees Celsius. 

#13: Protractor

Protractor

Mathematically oriented protractors are another type of device used to measure angles. It is a simple and convenient tool for making measurements. The majority of the protractors are made from plastic. 

A popular industrial protractor is a digital angle gauge of a protractor. More mathematically oriented protractors can measure an angle over 360 degrees with an accuracy of 0.1 degrees. It is simply placed in between levels or surfaces. 

#14: Ruler

Ruler

A ruler is a very versatile measuring instrument. 

It is one of the most commonly used types of measuring tools to read lengths and widths. It can also double as a device to draw straight lines. 

#15: Square

Square

Measuring squares are used to ensure that the lines made are straight. It is very convenient when you have framing projects and are required to make and find the right angle. 

Most measuring squares have a fixed 90-degree angle in a variety of forms. In my experience, a square is often a better angle finder compared to other measurement tools.

Combination

Combination squares are excellent measuring tools for laying out lines for mitering, crosscutting and making notches. 

These have a 90 and 45-degree fence which allows you to slide along the blade. The square can easily identify right angles. This further allows you to record a distance accurately and hold it in place.  

Drywall

A drywall square is recommended for laying out cut lines placed on standard sheets of plywood and other board materials. A drywall square can also be used as a guide when cutting board materials. 

See Also: Standard Drywall Thickness 

VINCA SCLS-1208 Carpenter L Framing Square 8 Inch Tool

Framing

A framing square is designed to have a long blade and a shorter, narrower tongue. Framing squares are L-shaped. It is very convenient when making marks on boards to determine right angles and check if they are square. 

Speed

Those working in the construction or woodworking industry often reach for a speed square to mark out with precision. With its compact base, it can be easily placed on the edge of a workpiece. It’s perfect for drawing a square cut line.

Speed squares can also be used as a fence or for crosscutting.

#16: Tape Measure

Tape Measures

Tape measures are the most common measuring device among the different tools listed here on this list since almost all artisans, woodworkers, and DIYers have a full grasp of how a measuring tape reads and works.

In addition, this tool is simple and designed yet very effective. A tape measure can read any material’s length, width, height, or depth. 

The majority are designed to have a clip in the back. This clip can easily attach to a belt loop or be attached to a pocket. 

#17: Measuring Cups

Measuring Cups

Measuring cups are often overlooked but are effective in measuring food items for culinary purposes. 

Digital Measuring Tools

It’s impossible to discuss measuring tools without bringing up digital units. As technology has advanced, many of the measuring tools that professionals rely on have shifted to digital designs. Some of the common digital tools used today include:

#1: Bubble Inclinometer

Digital Bubble Inclinometer

A bubble inclinometer is a digital measuring tool used in the medical field. It delivers an accurate measurement and evaluates the range of motion of various body parts. 

Some human body parts measured by a bubble inclinometer include elbows, necks, hips, ankles, and shoulders.

#2: Angle Gauge

Digital Angle Gauge

Angle gauges are measuring instruments that easily produce angular measurements. 

Unlike the analog angle gauge, this digital counterpart only needs to be secured to a surface to come up with an exact angle calculation. Its automatic calibration controls allow for quick and hassle-free reading. 

A digital angle gauge is also a must for making impeccable bevel and miter angles.

#3: Laser Level

Laser Level

A laser level is a popular tool mainly used in the construction and surveying industry. It is mainly used for leveling and different aligning applications. 

A laser level projects a red or green laser beam on the surface that measures the intended surface.

#4: Micrometer

Micrometer

A micrometer is an instrument that is commonly used in mechanical engineering. It functions similarly to a caliper. Digital micrometers produce accurate measurements of a material’s length, depth, width, and thickness.

The micrometer is placed in between two points that will be measured. It is further measured using a calibrated screw. The spindle of the instrument is moved until the object fits between the spindle and the anvil. 

#5: Thermometer

Thermometer

Another widely used measuring device is a thermometer. 

It is the best tool to measure body temperature as well as ambient environmental temperature. Nowadays, most thermometers you can find have a digital display for convenience and accuracy.

#6: Odometer

Odometer

An odometer is an instrument to determine how far a material has traveled. It is placed inside a vehicle to help the driver gauge how many kilometers have been traveled so far. It is an effective and very important tool when measuring distances.

The majority of the odometers that can be purchased in stores are digital. They are also small and handy and can be easily placed in different vehicles.  

#7: Speedometer

Speedometer

A speedometer is a measuring instrument that gauges the speed of a vehicle. Most vehicles are formatted with a speedometer as a requirement. This allows the driver to be abreast of the speed at which they travel.

#8: Glucometer

Glucometer

A glucometer is a measuring tool commonly used in the medical field. This very important measurement tool allows medical practitioners to monitor glucose levels and administer medicines accordingly. 

Monitoring blood sugar levels is important, especially if you are diagnosed with diabetes. Determining these levels through a glucometer can prevent complications through appropriate medicines based on the resulting glucose level.  

#9: Galvanometer

Galvanometer

A galvanometer is used especially in the field of electronics. A galvanometer is introduced into a circuit to check if a current is flowing or not.  

#10: Surface Plate

Surface Plate

A surface plate is also called a granite inspection table. Its solid, flat surface is used as a reference for making marks, tooling setups, and precision inspection. 

A surface table is a common tool for manufacturing. These are commonly used with mounting points to integrate structural elements, such as a precision optical assembly. 

#11: PH Meter

PH Meter

A pH meter measures various solids and liquids acidic and basic levels of various solids and liquids. It is used in environmental studies to monitor changes in water and soil acidity changes. The measurement of this instrument reaches from 0 to 14.  

#12: Torque Meter

Torque Meter

A torque meter is an instrument that is designed to operate in torsion. Many disciplines utilize a torque meter, including manufacturing, laboratory quality assurance, and research and development. 

#13: Borescope

Borescope

A borescope is categorized as a visual tool used to view inconspicuous areas. It is a device that has a thin optical fiber that allows the user to view hidden places and identify location faults.  

Conclusion

As exemplified in this guide, there are various types of measuring tools available today. Before using, make sure to read the manufacturer’s guide first to get the most out of their features. 

I hope this guide was able to help you select the best measuring instruments for your needs, whether at work or home.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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