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1-2-3 MicroGage by MasterGage.com
Accurate, compact, well-made, and versatile
Text, photos & video by Tom Hintz
If you like to keep your tools precisely adjusted to maximize their performance, quality measuring tools are a necessity. The problem is finding quality tools that are accurate, compatible with our woodworking tools and affordable all at the same time. The folks at MasterGage.com are no strangers to building high-quality setup tools. Their SuperBar and MasterPlate have been favorites of woodworkers for aligning table saws for years. Now, their 1-2-3 MicroGage promises to attain the same popularity.
The 1-2-3 MicroGage is essentially a dial indicator mounted on a steel block. That is a rash understatement because how they achieve that is more complicated than you might expect. The 1"-thick by 2"-tall and 3"-long steel block is bored with intersecting through holes that give it a nice industrial look and lighten it up a bit. The whole assembly still weighs just over 1-lb 5oz and that heft is important to the simplicity of using the 1-2-3 MicroGage.
The dial indicator has a full 1"-stroke and is mounted on a very trick carriage that attaches it to the steel block. The dial indicator has clearly printed markings that make accuracy down into the 0.001" range easy to read. A pair of rare earth magnets are set into the carriage to hold it firmly to the steel block but a finger operated locking screw locks it in place for use.
The dial indicator carriage can be installed on any side of the 1-2-3 MicroGage steel block. It also can be secured at any point along those sides giving it almost unlimited versatility. You can also turn the dial indicator face 90-degrees so it is easy to read in virtually any situation.
The dial indicator comes with a rounded tip that is good for most flat jobs. But MasterGage includes a 3/8"-diameter flat tip that makes it easy to measure rounded (or pointed) tooling or surfaces.
The steel block is precision machined to insure that all four sides are 90-degrees to the one next to it. That allows using the block itself to check surfaces like jointer and table saw fences that are supposed to be 90-degrees to the surface. You can also check drill presses and virtually anything else that has a 90-degree surface.
Setting up the 1-2-3 MicroGage for use is as easy as placing it on the surface and sliding the carriage down so that there is a little preload on the plunger. Engage the locking knob to secure the carriage and then turn the dial face to zero out the scale. That really all there is to setting it up for use. From there on out you are measuring things very precisely.
In the Shop
I found the 1-2-3 MicroGage to be very handy around machines like my jointer, planer, drill press, router table and even the table saw. The easy to read dial makes ultra fine adjustments easy to make and to check because you can see 0.001" changes clearly without getting out the "old folks magnifying lens" my younger viewers suspect that I use.
The sliding carriage that holds the dial indicator is a very handy feature that makes setting the 1-2-3 MicroGage up for use super simple. The round and flat plunger tips make the 1-2-3 MicroGage compatible with every use I could think of in my shop. I like tools that come with everything needed to actually use them!
I used the 1-2-3 MicroGage to check my jointer fence, check my jointer infeed and outfeed tables, set router bit heights, table saw blade height and to measure drill bit diameters. Because you can put the dial indicator carriage on any side of the block you can use it upside down to check planer rollers or knives. I also used the 1-2-3 MicroGage to set my table saw throat insert and router lift so that they were exactly flush with the surrounding surface. There is no better tool for these jobs than a good dial indicator and the design of the 1-2-3 MicroGage makes these types of adjustments easy, fast and very accurate.
The 1-2-3 MicroGage from MasterGage.com is a well thought out, well made tool that makes many alignment jobs faster, easier and more accurate. The simplicity of its design makes getting ultra precise adjustments a near no-brainer. The quality of the components means that the 1-2-3 MicroGage will be around for decades. With a street price of $119.00 (1-24-2010) the 1-2-3 MicroGage is not an expensive tool. But it is one that you should be using frequently to keep the machines and tools in your shop performing at their best and safest.
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