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Johnson Digital Angle Locator
Perfect miters from odd numbers – every time
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 12-17-2011
The Johnson Digital Angle Locator (#40-6064) is another bit of electronic trickery that has legitimate uses in and around the shop or jobsite. I know some manufacturers try to dazzle you with bizarre functions that you can’t imagine ever using. Johnson on the other hand designed the Johnson Digital Angle Locator to do what you need most – measure angles with digital accuracy and then
calculate the right miter setting to make something that will fit that corner. If the corners we worked with were exactly what they were exactly what they are supposed to be this would be easy. But, once you get the Johnson Digital Angle Locator and start measuring corners around your shop and house you will notice that A: There are few if any perfect 90-degree corners to be found and B: Figuring the correct miter for an 88.7-degree corner isn’t nearly as much fun as pushing a button on the Johnson Digital Angle Locator and getting it right the first time. My mathematical comfort zone ends at the end of my four digit PIN number so I am very happy with the folks at Johnson Tool for making this kind of tool just for me – and you!
The Johnson Digital Angle Locator is a 15”-long pair of aluminum extrusions fitted with an ultra-precise digital angle sensor built into the hinge. The main body has a milled bottom edge that can serve as a true reference surface. The arm is L-shaped and offers another flat surface to register against the surface for accurate measurements. The upper arm also has a graduated scale printed along it so you can grab a quick measurement when needed.
This is made by the Johnson Level people so there are easy to see horizontal and vertical vials built into the body. In the center of the main arm is a large LCD display that shows you all of the important numbers. Below the window is an ON/OFF button, a Miter button and a Hold button. That’s all you really need so that is where Johnson stopped adding buttons!
The #40-6064 kit reviewed here comes with the Johnson Digital Angle Locator itself, an instruction sheet (no need for a book here), a nice canvas carry case and a 9V battery that runs the electronics. To make sure that you can’t kill the batter just because you forget to turn it off Johnson built in a five-minute timer into the circuitry that shuts the Johnson Digital Angle Locator off if it isn’t moved for five minutes. When used rationally the battery life is around 50 hours of continuous use.
The Johnson Digital Angle Locator has a total angle range of 222-degrees with an accuracy of +/- 0.5-degree. It weighs in at a trim 1.1-lb so faking transportation fatigue isn’t going to work. In case you are wondering the Johnson Digital Angle Locator has a working temperature range of 32F to 122F which incidentally exceeds my working temperature parameters by a bunch.
In the Shop
The shop thing is kind of a misnomer with the Johnson Digital Angle Locator as it is really useful all over the shop, house, jobsite or wherever you are working. I have to warn you that when you get a Johnson Digital Angle Locator there will be an urge to go around your house and check what you now think are square corners. If you can’t resist at least get ready for some disappointment. It appears that the majority of American homes are sort of square and that was apparently close enough. Of course that makes cutting trim a real challenge but that is where the Johnson Digital Angle Locator comes in.
Turn the Johnson Digital Angle Locator on, hold it on the corner you are working on and get the reading. Press the Hold button and you can move the arm without messing up the reading. Now you can push the Miter button and it gives you the exact miter setting to cut pieces that actually fit the not-so-square corner. Press the Hold button again and the angle changes with the arm.
When the angle is 90-degrees or less the math is pretty simple but when the angle is over 90-degrees finding the right miter angle is anything but automatic, unless you use the Johnson Digital Angle Locator which actually does make it automatic - and accurate.
Of course you can measure just about any angle that you have to work with even if you don’t need a miter cut. The digital accuracy of the Johnson Digital Angle Locator makes that kind of work much faster and dead-on accurate. For most woodworkers, part-time members of the DIY legions or someone just fixing things up around the house, the fact that the Johnson Digital Angle Locator helps you work more accurately is a most attractive feature.
Like everything from Johnson Level and Tool their Johnson Digital Angle Locator is well made and engineered to meet the needs of a large portion of the tool-using world. Accuracy is always important to the folks at Johnson but putting that accuracy in a package that you can actually use is also at the top of their list.
Despite its obvious durability and usefulness the Johnson Digital Angle Locator has a street price of between $70 and $100 (12-15-2011) from many retailers. Relieving the frustration level of a job with a tool like this is worth real money to me and many of you which makes the purchase price seem far smaller. The Johnson Digital Angle Locator can help you work better in a very real way so if you have been thinking about a tool like the Johnson Digital Angle Locator, give this one a long, hard look.
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