When you start exploring the world that exists outside of 90°, it helps to have a couple tools to help you navigate the journey. One of those tools is a sliding bevel. The other nice one is a “tilt box” or “digital inclinometer.”
These little boxes allow you to set your machinery to a precise tilt angle (most people use it on the table saw’s blade). The magnet on the bottom of the tool grabs the steel saw blade. Then you tilt the blade until you hit the right angle.
But I use these tilt boxes in other ways. When I want to investigate a chair in the wild, I pack a camera, a tape measure and this tilt box. I can zero it to the floor to get the rake and splay of the legs. And I can zero it to the seat to get the angles of the spindles/sticks/backrest etc. It is a miracle tool for investigating chairs in antique stores or museums.
Oh, I almost forgot. The Beall version also has a “hold” button, which allows you to hold the last measurement on the screen. It’s great for people who forget little things – such as a handy “hold” button….
A couple people have complained that these devices are not accurate. I’ve confirmed mine 10 ways from Sunday against my drawings, my sliding bevel and my finished pieces. I suspect the user error is not holding the tilt box on the true front elevation or true profile.
The other complaint that I hear about these gizmos is that they eat batteries. To that I say: I suppose? I’ve used mine almost every week for two years, and I have replaced the batteries once. That seems like some slow digestion to me.
I like the Beall version because it has a rugged metal case. There are other versions out there, but I can’t speak for them. We had a bunch of these tools at our old shop at Popular Woodworking Magazine, but they always had dead batteries or dead electronics. The Beall has been a real survivor.
— Christopher Schwarz
Read other entries from The Anarchist’s Gift Guide here.