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.
7 thoughts on “Anarchist Gift Guide Day 10: Beall Digital Inclinometer”
I bought one of the original versions. It takes large button battery (CR2025), which I find lasts exactly a year. I believe the newer versions take a couple of AAA batteries. It makes sense the AAA’s last longer.
I don’t use it often, but I have had my Beall TiltBox II for at least 10 years now. Mine uses a 9 volt battery, and I have only replaced it once. It also has magnets on the sides. 🙂 I gave up on digital calipers because of the batteries going dead, and got a dual scale dial caliper instead, “thousandths and fractions”.
attach it to your ski pole for an avalanche slope indicator
I had an older Wixey that took watch batteries. I always switched it off, but a battery would last less than a month. Drove me nuts. I use a Klein now. You can change the lighted display to white numbers on black background. And AAA batteries last a very long time.
Thanks for posting this! Didn’t realize Beall made one and I need to order one of their wood threaded kits, so this will save me on postage.
I have a Wixey. It is one tool that if it died I would immediately get another. Battery life is about 2 years if you remember to turn it off.
RE: Batteries. I have a somewhat damp workshop/garage – when it rains the gutter outside overflows and runs right thru from the front door and out the back door (or if there is a big storm with plenty of wind it just reverses direction). And the whole city rarely gets below 50% humidity, more like 70+. Anything I put in there that uses some sort of button battery goes flat in a few weeks so I have converted a few F.R.E.D.s to use rechargeable AA’s, otherwise I rely on analog manual devices. So if all your batteries keep going flat its not the device that is at fault, it is the environment, so store your electronic tools in the driest part of your house and only take them to the workshop when you are going to use them. A well sealed box of steel or plastic with a desiccant in it works well – something to use all those bags of silica gell you find in your new shoes or electronics.
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