Review By Dean Bielanowski  Wixey Website - http://www.wixey.com

Digital Angle Gauge
Wixey Digital Angle Gauge

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski


The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge has been a welcome addition to the woodworkers tool kit for machine setup and accuracy. These new angle measuring tools are simple to use, and best of all, very cost effective.
Let's take a closer look...

The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge
This small tool measures just 2" x 2" x 1.3" deep and is constructed with a combination of hardened plastic (front and back faces) and aluminum casing

It runs off a small 3.0v CR2032 button-type watch battery and the battery life is promised as being up to 6 months. This is quite reasonable given the size of the battery. In fact, the digital angle gauge is always turned ON, i.e. it is always measuring electronically. It is just the digital display that can be turned off to further extend battery life. The tool features an Auto Shut Off function in case you forget to turn it off. A handy feature for the forgetful among us.

The LCD display is clear and easy to read. The gauge has a resolution of 0.1 of a degree, so it will provide sufficient accuracy for just about all woodworking tasks. Certainly more accuracy than you can get by eye, or that provided by most measuring angle tapes or angle scales on power tools, which can be notoriously inaccurate at times, or only marked at 1 degree increments, meaning you have to guess if you want anything finer. Why would you want anything finer? Well, if you get into trim work or cutting for multiple-sided forms, then less than 1 degree accuracy can mean the difference between roughly acceptable and perfection. I know which I would choose if both options are readily available! Accuracy is specified at +/- 0.1 degrees as well.

On the bottom of the unit are three small round magnets. These allow the gauge to attach securely to any magnetic surface, which means most tool table tops (unless they are aluminum), all steel body cutting blades, and most tool fences. If you have all cast iron tool surfaces, you will have no issues at all attaching the tool securely. But what if you have a basic table saw with an aluminum table surface, like a job-site saw for example? Well, you can just sit the gauge directly on top of the table, magnetic or not. You do need to provide a reference surface to measure off for accurate angle readouts, so the tool is generally set flat on the table first, zeroed, then set of the saw blade body, and you will have no trouble attaching to the blade (since most are steel bodied), no matter what type of table surface you have.

Below the LCD display are two buttons, and this alone signifies the simplicity of this tool, and equally, how easily it is to use. The ON/OFF button turns the display on or off... simple. The ZERO button zeroes the tool to the surface it is currently rested on, or magnetically attached to. As mentioned above, the general procedure for accurate angle measurement is to zero the tool on the static reference surface, i.e. the surface that will not move (generally the tool table) then place the Wixey gauge on the blade or secondary surface that does move to set your angle, or correct a badly set angle! So how does it actually work?

Well the best description of the science behind it is given by the manufacturer...

How does it read?
"All of our readouts use what's called capacitive measuring technology. This is the exact same system that is used in almost all digital calipers that have been on the market for at least 20 years. There is a circuit board on a rotating counterweight that has a repeating pattern etched on it. There is a second fixed circuit board with a similar pattern and the rest of the electronics. As the 2 patterns pass over each other there is an electronic signal generated that is converted to rotation angle. The only moving part is the circuit board with counterweight passing over the fixed circuit board. There is no electrical connection between the 2 circuits boards and they do not even touch each other. There are no other mechanical moving parts."
 

The good thing is that you don't even have to worry about all the scientific and electronics jargon to make use of the tool! The gauge also has a huge working range of 150 degrees, but rarely will you require more than 90 degree range in the woodshop.

In Use
The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is a great tool for workshop machine and tool setup. It can be used to set table saw blades square to the table, or to set virtually any angle to make perfect bevel angle cuts. On the miter saw, you can again set the blade square to the table for accurate and square crosscuts, or set the blade at any angle, again, for bevel cuts. You can attach a larger drill bit in the drill press, secure the angle gauge to the bit and check how square the drill press table is to the drill bit/spindle, or set the table for angled drilling. You can do the same on the bandsaw, setting table square to the blade, or setting table at an angle to the blade with 0.1 degree accuracy. Your jointer fence can be set perfectly square for perfection in edge/face angles or squaring up bowed edges or faces. These are just a few of the possibilities. I am sure you could think of more, or situations in the past where this tool would have come in handy. You can use it for accurately measuring just about any angle with reference to another fixed angle. Handy for builders too no doubt, although it might be harder to secure to non-magnetic surfaces without some other attachment method.

If you still are having trouble visualizing the use of the angle gauge, take a look at these basic use images from the manufacturer, or view our video in the right hand column:
 


Step 1. Calibrate


Set the gauge flat on the tool reference surface and press the ZERO to set the gauge to 0.0 degrees.

   
Step 2. Attach

Attach the gauge to the perpendicular blade and leave at 90.0 degrees or re-set to 0.0 degrees if desired.
   
Step 3. Read

Bevel the saw blade and read the precise bevel angle.

 

To put things in perspective, let me describe the exact use of the gauge for setting a table saw blade, say, at 30 degrees. First the Wixey gauge is placed on the table surface, close to the blade and set to Zero. Next, place the gauge on the saw blade with the blade set at its square setting (usually referred to as 0 degrees). You will note that when you do this that the display will now show 90.0 degrees. If it does not, your blade is not exactly parallel to the saw table! It is important to ensure it does read 90.0 degrees because if you now start winding/tilting the blade, the measurements will read as degrees subtracted from 90. I.e. as you tilt the blade you will see it counting down, 90, 85, 80 etc (all in small 0.1 degree steps of course). So to set a 30 degree bevel, the gauge will actually read 60 degrees. It can be confusing. But the best option is to reset the gauge to zero when it is attached to the saw blade, after you have check the blade is actually 90 degrees to the table. With the gauge reset to zero when attached to the saw blade body, now when you tilt the blade, the gauge reads up from 0.0 degrees to whatever setting you require. Much simpler, and the gauge remains on the "upper" side of the tilting blade, i.e. with no chance of the blade getting stuck between the underside of the blade body and the table surface as it is tilted.

Accuracy
Unfortunately I do not have all the ideal tools for testing and measuring accuracy, but I do have some very good squares and 45 degree measure guides by Incra which are guaranteed to be highly accurate. When used along with these tools, the Wixey digital angle guide indeed proved accurate. I also tested it against the Beall Tilt Box, which we have also reviewed on this site, and both products delivered pretty much the same results. The Beall does have 0.05 resolution and in one or two cases this was the difference between the two measurements, but basically, both tools delivered the same results. The Wixey unit is a little smaller than the Beall Tilt Box, so it is a little easier to handle. There are some other small differences, but you can read about those in the other review. Ultimately, it appears, to the best of my testing ability and resources, that the Wixey is indeed accurate to the claims made by the manufacturer, i.e. within +/- 0.1 degrees.

Durability
Well, I hadn't planned on including this section, but while taking photos of the tool for this review, I dropped the gauge from my miter saw blade. Long story short... the spring loaded blade guard on the saw slipped out of my fingers and retracted quickly knocking the gauge off the blade, fell a metre or more onto bare concrete. Ouch! Thankfully, when I picked up the gauge and set it back on the table, I had zeroed it to before, it again read a perfect 0.0 degree setting! So, there appears to be some resistance to hard knocks and damage, which is a great thing!

Conclusion
Priced at US$39.99 the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge makes an excellent power tool accessory in the woodshop. You will be cutting more accurately, spending less time setting up, and ensuring your tool returns to square every time. Great little tool that no woodshop or anyone that owns power tools or cutting/drilling machines should be without.

Available to Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

In Australia


http://www.woodworksupplies.com.au/category5_1.htm

 

In the USA

 

Hartville Tool Logo

Wixey Digital Angle Gauge Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge


Three magnets on the base secure it to any magnetic surfaces.


The battery cover. Front and back faces are plastic, the rest is metal construction.


LCD Display is clear and easy to read.


25 degree bevel setting? No problem!


Using the Digital Angle Gauge to check drill press table setting. First I set the gauge on a larger drill bit and zero it....


...then I set it on the table to check the reading. A little out but it could still be within the 0.1 degree spec. You could also do this process in reverse. I.e. set zero ont he table surface, then attach gauge to the drill bit and check that way.


Checking that the jointer fence returns back to a 90 degree setting relative to the bed. Here we are 0.3 degrees out.

OTR Videos
Watch a short video of the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge in action.
(590kb - AVI - DivX)


 


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