How to Use Dial Indicator

Dial Indicator is one of the demanding instruments in precision technology. Typically we use them to find clearances, run-out, straightness, gear backslash, and so on. In this article, we will be discussing how to use the dial indicator.

We will be further explaining how to read the 0005 dial indicators and calculate the values.

This precision measuring tool varies in terms of types. They can be balanced, continuous, digital, plunger, lever, etc. Their mounting process is different due to their structure and working principles.

But before that, we recommend having a glance on the basic terms of the dial indicator before you go further to the operation. You have to use understand some basic major terms of the dial indicator. If you are a beginner, in this case, you will need them.

5 Steps on How to Use A Dial Indicator

Once you understand the basic terms of the dial indicator, you can easily read them. While using the dial indicator, you have to be careful. Because one of your mistakes may cause damage to the internal parts. The following are the basic steps to use a dial indicator.

1. Rigid Mounting

Rigid mounting is very important for any smooth operation. You should carefully attach the dial indicator with the magnetic stand. If your mounting is not rigid, your dial indicator may deflect while measuring the positions.

At this moment, you have to check your dial indicator. You have to check whether the screw and the bezel are fixed or not. You could quickly check your dial indicator by following these three steps: displacing the spindle, checking error at half revolution, and checking errors at the opposite half revolution.

Typically the checking can be done 1/10 of the main division. So, before you go for the operation, you can check your dial indicator in this way.

2. Setting the Position

After properly attaching the dial indicator with the stand, you could now set up a place to mount the magnetic base. In this case, you must choose a surface that is linear in order to the magnet be able to lock properly here.

Later, you have to set your dial indicator direction carefully. You can do this by rotating the fixing screw. Then put the contact point on the desired surface. And then you lock all of the fixing screws.

3. Checking Spindle and Reference Zero

The dial indicator is now at the desired position. You have to set your reference zero. You can do this by rotating the bezel to the zero position. When you fixed the bezel on the zero references, you have to tighten the bezel with the help of the top screw so that it can not move. If the bezel moves, it may give us some error. This is the place where you have to be careful as well. Therefore, setting the zero reference and tighten the bezel are very important tasks to do before observation and calculation.

4. Tabulation and Calculation

This part is the most technical among the steps. So, you have categorized this section in several steps.

  • Observation on the dial indicator: First it is necessary to observe the dial indicator. Most Importantly, you have to observe if the zero reference state undergoes deflection or not. If it deflects, you must move the bezel and tighten the top screw. And then you can start the operation. You now then press the spindle against the surface to be measured. The pointer now can move on any of the marks on the inner dial face.
  • Identification of the measurement marks: The marks on the dial face depends on the types of the dial indicator. Besides, you must observe both the inner and outer dial. You have to observe them before you go for tabulation.
  • Measurement on the inner dial: Let’s say you are using a continuous multi revolution dial indicator. So, it has continuous readings on the dial face. And the outer dial has a range of 0-1″. Depending on the spindle position, you can note down the position of the pointer.
  • Measurement on the outer dial: If you further the pointer crosses one complete rotation, then the outer dial will save 0.1″. So, you must count on how many revolutions the pointer has completed and also how many it has moved on the inner dial.
  • Calculation: After the noting is done, you are required to proceed to calculation. If you are looking for tolerance, then you must get your original size and measured size on the same table. You could take consecutive five values or more and calculate the average value. You know the measured value is the tolerance you determine after the observation and calculation.

5. Preservation

After you have completed the tabulation and calculation and all other desired tasks, you must decently keep our dial indicator. You must keep your extensions and pointer on the plastic case. It is not good to preserve the dial indicator into a random or open place. It’s safe in the provided plastic case from the company. It is important because the accident comes suddenly. So, to make sure your dial indicator is safe, you have to preserve it.


Unlike other measuring tools, the dial indicator requires a little extra care when using it. Proper care of using it will improve accuracy and prevent human error.