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Old 03-14-2019, 02:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
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Default Golden Ratio Caliper

A tool that may sometimes be useful, but certainly is a conversation piece, is a Golden Ratio Caliper. They can be purchased relatively inexpensively (they are commonly by makeup and tattoo artists), but it's fun and amazingly simple to make them. There are many instructions on the internet, but most seem to suffer from the same flaw: the instructions provide one set of dimensions, but don't talk about how to scale the up or down to meet personal needs.

The best instructions I have found is an old YouTube video by Capt. Eddie. The Captain described the process in terms of a single base dimension, and then described how all other dimensions relate to that base. As a result, it's a relatively simple matter to follow those instructions to make any size caliper you wish. I've translated the Captain's video into a drawing and a step-by-step procedure that can be reproduced on one page.

I made my caliper from a scrap of canary wood (pretty figure, and working it makes the shop smell really nice). I used brass-plated binding posts with nylon washers, and also put a thin shop-made washer into each of the four joints so that wood doesn't rub against wood. The thin washers are made from an LDPE lid from a coffee can.

Golden-ratio calipers may be useful in identifying the ideal point to separate the top and bottom of boxes, or for designing goblets or other turnings. Frankly, it's probably close enough to just 'eyeball' the design, and most turners acquire the ability to do that fairly quickly. But if you're a tool junkie, it's neat to be able to say that you have a Golden Ratio caliper (aka, a Phi Caliper) in your shop.
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