There has been a lot of buzz lately in the tool market about the nifty little bevel box tools now available from a number of manufacturers that allow you to quickly set or check a bevel angle on an existing structure or to set up saw blade bevel angles for cuts. Those devices cannot be used to set miter cutting angles or check the angle of an existing structure or cut component. For these tasks you need a digital angle finder, or digital protractor. There is such a device in the form of the Angelo Angle Finder. Let's take a closer look.
Angelo Angle Finder
Basically, this device allows you to check, set or measure any angle from 0 degrees to 225 degrees, and being reversible, will allow you to readily measure every possible angle. It is all-metal aluminum construction with a box shape main measure reference base (for extra strength) and rigidity. On the base component you will find a standard bubble level indicator. This will allow you to also use the tool like a standard level tool for checking level on structures, or for building structures, working on projects etc. It appears to be very accurate as it is tested against the quality Stabila level which I know is highly accurate and it delivered a very similar result as far as my eye could tell. Of course, since the flat portion of the base of the Angelo Angle Finder measures just 23cm, it is less suitable for checking level over longer spans, but it is a useful addition nonetheless. The tool is also rated as waterproof to IP54 standard. I saying that you dunk yours in water deliberately though, but its good to know it is somewhat water resistant.
Up at the same end as the bubble level is a small plastic hook you can use for storage of the tool, or to hang from your tool belt with an appropriate secondary hook or clip. The device weighs 410 grams, so it has a solid, weighty feel to it, but is not so heavy that its going to cause fatigue through excessive weight load on your tool belt, or in your tool box.
Naturally, being a digital protractor, it has an adjustable measuring arm. This tool is metal construction and measures 2mm thick so it is fairly strong and rigid. Its flat, straight edges are perfect for marking accurate lines with a marker or pencil, or even for running the edge of your circular saw against to make an accurate mitered cut. The pivot arm for the blade has a plastic cover with a plastic locking nut to retain a set angle. This seems to work ok, but perhaps a slightly larger knob would have been better to allow a little extra grip and torque on the locking mechanism. You have to be careful if running a circular saw against the blade when locked, because it can move slightly if excessive pressure is placed against the blade and you are not directly supporting it with thumb pressure or similar down on the work piece. It does offer a reasonably good angle set hold however and there is no such issue when using the blade to mark lines. It stays solid. There are several points in the pivot arc which you can set the locking nut screw to allow you to quickly set a 45 or 225 degree angle. Use these only as a rough guide as they are probably about a degree or so out on my unit, but useful nonetheless if you just want a quick angle measure for roof rafter ends or mitering an edge. The blade can be locked at any angle, of course, throughout the 225 degree range of the arm.
The large LCD display (powered by a standard 3V CR2032 round battery offering quoted 2000 hours life) is very clear and offers large format numbers, which is great for eliminating eye strain. The display reads to one tenth of a degree, and hence, that is the measured accuracy of the tool - 0.1 degrees. Below the LCD screen are the main measurement control buttons. First is a standard ON/OFF button which is self-explanatory. Next is a HOLD button. When pressed, this will retain the value shown on the LCD screen, so if you wanted to measure the angle of something, you can measure it, press the HOLD button, and even if you move the measuring arm, it will still display the held value. This is handy to retain the measured value so you don't have to remember it if you need to go scribble it down elsewhere or set another tool up for the specified angle measurement. Only one value can be stored however. When you press the HOLD button again, the angle finder returns to normal operation. The third button labeled ZERO/ABS will either zero the display and measurement at the current angle setting (with two presses), or can convert between a RELATIVE and an ABSOLUTE angle measurement with a single press. In addition, an analog quadrant display is provided on the LCD to allow easier deciphering of angle position.
The angle finder is a simple device that is very easy to use. Measurement is straightforward and for the most part, hassle free. The tool over all is quite durable and has endured a few knocks and a bit of rough treatment and still appears to measure accurately within its specified accuracy range. I have used it mostly to check existing angles and transfer these to other pieces for cutting. While this can be done equally as well with a standard angle gauge, having the other benefits of the LCD display and the bubble level on the one tool is certainly handy.
Another handy use for the tool is to set blade angles for bevel cuts on the table saw, circular saw, band saw, or most any other saw. Just set the angle on the Angelo you need, lock the blade, then reference your saw blade against the Angelo blade for an accurate angle setting. It can be used in the same way on a jointer or drill press as well. And I am sure there are many other tools it would come in handy for too.
The only downside I can find for the Angelo is that the blade lock could be a little beefier, and hence lock the blade a little better to prevent movement from lateral forces. As mentioned, it can be sued successfully as a guide fence for shorter circular saw angle cuts, but you have to be careful not to apply too much lateral force or the blade can be thrown off slightly. Nonetheless, if you are setting up the circular saw, miter saw etc for a bevel, or a mitered cut first, the Angelo will provide the high level of accuracy you require to deliver a good result.
I am quite impressed with the tool. To be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be as accurate as it was across its entire 225 degree arc range, but it is indeed very accurate. I know I can now rely on this tool as an accurate and effective angle checking, measuring or setup tool
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