If you like super-accurate tools that are easy to use, the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is just the thing. And if your world is not absolutely flat everywhere, it gets even more important!
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Wixey Digital Angle Gauge

When your level is different from the rest of the world

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 10-4-2010

If everything we worked on had a perfectly level base building or repairing things would be lots easier and all we would need is a simple spirit level. Often a complicating factor is not being able to make the fixed base of some jobs level to the rest of the world. Trying to install a piece 90-degrees to a surface that is not level to the world forces some seat-of-the-pants guessing with spirit levels or similar tools. But, there is a very accurate answer – the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge.

The Basics

The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is a 2” by 2” by 1.3” cube with three strong magnets in its bottom surface. A screen provides an easy to read digital display and two operating buttons below it are all you need to make your life easier. The digital display shows down to tenths of a degree and the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is accurate to 0.1 degree. With the digital display errors rooted in trying to read an analog scale very precisely or judging a half or quarter bubble are eliminated.

These magnets (left) across the bottom of the Wixey hold it to any magnet-friendly surface. Something I did not expect was the extra battery (right) that comes in the package!
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The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is battery powered, using a single CR 2032 3V cell. Wixey includes two batteries in the package! One is to use now and the other for later when you forget to pick up a spare which is not hard considering the life expectancy of the battery is 6 months or more.

The nifty thing about the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge and the capability that makes it so useful is its ability to redefine absolute level. Say you have a large metal project and need to frame out an opening on it but the whole structure is out of level as indicated by a spirit level. If you can’t physically level the entire project you could try to replicate the bubble error to install uprights so that they come put 90-degrees to the base but that is an inexact science on a good day and confusing just about all of the time. The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge solves this issue with the push of a button. And, it ’t care how out of level your base is.

Redefining Level

To use the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge you simply set it on the base, turn it on and push zero. The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge now considers the base it is on to be absolute level. Now when you put the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge on an upright you can adjust that until the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge says 90-degrees and that will be square to the base. The upright will be out of level to the world the same amount as the base but the pieces will be square to each other. If you are making an opening for a door or window (or lots of other things) keeping the parts square to each other is crucial. The Wixey Digital Angle Gauge makes that simple. And, the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge reads the same way when you mount it on the right or left upright.

In the Shop

Start by setting the Wixey on the reference (above) surface and pressing the "Zero" button to establish the base as 0-degrees.
Now move the Wixey yo the upright (top right) and adjust that piece until the Wixey says it is 90-degrees to the reference surface.
The only thing to be careful of is putting the Wixey at an angle (right) as that can confuse the internal sensors that determine the angle. Keep it straight and the upright will be exactly 90-degrees to the reference surface with a resolution of 0.1-degree!
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The hardest part of using the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is getting it through your head that redefining level really is as easy as pushing a zero button. I have used an instrument similar to the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge in woodworking for years to set up things like a table saw blade that needs to be 90-degrees to the table surface. The saw is hardly ever perfectly level to the world so this kind of digital shortcut can be a real time (and frustration) saver.

When building a metal frame I simply clamp the base piece to my work surface and don’t worry about it being level. It’s not and I know it but now I don’t care. I set the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge on the base and zero it out to establish level for my project.

Now I stand the first upright on the base and put the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge on it, using the magnets to hold it in place. The only thing you have to be careful of is that the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is perpendicular to the base. If you get off of that plane by much it can fake out the sensors inside that tell the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge where it is. I have been able to eyeball this without a problem. Now adjust the piece so that the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge says 90-degrees and clamp the upright in position for fastening.

As with any electronic device it is best to remove the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge as there is a possible clash between welding current and the electronics inside of the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. Better to be safe than sorry.

Video Tutor

You can also use the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge to set a cross bar between uprights by setting the Wixey on it and tweak its position until the gauge reads zero again. Now it should be on the same artificial level as the base. And measuring components to see how square they are to others is just as easy with the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge. In seconds you can know down to 0.1” how out of square one piece is to another.

Conclusions

I find that the biggest thing people have trouble understanding or believing is how easy the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge is to use. They keep thinking that it just has to be more difficult that that! It ain’t! And with a street price of $39.99 (10-2-2010) you can take part in this electronic cheating without busting the budget!

See the Wixey Digital Angle Gauge on the Incremental Tools web site – Click Here

Have a comment on this review? –Email Me!

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