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China Made Starrett

Matthew Kinsman

Sep 29, 2007
Hamilton Ontario
I was looking at the Starrett Catalog and noticed there are a fare amount items now made in China. I was wondering how these items compare to other off shore products aka Fowler. Is it still worth spending alot more on the Off Shore Starrett or just get the Fowler if you cant afford or justify a higher end model.

I gave an exceptional student a 6" Starrett digital caliper that was made in China. It seemed nice enough though I still only own Mitutoyo digital calipers myself. From what he has told me it works fine and he will use no other.

There is still plenty of USA made Starrett on ebay and on this forum for sale. I would really have need the tool to buy one made in China.

In addition to Starrett I also buy Lufkin, Federal, Ames and Old B&S tools all the time. Most are in great shape. If I buy an import it would be Moore & Wright, Helios, Tesa or in a pinch Mitutoyo.

I wouldn't buy Fowler unless I knew where the tool was made. Almost all their stuff used to be made in Europe but not anymore.

B&S used to be my tools of choice after Lufkin went under. When B&S switched to Made in China the quality dropped like a stone.

Until my eyesight got bad and my hands started shaking I had a precision tool repair business. B&S got so bad I quit taking them in. The only decent hand tools they were selling were the Swiss made were test indicators.

Will Starrett quality suffer the same? Only time will tell.

Walter A.
May as well ask here

Does enyone make 8" dial calipers in the US/Canada at all enymore?


Think Snow Eh!
Ox, Starrett still make an 8" caliper 797B series IP 65. I just bought the 6" Model, I looked at the Global Series but for the extra $50 I bought the "Made in USA" one. Also the import didn't "feel" as good. I usually buy Starrett. Martin
From what I have read and been told when Starrett bought the Exact company a couple of years ago they used this companys name to seperate the USA made vs the Chinese made tools. Precision measuring tools that say "Starrett" are made in the USA and those that say "Starrett Exact" are made in China. I have a friend who bought an 8" Starrett Exact dial caliper that was made in China and for the money it will do but it is not as smooth as a real Starrett, Mit, or old Brown and Sharpe.
For the most part the majority of Starrett tools are still made in the USA (micrometers, vernier instruments, precision levels, dial indicators etc.) The only tools that are not still made in the USA say global or Starrett Exact.

So far the only thing I have bought from Starrett that is not made in the US is a new 81 piece gage block set. I bought the set because I wanted a good quality import set to use out in the shop and I got it on sale from Enco for about $100 which seemed dirt cheap. The set came with a certification which seemed pretty legit and as far as I can tell the blocks are good and accurate and ring together nice. The only issue I saw is that cosmetically, the engraving on the blocks left alot to be desired (different size font on some blocks). The wood case is really nice.

I usually don't buy cheap import stuff. The only chinese tools that have other than this set of gage blocks is a knock off quick change tool post. I always try to buy a few new Starrett tools each year to help support a good American company and my neigbors.
My made in USA real Starrett 6" caliper came from the factory .008" out on the inside measuring jaws. Sent it back. It returned only .004" out. I do not plan to buy any more Starrett stuff,except REAL OLD stuff .
I have had problems with new US made Starrett tools as well. I bought a new machinist level and two days after I bought it the bubble grew to twice the size it should be. A couple of monchs ago I bought a set of the toolmakers 3" dividers. The spring on them is way weaker than the older 2" set that I have. I returned them and am still waiting for them to be replaced.
I have an old Helios mike, a USA depth mike, and a plain bearing Starrett dial indicator I semi-inherited when my grandfather died a few years ago. He was a woodworker, but did some eclectic stuff. Made 2 telescopes, one of which is at a friend who works for an aerospace place, and all kinds of cool stuff.

The mike is OK but the spindle and anvil are all rusty and pre-carbide era. The dial indicator is great. The depth mike is good, but I dont use it much being an HSM.

I have want of comparison- I have never used a good quality slide caliper, so I cannot guess just how good or bad the chinese ones are.
I always bought Starrett tools .But when it came time to buy a Starrett 24inch digital hight gauge at around 1800 bucks. When it came I was not impressed they said it was US made noway it was China made so sent it back and got a Mitutoyo .When sales flyers come around Starrett is always at the back page and while supply lasts.To bad it is hard find and get good US tools .Happy to say I did get new tool holders from Aloris tool technology made in the USA.
Hate to say it, but I went to Mitutoyo years ago for my personal tools. The shop is still primarily Starrett Mics though and will remain so because this is expected more than anything. I Love the feel of the Mitutoyo mics, the calipers I have are from 1975 and still chugging along and the calipers I have that are Mitutoyo at the school (my expection from the starrett standard) are easily repaired through easily ordered parts. The Mitutoyo indicators have been bombproof and still hold up well after student abuse where the last wurd indicators have about a three use life span either due to small impacts or becoming overly sticky after a summer's storage. Started with ten of these in 1992, have ordered four more to replace all of these, gave up this past year.

HOWEVER, still love the starrett 0-2 inch dial indicators, their gauge blocks and parallel sets are just the tops.

I have had great luck with SPI as far as student abuse proof tools. Fowler indicators and mics have a "just make it out of the box then DOA" life span, though I DO have an Altia probe type height gauge that is an absolute joy to use.
I called the horse and got it strait from his mouth...

These are imported. Enything with a 57- number is China. Says that they never made dial calipers inhouse. And says that you kant git a digi calipers made here at all.

They are making manual mics, inside mics, and LOTS of specials inhouse yet.

When asked about the "Made in USA" flag - he said that most fo their stuff is USA and it is not page specific.


Think Snow Eh!