Digital Sliding T-Bevel and Protractor

A good choice for a hobbyist woodworker or avid DIYer looking for a first or replacement bevel

tbevel_lead

Digital Sliding T-Bevel and Protractor



I've been using the same anodized aluminum sliding bevel that I bought over a decade ago. It's an essential measuring tool that I use in the shop and on-site installing cabinets.
 
When I need to lay out a specific angle I use a protractor to set the angle on the sliding bevel - it's a two step process that only takes a few seconds. In fact, it usually takes me longer to find the protractor than to set the angle.
 
The new Digital Sliding T-Bevel and Protractor (828) from General Tools and Instruments promises to make short work of setting angles by digitally calculating the angle - in essence eliminating the need to consult a protractor.
 
With a blade length of just over 8" the 828 is a mid-sized sliding bevel. The blade is made of stainless steel while the handle is made of a high impact ABS plastic. At 3/64" the blade is somewhat thinner than blades on other brands that I've used, so you can expect a bit of flexing, though this shouldn't affect tool performance.


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Scale is hard to read    
       
On the back of the handle is a short scale that is not very easy to read, particularly in less than ideal lighting conditions - it would help if the scale markings were of a different colour than the handle.


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Large knurled locking nut is easy to adjust
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Control buttons are clearly labeled
The knurled locking nut at just under 7/8" is easy to adjust, and, when the nut is loosened, the blade slides back and forth without binding.
 
Control buttons are large enough to press with thumb, and clearly labeled. If you forget to turn the 828 off it will automatically power down after 6 minutes. I find this overly long - three minutes would be more than sufficient and better preserve battery life.
 
The Zero button enables you to reset the display to 0.0° at any time for differential readings.
 
The Hold/Flip button lets you freeze the display - even if you move the blade the setting won't change. The letter 'H' will appear on the upper left of the screen to remind you that you're in Hold mode. If you hold down the Hold/Flip button for 3 to 6 seconds it will invert the display, which can be convenient when you move the bevel to the opposite side of a board or if you hold the bevel upside-down.
 
The Rev (Reverse) button enables you to display the reverse angle.


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Large, easy to read LCD display   

I really like the large 1/2" x 1-1/4" LCD display on the 828 - there is no need to squint to read the display. It's accurate to within ±0.3° over a 360° range, to a resolution of 0.05°. Readings are displayed instantly on the large LCD screen. It zeroes at any position for differential measuring, and the blade locks at any angle for direct transfer.


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Pull tab for battery tray
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Exposed battery
The 828 runs on a commonly available CR2032 3-volt battery that is easy to replace. Simply slide out the battery tray to access the battery. General doesn't specify the run-time for this battery, but I would think that you'll likely get a couple of years use before it needs to be replaced. A two-pack runs about $10.

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Bevel angles are reasonably easy to set   
         
Setting a bevel angle is reasonably easy, if a bit finicky. To get an exact reading, say 45°, you can quickly slide the blade to within a few degrees of 45, but then you need to gently nudge the blade until you hit 45° spot on. I don't find it any quicker than setting the bevel with a standard protractor - but then, I've been doing it this way for a couple of decades.
 
I probably wouldn't toss the 828 into my tool box, nor use it on a job site. My experience with plastic tools is that they eventually crack, particularly when used around metal tools. If you're a carpenter or professional woodworker and already have a bevel and protractor I don't see any advantage to upgrading to the 828.
 
However, I do think that the 828 would make a good choice for a hobbyist woodworker or avid DIYer looking for a first or replacement bevel. The 828 pretty well eliminates the guesswork out of measuring bevels.


KEY FEATURES:

7/8" 1-1/16" x 8-5/16" (closed)
5 ounce weight
3/64" x 1-1/16" x 8-5/16" stainless steel blade
Impact resistant ABS handle
1/2" x 1-1/4" LCD display
0 - 360° range
0.3° accuracy
.05° resolution
6-minute auto shut-off
Reverse display
Flip display
CR2032 lithium battery included
No warranty specified

Manufacturer:General Tools
Available From:Locate your local dealer
Retail Price:$34.99
Model #:828
Made In:China
Carl Duguay, March 2012
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