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An angle gauge measures the angle of a fixed or worked object relative to a larger object. The three most common types of angle gauges are used in forestry, woodworking and engineering. Each of these gauges does the same basic thing; they just do it in totally different ways. In each case, a single object, usually a tree, saw blade or fastener, has its angle checked relative to the larger piece to which it is attached, such as the ground or a work surface.
A forester’s angle gauge is used to inventory the trees in a plot of land. These inventories show how many trees of certain sizes are within a given area. This information is used to find areas suitable for harvesting. Buyers require different sizes and types of trees, depending on their businesses; so, using tree inventories is a good way to keep track of growth and diversity within a tract of land.
There are a wide range of angle gauge styles used in forestry. The oldest style is still in use today; it looks like a flat piece of metal with a punched-out shape in the form of a step pyramid. Foresters use this simple device by holding the tool a specified distance from their eyes and lining a tree up inside the hole. The forester can tell the tree’s approximate size and its angle relative to the ground. Newer forms of forestry gauges look like prisms, magnifying glasses or small spyglasses.
Woodworkers can use angle gauges to determine the exact angle at which a saw blade is operating. In the past, these gauges were complicated and generally involved using plumb lines. Newer woodworking gauges are almost always digital and use magnets to sit directly on the saw blade. Once in place, they can give an accurate read of the saw’s angle within seconds.
In the engineering, assembly and technical fields, there is a third type of angle gauge. These gauges are used to maintain an even torque load over an area by synchronizing the fasteners across a work piece. After a fastener, typically a bolt, is screwed in tight, it is then screwed in further to a specified angle. If the work piece has several fasteners on the same piece, they are all fastened to the same angle.
Originally, the angle gauges used for this process were similar to those used in woodworking. They used mechanical gauges and tension bars to determine the fastener’s final angle. Newer angle gauges are built right into the tool used to tighten the fastener. Even so, these angle gauge torque wrenches are generally uncommon. For users who need a specific angle but don’t have an angle wrench, it is easy to tighten a bolt and then use a simple plastic protractor to tighten it to the correct angle.