Forget the old bubble level, digital angle finders take all the guesswork out of measuring angles and give you precise readings down to the tenth of a degree. There are two common styles: protractor and block. Neither is better than the other in terms of accuracy, but each has their place in certain industries. We spent roughly 22 hours researching brands, technologies, and styles in order to find the best digital angle finder. For those who prefer the protractor style, the GemRed 82305 has the best reputation for precise and consistent readings. For those who like the block style better, the Wixey WR300 Type 2 is the popular choice for accuracy and value. Article Summary
Modern woodworking and construction are arguably much easier today than they were just a few decades ago, and we can attribute most of our success to how much better tools are nowadays. One of the most important aspects of building just about anything, whether you’re looking at a simple door frame or an entire house, is getting the angles right. Even a single angle measured incorrectly is a mistake that tends to compound over time. The result is usually poor form, or even worse, a jeopardized structural integrity of whatever you’re building.
In the old days, if you wanted to measure an angle, you’d either eyeball it or break out a basic spirit level (you know, the kind that uses the air bubble for alignment) for closer estimation. These days, we have more advanced leveling tools that use things like lasers and other electronic technology for much more accurate measurements. This not only makes our work easier, but also reduces the risk of accidentally making an error.
Most modern angle finders come in a standard protractor style with digital gauges for accuracy, while others come in the form of a small block or cube. Although the style itself (block or protractor) doesn’t really affect the accuracy of the tool, the brand and technology used within the tool can definitely have an impact on how well the tool works.
Over the course of three days, we spent roughly 22 hours researching different brands and their assorted measuring tools in order to find the best digital angle finder. Through our research, we found that there are an overwhelming amount of these tools that are cheap knock-offs sold under disposable brand names. However, after weeding through the bad products, we’ve found a few angle finders that have proven themselves as both accurate and reliable through hundreds of positive reviews and even a few video examples of the tools in action.
The best digital protractor
Offering accuracy to three tenths of a degree and a price tag that’s no more costly than a hammer or a few boxes of nails, the GemRed 82305 Digital Protractor is the best angle finder for casual and even professional measurements.
If you’re wondering how a GemRed was our top pick over something more professional like a Bosch Angle Finder, the answer is pretty simple. Even though the Bosch and other similar models may be more technologically advanced, most people aren’t ready to drop $150+ on this type of tool for a model that offers barely any more accuracy (the Bosch offers 0.1-degree accuracy compared to GemRed’s 0.3-degree accuracy). Similarly, measurement tools in that price range come with a whole array of other features, whereas we were looking at solely angle measurement without all the add-ons that ramp up the price.
The first and most obvious benefit of the GemRed 82305 is the simplicity of design. What you are looking at here is a protractor that features two metal rulers with a simple digital display at the base. This is the 200mm stainless steel version (although there are several other lengths and materials available), which is usually the sweet spot when it comes to tools of this type. Each ruler segment features both the imperial and metric systems, making it easier to switch between these two measurement systems if necessary. In addition, at the end of each end also features a small hole which you can use to secure the device with a nail or a screw.
In terms of accuracy, you are looking at plus or minus 0.3 degrees of angle, which is great precision for any angle finder, especially one in this price range. The tool itself is rather light and compact, but remains perfectly solid when in use. Its sturdy construction means that once you set an angle, nothing will move or endanger your initial measurement. If you are into woodworking, this is the type of angle finder you can use with miter saws and similar power tools. It’s also something that will last an extremely long time on a single battery thanks to its simplicity; it’s powered using a typical coin battery which should last about 2,000 hours of use.
At the end of the day, the GemRed 82305 is a basic, easy-to-use tool that provides precise measurements. If that’s all you’re looking for, this is the best digital angle finder to buy.
The best digital angle block
If you’re looking for the best digital angle block rather than the protractor styling of the GemRed, the Wixey WR300 Type 2 is an accurate angle finder that was designed for heavy-duty use. The difference in design has its benefits but also a couple drawbacks depending on what industry you work in.
Much like any other tool out there, you have to come to terms with the fact that you are going to drop your tools at some point. Those who are mere enthusiasts will experience this much less frequently than professionals, but it does happen nonetheless. Because of this, some tools need protection. Sensitive electronics are still a relatively new thing and dropping a tool that is largely based on electronics is just asking for trouble.
Wixey alleviated this problem by reinforcing the enclosure as much as possible. The entire thing is made of quality, durable metals which serve two purposes. The obvious one is protection. Dropping Wixey’s angle finder will not significantly impact the performance thanks to the metal enclosure that will take the brunt of the impact. Since hard materials transfer energy much easier, Wixey also added a second layer of protection. Both the face and the back of the device are lined with composite reinforced masks.
The other reason why having a metal enclosure is great has everything to do with the process of measuring angles. A metal body will hardly get damaged to a point where it impacts the calibration of the device. On top of that, Wixey’s WR300 comes with a magnet on the bottom side, thus allowing you to just stick it to any metal surface for hands-free measurement. This is extremely ideal for those trying to square up saw blades.
Speaking of measuring angles, Wixey WR300 features 0.2-degree accuracy. To use it, all you have to do is place it on a surface. Once there, pressing and holding the Zero button will calibrate the instrument and give you the readings you require. You can easily read the angle on a large display located on the front of the instrument. It is worth mentioning that said display comes with backlighting, which allows you to work in low light conditions as well. Unlike the GemRed, Wixey’s WR300 is powered by a single AAA battery. Not only does this enhance the battery life, but it also makes changing the battery a lot easier.
The difference in price between the Wixey WR300 Type 2 and the GemRed is not significant enough to limit you to one or the other. The block design can be a little limiting in some industries in terms of versatility (for example, woodworkers often prefer the protractor style), but both designs have their pro’s and con’s, so choosing which model is right for you comes down to how you plan to use it.
A digital angle multi-tool
Last but not least we have the AccuRemote Angle Gauge, which is actually more of a multi-tool. In many ways, it is very similar to the Wixey we have just talked about. It uses the same square design, features a similarly compact format and is even a very similar price. However, AccuRemote’s digital electronic magnetic protractor does a lot more than just measure angles. On paper, it looks much better than Wixey’s model. However, we believe that Wixey offers a superior product. There are a few reasons for that and we will go through each one.
AccuRemote’s extremely versatile nature makes it very attractive, there’s no doubt about that. However, it is important to take into consideration the main purpose of this tool, and that is to measure angles. As such, it is less accurate than Wixey, coming in at plus or minus 0.2 degrees of angle. If that was the only issue, our list would look a bit different; unfortunately, it’s not. AccuRemote’s angle finder features a relatively sturdy enclosure that inspires a decent amount of confidence. It is all bare metal with absolutely no composite reinforcements anywhere. The gizmo’s rather large display is somewhat protected by being recessed into the face, but whether or not that is enough to save it from fall damage is up for debate.
One good thing about AccuRemote’s design is the number of embedded magnets. Unlike Wixey’s one magnet at the bottom of the enclosure, AccuRemote’s solution was to install three magnets on various sides of the enclosure. This way you have a bit more versatility in terms of how you are going to use the device. Since its function isn’t solely to measure angles but to also be a level and more, the inclusion of additional magnets is very beneficial.
Where AccuRemote really falls behind is its battery life. Unlike the previous models we have shown you, this one requires a 9V battery in order to work. On its own, that doesn’t sound all that bad. After all, each of the models on our list utilizes a different type of battery. What does sound kind of bad is the fact that a single 9V battery will last you only 250 hours of use. If you are doing a week long project where a tool such as this one is simply a necessity, battery life could become a serious issue.
Overall, the AccuRemote Angle Gauge is an accurate tool of measurement with a great price tag, but it does have a few flaws that could present issues depending on your specific usage of it. Keep those in mind before deciding whether this is the best digital angle finder for you.
How we picked our top three
Digital angle finders come across as pretty simple tools, and in many ways they are. However, there are still a few key aspects that will dictate how well the tool suits your needs. Most importantly is accuracy in measurement, but the design of the tool (both style and materials) and price are also going to play a role in the decision process. Here’s how we chose to grade models during our research.
It’s obvious that accuracy is the first and most important aspect to look at when comparing angle finders. After all, that is their main job! Thanks to their electronic-based measuring system, most digital angle finders are pretty accurate – or at least they claim to be. Most models will report that their angle readings are within a few tenths of a degree, which is considered highly accurate. However, what looks good on paper doesn’t always prove reliable during actual use.
We turned to user reviews for help with this section of research, looking to see how actual users have reported the accuracy of each model. With each of our top picks, there were consistent positive responses from people who had tested the models on known angles such as 90-degree walls or saw blades in order to verify the tool’s accuracy (some even posted pictures for proof). Most have reported results within a few tenths of a degree, just as the manufacturer had advertised. Unfortunately, with most other models we looked at, the results were inconsistent.
As far as styles go, there are two main types of digital angle finders: standard protractor form and a cube form (sometimes called a digital angle block). Both styles are very easy to use, and both have systems capable of producing consistent accurate measurements. Neither one is necessarily better than the other in terms of measuring performance. However, the difference lies in the actual build quality of the materials. For example, the Wixey WR300 is built with durable metals and lined with composites to reinforce it for damage protection, whereas the AccuRemote block is not as well-built and therefore is more susceptible to damage in the event of an accident. Part of our scoring each model was based on their durability on the job site, and in these cases, the three models chosen in our guide offer more durability than other angle finders and protractors.
Everyone wants to get a good value for their dollar. As we have determined earlier, these tools can be both cheap or expensive depending on the brand and application you intend to use them for. In most cases with tools, the quality increases as the price increases. However, with angle finders specifically, there are a lot of low-cost models that offer highly accurate readings, with the models in our guide being perfect examples. There are certainly more expensive options out there that offer a host of other features in addition to angle measurement, but for specifically finding angles, our top three provide premium reliability at not-so-premium prices, giving you great value.
Things to consider before buying
Before making your final decision an investing in an angle finder, there are some things to consider to ensure you choose the best model for your specific usage. These decisions involve your workplace and any extra functions you may not have thought about before.
How do you plan to use your angle finder?
Let’s guess, you plan to use it to find angles, right? Of course! That’s not quite what we mean. More specifically, what field to you work in? If you are into woodworking, a protractor-style angle finder like the GemRed will probably be a better choice due to its versatility around angles. On the other hand, if you’re a contractor that commonly works on homes or buildings, the block might be your style of choice due to its compact size to fit within any nook or cranny.
Do you care about additional measurement functions?
Many of these tools come with just the single function of angle measurement. However, there will be those that are capable of much more. Some, like the AccuRemote, come packed with a slope meter, a digital level and more. These are all features that can increase the price of the angle finder. If you don’t need them, going for a model that comes with all these features might be a waste of money. On the other hand, if you do need these features, getting an angle finder that only performs its core function will force you to buy additional tools.
How to get accurate readings every time
First things first: before you begin measuring angles, you should always first ensure the tool is working properly by testing it on a known angle. The easiest way to do this is to set it down on a flat surface which you know is completely level at zero degrees. Think a tile floor or similar. Test the tool a couple of times to be on the safe side. Once you know it’s calibrated properly, you can put it to work.
The key to getting accurate readings is to do good prep work. It all starts with the object you are measuring. Make sure that the surface you are placing your angle finder on is clean. If something gets between the instrument and the object you are using as a base for your measurements, chances are that you will get false readings. On a similar note, if the object you are measuring is sitting on a support structure that isn’t level, you might once again run into issues.
Whether or not you will have problems finding those angles will also depend on the type of angle finder you are using. Some will allow you to calibrate the instrument based on the surface it is sitting one, others won’t. Some will come with features that make using them much easier, others won’t. This is where reading the instruction manual can be a big help.
Either way, it is important to do a proper prep work when making any kind of measurement and to repeat the process of taking said measurement a couple of times at least. You will spend a few more minutes doing it, but you will also significantly reduce the chances of something going south on you further down the line.
Wrapping it up
Digital angle finders are yet another recent tool that has made work in the construction, carpentry, and other industries so much easier. They take all the guessing out of angle measurement and can determine angles down to the tenth of a degree. While there are a lot of inconsistent devices and uncertain brands, our research has narrowed down three products which we believe will cover your needs no matter what industry you work in. There are a number of more expensive gauges from more premium brands, but the gauges in our guide offer a great value for your dollar and consistant precise readings – something we think everyone can appreciate.