Review: Lidl Parkside Micrometer

A couple of years ago we published a look at precision measurement tools, in particular vernier calipers and micrometer screw gauges. It featured a look at how they work and how they’re used, and a comparison of good and bad quality instruments. When comparing micrometers we had three of them, a Mitutoyo and a Moore & Wright representing decent quality, and an £8 ($9.41) Daniu from Banggood from the cheaper end of the market. As you might expect, the Daniu was laughably bad, with noticeable play in its thread and jaws that were not parallel to the extent you could see light between them. You might consider it case closed for cheap micrometers then, were it not that while on my summer travels through the Benelux countries I spied a Parkside micrometer in a Lidl supermarket for €8.99 ($8.92). I had to buy it and investigate.

Some Measuring Devices With Your Groceries?

The Parkside micrometer in its boxLidl is a German supermarket chain that can be found all over Europe, and like their arch-competitor Aldi they feature the “Middle of Lidl” aisles full of all sorts of useful stuff that changes on a regular basis. Among this is a comprehensive range of tools under the Parkside brand, which is basically on par with the good stuff from Harbor Freight, and are in fact quite good for the price. Thus even though it’s about the same price as the Daniu I had higher expectations for the Parkside micrometer.

The micrometer is packaged in the usual plastic case in a small cardboard box, and comes with a large paper instruction sheet and a small spanner for zero adjustment. Taking it out of the case, it follows exactly as you’d expect from a micrometer with a solid drop-forged frame and an aluminium barrel on the micrometer head. It can measure up to 25 mm at a resolution of 0.01 mm, exactly like the others I tested in 2020. So my nine dollars or so has got me a micrometer, but is it any good? How do you evaluate a micrometer screw gauge? I re-borrowed the two comparison instruments from 2020, and set out to find out.

The Tiniest Sliver Of Light Gives It Away

The mirror finish on the Mitutoyo jaw face reflecting the "H" of the Hackaday website.
The mirror finish on the Mitutoyo jaw face reflecting the “H” of the Hackaday website.

It’s worth saying that the jaw faces are polished, but not to a mirror finish as those on the Mitutoyo and neither do they appear to have been hardened. In the first instance, comparing with the Daniu I closed the jaws against the force of the ratchet, and held it up against the light to spot any imperfections in the way they meet. Against the blue sky through my window I couldn’t see any, but a friend did the same thing against the more intense point source of an electric light and indeed there was the tiniest discernable sliver of light. Not the obvious wedge of light I caught with the Daniu back in 2020 and less than the visible sliver of light when it is measuring a human hair, but definitely enough to knock a few hundredths of a milimetre off my trust in its accuracy.

The next step in the evaluation involves opening the  jaws about half way, and feeling for any play in the thread. None discernable, at least one win over the Daniu which had the barrel flapping around with significant play. Then a zero test, after adjusting the zero position with the spanner a few repeated closings with the ratchet, to check that it always returns to the same zero point. In this case as with all micrometers it’s possible to overshoot the zero and damage the thread if you apply too much force, but just on the ratchet it would land in the same place.  A pass on a couple of tests then, so while it’s not the worst micrometer ever it’s obvious that the low price brings at least one compromise.

A Tiny Discrepancy In Measurement

Opening up the three micrometers from the 2020 piece again it’s immediately obvious in the silky feel of the thread and the lack of wobble in the ratchet just where the money goes in an expensive micrometer, and just how comedically bad the Daniu was by comparison. But it’s the Parkside in our sights today, so it’s time to make a few comparitive measurements between it and the Mitutoyo. First up were the old standbys of a piece of paper and a human hair in which the Parkside returned the same as the Mitutoyo, and then the machined shaft of the Moore & Wright which returned a difference of 0.01 mm.

Parkside Mitutoyo
Sheet of paper 0.12 mm 0.12 mm
Human hair 0.05 mm 0.05 mm
Moore & Wright shaft 6.79 mm 6.80 mm

The discrepancy in this table when measuring the shaft may be small, but it harks back to that sliver of light from imperfectly aligned jaws. As expected if the shaft meets the jaws at anything but the highest point of the jaw it will return a slightly smaller reading, thus it immediately has an error on everything it returns. Discussing it with friends there was raised the intriguing possibility of lapping the faces by drawing a sheet of exceptionally fine abrasive through the closed jaws, however I have my doubts as to whether this would do anything but make the gap worse.

What I can say about the Parkside micrometer screw gauge is that it appears reasonably well-built, but I can’t present it as the equal of the more expensive instruments when its faces are anything but parallel. I would say therefore that it would be good for basic measurements when machining or in CAD work where an error of 0.01 mm or 0.02 mm wouldn’t matter too much, but perhaps I wouldn’t quite trust it when working with extremely fine tolerances. Still, it’s not the worst among cheap micrometers and it’s on sale for a very reasonable price even if it’s not in the same precision instrument league as the Mitutoyo. If you don’t have a micrometer screw gauge yet then you could do a lot worse at this end of the market.

50 thoughts on “Review: Lidl Parkside Micrometer

  1. Ah ….. it’s hard to beat the middle of lidl. I go into this super market with a set budget and often find myself battling between buying a completely non essential charcoal fired pizza oven, or such like, and actual food. Sometimes I lose and have to spend the forthcoming week on a diet of beans on toast.

  2. Beano comic has their own version “Widl”, and the middle aisle often features some exciting products. Often things like portals to other dimensions, or such like. 😃

  3. I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t have a set of feeler guages to test the micrometers with.
    But then, I guess the daughter of a blacksmith has little need for them.

  4. I go for used name brand stuff. Got a used digital 0-25mm Holex-brand micrometer for 40€ a few months ago, never looking back to those manual ones. Holex is a lower-budget sub-brand of a big tooling manufacturer. They sell proper measuring devices. Checked against a standard and it’s bang on.

    Same with calipers: Used Mahr, Mitutoyo, Holex, Starret, … are a thousand times better than the cheap china stuff. Especially when using it a lot.

    I hate the situation when I can’t be certain a measurement is right or might be off… Same with multimeters.

    To be fair LIDL sells some very sweet power tools for the money, especially the Performance series.

    1. Yup. Used good stuff is great. I’ve had a few bits from a friend who works in very high precision engineering, kinda place where they chuck stuff out for being dropped once. I’ve also had some amazing milling bits which are “worn” their definition of worn is less than the accuracy of my CNC. Pays to know what your friends do!

    2. I’ve bought a lot of old very high end metrology equipment, and it’s mostly been successful but sometimes their previous lives result in issues later on. Like, I got an Etalon 1-2″ micrometer that someone had ground the fixed anvil back down a bit so it could fit into a smaller space, and it looked fine, but after using it for a while, the anvil and its mounting pin came loose. They’d been broken loose during grinding and the previous owner had somehow superglued them back in place and readjusted the zero.

    3. I agree, however as long as the cheap tool is repeatable to itself for most folks that is more than enough even if the units are entirely bonkers. When the measurement isn’t awful and in useful units that is really nice but very few folks actually need to make their parts to exactly 25.222222 units on the drawing as long as it is repeatable so the mating parts are made to match each other it could measure in furlongs for all the difference it makes.

      Plus my experience with used stuff is even the highest quality used tools that look fine externally can be worn out or broken enough to be worse than the cheapest tool you can buy – just because it was once a Rolls-Royce of tool doesn’t mean it still is. Though more often than not the high quality brand used stuff is still good, repairable, or at least has solid parts that can be used to improve the quality of the cheap tool.

  5. I really enjoy getting the odd tool from the middle of Lidl, same with Aldi. It’s never going to be a hairloom piece, but for a few tasks its hard to beat. Parkside batteries for the odd outdoor device needing power are a great resource. A pair of Vernier calipers I got from Lidl turned in to decent scales for my cheap lathe, once I stripped and cleaned out the grinding residue, and deburred them.

    For starting out on a budget, or needing an occational use, they have a great price to performance ratio.

    As with everything, cut your cloth to suit your purse, comes to mind.

  6. my $20 “GENERAL” branded micrometer is one of those tools that shames me. my needs are such that i rarely need it at all (i use digital calipers with the digital part removed for ~0.1mm precision), and when i do, i am just astonished i seem to be able to read off to an effectively infinite precision. and here it just sits in my damp and dirty basement, accumulating cricket poop just like everything else.

    i’m sure i could get by with the lidl one :)

  7. Fun article but hard to imagine a situation where working to that level of tolerance is indicated but the cost of decent measuring tools wasn’t either justified right then and there, or the kind of person doing this work regularly wouldn’t have a nice instrument already. FWIW a mitutoyo mike on a large online auction house goes for about $35

    1. I was thinking exactly along the same lines.

      If you don’t need the precision, then a decent set of calipers would probably do the deed.

      If you need the precision then, ‘dirt’ cheap, as opposed to seeking good, ‘secondhand’ cheap, would seem to be a very poor investment, even at these low, low prices.

      I’m stumped trying to think what I would use a micrometer for given a hypothetical situation where I didn’t care about the accuracy enough to warrent using a decent one?

      1. Comparison readings.
        I have used my cheapie to determine which shaft has a thicker diameter, 🤔 or drill bit sizes, what size of hole to drill for a bolt
        Or by rotating the shaft to see if it is round or ellipsoidal.
        It is good enough to guide me in the dimensions I need when ordering parts or stock.

      2. As Ren says, as well as being a good way to get into the ballpark with the ‘disposable’ measuring tool being handy and the great quality one well hidden from all the dangers of the workshop until you are in that final nth and actually need to really be able to trust the precision.

  8. I also go shop to Lidl to check out the odd gadget here and there. However, you do get what you pay for. Some of the stuff is surprisingly decent – e.g. the Parkside PSTD 800 jigsaw if you don’t mind the weight – it is built like a tank.

    And the other stuff is really really bad, such as the PLS 48 D2 soldering iron ( You would do a better soldering job with a heated nail than that thing.

    So it does pay to actually check reviews before buying any shop equipment there – it is cheap but not *that* cheap and for a little more money one could often get a better quality brand name product at Bauhaus or OBI (German home improvement chains) nearby.

    Most of the rest of the non-food stuff are simply expensive rebrands of generic cheap products from China and there is little point in buying them from there.

  9. There is so much in the way of good used Mitutoyo, Starrett, and Browne and Sharp name brand micrometers on Ebay I don’t see the need to trouble yourself trying to get substandard stuff to give acceptable results. Even if you are a hobby machinist, I would say that measurement instruments are not the place to cheap out. You use them for stuff like calibrating your other tools so any discrepancies there will snowball their way through your entire shop. You may not need precision to the thousandth but it is nice to work to the highest standard possible to know what your real error is. I think the last time I bought a micrometer I got a digital Mitutoyo that read to tenths of thou for less than 40 bucks.

      1. I find that to be completely false. I find it is ONLY precision tools that tend to hold their value. Off brand stuff is usually what will never sell anywhere near what it was bought for. Starrett is often overpriced- but tends to hold it’s value when taken care of. The used tools I am usually looking at though are fairly exotic and sometimes over 60 or 70 years old and still hold quite a value.

        I think everybody knows though your Harbor Freight micrometers are not going to hold their “value”.

    1. Almost all my precision measuring tools are Starrett, when I was just starting out and didn’t have much money I bought some cheap stuff and they were just not right, so I stuck with Starrett and they were fine tools and had a great “feel” never regretted buying to very good quality tools, lasted a long time not just Starrett, and I would see other people buy cheap tools over and over, they wasted a lot of money

  10. It’s not like Jenny knows a Calibration engineer with the ability to actually measure the flatness/parallelism with optical flats and a monochromatic light source. Also access to some nice ceramic gauge blocks in a Cal lab at 20°C

  11. I’m biased, as I machine for a living. While many of my personal tools are swiss & german, I find it very hard to not recommend Mitutoyo. As far as true quality goes at the lowest price it is nearly impossible to beat them. If you actually need measuring tools of proper real accuracy I have yet to see anything less than perfect from them and they are normally priced below anyone else serious.

    I understand for hobbyists that people are at a budget as I do my own work as well but my thinking is if you need an actual micrometer, it’s highly likely you need something very accurate. So my reasoning is it stands to reason your tool should be absolutely correct. Basic Mitutoyo micrometers are honestly the best you will find for the price.

    If you have more $, you can pay for Starrett, but the quality is the same or better. Things higher end like Etalon exist, but budget and micrometer are never two words I put together.

  12. Buy a cheap tool, it breaks, buy an expensive tool it breaks. Im torn between the “it all comes from the same factory” and “brand name tools received some more care at the factory”. Even after care is just a total hit and miss. #limbo

  13. Great review and comments, especially the recommendation for Mitutoyo.

    I’m not likely to become a machinist, but I have a $10 digital caliper that’s been more than sufficient for the level of work I occasionally do. Nice to learn that inexpensive gear is improving so much.

  14. I agree that this level of precision is absolutely adequate and sufficient for the needs of anyone even considering buying a micrometer in a food store. Where I disagree is that nobody should be using ANY tool with a nominal resolution of 0.01mm to measure ANYTHING where a dimension really needs to be 0.50 flat instead of 0.51 or 0.49, regardless of what brand is it. You’re supposed to be using a ~0.001mm~ tool for that.

  15. I have one that I test against gauge blocks, and god, it is awful for a micrometer.
    The anvils are not true, so that’s a no-no from the start.
    Measurement sare false by a good 2 to 3/100 (accuracy and repetability), even worse if you are not carreful.
    Oh and if you say that it’s not an issue, it is. My lidl digital caliper is better even if it’s not the right tool for precision measurements.
    It’s too expensive for the given quality, there is good chinese micrometers for not a lot more (12€ for a shahe for example).
    In the end it will end up as a micrometer stop, where accuracy is not really important.

  16. after literally burning through 4 (four) pieces of different Parkside power tools plus one pack of tacks that standard staple gun shoots two at a time (due to sub-standard width of tacks) I will not buy anything technical form lidl again. That is unless I want to goof around with hardening and quenching drills

  17. This article and comments got me to take another look at the circuit board of my Mitutoyo vernier caliper. (Replacements NLA) Maybe someday I’ll get it working again. I didn’t see any suitable parts during a web search.

  18. By the way, I am not sure if it is as good as it used to be, as it has been decades since my last visit, but the Parkside restaurant in Corona, Queens, NYC used to be a great place to dine!

  19. Hi,
    I’ve got that same micrometer. Held it up against the quite bright light as well and saw not a single photon passing through. Maybe yours is a Monday production? Maybe I got lucky? Who knows.
    Sadly i can not find out about it’s precision, as i got nothing to compare it against, but for my needs it’s probably fine anyways… Unless it’s not and i have to get a 100 € proper version of that Intrument someday. Really the only thing that concerns me just a little bit is that a small section on the outer section of the face of the screw sems to have ben sanded in a different direction but since no visible amount of light is passing through the closed micrometer, i don’t think, this is too much of an issue.

    1. The ones I bought have carbide measuring faces, you can see them as they are a dark grey as opposed to the stainless shaft. I bought them for a laugh to give to the calibration guy and after a laugh he tested them and gave them a calibration number as they were fine to use.

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