Last updated: October 15, 2021

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Welcome to our big protractor test 2021. Here we present all the protractors we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best protractor for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a protractor.




Summary

  • The task of protractors is to measure angles and make it easier for you to enter or adopt them. In principle, a distinction is made between digital and analogue protractors.
  • Modern protractors sometimes offer additional functions such as calculating the mitre angle or an integrated spirit level in the form of a bubble.
  • Depending on various criteria, such as the dimensions, the weight, the material, the measuring range and the measuring accuracy, protractors can be compared with each other.

The best protractor: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a protractor

What is a protractor?

With a protractor, also called a degree meter, you can measure or draw in angles precisely. The best-known protractor is probably the circle drawn on a set square. In crafts, however, it is referred to as a tool with which you can also place one or two legs on workpieces in order to be able to work more precisely.

Did you know that modern protractors have been around since the 17th century?

Back then, sailors used graphs to keep their ships on course. Simple geometers are even older. The Egyptians used them as early as 5,000 years ago.

However, these measuring instruments can look very different and can also be used for different purposes. In the craft sector there are digital protractors, where you read the angle on a display, and analogue protractors. The classic ones usually have a semicircular disc on which the angle can be read.

Protractors have only two crucial functions: To measure angles and to make it easier to enter or adopt them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the protractor compared to angle hooks, bevels or clinometers?

Protractors have different functions than the alternatives mentioned, but are very similar to them.

The simplest protractor on the building site is the L-shaped angle hook, which quickly reveals 90 degrees. However, the protractors we are talking about here can do much more. You can choose which measuring range your protractor should cover and the accuracy of the degree indication to the decimal place also varies depending on the knife.

A bevel is primarily used to measure an angle. You place the two legs on the corresponding planes, screw the bevel tight, and then transfer this angle to your workpiece, for example, which is to be adjusted to the planes. However, unlike the knife, the angle bevel cannot usually tell how many degrees the angle is.

A clinometer, on the other hand, indicates the angle of inclination of its base to the horizontal. It consists of a small box with a display and is placed on the plane whose angle to the ground is to be measured. An inclinometer is therefore used for completely different purposes than the clinometer.

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Protractors, as the name suggests, are used to measure angles. Unlike the angle hook, which always shows a 90 degree angle, they are adjustable. So they can be used to detect the degree of any angle. (Photo: edwardolive / 123RF.com)

Decision: What types of protractors are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, one can distinguish between three different types of protractors:

  • Analogue protractor
  • Digital protractor
  • Theodolite

All types offer different advantages as well as disadvantages, which are mainly determined by their place of use and intended purpose. The choice of the right protractor or goniometer, as the instrument is called in technical jargon, depends on various factors. One should consider in advance for which purposes a protractor is needed.

Depending on the working environment, be it at home, at work or on a construction site, different protractors are more or less recommended. Along with this, you should also consider whether the protractor will be used privately by a hobby craftsman or professionally by a craftsman or architect.

In the following section, we will take a look at the functions and differences of the individual protractors and compare the advantages and disadvantages of the instruments in detail. We will also show you which type of protractor is best suited for you.

What distinguishes an analogue protractor and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Analogue protractors are the simplest type and are very easy to handle and use. Usually, analogue protractors consist of a round or semicircular disc of various materials, which are equipped with a graduation, usually one or half a degree.

Advantages
  • Relatively cheap
  • Easy handling
Disadvantages
  • Measuring accuracy

Most models also have a swivelling ruler with millimetre graduations to put on. Analogue protractors are best for smaller tasks such as measuring room walls, ceilings and floors.

Analogue protractors are cheap to buy and easy to use. However, an analogue protractor is nowhere near as accurate and precise in measuring as professional protractors and is not capable of measuring two dimensions at the same time.

Did you know that a protractor belongs to the generic term goniometer?

Goniometer comes from the Greek words gōnia (angle) and métron (measure) and is the technical term for measuring instruments.

What distinguishes a digital protractor and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The digital protractor is similar to the analogue protractor in its use and mode of operation, but has some significant differences. In terms of appearance, the digital protractor resembles a folding rule. However, it has a display that shows the exact angle when applied.

Advantages
  • Allows precise measurements
  • Easy to read
  • Multi-purpose use
Disadvantages
  • Relatively expensive
  • Battery operated

The digital protractor measures many times more precisely than the analogue protractor and is therefore more suitable for professional use. The range of application of the digital protractor coincides with that of the analogue one and can also be used as a spirit level or clinometer. The biggest disadvantage is the dependence on batteries as a power source.

What distinguishes a theodolite and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A theodolite consists of a telescopic sight, a horizontal and a vertical circle and several vials mounted on a tripod. Theodolites are mostly used in building construction because they allow the simultaneous measurement of horizontal and vertical angles.

Advantages
  • Exact measurement
  • Horizontal and vertical angles can be measured simultaneously
Disadvantages
  • Very expensive
  • Requires space

Theodolites are available in inexpensive optical-mechanical versions and in electronic versions. Theodolites cannot be recommended for home use, as their size and price make them best suited for use on construction sites and other large-scale projects.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate protractors

In the previous sections you have gained a good insight into the most important considerations when buying a protractor. In the following, we will show you which criteria you should pay particular attention to and how you can weigh them up. In this way, you will find a protractor that is tailored to your needs.

These are the features of protractors that we will explain to you here:

  • Dimensions
  • Weight
  • Material
  • Digital or analogue
  • Measuring range
  • Measuring accuracy
  • Integrated spirit level

On our product pages you will find information on each of the listed features. With our explanations of the individual points, you can think about what your protractor should be like and choose an appropriate product.

Dimensions and weight

The dimensions can vary greatly, and for some purposes it is better to use a bevel that fits comfortably in your pocket. If you want to keep the protractor in your toolbox, you must of course make sure that the dimensions are within reasonable limits.

Most protractors are very narrow, but all the longer for that. The longer the leg, the more accurately the angle can be taken or determined. However, you should calculate with a length of at least 25 centimetres.

The weight of these small tools, on the other hand, is rather negligible. However, there are gauges starting at 200 grams, which are of course much lighter than those that weigh almost a kilo.

Material

There are many different materials for these gauges. Most are made of steel or aluminium, but there are also some made of plastic or even cardboard.

Digital or analogue

Digital protractors, where you can simply read the degree on the LCD display, are becoming increasingly popular. However, their analogue competitors continue to find a place in the market.

These classic protractors consist of a semicircle or full circle that, together with a leg, allowed the angle to be determined. Even today, many still prefer to rely on the analogue angle reading, which also works without a battery and does not cause any trouble.

Nevertheless, the angle gauges with LCD displays are becoming more and more common and are pushing back the conventional models. The angle can be read off conveniently in digital figures and storage is also more practical.

Of course, you can immediately recognise the measuring range of analogue protractors because a semicircle has 180 degrees. But with digital protractors, you should pay attention to the information on the respective product.

Measuring range and accuracy

The measuring range sometimes goes from zero to 180, 220 or 360 degrees. It depends on the product. Depending on your requirements, it can also be very important how accurate the indication of your degree meter is.

This can vary greatly with digital displays, which, by the way, sometimes have a measuring range of up to 360 degrees. The accuracy of the angle is especially important for large projects. The longer your workpiece, the greater the difference, which can be as little as 0.5 degrees.

Conventional protractors usually have a range of zero to 180 degrees, as they usually consist of a semicircle. Full circles logically go up to 360 degrees, but the measuring range of digital products can deviate from this.

Integrated spirit level

Some modern protractors have even more functions than just measuring or entering angles. They often have an integrated spirit level. With a built-in spirit level, some protractors can also determine whether something is horizontal. Most also have a vertical spirit level. With these features, you can save yourself a second device.

Facts worth knowing about protractors

In what other areas are protractors used?

The protractor is not only an indispensable tool in the trades, but also in many other areas. A goniometer, as the measuring device is usually called in medicine, is always used when an angle needs to be determined.

As already mentioned, medicine is one of the significant fields of application for goniometers. Physiotherapists in particular use it to detect joint angles. Other medical fields also use this tool. Furthermore, a protractor is part of the nautical cutlery. In navigation, people navigated for a long time with compasses, triangles, protractors and sharpened pencils.

When buying a protractor, you should be well aware of its different functions. Protractors for craftsmen have certain features that can be very useful in building and handicrafts, but are neglected in other protractors.

One such feature could be that your protractor has edges to rest against the workpiece or is equipped with a spirit level.

Picture source: 123rf.com / 15209563

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