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Thread: Straight Edge recommendations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    New Jersey

    Straight Edge recommendations

    Looking for a reliable straight edge between 72" and 96" long. Any recommendations on something economical?

    I'd be using this for setting jointer table outfeed and checking jointed edges and tops for tables for flat.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So Cal
    Have look at Suburban tools they gone up a bit since I bought from them. They are good quality they ship in a thick cardboard tube.

    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Stone Mountain, GA
    At this length I don't think there is anything economical. You might get lucky with a piece of extruded aluminium or a nice level but they aren't spec'ed to a sufficient level of accuracy.

    I think I would make shop-made straight edges, tuned to spec with a handplane. At this length sag and stiffness is an issue, so the straightedges need to be quite deep. I think I would make them like an I-beam- 1/2" mdf or BB web set into grooves in hard maple (or some other close-grained and hard species) caps, maybe 6" or 8" deep in total. Kind of like a manufactured floor joist.

    Make them with keys or dowel holes so they can be locked together repeatably for match planing. Work them as a pair with a jointer plane and then check one edge against the other. Whatever gap you see should be twice the actual error. In theory you really need three straightedges to ensure straightness from checking against each other, but I think match planing should prevent most of the error (like matching up a concave with a convex surface- with match planing they will both be the same shape).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Lancaster, Ohio
    FOR ME I use something like this
    some people have the talent and patience needed to work with better straight edges which can top $10000 for an 8 footer. There was a discussion in the last month either here or another board that got heated over quality of the straight edge needed. Everyone has a different level of precision and an amount they are willing to spend to achieve that.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    I think the only economical thing that long would be a carpenters or construction level.
    I recently received this 50” straight edge for about $45 and it works well for all the uses you mention!85381!US!-1
    Last edited by Mark Daily; 12-30-2019 at 12:33 PM.

  6. #6
    When faced with the same dilemma I ended up with the 50" Taylor straightedge from Amazon for about $40. I think Veritas offers the same length for about the same price.

    I don't know your definition of economical, but there is a 72" Starrett on Amazon for $671.

    At the other end of the continuum is a 72" aluminum straight edge from Johnson Tools for about $20. My guess is that it would not be appropriate for machinist tasks and is probably aimed at drywallers and framers. Home Depot probably has something similar.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    New Jersey
    Thanks for the quick recommendations, guys.

    I've gotten reco's on the Starrett, but it's a little pricey for what I think I need.

    I am going to try the non-name 50". These are offered by several dealers online I see.

    I have had luck with the Peach Tree 24" and 38" versions.

  8. #8
    My Festool tracks do double duty as tracks for the track saw and straight edges.
    My Makita tracks - sort of...
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Houston, Texas
    Prashun, go to a local commercial glass and glazing company and ask them for a scrap or left-over, full-length piece of their curtainwall framing material, or a piece of framing they'd use for an interior glass wall conference room in a commercial office buildout. It's all extruded aluminum, and it's almost always at least nine feet long. They'll have all kinds of profiles, but the most common one will be a 'channel' type profile.
    Don't let it bring you down,
    It's only castles burning,
    Just find someone who's turning,
    And you will come around

    Neil Young (with a little bit of emphasis added by me)

    Board member, Gulf Coast Woodturners Association

  10. #10
    I don't think a person could pick up an actual 8 foot straight edge by themselves. I have a few beam and camel back styles and after 4 feet long they are stupid heavy. All mine have been ground and scraped in.

    Those are overkill for jointer tables.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Prashun, here's what I bought . When Grizzly shipped it to me, I found one end was 0.003 out of tolerance. They shipped me a new one, told me to keep the defective one. The new one met the advertised tolerances. Now, when I need something close like measuring a piece of wood I have the defective one hanging on the side of a cabinet and use it. I used a punch to mark the one with the 0.003 defect at one end. The good one is in it's leather cover inside that same cabinet to use when I check equipment setup.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 12-30-2019 at 2:46 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    I originally bought a Starrett 4'. It was pricey, heavy and came bent due to bad packaging by Starrett.

    I sent it back and bought the 50" Veritas aluminum. I know that it's technically less accurate than steel, but it seems to be excellent and I reach for it frequently and enjoy using it. I think it's a good buy at $94.50.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Princeton, NJ
    Blog Entries
    I have a Starrett en route. If it arrives intact and checks out, you are welcome to use it for comparison to what you purchase.

    A camelback in 8’ is not practical but they can be exceptionally accurate if they’re scraped in.

    Starrett calls out .0002” per foot, so on 6’ that is .0012”. Plenty good, it it’s truly that accurate. Sub tool calls out .0005” per foot, so 6’ is .003”. Probably good enough and most likely sub tool is probably doing better than the number they call out.

    If you can stand to wait, buy a piece of long MDF, triple it up, run 4 bolts into it and adjust those bolts to match the Starrett.

    I have one hard rule, Accurate straight edges only leave the shop for inspection. Beyond that, every move they make just one more potential situation in which they may be damaged.

    Be sure yo support them if you buy one, a sagging straight edge is often due to support, I have a short camelback on 6” thick x 4” thick ash, flattened and bolted to the wall.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Columbus, OH
    I have the no-name 50" straight edge. Thy advertised .005" over it's total length, as far as I can tell, it's under .002" (my smallest feeler gauge) and that's more than enough for me to do everything I need to with it, especially for woodworking.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Cambridge Vermont
    Just curious what people are using to verify the straightness of a straight edge. I worked for a company that made passenger cars for Amtrak and they had a grade A granite 4'x8' surface plate. Of course the plate was a mile away from a granite quarry that made it so it was kind of a source of pride for the QA department. With that table it would be easy to verify how accurate a straight edge is.

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