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Thread: Price point for a good square

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    499
    Good advice already here, I am just an echo.

    1. How square can you really cut or shape once you have a perfect mark?

    2. There are plenty of cheap tools out there more square than I can cut.

    Derek Cohen I am not. He functions at a level I am not likely to achieve in this lifetime. He has talent, I am trying to build what skill I do have. My best square, long term, real life, has been an aluminum casting roofing square, a speed square. I bought it in the 1990s for 10 or 12 dollars. I have dropped it off several roofs, many of them second floor and one of them a third floor roof. I can still lay it on a factory plywood edge, make a knife mark, flip it, and make another knife mark more parallel to the first straighter than I can cut. My idea of caring for it is to set it gently on a concrete floor rather than dropping it from waist height. Over the course of decades in real life I am not happy with any of the wood insert squares I have purchased. I have three combination squares that have become junk combination parts with still accurate steel rules. Combination squares wear out. There should still be a good steel ruler in there, but they (the part that makes a square) wear out.

    When I need a new square I go to Lowes-Depot, grab one of those 2x2 foot pieces with a factory edge showing and then head to the tool department with my marking knife to pick a new square. Often cheaper to buy a 4x8 sheet rather than a 2x2 offcut if you can tote it home. Someday if I become good enough I might invest in a square not from the home store, but it will make me nervous to not have a factory edge and a marking knife when picking the one I want.

  2. #32
    For me, the Starrett stuff is the best. It's a fine tool and is just nice to use compared to an iGauging or something else. I have a 4" and a 12" that I use all the time. Terrific rulers, good threads to tighten, etc. I also have a iGauging double square that is crude in comparison.

    Put me in the Woodpeckers is overpriced and not great category. I used to run a machine shop. Any of their tools without assembly are at most $30 parts. And aluminum is not dimensionally stable like steel. But, I may get called a heretic and burned for this!

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,796
    Sorry Scott - I guess I get carried away.

    I've been building furniture for some decades now, and have upgraded many of these tools in recent years. The squares that have remained with me are a 12" Starrett combo and a 6" Starrett double square. I mentioned this early on in this thread. I also mentioned Chris Vester squares. Now I have an alternative to Chris' work - machinist squares. Seriously, if I was starting from scratch, I would want a 6-7" machinist square for most work, and a 4" square for joinery. It is possible to pick these up really cheaply. Even Groz make passable ones. The only criteria is that they are accurate. Do the flip test before laying out your money. I'd still add a 12" Starrett combo only. Cry once.

    Make your own lay out square ...







    I cannot resist, once again, get this square ... the Magic Square ...



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
    Posts
    6,400
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    I don't know about Lowes, but Home Depot has their squares packaged so you can't check them in the store. (Without being a jerk and ripping open the package.)
    Yeah that stinks. I've bought framing squares by finding the flattest surface practical in the store and comparing squares back to back. When I find two that agree I buy one or both. I figure the odds of two squares having exactly complementary errors is pretty slim. When checking a square against a flat edge draw a line and flipping it, I draw two lines about one 1/16" apart. I find it pretty easy to see if the two lines are parallel or not, easier than one line overlaying the other.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    55,588
    "Do I really need great accuracy in measuring tools? After all, I'm working in wood, not metal."

    The answer is certainly subjective but I've come to appreciate having accurate tools for layout, even if my, um...execution...isn't always perfect. I'd rather screw something up because of my ineptitude than because my measuring tools made it impossible to at least attempt to achieve an accurate cut/joint/whatever. As some have pointed out, it's not always the price that counts...it's the specific tool. Johnny mentioned a combo square he got from HFT that apparently was dead on for $12. I bought some used Starrett products and they were also dead-on, even after I bought replacement scales for metric which is now my preference. And I'm sure that some folks have plunked down some big coin on tools that are supposed to be uber accurate but were disappointed because the specific tool they have in-hand wasn't quite there. So I would say pick your reasonable upper budget number, buy the "best" you can find within it and immediately test it when you receive it. If it's accurate, get to work. If it's not accurate, send it back and try something else.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #36
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Morocco IN
    Posts
    1,092
    The Magic Square is one of my favorites.

    Just counted them and I have 13 squares in the shop. Most used are the 12" Starrett, the 6" IGaging, the Woodpeckers 6" saddle square. And the Lee Valley Small Double Square gets a good work out when dovetailing.
    You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens.
    Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.
    - Bob Curtin

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    5,564
    Lambtoolworks makes a great square. For me an accurate larger and a smaller square are a necessity, regardless of working wood, not metal. A jointer fence not set at 90 will screw up my life. setting the crosscut fence on either a shaper or sliding saw needs to be very accurate or the flaw will multiply over 8' to something that causes problems and screws up efficiency. Cutting copes just slightly off will make your passage or even cabinet door out of square enough to give you fits. I've found I use Brian Lamb's square with most projects. Dave

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    3,125
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Ruud View Post
    And remember to check both sides of the blade. The inside of my Empire square is bang on, but the outside is not.
    OK Paul, that is what I call a reality check for me. Never thought to test both sides..... <sigh>.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    499
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Sorry Scott - I guess I get carried away.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    I don't know that exact smiley, please excuse me if I picked the wrong tangent. Never ever apologize for using your talents to their fullest. Mine aren't in woodworking, but I do sometimes in my shop ask myself what would Jim K do? What would Steven N do? and so on and so on, what would Derek C do? I find y'all as a group inspiring, not irritating.

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    2,418
    Still cracking up from that Magic Square, Derek. And wiping coffee off my screen.
    - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein
    - Without quitters, stampedes would never end
    - The difference between an amateur and professional is that the amateur practices until he gets it right. The professional practices until he can't get it wrong

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