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Thread: Best Combination Square Under $100?

  1. #1

    Best Combination Square Under $100?

    I am looking to buy a new 12" 4R combination square and would like to keep the cost under $100. I've consider the PEC and Benchmark. Any opinions on these brands or other brands?

  2. #2
    Don't know if you have access to flea markets in your location but I've picked up lightly used Starrett and Mitutoyo combination squares for way less than $100 at a local flea market. I have both with 18" rules. Flea markets are a great place to pick up tools if you know what you're looking for.

  3. #3
    Good idea Mike. Also estate sales. I'll look into that.

  4. #4
    I would spend the extra money on the Starrett. A good square is one of the foundations of woodworking. Knowing it is square is crucial. This is a tool you buy once and keep it for a long time, so why be frugal here. Woodworking is a really expensive thing saving a bit on something this important seems strange to me.

    I tried a PEC square and it wasn’t square. Returned it tried another, not square either. I’ve tried quite a few, really not worth it to me.

  5. #5
    Appreciate the advice Jason. I'm still fairly new, so just trying to understand where to spend money and where to save a little. Obviously knowing your square is square and the measurements are accurate is key to any project.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    201
    I bought a PEC blem from Taylor Toolworks and it works great! Also a 6" double square. Both nice quality.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
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    1,535
    A good quality square is a tool that will get a lot of use and accuracy counts with this tool.

    Don't scrimp on the quality here. Go Starrett.

  8. #8
    Aside from checking wood, as you gather more tools, which will happen if you like woodworking, you will need to be checking alignments for fences, sleds, jigs etc. without a good square you’re lost. I’d venture to say a square you can count on is THE MOST valuable tool in your shop. In 5 years will you miss the extra $40, probably not, but the Starrett will still be square.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Ogden, UT
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    958
    I always took combo squares as 'slightly out of square,' and used them as such. Then again, I don't think that having my square tell me 12" at 90 degrees when it's really 12.015" at 90.1 degrees is really a big deal. I'm going to mark it with a mechanical pencil held at some angle then I'm going to take the pencil mark and use a fence and cutting tool (or similar) to get as close to that mark as possible.

    In other words, I personally choose high quality tools over super high quality measuring devices. Assuming the OP has to make a trade off, which may not be the case. I also find that using things like "story sticks" and templates and doing all my repetitive cuts at once is really the difference between high quality vs low quality and I'm not sure that a super accurate vs pretty darn accurate initial measurement would have changed the end result for me.

    my .02 for what's worth: yes, spend less than $100 and yes, flea markets are the best.

    edit: and that's a fair point someone made about checking the accuracy of your tools. That's definitely important. I do try to have some quality measuring devices for that (machinist square, straight edge, level, etc.). I don't put a combo square in that category myself. To each their own.
    Last edited by andrew whicker; 01-11-2022 at 2:21 PM.

  10. #10
    I was looking at those - they are out of stock of the blem ones.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Hagens View Post
    I am looking to buy a new 12" 4R combination square and would like to keep the cost under $100. I've consider the PEC and Benchmark. Any opinions on these brands or other brands?
    Forget PEC, I know you said under $10 but buy a Starrett, currently $114 on Amazon and have seen it under $100.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    6,643
    I have a number of Starrett combination squares of different sizes in shops, but the one that stays in my toolbelt when I have it on is a 20 year old Craftsman with a stainless steel blade. I remember trying every one hanging on the peg in the Sears store the day I selected that one. It was the only one that locked easily, and securely. It's still good. The stainless blade is a good thing.

  13. #13
    Thanks Andrew - appreciate the thoughtful comment. Very good point about relative measurements once you have the initial measurement. I really looking for something middle of the road thought that I could find that for around $50-100. Compared to my HD combo square that I bought for $12, that will be a nice upgrade.

    I do need to get a reference tool that I know is dead on, so maybe I should pick up a machinist square first.

    Woodworking isn't that exact (like machining)....that's what a little glue/sawdust mixture is for

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    2,148
    Matt like others have already said the Starret is the one to buy. It will last and stay accurate, also as you mentioned just starting out this will be a tool you never have to upgrade. Brown & Sharp is another old brand that is equal to a Starret ,I have a 6'' one that I found on the auction site.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Kees View Post
    Matt like others have already said the Starret is the one to buy. It will last and stay accurate, also as you mentioned just starting out this will be a tool you never have to upgrade. Brown & Sharp is another old brand that is equal to a Starret ,I have a 6'' one that I found on the auction site.

    This is true, 2 of Starretts I bought (6 and 12) I bought in 1991 for school are still in use today , the 6 needs a tune up as i have a nasty habit of taking the blade out/in which probably contributed to wearing the seat, but its not much, I cant even guess how much I have built using that 6 but it has always been in my pocket/apron when I build - used in school professionally for many years and now hobby, i think i will update my will to be buried with it.

    The 12 is still dead square.

    @ $

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