Shop Made Try Square

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Project by ChunkyC posted 10-31-2010 01:05 AM 4148 views 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shop Made Try Square
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Just a simple project for this morning that I made it from scrap 1/2” BB Ply. I got the idea from an article in one of the woodworking mags, I believe it was FWW. In that article, the author used acrylic for his squares but I didn’t want to go through all of that hence the BB Ply. Also, I used BB because I hate try squares. They always seem to be too big or two small. This one is has a 12” blade and an 8” handle, both 2-1/2” wide. In hind sight, I probably could have made both a little narrower but the large size is nice to hold on to but it just looks a tad ‘off.’

Does anyone know how much BB Ply “moves” with the changes is humidity? I figured that plywood was less susceptible to movement over solid wood but I don’t know that for certain.


-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

7 comments so far

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3786 days

#1 posted 10-31-2010 03:43 AM

Looking good. As for looks, they don’t mean squat if it isn’t square, and if it works good, then it looks great to me.

I doubt you will see any noticeable movement out of square with BB (the cross-grain construction pretty much eliminates it, especially in a small item like this) but I would seal it well, especially the edges. One way to get the edges tightened up is to brush on several coats of thinned PVA glue (I.e. Titebond, Elmers, etc).

I would then use a good varnish or poly to minimize any warping from any large amount of moisture penetrating one side more than the other. Plywood is if anything more susceptible to warping because the moisture will penetrate the outside ply on one side and is stopped by the glue. That ply expands and causes it to bow. Solid wood will do the same, but in my experience, this is more pronounced with plywood.

I love to see people making their own tools.


-- Go

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3253 days

#2 posted 10-31-2010 05:19 AM

As for square, it’s as square as the best square that I own and it passes the “line” test. I put two coats of satin poly u on it for protection. I’ve hung it up so I’ll see if I ever get it down and use it. lol

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View gary351's profile


97 posts in 2795 days

#3 posted 10-31-2010 05:41 PM

It looks good ! cutting something square has not yet been achieved on my ts.

-- A poor man has poor way's

View Marty Backe's profile

Marty Backe

251 posts in 2771 days

#4 posted 02-10-2011 06:50 AM

I’m curious, what was the process that you used to assemble the square so that it was square?

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3253 days

#5 posted 02-10-2011 08:15 PM


It’s easy actually. All you need is a board that is flat and parallel and a couple of clamps. I often times will use an Aluminum 4’ rule in lieu of a flat and parallel board. Don’t glue your try square just yet. Use a clamp to keep it fixed until we have fined tuned the angle.

Step one:

Clamp your board to your workbench. The angle at this point is not important.

Step two:

Place your new try square against the board and the table like so:

And clamp the blade of your try square to the handle so that it doesn’t move.

Step three:

Now flip your try square to the opposite side of the board like so:

Now adjust your board on the work bench. Remember that the difference between the board and the try square is TWICE the error. So move the board about half way.

Step four:

Repeat steps 1 through 3 until the no difference between your square and the board on the work bench.

It doesn’t take that long. I can usually get it square in about 4 times through.

Hope this helps.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View Marty Backe's profile

Marty Backe

251 posts in 2771 days

#6 posted 02-11-2011 05:36 AM


Thanks for the explanation, but I have to admit it’s a little confusing to me, but that’s probably me. However, I’m pretty confident in being able to check for squareness.

I probably didn’t express my question clearly. I was really after your process for assembling the square so that it was square. For instance, are you using a butt joint (probably not), saddle joint, half lap, mortise & tenon, etc.

In your description above you talk about clamping the pieces together until you’ve arrive at squareness. But what are you adjusting in the joint (and how are now making the adjustment) to make it square, and how do you glue it up and and keep it square during the gluing and clamping stage?

That’s what I should have asked. Sorry for the lengthy follow-up, and please don’t feel obligated to write a treatise on the subject ;-)

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 3253 days

#7 posted 02-11-2011 06:40 AM

No treatise but will a dissertation do? lol

It’s a bridle joint, or at least that’s what I would call it. I use the same thickness stock for the handle as I do the blade. The handle is two pieces of stock.

Step one is to create a “half lap” joint for the handle. But instead of using it as a half lap joint, I use it as a bridle joint. (It looks like a dado has been cut out of the end of the handle just wide enough for the blade to fit in it.) I then glue the two pieces of the handle and wait for it to cure. Clean up the edges so that they are perpendicular to one another and square the ends.

Then I use the process above to get the board square. Next, I glue the blade into the bridle joint and place the try square against the board so that it’s square. The add a couple of clamps to the square.

It’s really quite simple once you work it out in your head.

Maybe someone could correct me if it’s not a bridle joint?

I can post some pics of the square tomorrow if that would help.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

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