Wooden Shop Squares

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Project by oldwolf posted 1205 days ago 3565 views 19 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Squares of all kinds are an important shop tool. but sometimes just the exercise of building your own tool helps you better understand that tool on a deeper level. A couple months ago Chris Schwarz over at Pop Wood Magazine got my attention when he started blogging about a square Patrick Leach posted on his monthly tool list. They were calling it an English Layout Square.

I don’t make a habit of building things from magazines but I became kind of enamored of this square from first sight, and if you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for making my own tools. the largest square is the same dimensions as the one built by Mr. Schwarz. after a friend gave me an idea I decided to make a teardrop hole at the corner to hang a small plumb bob from. This made the tool not only a nice large layout square, but also upgraded it to a A-Frame level also known as a Libella.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone there either. I wanted a smaller version so I didn’t have to juggle the larger one on smaller pieces. So I built one at half the size. Then I figured I might as well go ahead and make a Roubo style wooden try square as well. I can be nothing if not compulsive at times.

If you want to read your way through the entire build you can find lots more information on my blog located at

All three squares are Mahogany and the dark wooden pins are an exotic that I am unsure of the species, (I cut them from blank brought home in a turner’s grab bag from Woodcraft) I am told the species is probably African Blackwood, but your guess is as good as mine.

The length of the arms of the large square is 21” the smaller square has 10 1/2” arms and the Roubo has a 12” blade and 8” handle.

Thanks for looking,

-- Oldwolf -

8 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


112002 posts in 2182 days

#1 posted 1205 days ago

Cool this are fantastic looking squares, Great job.

-- Custom furniture

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 2629 days

#2 posted 1205 days ago

I think you’re hooked on these things! You’re going to have me wanting to make some. Nice!

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11099 posts in 1710 days

#3 posted 1205 days ago

Very nice squares. thanks fo sharing!!!!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View deeman's profile


370 posts in 1685 days

#4 posted 1204 days ago

Always cool to make your own tools, although Grampa never thought so

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

View Maveric777's profile


2687 posts in 1681 days

#5 posted 1204 days ago

I know I for one am inspired. Very good stuff! Look forward to seeing a few of my own around the shop soon.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View drbyte's profile


557 posts in 2667 days

#6 posted 1204 days ago

Great squares! I made an ‘Egyptian Level” with a plumb bob. I find it to be more accurate than my bubble levels although a little bit harder to fuss with. I’m not sure what it’s called, maybe a ‘set square’. It’s kinda shaped like an F with a small bob hanging from the top. I plan to build the triangle with the bob also. Fascinating stuff to say the least.

-- Dennis, WV

View darkhollow's profile


56 posts in 1122 days

#7 posted 1121 days ago

Beautiful tools. i always appreciate such a great blend of function and aesthetics, and craftsman-made tools.

-- You say Luddite like it's a bad thing ...

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 1008 days

#8 posted 872 days ago

Excellent work. There’s an episode of the Woodright’s Shop available for viewing at the show’s website. Scharwz is a guest on the show and goes through the construction of this type of layout square in pretty good detail.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

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