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View Emma Walker's profile

Why are squares so damn expensive?

by Emma Walker
posted 587 days ago


42 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7390 posts in 2274 days


#1 posted 587 days ago

You don’t need Starrett for woodworking. Those
expensive tools are for setting up milling machines
used in manufacturing satellite parts and other
super fine-tolerance stuff like that…. you know,
super colliders and rocket ships.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1369 posts in 1258 days


#2 posted 587 days ago

Look at PEC tools. Made in the USA.

View alexdom_89's profile

alexdom_89

98 posts in 922 days


#3 posted 587 days ago

Grizzly has the cheapest set I’ve seen

View Alexandre's profile

Alexandre

1417 posts in 817 days


#4 posted 587 days ago

It’s not stamped…
try a carpenters square, its those $10 ones, also a plastic triangle one… Its very accurate.

-- My terrible signature...

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

1853 posts in 776 days


#5 posted 587 days ago

Higher precision = more money. Usually exponentially. That one you link to is within 0.0001” every 6”. Meaning it’s longest side is within square by 0.0006”.

For woodworking, I’m sure 1/64” error (0.0156”) over 12” is probably fine. The wood will move more than that.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

6812 posts in 1309 days


#6 posted 587 days ago

Might check on see what Swanson has? Take along a known square item to check a few on the shelf.

Speed squares: Them plastic rectangle thingys that framers use. They need to be check for square, the last time I had to buy one, I think I check about a dozen before I found one that was square.

Combo Squares: Can be square when tightened up, but be sure to check them BEFORe you buy one. With all the sliding back and forth they do, it is better to get the all metal ones, rather than the ones with that plastic ends.

Carpenter?Framer squares: Again check for square. These are Huge for being in a shop. Useful for larger projects. You can set different angles with them, IF you know how to read them. ( That is why they make speed squares, for people that can’t read a framing square) Get a Steel one, if you need one.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4824 posts in 1203 days


#7 posted 587 days ago

http://www.logancabinetshoppe.com/shop-made-tools.php

Here’s an excellent tutorial to make your own squares.
Shop made tools are more fun anyways.

View Ross's profile

Ross

110 posts in 598 days


#8 posted 587 days ago

View Davesfunwoodworking's profile

Davesfunwoodworking

272 posts in 2501 days


#9 posted 587 days ago

I have made a few of them. I used a piece of brass and brass dowels and purple heart and walnut. drill 3 holes in the wood mark the holes in the brass and drill them. then push the brass rods though the holes. I even put all the lines on mine with the inches. very fun to make and is a perfect square. try it!!!!!! Check out my projects page you will see one there.

-- Davesfunwoodworking

View mbs's profile

mbs

1435 posts in 1566 days


#10 posted 587 days ago

I have a couple of starrett combination squares that aren’t square.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13735 posts in 964 days


#11 posted 587 days ago

Square is neccassary, but Rarely is it neccassary to buy that type for the average woodworker. Mine are from Menards and I haven’t had problems with them.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#12 posted 587 days ago

Loren,

What if you want to build a wooden rocketship?

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1130 posts in 1389 days


#13 posted 587 days ago

Ross – 50 what ?

-- BELT SANDER: Used for making rectangular gouges in wood.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#14 posted 587 days ago

Thanks everyone, i realize that i was probably over guessing my need for a Metal square.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1346 posts in 809 days


#15 posted 587 days ago

Vintage rosewood and brass squares off eBay (or flea markets) can be had quite cheap, and are usually pretty true. If not, it’s pretty easy to make them true with a few hammer taps.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View gawthrrw's profile

gawthrrw

187 posts in 1073 days


#16 posted 587 days ago

Try going to the store and taking out a starrett and checking the cheaper squares against it. I do that all the time.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

591 posts in 935 days


#17 posted 587 days ago

Loren said,

You don’t need Starrett for woodworking. Those
expensive tools are for setting up milling machines
used in manufacturing satellite parts and other
super fine-tolerance stuff like that…. you know,
super colliders and rocket ships.

Please don’t take this as an attack on you or that I’m trying to start something because I’m not.

I never did like it much when someone tells me what I need, or don’t need. Were all different and have different wants and needs.

This is one reason why I need/want the precision of something like a Starrett square. I once cut up something like 15 sheets of plywood for a kitchen cabinet project. The kitchen needed 19 boxes. As I was assembling these boxes I notice they weren’t coming out square. All 19 were out of square.

The reason was my saw blade was ever so slightly off of the 90 degree mark from the table top. I now have a couple of Starrett square and I’ve never had that problem again. Same thing with face frame and door rail stock. If the ends of those aren’t cut perfectly square they don’t clamp up square.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View bladedust's profile

bladedust

168 posts in 892 days


#18 posted 587 days ago

Lee Valley makes quality squares at a reasonable price. Try this http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=32601&cat=1,42936

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3066 posts in 1130 days


#19 posted 586 days ago

Emma, Emma, Emma welcome back. Where ya been?

-- 2014 will be a different year...at least for me it will.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1016 posts in 912 days


#20 posted 586 days ago

“Emma”... lol. We’ve been down this path before.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/40687

-- John, BC, Canada

View Ross's profile

Ross

110 posts in 598 days


#21 posted 586 days ago

Oops, sorry rosebud. $50.00 (trying to type in the dark…)

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#22 posted 586 days ago

nwbusa,

Starrett squares and the global warming hoax are not on the same path.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#23 posted 586 days ago

DKV,

I moved to Oregon, it took awhile for me to get back into a routine. It’s not much different than Wisconsin except that moss grows on everything so you have to move around a lot and there’s at least one hippie on every street corner.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#24 posted 586 days ago

Thanks bladedust,

A person could pick up all 5 squares cheaper that a used Starrett!

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2019 days


#25 posted 586 days ago

they are expensive, but not as much as those assault riffles.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#26 posted 586 days ago

That doesn’t matter because the average person can’t buy assault riffles.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4310 posts in 1674 days


#27 posted 586 days ago

I would stay away away from carpenter square, none of those I have used where square.
I use a

http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Level-E250-Professional-Combination/dp/B000ETUNEU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357998251&sr=8-1&keywords=combination+square

I really like it.

-- Bert

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#28 posted 586 days ago

b2rtch,

That’s a great price! Thanks

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2019 days


#29 posted 586 days ago

Emma,
I received last monday my second Starrett combination Square, $78 at leevalley.com…....
expensive?......I think is much more expensive the “frustration time” working with crap, and the back and fordward time from store to store (Home Cheapot and others)

If I decide for some reason to sale my squares, I will get 95% of the money back, if not the total price. So, they are not expensive at all. I highly recommend you the effort, they last a lifetime!

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Alexandre's profile

Alexandre

1417 posts in 817 days


#30 posted 586 days ago

I have some really nice moore and wright squares, a starret one, and a mitutoyo…. The mitutoyo is a dream to use.

-- My terrible signature...

View shelly_b's profile

shelly_b

841 posts in 743 days


#31 posted 586 days ago

I was just had the same delema. I ended up buying an incra square, and I love it! http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=incra+try+square
It’s only $50 right now and it is the only square I have gotten so far that is perfectly square, other than my orange plastic carpenter’s square. But it is def. worth the $50 and if you have prime on amazon you get free 2 day shipping with it:)

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#32 posted 586 days ago

Alex,

I’ve heard Matthias Wandel speek of Mitutoyo… They must be good.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3066 posts in 1130 days


#33 posted 586 days ago

Loren, I agree that Starrett is not needed for the precision required for woodworking. However, and that’s a big however, I like others enjoy having Starrett, Bridgecity, Veritas and other highend “stuff”. If you can afford it and enjoy spending money on it then go for it.

Emma, what town in Oregon did you move to?

-- 2014 will be a different year...at least for me it will.

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#34 posted 586 days ago

Bridal Veil, OR

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1690 posts in 1735 days


#35 posted 586 days ago

It’s like this. You will usually only buy the best product once. The cheap stuff will have to be replaced, maybe several times. I don’t expect that most of what I do will require that level of precision, yet I come from the metal working world, near to “satellite precision”, so use Starrett measuring equipment. If I’m making a small box, where precision is required in the joinery, the requirement for precision in inescapable. Try making a small box and gluing it up without it twisting out of shape, especially if the lid is in a dado and has to slide. Square tools (both for measurement and cutting) are essential. Believe it or not, my big stuff can be made with a chalk line, and fit together. It just depends on what you are making.

Then again, I make roses out of copper; that is all free-hand with snips, torch and scrolling tongs. NO measuring equipment.

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3688 posts in 1993 days


#36 posted 586 days ago

I check my stamped steel square before every use just in case but I don’t do that with my Starret because there is an order of magnitude difference in cost and I expect my Starret to stay square.

You can take a stamped steel square and if it is not square to start, you can make it square with few taps of a ball pen hammer. Use the miter slot and the front/rear edge of your table saw.

If it is less the 90°, peen the inside corner between the two arms and check it between hammer hammer blows.
If is greater than 90°, pen the outside corner of the arms and check between hammer blows.

I would not do this on an expensive square but the “off the shelf” ones from a big box store which may or may not be true square when you buy it!

Another method to check for square is the old drafting table method for checking the T square. If you don’t know what a drafting table is then you can’t really use this method and you can PM me an explanation.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Loren's profile

Loren

7390 posts in 2274 days


#37 posted 586 days ago

I have Starrett squares myself… bought them used at estate
sales for pennies on the dollar.

I also have squares of lesser quality that are fine enough
for setting up woodworking machines and laying out
joinery. Lee Valley is a good source for new measuring
and marking tools that are more than adequate for
the fine furniture maker without breaking the bank.

One thing about the larger engineer’s squares is they are
very unbalanced for laying out joints. They have
a heavy short leg and a longer, much lighter leg.
They excel at standing upright to set a table
saw or bandsaw table at 90 degrees, but in
layout use use their sharp corners and awkward
balance court damage, both to the workpiece
and to the square.

I have an engineer square with a 12” long leg and
perhaps 8” on the short one. I take it out now
and again for setting up machines.

For joinery I mostly use a 4” pocket square
a saddle square and a sliding cabinetmaker’s
square (all Veritas).

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View wiwildcat's profile

wiwildcat

49 posts in 588 days


#38 posted 586 days ago

Starrett squares are nice, but for my woodwork and setting up machines, etc. I get by with a couple of those plastic drafting triangles. They are cheap, easy to replace.

-- Wisconsin Wildcat

View Woodbum's profile

Woodbum

427 posts in 1691 days


#39 posted 585 days ago

“just for two pieces of metal stamped together at a 90° angle.” Interesting description.

Starrett is to squares what Festool is to routers and dust collection. Do you need Starrett quality? Most likely not for many applications. Depends on what your definition of “close enough” is. Start precise and the inevitable mistakes or sloppiness will be minimized. Start out out of square, and they will be multiplied exponentially.
You can have my Starretts when you pry them out of my cold dead hands. I thought that would be appropriate considering some of the off content posts lately. Always buy the best tools that you can afford and need to work at the top of your game and you may only buy that tool once.Whatever square that you decide to use Emma, good luck and have fun with the greatest hobby on earth.

-- Improvidus, Apto quod Victum-- Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

View WillAdams's profile

WillAdams

78 posts in 621 days


#40 posted 585 days ago

Managed to score a General 6 inch steel square No. 270-6 NOS Made in England for $14.52 at an impulse stop at a hardware store (one in business since 1887) I was passing on an errand.

Seems square to me—- got it as an early birthday present and to square up the frame of the CNC machine I’m making.

So check around.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

6812 posts in 1309 days


#41 posted 585 days ago

Most of my “Good” stuff…

I also have a 70 year old framing square. I do have one of those Orange speed squares, somewhere. Might still be in my Carpenter’s Nail Bag rig. I used to do a lot of concrete form work.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 736 days


#42 posted 585 days ago

Woodbum,

Has Charlton Heston been posting off topic posts here? Have ever know a topic to not have off topic posts?

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

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