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Vintage squares for those who want the best they can afford.

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Review by StumpyNubs posted 1228 days ago 3932 views 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Vintage squares for those who want the best they can afford. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

What’s the best combination square around? While some will give their high priced favorites, most will say Starrett. And why not? It’s a proven tool. A new one will set you back about a hundred bucks, but fifty years from now it will still be straight, accurate and easy to read and use.

You’re never going to hear me say a Starrett isn’t top of the line. But for those of us who want save our hundred dollar bills for more important things, there are other options that I argue are just as good. Take the Millers Falls #1200 I just picked up. This square IS ALREADY 50 years old (or more) and it is still perfectly square. The ruler markings are clear and bold and the bubble level is accurate. And I paid fifteen bucks (plus shipping) for it.

So I say, why spend a pile of cash on a new Starrett or other premium combination square when you can get a vintage, American made, premium combination square for the price of a cheapie? It only took me ten minutes to find this one on ebay, and there are lots of other quality vintage squares of various brands on there every day. What did we ever do before ebay?

By the way- I gave it four stars instead of five because it is only available as a used tool which often shows some wear and soil. If a new one were available, it’d be five stars for sure!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com




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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days



30 comments so far

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jim C

1452 posts in 1701 days


#1 posted 1228 days ago

So what did you pay?
I found a NEW Starrett for $59.00 at Amazon.
And I don’t want any feedback from the people who who buy the total junk at the big box stores.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

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DIYaholic

12955 posts in 1277 days


#2 posted 1228 days ago

I tend to purchase tools/machines because I need them (when I say need them, I mean I need them NOW, ASAP, STAT). I try to purchase the right tool for the job, while anticipating future needs. This generally means buying the best I can afford (at the time) at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I don’t always know what is best or reasonable (or it simply is not an option at the moment) so I end up with something that is either less than optimal or way more than I will ever need. So be it, that is life! Occasionally, I actually have time to anticipate, research and evaluate a tool/machine. This where LJs (amongst other sites) comes into play (I mean to the rescue)! Reading the reviews and comments from the “Informed” goes a long way to finalizing any purchase decision.

So, with all that being said, I blame everyone else in the world for any of my feeble tool purchases! Lol.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procratination a bad thing?

View AttainableApex's profile

AttainableApex

338 posts in 1435 days


#3 posted 1228 days ago

how long did it take you to find it on ebay, if they have another maybe…
i have a 12in and a 6in but i hate my 12in, its…. um…. from …. the big box store.

-- Ben L

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jim C

1452 posts in 1701 days


#4 posted 1228 days ago

Attainable
My point exactly. I made the same mistake.
Let me guess. Hard to read due to glare and skimpy graduations.
Thumb nut is hard to tighten to stop slippage, then even harder to loosen, once tightened.
I used to have Starretts and Lufkins, but gave my machinists tools away to my aspiring apprentice nephew. I regret that decision.

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#5 posted 1228 days ago

JimC- I paid 15 bucks for it, plus another seven for priority mail shipping. I was looking for as good a square as i could get for around $30-40 and so a Starrett was out of the question. Even the vintage ones go for $60-80+.

Attainable- I used to use an Empire combination square from a box store. It worked reasonable well but after reading a Fine Woodworking review about combination squares I decided I would try and get a premium one if I could find it at the right price. Measuring and layout tools are one area where you want the best you can afford. There IS a difference, and it’s much more obvious than I expected.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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brtech

664 posts in 1525 days


#6 posted 1228 days ago

I got my Starrett 12” with both the square head and the protractor head for $40 + $7 shipping off ebay.

Wonderful tool. So much nicer than the cheapie I was using.

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#7 posted 1228 days ago

brtech- WOW, I’ve never seen a Starrett go for that cheap! Great deal for you!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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brtech

664 posts in 1525 days


#8 posted 1228 days ago

This is it:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&_trksid=p4340.l2557&rt=nc&nma=true&item=120666069193&si=W5QaRHibZy2b6fF0E0THnudp3Cg%253D&viewitem=&sspagename=ADME%3AL%3AOU%3AUS%3A1123#ht_5123wt_1138

You have to be patient. I use a “snipe” service, usually Gixen, which is free. I load up bids in Gixen for each of the available items that are equivalent, and put in my maximum bid, which takes into account what was included (I bid a bit more for this one, because it had the protractor head), age, condition and shipping charge. I come back every few days and see if there are any more items listed. Gixen will do a last second bid, and will only “win” one of a set of items in a “group”, so although I might be bidding on 8-10 combination squares listed at any one time, if any of my bids wins, Gixen will stop.

On something like a 12” Starrett combo square, where there are always 6 or more listed, eventually, I’ll win one if I offer something reasonable. I’m working on a 4” double square now, and have lost out on maybe 10 listings, but it’s okay. Eventually, I’ll win one.

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#9 posted 1228 days ago

AHHHHHH! A sniper! Ebay sellers HATE you! Snipers cost sellers TONS of money!

Nice square though… It’s a hundred dollar square for sure… hope that ebay seller can afford to let it go so cheap!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#10 posted 1228 days ago

I’m not saying that I hate snipers, I’ve learned that if you list an item as an auction you have to be prepared to accept whatever you get.

But the reason most sellers hate snipers is because they ruin the point of an auction. In an auction a low starting bid like a dollar is set to encourage bidding. Then as others bid, the original bidders are encouraged to raise their own bids. They build off one another and the excitement of the whole thing brings the seller the best price. When bidders don’t put their bid in until the very last second, it ruins the whole process and the seller loses big time! I know most people say, who cares about the seller, but some guys are just trying to make a living…

With all due respect Cessna (and I do respect your opinion) Saying “a seller who sells an item for less than he needs is clueless” is not really true. If a seller sets the opening bid higher than a few bucks he can’t compete with the other sellers who have a 99 cent starting bid. It’s all about getting those initial bidders because most people stick with the first auction they bid on. And it’s a proven fact that auctions with a reserve price turn 75% of bidders off.

As someone who makes a living on ebay, I don’t deny buyers their right to use whatever strategy they like to get their best price. As a seller I just adapt to the reality of sniping and sell my items with fixed prices rather than in an auction. But that came from thousands of sales worth of experience. Most sellers who are just trying to put food on the table don’t have that experience and so sinping kills them.

I don’t do it for that reason, but that’s just me. I respect the right of others to do it if they like.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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wseand

2116 posts in 1644 days


#11 posted 1227 days ago

I never measure anything with an adjustable square. Why would you want to. I believe that the only thing any square should be used for is marking. Tape measure and/or ruler are the only thing I use to measure with. If I need the marking to be accurate then I use a fixed, if it doesn’t matter then I use an adjustable.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#12 posted 1227 days ago

Actually, an adjustable square is an amazingly versatile tool with many uses most people never thought of. It goes way beyond measuring. From setting a router bit height to checking a table saw blade or fence to see if it’s parallel to the miter slots, marking lines along the edge of a board from one end to the other with precision… You should check out some of the articles Fine Woodworking and other journals have on them. I was surprised myself to learn all you can do with one!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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wseand

2116 posts in 1644 days


#13 posted 1227 days ago

Will do Stumpy, thanks. I am amazed every day on the little things you never think about. It usually takes a dumb question like mine to get the juices flowing.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

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swirt

1935 posts in 1574 days


#14 posted 1227 days ago

I have this same Millers Falls combination square. It has a nice feel to it. Unfortunately the ruler on mine is bent. Unfortunately that pretty much makes it unreliable for any kind of marking. I keep hoping to stumble upon a replacement ruler that will fit, but haven’t yet.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

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StumpyNubs

6119 posts in 1403 days


#15 posted 1227 days ago

Cessna- While it is true that some ebayers don’t have a huge investment, and therefore should not expect an equal return to what retail operations get, this isn’t always the case. When you start talking about ebay businesses rather than hobby sellers, everything changes. I run three ebay stores and while I don’t have a brick and mortar lease, I do have the added expense that comes from a house big big enough to accommodate the business, and about a thousand dollars a month in ebay and other fees to pay that I would not have with a regular store. I also have to keep several hundred auctions going at any given time, so there is a significant inventory to keep as well. Plus I have to deal with much the same issues any business owner does, from public relations to advertising to liability. Add to that a massive amount of packaging and shipping and you can see why an ebay or other internet business is just as expensive and labor intensive as a brick and mortar, and why it requires the same profit margins as any other retail operation.

I think it is a mistake to assume that sites like ebay are just a secondary marketplace that real business just use to get rid of their unsellables.

The reason why I don’t personally hate snipers is because I understand that any market is made up by the seller who is going to do whatever he can to make the highest profit possible, and the buyer who is going to do whatever he can to get the lowest price possible. It’s the nature of business and a seller is wasting his time if he complains about it rather than adapting his business model accordingly.

However I also realize that most sellers are not businesses, and they don’t have the ability to adapt. Those are the sellers I speak of when I say snipers hurt them. While, as you said, an auction goes to the highest bidder regardless of if he’s an early bidder or a sniper, that ignores the true nature of ebay buyers. The typical buyer sees what he wants, puts in a low bid hoping he can get a great deal, and watches that item to see if he’s out bid. Along comes another guy like him, who puts in a slightly higher bid to get what he considers a good deal, and that forces the first bidder to raise his a bit. As more bids are placed buyers tend to raise their price to a level higher than they ever would have bid in the first place because auctions excite people and cause them to compete against each other. That’s the formula that has made auctions a popular type of sale for hundreds of years.

The problem is that traditional auctions keep going until all bids are exhausted and the absolute highest price is reached, while ebay ends auctions at a set time weather all the bids are cast or not. If a bidder comes in at the last second and snipes the item, the seller has to let it go for, not the maximum bid of all the bidders but just the maximum amount that sniper was willing to pay. The other bidders have no chance to raise theirs.

Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if every bidders just put in their absolute highest bid to begin with, but they never do. That’s the nature of auction bidders, they start low hoping to get it cheap, and are forced to reconsider their “highest bid” when someone out bids them. One way some sites (like Amazon.com) have gotten around the problem is by extending the length of the auction is someone casts a bid in the last minute.

I have owned both brick and a mortar store and internet stores. They are two vastly different models, but one thing remains the same. The buyer loves a deal, and the seller wants him to be happy. But if a seller can’t get his best price, he can’t stay in business.

Thoase are just my thoughts, but they are also based on a great deal of personal experience.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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