|Review by Vrtigo1||posted 03-15-2012 02:37 AM||2547 views||0 times favorited||21 comments|
I purchased the 36” Starrett 380 series straightedge to set up my 6” jointer. I purchased the 36” thinking I would need the extra length, but hindsight being 20/20 I think you could get away with a 24” straightedge for a 6” jointer, and the 24” is about half the price. This isn’t related to the review, this is just a statement that I hope someone else in the same boat sees so that they can be armed with that information before deciding which product to purchase.
With that being said, when the straightedge arrived, it was beefy looking enough to convince my coworkers that it really was something one might spend $150 on (none of my coworkers have the slightest bit of mechanical aptitude, so it took several tries to convince them this piece of metal was really so expensive).
PROS: It’s big and heavy, and presumably very straight. It looks straight, and when I put it on my jointer’s bed, I can’t get a 1 thousandth feeler gauge under it, so I presume it is. If Starrett isn’t the gold standard out there in this category, it’s certainly one of them. It’s mass and size mean it can stand on edge unassisted, which is huge for tool setups. Also, if you wanted to use this for drawing lines, it definitely wouldn’t move around on you.
The bad thing is that it’s big and heavy. It’s awkward to hold because of the sharp angles and lack of a handle. One problem I noticed immediately is that it’s too heavy to hold up to surfaces to check them without worrying about dropping it. For instance, if you wanted to use it to verify the flatness of a jointed board, you would probably want to do it on a workbench instead of holding the board, just because there’s no easy way to grab the straightedge and hold it securely. Other straightedges have holes milled in them that function as handles, which presumably make them much easier to handle.
Likewise, there is no hole for hanging it up to store, so you have to lay it flat somewhere. I also expected that one might get a storage / carrying case of some sort at this price point, but you don’t.
So, I’m knocking one star off for the combination of lack of carrying / hanging ability and the lack of a storage case. The other star I’m knocking off is due to the value of this particular tool. There are other straightedges out there that are probably “just as good” for the purpose of setting up woodworking tools, that cost half as much. If I have the choice, I’ll usually save up and buy the best tool I can so I don’t end up buying a cheaper tool first only to end up buying the better tool down the road, but in this case I think I would’ve done just as well if I had gone with a Lee Valley / Veritas or other less expensive option. I’d return this one to Amazon, but then I’d have to pay return shipping and deal with the hassle of returning it, so at this point I think I’ll just keep it.
So in summary – the tool is probably first rate at it’s intended function, which is being an exceptionally straight piece of metal. But in my book, the lack of handles and storage options, combined with the price would probably make this a pass if I were buying again.