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Combination Square Accuracy

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Forum topic by ChunkyC posted 1328 days ago 3602 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ChunkyC

856 posts in 1754 days


1328 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: square

The accuracy of my Combination Square is less than perfect. I’ve passed a couple emails back and forth with Brian over at garagewoodworks.com discussing:

(1) if a combo square can be “tuned” to 90 degrees and
(2) is it worth it?

I had the idea that one could file, sand, and cuss the inside of the square head until you got it square. My combo squares have small ridges in the head at the leading edge (where the rule enters the head) and trailing edge (where the rule leaves the head) that I thought could be coaxed to make it more square.

My problem is that my combo square is the most used tool in my shop by far. It’s always in my apron pocket ready for service. So if I need to check a joint for square, guess what the closest square at hand is?

I have gotten better at this one but I used to always seem to layout my marks on the wrong edge of the board. So, beings that I’m fat and lazy, I would use the square to translate the measurement to the other edge. If the square is out, then the marks on the opposing edge will be off, even more so if you flip the square over during the process.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135


13 replies so far

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3253 posts in 1695 days


#1 posted 1328 days ago

Greetings Chunk, Hey bud, haven’t seen you on in awhile…good to hear from you again….. now for your question: I have a couple of Starrett combo squares that I like real good. They are pretty well on the money as far as being square. But…. most of the time when I draw lines and make marks, I usually use a marking knife instead of a pencil…. more accurate… But here’s a trick I learned in college when taking drafting and drawing house plans and mechanical drawing….. Once you decide where you want to start drawing the lines put your pencil down FIRST, and move the square TO the pencil (pencil being sharp, that is). But I wouldn’t use a square that’s out of square..it will cause you more fustrations…Invest in a good combo square….I suggest the Starretts…..They are the best as far as I can see…....

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

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ChunkyC

856 posts in 1754 days


#2 posted 1328 days ago

I’ve looked and dreamed at the Starret’s and they are salty. I just can’t pull the trigger on that kind of money for a combo square and will it stay accurate over time?

I have Starret’s tools in my collection that I cherish, ie guard with my life. If I have guests in the shop, the Starret’s stay hidden. I love them to death. I think that they are about the best tools out-of-the-box that money can buy. The only down side is that you may need to win the lottery before buying them though. lol

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1615 days


#3 posted 1328 days ago

if you think teoretically then will a combo never bee square nomatter how precise it has been made
and it will only bee worse over time of use
but I agree its a niice tool to use,you will bee more satisfired with using a dead on trysquare

just my 2 cents
Dennis

View Bothus's profile

Bothus

427 posts in 1677 days


#4 posted 1328 days ago

Hi Chuck,

I always had trouble transferring lines around a board with my combo square so I bought a saddle square:

http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com/reviews/veritassaddlesquare.htm

Oh, I just reread what you wrote, never mind. LOL

Jerry

-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View vicrider's profile

vicrider

175 posts in 1399 days


#5 posted 1328 days ago

In the interest of accuracy, I only use an adjustable combination square for framing or ‘gross’ measurements. When in the shop, I use a machinist’s solid square.

Here is Grizzly’s set.

-- vicrider

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1108 posts in 1560 days


#6 posted 1328 days ago

Go with Empire combination square and use that for a while.
I suggest you tuned it up before any project you do.

-- shdesign3.com

View FWBGBS's profile

FWBGBS

21 posts in 1739 days


#7 posted 1328 days ago

Chunky, I was in the same boat as you not too long ago. I was using a “rarely dropped” combo square by Empire.
I went Starrett square hunting on Ebay for about two weeks. I acquired both a forged and hardened head, two 12’ blades, and one hook rule I just couldn’t live without.I got all five pieces for less than what a new forged head set would cost. I like the hardened (smooth finish) model better. Though, both are VERY accurate.
Lastly, in the almost two years of owning these I have NEVER dropped them!

Photobucket

-- No sane man will dance ~ Cicero

View ChunkyC's profile

ChunkyC

856 posts in 1754 days


#8 posted 1328 days ago

BoiseJoe – Dropping it… Well I’ve dropped mine more that I know. Another reason why a Starret may not fit me.

Anyone ever tried to tune a Combo square? Lots of thoughts about the accuracy of combo squares…

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1108 posts in 1560 days


#9 posted 1328 days ago

The cheap ones can be accurate if you can tune it up properly. I bought a Johnson $6 combination square. took me at least 1 hour. I still have to tune it up before I even use it.

When you drop a $80 combination square it will go out of square.

-- shdesign3.com

View Dan Lyke's profile (online now)

Dan Lyke

1455 posts in 2625 days


#10 posted 1327 days ago

I have an aluminum 12” speed square that I use more than the combination square, and if I could buy a more accurate one machined out of something like stainless steel I would. The speed square is fine, but the head is so short that a piece of sawdust can seriously throw out the notion of 90°, let alone whatever may be happening inside the head and locking cam.

I really mostly use my speed square as a story stick. Although once I build my shop and have room to hang all my tools, I’m gonna have to spring for the Starrett.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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ChunkyC

856 posts in 1754 days


#11 posted 1326 days ago

The Starrett’s scare me because I know for a fact that the combo would be dropped on the floor. I knock mine on the floor constantly. So much so that the tips of the blades are rounded over quite nicely. ():

I personally don’t like a try square and I think it has to do with the fact that I use a combo so much, a try square seems like a waist of apron space to me. For example, if I need a mark at 1-1/16 from the edge, I set the combo at 1-1/16 and make mark at the end of the rule. You just can’t do that with a try square. I know that this is not idea for measuring accurately but it has served me well enough over the years.

CessnaPilotBarry: That’s a nice article. I scanned it, the pdf version, rather quickly and I didn’t see any mention of bringing the square back into square, only how to check it. This is the method that I use and how I know that my square is out of square. Oh yeah, and the new one that I got Friday. – I wish I had taken some scrap paper and a pencil w/ me…

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

227 posts in 1583 days


#12 posted 1326 days ago

I am impressed with the quality of the “Pro” version of the Empire square. The local Orchard Supply Hardware has 3 versions with prices ranging from around $7 to $11. The cheap one is made overseas. The $11 is made in the USA with obviously better quality standards.

The slot is milled using a straight cut. There are no nibs to file off to make it square. I haven’t checked mine for 100% square yet, but I would guess that it would be easiest to grind a few thousands off the handle portion than the inside of the slot. If it is too far off to make it square that way, then it is probably not worth saving.

I am sure that a Starrett is another step up in quality. However, is it 6X better quality?

-- Steve

View ChunkyC's profile

ChunkyC

856 posts in 1754 days


#13 posted 1326 days ago

>>I am sure that a Starrett is another step up in quality. However, is it 6X better quality?

If they are anything like the other Starrett’s that I’ve used and owned, then absolutely. The other Starrett’s that I have get used and put away as soon as I’m done. Rarely if ever do they ever touch the work bench. A combo square is always out, in my apron pocket, laying on the bench or falling to the floor.lol

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135

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