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Correcting a Machinist Square

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Forum topic by BassBully posted 03-28-2007 08:52 PM 3087 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BassBully

259 posts in 2846 days


03-28-2007 08:52 PM

Does anyone know if a machinist square can be corrected? I purchased two machinist squares from MLCSWoodworking because they were on sale. One of them is pretty darn close to perfect but the other is slightly off. Any ideas will be appreciated.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!


16 replies so far

View Rob McCune's profile

Rob McCune

123 posts in 2847 days


#1 posted 03-28-2007 11:14 PM

An machine mill should be used to machine it accurately. There should be an autmotive machine shop nearby, ask them to correct it for you.

-- Rob McCune

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Jeff

1011 posts in 2842 days


#2 posted 03-28-2007 11:27 PM

I just read and article on this type of thing recently… I can’t remember if it was ShopNotes, FWW or Woodsmith though. I’ll see if I can find it. Rob’s idea sounds like it might be the best way though.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3063 days


#3 posted 03-28-2007 11:29 PM

I’m thinking pound on it with a hammer.

View Karson's profile

Karson

34916 posts in 3149 days


#4 posted 03-29-2007 12:10 AM

I’m thinking return it and ask for an exchange. If its out of square it’s their problem

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3076 days


#5 posted 03-29-2007 04:04 PM

I know you can fix a carpenters square with a hammer or a drill…

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2986 days


#6 posted 03-29-2007 04:08 PM

Now we know why it was on sale, but sorry. What exactly is a machinist’s Square anyway?

View BassBully's profile

BassBully

259 posts in 2846 days


#7 posted 03-29-2007 05:22 PM

Obi,

A machinists square is like a regular square but it is suppose to be accurate within +/- .002” tolerance or so. They’re usually made out of steel.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Karson's profile

Karson

34916 posts in 3149 days


#8 posted 03-29-2007 11:51 PM

Obi: a machinist square is used to setup machine tools. All steel with heavy steel on the base and a steel bar at 90 deg. Harbor Freight carries them and I’ve found them to be accurate.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12302 posts in 2846 days


#9 posted 03-30-2007 12:01 AM

Machinist Square

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View jpw1995's profile

jpw1995

376 posts in 3047 days


#10 posted 03-30-2007 12:12 AM

I have the Groz set that Wayne has pictured above, and they’ve been very handy to have around. I’ve found them to be very, very accurate.

-- JP, Shelbyville, KY

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2986 days


#11 posted 03-30-2007 12:49 AM

I think them r cute, but I use a combination square, or a speed square, or a carpenter’s square.

WOW.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12302 posts in 2846 days


#12 posted 03-30-2007 12:51 AM

You can use these to check your combination squares, speed squares, and carpenter’s squares. : ^ )

Actually, they are great for checking tablesaws, drill presses, and jointers.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View BassBully's profile

BassBully

259 posts in 2846 days


#13 posted 03-30-2007 03:56 AM

I’ll probably just try gently tapping it with a hammer. There’s very little information on the internet about this. If that doesn’t correct the problem, I’ll just send it back.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 2910 days


#14 posted 03-30-2007 05:51 PM

Since it is supposed to be very accurate, I would send it back for a replacement. Accuracy is what their selling point is after all.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View coloradoclimber's profile

coloradoclimber

548 posts in 2816 days


#15 posted 04-09-2007 06:03 PM

I have a similar problem, out of square machinist and wood handled tri-square. I have the following squares I use:

1 – Standard metal framing square, not particularly square, but works fine for framing and laying out stairs. I don’t expect great accuracy, it doesn’t deliver great accuracy, we’re both happy.

2 – plastic speed squares, you know, the bright orange or yellow triangles with a hook along one edge. Not particularly square, but not too bad. I use these things all the time for construction marking. Anything structural, framing, decking, things where a little slop is acceptable. These things are fast, convenient, cheap, and plenty close enough.

3 – Starrett hardened combination square. This thing is dead on. I checked it on the surface plate at work against multiple references. It was pretty pricey but I’d recommend it hands down. It operates smooth, very accurate, and you can do a lot with it. If I could only have one square in my entire shop it would be this one.

4 – el-cheapo combination square from HD. It turns out this thing is pretty accurate. I guess it doesn’t cost much more to mill it square than it does to mill it out of square. The faces are not hardened, the quality is not there, it sticks when it moves. Not a particularly quality tool but it is pretty darn square. For a beat around square I’m pretty happy with it.

5 – A set of Brown and Sharpe machinist squares. These are my standards. They are dead nuts on. I got a set of 4 and they are all less than a mil out in any dimension. Kinda pricey. I don’t typically use them except to check or verify other tools. In general I wouldn’t recommend having a set. I don’t really get much utility from them other than the comfort of using them as references for other tools.

And now my problem children – I wanted a beat around machinist square for tool setup, and at the same time I thought I’d look like a cool woodworker if I had a rosewood handled brass pinned tri-square. So I picked up one of each from a local woodworking specialty store. I admit both were cheap and I ended up getting what I paid for.

6 – 6 inch machinist square. It’s out of square about a 64th, around 15 mils, at the end. It is more out of square than my jointer. I can mill a board square (checked with a reference square) and this tool will say the board is out of square. So I’m hating this thing. I think I’m going to try to square it myself by lapping edge of the blade. If it doesn’t work, oh well, I’m not out that much money and I haven’t ruined a tool I care about. If it does work I’ll have a tool I can be happy with.

7 – 8 inch wood handled tri-square. This thing is so far out of square it’s a joke. It is close to a 32nd or more out at 6 inches. It kinda looks cool and I drag it out and set it on the bench when I’m in the shop but the reality is this thing is junk as a square. I don’t know if it’s possible to adjust these things and have them remain adjusted. The blade is pinned to the handle with brass rivets. It’s not clear to me that it’s possible to adjust it without ruining the handle to blade joint. I’ve considered lapping the blade to true it but it’s not worth my time.

So my conclusions and recommends:

1 – You get what you pay for.
2 – if you can only have one square, save you pennies and buy a Starrett or Brown and Sharpe combination square, you’ll never be sorry.
3 – if you cant afford a high end square try a cheapo from your local big box hardware store. You might be surprised, I was.
4 – if you bought a square that is guaranteed to some accuracy and it doesn’t meet that accuracy, take it back. I figured it would be a crap shoot with any low end tool so I’m inclined to try to clean it up myself (probably a waste of my time)
5 – If you like the looks of the brass and rosewood handled tri-squares, then by all means buy one. But if you want it to be actually square take a reference with you and confirm it before you buy it.

I know the old saying, it’s wood working, not machining. But the reality is if you want your joints to come together clean with the least muss and fuss then having your tools setup properly and starting with boards and joints that are square and true will only help. A 32nd out in 6 inches is an 8th out in two feet, and a quarter out in 4 feet. Try to get those joints to line up.

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