Looking for a quality combination square.. Any recommendations?

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Forum topic by Dan posted 06-10-2011 07:40 PM 11961 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3630 posts in 3084 days

06-10-2011 07:40 PM

I have 4 different combo squares all of which were pretty cheap. I am not really happy with any of them. I use a combo square just about every time I am in the shop so I have decided rather then trying another cheaper one I should just pay for a quality one that wont give me problems.

I was looking at the Starrett combo squares and I almost ordered one but thought I better check around first. I am sure the Starrett combo square would be great but I thought I would check with you guys to see if there were any other brands worth considering. I don’t mind spending the money on a Starrett but if there is another make out there thats almost or just as good as Starrett and its cheaper I would rather go that route.


-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

17 replies so far

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 3559 days

#1 posted 06-10-2011 07:44 PM

Not to bad mount four brands, but can you tell us who made the squares you currently have and what it is about them that you’re unhappy about? Personally this is what I’ve been using recently and I”m pretty happy with it.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3130 days

#2 posted 06-10-2011 07:48 PM

I have an old Bridge City square that I depend on regularly.

Cost more originally, but I have used it for 15 years.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View knotscott's profile (online now)


8151 posts in 3580 days

#3 posted 06-10-2011 08:17 PM

I’ve got a Fowler combo square that’s awfully good. Made in the USA, rugged, accurate…

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3084 days

#4 posted 06-10-2011 08:20 PM

Will, I think two of them are Craftsman, one of them I got at Home Depot not sure of the brand and the other one I am not sure.

Two of them do not lock down square making them almost useless. The other two I have tuned myself to make them more accurate but I have problems locking the ruler in place and sliding it. Its actually just minor things and I can work around them and have but I just use them so often that it would be nice to have one with out having to work around it. Also the faces on the square get scratched up pretty easily by my blades (I often use the squares to check my hand tool blades) and this leaves me having to sand them back to flat after a while.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 2754 days

#5 posted 06-10-2011 08:46 PM

Mitutoyo makes good stuff too. Depending on the level you go with you can get it cheaper than Starrett, however, some of the higher end ones make Starrett’s prices seem cheap.

-- . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View TheDane's profile


5552 posts in 3867 days

#6 posted 06-10-2011 08:49 PM

Dan—I have 5 Empire True Blue combination squares (1 – 12”, 2 – 7”, and 2 – 6”). One of the 6” stays in my apron, the others do TDY all over the bench and shop.

They are NOT on a par with Starrett, Fowler, Bridge City, or other premium tools, but I beat the heck out of them yet have never had a problem. They get dropped, stepped on, lost & found and still stay true. I even ran one through the laundry with a load of rags … made an awful noise in the drier but came out unscathed.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#7 posted 06-10-2011 08:52 PM

I’d ask Philip Marcou and August about this one. Starrett, Mit, and Bridge City are no-brainers but PM mentioned another brand that’s escaping me. My technique is to own one Starrett and keep it in a box. I check it against other squares & see if I can peen them/grind them to use. I’ve had lousy brands (Swanson) turn out dead on. I’ve had more expensive (Gladstone and Crown) come out junk. Aside from the big$$$ guys, I think they’re all hit or miss. The most square thing I found in my shop using my Starrett is a plastic CD case!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3545 days

#8 posted 06-10-2011 08:56 PM

knotscott’s combo square is here

looks pretty nice

i bought some fancy dancer
it wasn’t to bad
(don’t know the brand)

then ordered the longer blade for it
and it won’t tighten right
turns out the slot is a square edged dado
and the holding pin is rounded
now i can’t find the 1’ blade for it

must have been two different company’s

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View brtech's profile


1052 posts in 3127 days

#9 posted 06-10-2011 09:26 PM

I scored a Starrett 12” combo with the regular and protractor head for $40 on ebay in very good condition. Wonderful tool. Beats the pants off my cheapies. Since it’s only $40, I use it every day. I’d recommend it.

I’m sure a Browne and Sharpe, Fowler, Bridge City or Mitutoyo are very good.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3789 days

#10 posted 06-10-2011 09:34 PM

mitutoyo can’t be beat in my book .I love their stuff and recommend it highly.

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2837 days

#11 posted 06-11-2011 06:12 AM

There is an unfavorable LJ review on a Starett combo square. One particular product line has been moved to China, and the quality has apparently suffered. However, in general, Starett gets high marks.

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

265 posts in 2801 days

#12 posted 06-11-2011 11:23 AM

Bertha : I am not up to speed on this one but the established quality makers that I know of are Mitutuyo (spelling?), Starret, Moore&Wright, Rabone Chesterman-and there are more I am sure.
But I have noticed also that there are new names coming out of China that are producing excellent tools too such as Vertex, costing less and easily of comparable quality.
The point is if you can actually see what you are buying first, and can recognise good quality then there are definitely other options which can be better than the established names.

View ksSlim's profile (online now)


1290 posts in 3094 days

#13 posted 06-11-2011 01:40 PM

I’m about to replace my 40 yr old Starret. The etchings are getting too faint to read, or eyes too dim to see.
I’ve used Starret and Browne and Sharp over the years and have not been disappointed.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View BobG's profile


172 posts in 3166 days

#14 posted 06-11-2011 01:49 PM

KsSlim if you send the square back to Starrett they will recondition the set for much less than you can replace the set with the same quality. Other brands are Millers falls – mid range and quality. Brown and sharpe.

-- BobG, Lowell, Arkansas--------My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am! Make more saw dust!!

View ksSlim's profile (online now)


1290 posts in 3094 days

#15 posted 06-12-2011 01:29 AM

>BobG Thanks, I didn’t know Starret would recondition.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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