Hip to be Square

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Forum topic by DannyBoy posted 03-31-2008 08:13 PM 1665 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3860 days

03-31-2008 08:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: square measurement layout

Recently, I noticed that all of the squares I have in the shop are desperately out of true. I’m needing to get a replacement that doesn’t break the bank. So, I’m asking on the basis of value: What is the best try square or combination square out there? (Or what company is the best?)

~Danny Boy

-- He said wood...

11 replies so far

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3986 days

#1 posted 03-31-2008 08:33 PM

Gotta be a Starret, not cheap, but definitely the best.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4169 days

#2 posted 03-31-2008 08:38 PM

Danny Boy,
I think one of the earlier issues of Woodworking Magazine covered that tool. Tonight when I get home (if I remember, of course) I’ll thumb through my old issues and see if I can’t pull up the tools they reviewed (and the results) for you.

-- Ethan,

View WoodRivWW's profile


32 posts in 3705 days

#3 posted 03-31-2008 08:39 PM

I agree with Damian. Everything I’ve read and based on my own experience, nobody does it better. The craftsmanship on Starret tools just jumps out at you.

-- Hailey, ID

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3983 days

#4 posted 03-31-2008 08:47 PM

You can’t get any better than Starret.

You should be able to fix the ones you have. It’s not that hard to do.

With a steel carpenters square it just takes a hammer and center punch to make it perfect.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3860 days

#5 posted 03-31-2008 08:48 PM

Any tips on fixing a combo square?

-- He said wood...

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3737 days

#6 posted 03-31-2008 08:53 PM

Here is a link to an article about framing squares
scroll down to the section “Tuning Up Your Square” to learn how to get your square back into “square”

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4063 days

#7 posted 04-01-2008 02:20 AM


This topic came up about a year ago….

Correcting a Machinist Square

I’ll repost a portion of my summary here:

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.


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.

The short answer on best combination square would be Starrett, Brown and Sharpe, or Mitutoyo. Check ebay before you buy retail.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4063 days

#8 posted 04-01-2008 02:28 AM

As for the second question: Can you correct a combo square? Absolutely.

First question: is it worth it? is the square you are trying to correct worth your time and effort or would you be better served just getting a new one?

Second question: do you have a known reference to check against so you actually know when it is square?

If you can say yes to both questions then all you need to do is work the seat in the head where the blade rests until the blade ends up square with the face. You work the bottom of the blade seat, typically with a needle file, being careful not to work the sides of the seat, until the blade sits square. Often there will be a button or ridge near one end of the seat that can be filed, carefully and gently. Just take off a little at a time, just a few strokes between each checking. Remember the error is magnified out at the tip if the blade farthest away from the seat, so just a little change at the seat will result in a large change at the tip of the extended blade.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4063 days

#9 posted 04-01-2008 02:31 AM

Another snippet from this post

Correcting a Machinist Square

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.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3756 days

#10 posted 04-01-2008 04:33 PM

Recently at Woodcraft, I saw a combination square set for $25. It included the protractor and angle gauge. I’ll bet you can’t guess where it was manufactured.

I decided to save-up and wait for their next sale and I’ll buy a Starret – made in the USA!

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4169 days

#11 posted 04-01-2008 05:45 PM


Not sure why I bothered checking… I figured it would be the Starrett and it was.

Buy the best and only cry once, man.


-- Ethan,

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