Choosing Combination Squares

I can't think of a project I've done that doesn't involve the use of one or more of my merge squares.

I use them to establish seams and cuts and to check the cuts to confirm they are correct (a test I run on one scrap piece at a time before using our shop's table saw on actual parts).

Select a reliable tool with these simple tests

So when it comes to must-have measuring tools, a reliable 12 "combination square is near the top of my list, and a 6" version is far behind. And while your scales are unlikely to disagree, they can, so buy them at the same time if possible.

Or, when you get a new one from someone, compare and confirm they match. (It's also a good idea to show the scales of all your measuring devices to each other - ideally, they are all exactly the same.)

If you are buying these tools in person, bring a mechanical pencil and a piece of wood at least 6 "wide x 6" long with a hinged edge to the store.

And maybe it goes without saying, but buy the best combo frames you can afford (and don't for a second consider one with a plastic head).

They are widely used tools; the good ones last and are worth it.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about a Guide to Pick The Best Combination Square for Woodworking

Source: Wood and Shop

First, evaluate the rule

Of course, it is critical that a combination square is, well, square. If the ruler and head are not at 90 °, the tool is useless. (Yes, you can sometimes fix a square outside the square, but you shouldn't, especially in a new tool.) But you also need to be able to actually read the thing.

So before you test the square, make sure the ruler fits. Are the numbers legible? (Embossed rather than embossed, numbers and lines are generally better.)

Are there denotations 8, 16, and 32? (If you're an engineer, you can work up to 64; I can't.)

If the marks are satisfactory, make sure the two long edges are straight. To do this, pull the ruler out of your head and press one edge of the ruler against the hinged edge of the board.

If the ruler is straight, you will not be able to see the light that appears between the ruler and the wood. Now check the other long edge.

Now test for the square

Reassemble the square and register the head firmly against the straight edge of the board. Hold the tool firmly to the board, then draw a thin, consistent line in pencil against the ruler on the face of the board.

Now flip the square over and "show the square line", that is, with the head again registered on the hinged edge of the board, align the other side of the ruler with the pencil line.

If the ruler and its line are parallel, the square is really square. If it is off, try again to make sure there is no user error involved. Are you still off? Pass.

When you are satisfied that the ruler is good and you find the head at 90 °, loosen the nut under the ruler, remove the ruler, and reinsert it.

In most combination squares, the locknut mechanism is spring-loaded; pushing the bottom of the nut upwards releases the tension on the mechanism and moves it into position to facilitate re-insertion of the blade. The ruler should be easy to remove and replace.

Tighten the nut and pull the ruler; it should not move.

Some squares include a spirit level and a removable metal tip that is designed to function as a liner or awl. The scribe is likely to get lost and the spirit level will be practically useless for furniture work. So I really wouldn't worry too much about that.

Tool for Life

If you buy good combo squares and treat them well, they will last well beyond your lifetime. (At home, I use a 6-inch Starrett that my grandfather bought before my mother was born.)

Try your best not to drop a combo box, but if you do, try it out right away. (And if it breaks, you can at least keep the rule.)

Don't unnecessarily slide the ruler back and forth in your head; use the surfaces where the ruler and the head meet.

And create a rule to test your squares from time to time. If you find them ready to go after a few months or years, save up to buy a better brand.

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