What's square? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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What's square?

This is more of a question than a review (with scientific input)?

My buddy has high dollar engineering squares (+$150). And when he comes over, he always gives me a hard time about my cheap squares. Finally, I said let's compare!
I took my cheapest (Stanley combination $12) against his best engineering square (Starrett). We drew a line across a 2x8.
Yep, the lines are identical (he's not so happy).

So what's the deal? Is it just us, or this common?
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post #2 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 05:53 PM
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Theres no $150+ square in my tool box. It's not that hard to figure out if a square is square.
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post #3 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Woodchuck, you definitely have me there. I was just wondering what everyone else thought about this experiment.
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post #4 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 06:50 PM
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Starrett is the standard that all others try to emulate.
That said, go to home dumpo or which is closer to you, find EMPIRE brand with the BLUE not other color but blue!!!! those critters are guaranteed to .001 very reasonable. I have a drawer full of junk critters and a few Empire. I also have a 6" and 18" super precision triangles from WoodPekers as referance guages and the empires are dead on. I trust you know how to check your squares :}
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post #5 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 07:54 PM
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Over a short distance (like you measured) it is difficult to tell the difference in perfectly square and almost square.

Fortunately for us woodworkers we seldom have to work with anything that would be a long distance, say 36 inches.

G
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post #6 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 09:03 PM
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Dad is a tool & die maker so, growing up, the "house tools" were Starret or Lufkin. (actually Lufkin set the standards that Starret strives for. But anyway . . . ) In the industry its all about confidence. Dad wouldn't show up for work with anything less than Starret. He KNOWS its square. The Tool God said so. Its an assumption with confidence. While he "calibrates / checks" tools several times a year he is confident that, in between, the tool hasn't hasn't changed or distorted. Not only is the finnished tool certified by the maker all materials going into it are certified before hand. Besides tools he judges a new guy by his tool box. Kennedy is the standard, Gerstner impresses but the guy rolling a Craftsman into a tooling room is really going to have to impress with their work.
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post #7 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 10:15 AM
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Wow I feel out of place with my plastic dial indicator. Do you guys sharpen your mechanical pencils?
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post #8 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
Over a short distance (like you measured) it is difficult to tell the difference in perfectly square and almost square.
G

This is true. It's easy to check your square by drawing a line along the 24" edge, and flipping it and drawing a parallel line. Out of square squares can be at times "pinged" back to square if done diligently.



Quote:
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Fortunately for us woodworkers we seldom have to work with anything that would be a long distance, say 36 inches.
G
I work with distances longer than 36", and have made 3-4-5 squares that are dead on. Getting a tool to produce a 90 degree line isn't all that difficult. I do my own glass cutting and have made and sold several of these plexiglas "squares" for a 90 deg cut or line making. These have a 50" capability.
.







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post #9 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 11:08 AM
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PLEXIGLASS...nor THAT I LIKE. I have been using 1/4 ply for my crosscut guide for plywood... I never thought of plexiglass... GOOD IDEA! what do you glue it with?
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post #10 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mics_54 View Post
PLEXIGLASS...nor THAT I LIKE. I have been using 1/4 ply for my crosscut guide for plywood... I never thought of plexiglass... GOOD IDEA! what do you glue it with?


Over the counter you can use Weld-On #4.

Or, you can use Ethylene Dichloride, and some kind of squeeze bottle applicator with a needle like dispenser, or a syringe.






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post #11 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 06:12 PM
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I can tell you what isn`t square, my new Swanson (the YELLOW one) dry wall square. Yes, it was purchased for rough cuts on sheet goods. However, it`s off by 3/16 every 14 inches! I don`t expect it to match the Starrett, Moore & Wright stuff left over from my long gone machinists days, but this is ridiculous!
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post #12 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 08:08 PM
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I have a Swanson aluminum speed square, I thought it was ok until I bought a aluminum Craftsman and an aluminum Empire. The Swanson is junk in my opinion, the metal is so thin that I doubt it would work very well as a saw guide, and it bends easily.
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post #13 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 09:39 PM
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a swanson is great for scraping ice off a 2x6!
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post #14 of 26 Old 11-20-2008, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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You guys crack me up.

But Steve Mackay is the only one who makes me want to buy that Starret. I am listening...
But for my 8 inch cuts I thinks I'll stick with the less than $50 crowd for now.
Not that I planned it this way, but most of my squares are Stanley. Going out 36 inches... they're all right on.
For me, the most questionable squares are the combination's. I bought the Stanley not expecting much, but it is amazingly square and accurate. I thought the measurements were off a little until I bought a "cabinet tape measure". I've come to realize that most construction metal tapes have enough "play" on the hook to cause a difference. Don't get me wrong. The difference is tiny... until you're building furniture.
Little tip from me, hope it helps.
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post #15 of 26 Old 11-20-2008, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarionflyer View Post

I thought the measurements were off a little until I bought a "cabinet tape measure". I've come to realize that most construction metal tapes have enough "play" on the hook to cause a difference. Don't get me wrong. The difference is tiny... until you're building furniture.
Little tip from me, hope it helps.

Don't want to burst your bubble, but the retractable tape measures with the hook end is supposed to have play. It's for inside and outside measure.



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post #16 of 26 Old 11-20-2008, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Absolutely, Cabinetman !
The hook is designed for pushing up against something... and pulling against something!
That's the play in the hook.
But that play can throw it off a little. That hook is pretty amazing.
But in a lot of cheaper tapes, that movement is what causes a bad cut (furniture).
Try yours on a scrap. Pull... then push, then make an exact measurement.
Unless it's a good hook, I've found them to be off... sometimes a 1/16.
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post #17 of 26 Old 11-20-2008, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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... Put simply. The old rule is, use the same tape for cutting as measuring. And assume a tiny bit of error between a push measurement and pull measurement.
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post #18 of 26 Old 11-20-2008, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarionflyer View Post
Absolutely, Cabinetman !
The hook is designed for pushing up against something... and pulling against something!
That's the play in the hook.
But that play can throw it off a little. That hook is pretty amazing.
But in a lot of cheaper tapes, that movement is what causes a bad cut (furniture).
Try yours on a scrap. Pull... then push, then make an exact measurement.
Unless it's a good hook, I've found them to be off... sometimes a 1/16.

Just to clear up the play. The movement amount is to account for the thickness of the hook.






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post #19 of 26 Old 11-21-2008, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarionflyer View Post
... Put simply. The old rule is, use the same tape for cutting as measuring. And assume a tiny bit of error between a push measurement and pull measurement.
Assume a tiny bit of error? What does that mean?

I have always used Stanley 25' tapes and I have NEVER had one be off so much as 1/32", let alone 1/16". I always check a new tape by measuring out from the 1" mark and checking the measure with the hook. They only become inaccurate when I drop them. I have had to rebend a damaged hook after dropping it. Even then, its accuracy was still within the thickness of the line.

That said, I used to use Stanley combo squares and they were really hard to read accurately because their lines are too thick. Then I bought a Bridge City Tool Works combo square for $70. (It was $140, but I got a factory blemish one for half price) My ability to measure, and hence, cut accurately increased noticably immediately. The demarcation lines are very thin and easy to read. They came with a 'LIFETIME WARRANTY" for squareness, meaning that for $5 s & h you could send your square back to them and get it trued to .001. I had done so several times over the years. Then the company was bought out. So much for lifetime warranties. But the point is, I found a great difference between my $18 Stanley combo square, and my $70 BCTW combo square. Doing this stuff for a living, I count it as one of the best tool purchases I've ever made.
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post #20 of 26 Old 11-21-2008, 11:02 PM
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I've often been tempted to buy one, or a couple different types of the rules that Woodpeckers sells, they look pretty darn nice.
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