Engineer's square

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I'm not a big tolerance proponent, but making something like a 12" by 12" by 12" box with 1/8th" thickness required careful tolerances. That's because small errors accumulate over distance and over cobined angles.
I have a few combination squares. I bought a Starrett off eBay at a good price. (I actually bought pieces separately - cheaper than buying a set.) Note that there are two kinds of heads - hardened or not. One has a pebbled finshish, and the other is smoother.
The Starrett, even though it's old and has a patina, is still very readable. I have a Lufkin and Stanley rule one that has some slight rust, and the readability of the Starrett is much nicer. It's brighter and easier to read in dim light. There is not as much tarnish on it. Perhaps it's the hardened blade. Also - the little pin you use to scribe has a nice solid feel to it, compared to the other two combo squares I have.
There's a certain joy in using a Starrett.
One of these days I'm going to get a 4" or 6" double square Starrett. I like the Lee Valley DS ($20 on sale) very much, but one of these days....
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Where do you rate a proper dovetail?
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writes:

If I get what you are asking, 1/64 out on a dovetail might as well be a mile. Many people would be amazed at the tolerances that have to be held for joints such as dovetails, box joints, mortise and tennon et.Got to admire guys that can hand cut really nice joints. I've hand cut dovetails. They worked but were anything but nice fitting, not to mention being ugly.
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I move the blade so that it's flush with the handle, so it has the same shape as an engineering square.
It's also handy to measure router bit height, etc.
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message

I read a bunch of review on Starrett squares at amazon.com--they have a lot of particularly satisfied customers!
Beginner's question: Say I use a fine square to mark a 3 or 4 inch line "perfectly", with an awl or knife. How can I extend that line to, say, 10 or 20 inches with accuracy that would please Starrett's customers? Does it suffice to place the knife blade into the first cut, and press the edge of the Starrett rule up against it and continue cutting with the knife against the rule? If not, what is the SOP here?
A long while ago when I actually made a lot of projects, they always seemed just a little bit off where ends were supposed to meet and such. Back then I was probably using a ruler and a pencil--where, of course, the corner of a ruler could double as a square... I thought someone said that a good craftsman doesn't blame his tools...but I agree that it seems to make sense to spend a little on the one tool that all of the rest of the tools are going to be set up with... Thanks.
Bill
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Well, a Starrett fan would have a 24" combination ruler. But I would either make additional marks along the edge, and especially the other end of the piece of wood, extending the line. and then use a straightedge or framing square.
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Bill,
If you think that you will be making an investment in bigger 'n better power tools in the future, then they will require accurate setup to get the best out of them. If you are, then make the investment in a few measuring tools that will achieve the accuracy needed to verify whether your tool setup is good enough or dead-on. How accurate and to what tolerance you want to work to is your call.
But to answer your question, another tool you may want is a reasonably accurate straight-edge like these
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pP074&cat=1,240,45313
Bob S.
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Bob,
I see myself buying a TS, BS, DP and Router. I started off several years ago interested in learning how to build an old-time banjo ("Boucher") and along the way recognized how little I knew about woodworking in general. I haven't forgotten that early goal or other ones I've acquired since then, but along the way I've been seduced by hand planes and many other implements of construction. Frankly, I enjoy learning new skills and techniques--just like lots of folks around here. This thread taught, along with related reading I did, taught me more about squares than I ever knew, and I can tell that I've just scratched the surface. I love it. If I can help furnish my house and make some music with what I learn that will be very cool--and it may even help legitimize all of the time I enjoy putting into the study of woodworking!
In reply to your question, some aspects of musical instrument building require very fine tolerances (like the distances between frets) and other aspects maybe not as much. I've never really thought about what tolerance I want to work to. Giving a good answer will require knowledge I don't have yet. It's a good question though.
Bill
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{snip]
[snip]
If you really like precision, some of us bought a TS-Aligner Jr to do precise alignment of a tablesaw.
http://www.ts-aligner.com/tsalignerjr.htm
Ed used to post here and offer discounts. He's extremly anal about measurement, and some people appreciate that. But the web site is very helpful. He compares his tool to other tools on the market.
Id's also suggest a Wixey Angle guage. I got one from Rockler for $20 recently.
http://www.wixey.com/anglegauge/index.html
It's a much easier way to set precise blade tilt.
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It's just me, but I can't see paying over a hundred bucks for something you can make with a dial indicator from Harbor freight and some scrap wood/metal. I made one and it's accurate... certainly more than accurate enough for woodworking.

I second that.
The BealeBox and iGaging (makes the Beale) AngleCube have magnets on three sides with make it a little more convenient.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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FWIW, The TS Aligner Jr can do several things Mitre Gauge alignment Sliding Table alignment Spindle alignment on a drill press Jointer blade height

So does the Wixey
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Bruce Barnett wrote:

The one I made for 15 bucks does all that. It's a dial indicator on a stick, there's nothing ingenious about that. :-)

Are you sure about that? Did they upgrade it? All the pictures I've seen show magnets on the bottom, only.
In looking around, I also see that Rockler has the AngleCube online for 20 bucks. You can usually find a code for free shipping, too.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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Interesting. Is there any write-up? For instance, how do you get the table of a drill press to be square to the spindle?

Sorry. I was incorrect. You are right. The Wixey only has magnets on the bottom.
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Bruce Barnett wrote:

Easy. Use an engineering square. :-) Why Rube Goldberg it?
But if I did find a reason why I needed a dial indicator to square a press table, I could certainly get some aluminum stock and create a jig for a bit less than a hundred bucks. :-)
Sorry, I'm not going to be convinced that the thing is worth anywhere near what they're asking for it, nor does anything more than I can do with a dial indicator and some scraps. All I see on their horrible website [yellow text against woodgrain background, I'm dizzy) :-) ] is them trying to come up with reasons to convince me I need it. Like a TV infomercial.. "Look what it can do!"
If I were a machinist, you could convince me, but not for woodwork. It sure is shiny and pretty, though. :-)
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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On Mon, 30 Nov 2009 07:08:01 -0500, Bruce Barnett

For testing drill press runout you can, with the power cord unplugged, use a coat hanger chucked in the drill press such that it lightly touches the drill press table top. When it is even all the way around, the spindle is perpendicular to the table top. No special tools needed!
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Phisherman wrote: ...

??? I've never seen a precision-enough coat hanger that any part of it would be straight/level enough in reference to any other that it would be of any use as a measuring tool...
How does this work, exactly, again?????
--
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dpb wrote:

The hanger is crooked enough that it touches the table at least several inches from the center point or the point that straight rod in the chuck would be. As you rotate the chuck by hand, the tip of he hanger should just touch the table (in a circle) if the table is level. It's kind of like the process of leveling a RAS table by removing the blade and setting the bevel with the arbor straight own, then checking that the arbor just touches the table as he arm is swung and the motor pulled along the arm.
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

If the idea was/is the single-point, simply a chunk of 10ga wire bent would be simpler. Maybe that's what phish was suggesting just use the hanger for the wire, I'm still not sure...
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dpb wrote:

A single point doesn't give you levelling.
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J. Clarke wrote: ...
Rotating it does (or can assuming a fair amount which was the reason for the ??? to try to ken what was the way the suggester thought this works...)
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