Anybody out there had good luck w/ the sets of so-called 'engineers' or
'machinists' or 'precision' squares? Particularly the ones that come in
the boxed sets of 3 or 4? Any supplier specifically recommended? FWIW,
I'm more interested in something like what I see in Grizzly or Woodcraft
than say, a set of Starretts (my bank account aches just looking at the
prices on some of those).
I know more than enough *nix to do some very destructive things,
and not nearly enough to do very many useful things.
How about buying just one Starrett or Browne & Sharpe and then a set of
the less precise ones? Use the good one to tweak and check the less
expensive ones. I have a Starrett in my box at work and I never use it
for anything but as a reference to check my other squares. Mark
For metal working I would agree with you. Wood is much less critical unless
you are a real perfectionist of a cabinet maker.
You can check a square by marking a line at right angles to the straight
edge of a board. Then turn the square around and check the line. It should
be the same. If not, the error is half the difference between the lines.
If you want to check an edge against the light. Take a straight edged piece
of paper and fold it in half. The corner is exactly 90 deg.
I have a set from Enco (cheap import) and a few good starret ones that I got
at a garage sale. I can't tell a difference between them, other than the
finish on the starretts are a little nicer. They are all "square." As square
as you need for woodworking anyway.
I use these things ALOT. They are so useful. I don't know what I would do
without them. I also use all of the sizes, so I would recommend getting a
set. Sometimes the bg ones are too big, and teh small ones are too small, it
just depend on what you are doing.
Joe in Denver
My woodworking website:
I go along with Joe, regretably for the type of work I do I couldn't justify
the small difference in quality for the huge price differential between the
imports and home products. I use Enco (www.use.enco.com) quite extensively
and it is worth checking out their monthly and close out offers. Majority
of the time they give the specification of each of their products so you can
see exactly what you are sacrificing, if anything.
I got mine off of ebay about 2 yrs ago for $5.00.
They work fine.
I have 1 starrett that use to check them occassionaly - espically when they
fall off the bench.
(Its a lot easier on the stomach to drop a $5.00 knock off than a
I noticed that it says "Squareness of the blade edge to the working face
of stock is .0006"."
But what about the other edge? For that matter, which is the working
edge? I'd much rather have a square with all edges in good alignment.
I purchased 2 sets of 3 from Harbor Freight that were made in India. I
checked them against a Starret and of the 6 one was slightly off, the
rest were as close the Starrett as I could see with by eye. I called
HF about the defective set (actually only one of the 3 in the set) and
they said just keep that set and we will ship you another. When that
set arrived all 3 were OK as checked against my Starrett square. I was
able to "tweak" the one that was slightly off and have it match the
Starrett also. So I got 3 of each, 2, 3 and 4 inch engineers squares,
for the price of 2 sets. Each set was only a few dollars as I recall.
If you have a known-good square to check them against, and the seller
has a good return policy, you have little to lose by trying some of
I have a set of 3 from Woodcraft that I am well pleased with. I don't know about the
Starretts or Grizzlys, but if you are big on
"Buy American", my Woodcraft set is prominently marks as "Made in India".
I don't know if they would be acceptable for extremely tight tolerance machining
work, but for the accuracy required in most
woodworking applications they more than fit my needs.
Wichita, KS USA
My favorite is an early 4" Stanley #1 with a patent date of
1874. There's a picture of one like it at:
and yes, it's still square.
PS The heading on the web page says type 2, but the picture is
titled a type 1.
I think I paid a quarter for it :-).
So look around, especially at estate sales. There's some good
squares out there.
DAGS on "Harbor Freight Squares". Other's have had great luck - I didn't.
All of mine were way off when compared to the Starrett. Took a chance on a
boxed set from Garrett Wade - they're fine.
The cheapest, precise squares I have -- are several inexpensive plastic
I think I paid $8 for the 14" monster and the 90 and 45's are dead-on
against the Starrett.
The "Master Square" in my shop is a flourescent acrylic Allen 24" (yes, 24")
45-45-90 drafting square. I also got a 16" and a 12". I find these types of
squares to be very useful for setting up fixtures, jigs, etc., because they can
be lain flat, and the two edges used to align whatever's ailing you.
I also have a few of the "engineer" squares and they seem to be good enough.
I've never had a corner or whatever judged square by them mess up some piece of
construction, so for me, they're square enough.
But for setting up machines, etc., where a long, straight, square reference edge
is essential, I'll keep my drafting squares!
I have a 7" Incra Square and I think it would fall into the
'precision' category. I really like it. It is square and the fact
that it is nice and wide it will stand up on its own without me
holding it. Plus it didn't cost an arm and a leg.
You can occassionally get lucky on Ebay for a starrett. Sometime right
after christmas, read broke as everyone else, I won a 6" Starrett for
$23.00 with the shipping. Love that square, love it. They were, and still
mostly do, go for around $50 each on Ebay.
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