Look, just because it is cheap doesn't mean it isn't square. Pick a few
off the rack and take them down to the lumber aisle and check them on a
sheet of 4x8 MDF, which will be absolutely square. You really need to be
careful and eyeball them correctly, looking for ANY air gap at all. If it
is square when you buy it, it should remain square.
Now that's disgusting. :-) I need to have my wife do my shopping. She
found a painting appraised at $8000. The little store didn't know what they
had and asked $300 for the painting with the frame. She offered $200 for the
painting without the frame and bought it. Now we have to carry insurance on
Speaking of insurance, I better go check my home owners policy and see what
it says about a shop full of expensive tools -- getting there one saw blade
at a time.
The Starrett squares have some subtle differences which make them a pleasure
to use. For example, the edge of the rule is square to the face (of the
rule), so drawing a repeatable line with a knife or pencil is easy. The
Johnson square (at least the one that I own) has a rounded edge--the line
wanders depending on how I hold the knife or pencil.
I used to buy whatever square was available in my local hardware store
(before HD.) About 10 years ago I bought a Starrett 18" square at a
pawn shop for all of $20. I was using it today and it is much easier to
read and set than the other "non-Starrett" squares. A couple of years
ago I sprung for Starrett's "Builder's Combination Tool." A hefty 24
inch square with an adjustable head.
I find myself using this a lot and am impressed with how repeatable
angle settings are.
I don't think you can go wrong with Starrett.
Bob Davis wrote:
I try and not use my Builders Square too much. I'm too
afeared I'll use up all its magic.
And in the end its somewhat of a quality of life issue. It
just makes the quality of my life that much nicer and
judging by the early onset of curmudgeoness I need all the
nice I can get.
By the way, Woodcraft sells a 4-piece import that has the
same heft as a Starrett I wouldn't hesitate to test drive
one and the full set costs the same as the 2-piece Starrett.
Also, almost any industrial supply house (MSC/Reid,etc.) all
offer off shore squares at a lesser cost than a Starrett.
They are worth consideration.
I don't know about Johnson but fairly recently, (6 mo. - 1 yr.) one of
the magazines did a comparison of adjustable squares and the Stanley
received a good review. I have one and it's been fine. I have had some
crappy ones in the past but this Stanley is square, and a hell of a lot
cheaper than the Starret.
I am very pleased with the opinions and thoughts offered in response to my
original query. I thought it was pretty balanced. One reader sent me a
link to a website that had a very good tutorial on the various heads offered
with Starrett tools. That was educational. I did not even know you could
get a protractor head.
So I've decided to
1) stalk ebay and see if I can find a starrett at some savings
2) if 1) fails, go buy a Stanley
3) Buy a forged steel starrett with all the heads when I make the purchase
of a good jointer and planer for my shop.
I'd prefer to start with number 3, but its kind of expensive. Until I get
milling tools, I think the accuracy of a starrett will be academic for me.
In the meantime, the Fine Woodworking web site has an article on
tuning combi squares. This could come in handy with any square.
However, it won't put the beautiful markings and precision feel of a
Starrett, B&S, or other high-end model into the cheaper tool. <G>
On Mon, 29 Sep 2003 10:44:26 -0400, Donnie Vazquez
I actually have a *gasp* Craftsman combo square that's accurate, but I
still prefer my Starretts.
It goes beyond square, the Starrett rule is much easier to read, the
mechanism works better, the blade edges are truly parallel, and the
ends of the blade are truly square with the edges.
I use the Craftsman outdoors, on construction type stuff, and it's the
one I loan out. <G>
Truthfully Bob, you can do fine woodwork with either. I used a cheap stanley as
child for my tool pouch, its been dropped plenty, its still around somewhere and
plenty useable for carpentry work. Now of course I've used Starrett and Millers
Falls machinist quality Comb. squares here in the shop and its really hard to go
back once you've used really nicely made tools. It took me a good long while
combing the flea markets and the bay for a good deal and I'm glad I waited
because I fould some very good deals and acquired quite a lot of Starret tools
that are useful for woodworking. And your odds of getting a quality used tool
are really pretty good when you're buying high end stuff like Starrett.
My advice, keep an inexpensive square for outside the shop, not necessarily a
comb square, tri squares, machinist's squares and aluminum framing squares are
very handy too and affordable. Then keep your eye out for a machinist quality
square at a good price.
P.S. As you grow older and your eyesight changes you'll appreciate the
readability of the Starrett scales. :)
This thread made me go look at my combo square set to see what it is. These are
fairly old tools that were my dad's that I got after he died. It appears that
the protractor head and the center finder head is a Starrett as it says " L.S.
Starrett Co. Athol Mass U.S.A. No. 12". The rule in it has no name. The Center
Finder head has no markings, but appears to be a Starrett only because it looks
the same as the Protractor head and has the same tightening knob. It has a
nicely marked Union Tool Company rule that has been broken off at about 9". The
square head has no markings, but looks like the Starrett protractor head but
has a different shaped adjuster knob. It has no scratch awl and never did ,
there being no place for it. This one has a "Universal No. 65" 12" rule from
the Lufkin Rule Company. All I know is that the square seems square (by the
board test), the center finder seems to find the center, and the protractor
head seems dead on at any angle that I can test with something decent (i.e. 45
and 30 degrees. That old Starrett protrator head moves very smoothly and is
clearly well made. I will say that the Union Tool rule seems to fit best in
all of them sliding more smoothly than the others, too bad it was broken at
some point. I probably should get a Starrett rule for them some day.
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