Wooden Shop Squares

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Project by oldwolf posted 04-13-2011 11:06 PM 9539 views 20 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Squares of all kinds are an important shop tool. but sometimes just the exercise of building your own tool helps you better understand that tool on a deeper level. A couple months ago Chris Schwarz over at Pop Wood Magazine got my attention when he started blogging about a square Patrick Leach posted on his monthly tool list. They were calling it an English Layout Square.

I don’t make a habit of building things from magazines but I became kind of enamored of this square from first sight, and if you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for making my own tools. the largest square is the same dimensions as the one built by Mr. Schwarz. after a friend gave me an idea I decided to make a teardrop hole at the corner to hang a small plumb bob from. This made the tool not only a nice large layout square, but also upgraded it to a A-Frame level also known as a Libella.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone there either. I wanted a smaller version so I didn’t have to juggle the larger one on smaller pieces. So I built one at half the size. Then I figured I might as well go ahead and make a Roubo style wooden try square as well. I can be nothing if not compulsive at times.

If you want to read your way through the entire build you can find lots more information on my blog located at

All three squares are Mahogany and the dark wooden pins are an exotic that I am unsure of the species, (I cut them from blank brought home in a turner’s grab bag from Woodcraft) I am told the species is probably African Blackwood, but your guess is as good as mine.

The length of the arms of the large square is 21” the smaller square has 10 1/2” arms and the Roubo has a 12” blade and 8” handle.

Thanks for looking,

-- Oldwolf -

8 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4627 days

#1 posted 04-14-2011 02:50 AM

Cool this are fantastic looking squares, Great job.


View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 5074 days

#2 posted 04-14-2011 02:53 AM

I think you’re hooked on these things! You’re going to have me wanting to make some. Nice!

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26046 posts in 4155 days

#3 posted 04-14-2011 04:22 AM

Very nice squares. thanks fo sharing!!!!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View deeman's profile


380 posts in 4130 days

#4 posted 04-14-2011 12:04 PM

Always cool to make your own tools, although Grampa never thought so

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4126 days

#5 posted 04-14-2011 02:27 PM

I know I for one am inspired. Very good stuff! Look forward to seeing a few of my own around the shop soon.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View drbyte's profile


847 posts in 5112 days

#6 posted 04-14-2011 03:35 PM

Great squares! I made an ‘Egyptian Level” with a plumb bob. I find it to be more accurate than my bubble levels although a little bit harder to fuss with. I’m not sure what it’s called, maybe a ‘set square’. It’s kinda shaped like an F with a small bob hanging from the top. I plan to build the triangle with the bob also. Fascinating stuff to say the least.

-- Dennis, WV

View darkhollow's profile


60 posts in 3567 days

#7 posted 07-06-2011 10:41 PM

Beautiful tools. i always appreciate such a great blend of function and aesthetics, and craftsman-made tools.

-- You say Luddite like it's a bad thing ...

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 3453 days

#8 posted 03-11-2012 06:41 PM

Excellent work. There’s an episode of the Woodright’s Shop available for viewing at the show’s website. Scharwz is a guest on the show and goes through the construction of this type of layout square in pretty good detail.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

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