Square deal

  • Advertise with us
Project by dsb1829 posted 08-01-2008 11:08 PM 2743 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Evening project in the shop. I have been a bit bothered recently with some of my tool setup. Not entirely surprising was the fact that several of my squares were actually not square. Not a big deal to fix, I just hadn’t done it.

I used the draw a line and flip method to get a baseline for each of my commonly used squares. I used mag glasses and a .05mm mechanical pencil to aid in accuracy. My son can be seen modeling the mag glasses above. As I had noted several weeks ago my wood squares are right on in their respective brass reference side. So I have been favoring them for any work I have been doing. I was kind of amazed that the 6in one that I got from Harbor Freight was dead on using either the brass or wood surfaces. I had to file and sand the smaller Crown brand on the outer wooden surface. Some will argue that I probably shouldn’t be using that face, but I find it handy from time to time.

For the combination squares it is simply a matter of sneaking up on the correct adjustment by filing the bed of the holder. Here is a quick blurb about it with a picture?: After about 5-10 minutes on each combination square they are now, well, square. I am not sure how they got unsquare. I am thinking it is a combination of use, inserting different rulers than the original (I have about 5 combos), and possibly by switching the ruler orientation (stamped rulers are a bit different side to side).

Picture is worth a thousand words, camera does pick up some distortion from the angle but trust me they all are lined up. Now I have a drawer full of squares that I can pick up and use without fear of using the one that isn’t quite right. If you have some spare time this is a good evening project. Now I need to tackle my 24in carpenters steel square, I know that one is out ;-)

Update 8/5/08
I have really been wanting a precision square. Something that I know is dead-on no question about it. I was cruising around the other day and noticed someone had a kit that coupled the brass gauge bars with a 1-2-3 block. Brilliant. I can’t believe that it eluded me for so long. A 1-2-3 block is a perfect square to help set up tools. With accuracy under .0005” over the entire length they are far superior to the pencil line aligned squares in my kit. So I got on e-bay and found a nice seller who hooked me up with 4 of them for under 25 shipped to my door. That is about half the cost of most of the woodworking specific “precision” squares and they are usually only guaranteed to about .001”.

The only bad part is that they show that my squares aren’t as perfect as I thought. Oh well, guess the pencil test can only get you so close. I was even using mag glasses and a fine pencil. Bottom line, even cheap machinist setup squares are as precise as expensive wood squares. Also, not too worried about dropping them on the floor. Heck they are likely to dent the floor.

Using the blocks to set my jointer last night was a breeze. They engage solid on the fence and the bed. There is no question that they are sitting flat. I think they will also be handy for tablesaw setup. Who knows what else, but with a few of these around the shop I am feeling very confident they will come in handy.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

7 comments so far

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 5083 days

#1 posted 08-01-2008 11:15 PM

I have been meaning to do the same thing with my squares . . . just have not gotten around to it yet.

-- BLOG -

View mrbentontoyou's profile


25 posts in 4591 days

#2 posted 08-03-2008 04:57 AM

The Harbor freight one was the only one in tune… hilarious.

View UncleBen's profile


37 posts in 4958 days

#3 posted 08-06-2008 12:21 AM

Thanks for sharing that. I thought of trying this and suggested it (on another forum), but the reply was to just buy a good quality sqaure and not mess with it. Of course that’s easier to say when you can afford a Starrett! I’ll be trying this very shortly :-)

By the way, I have that same HF 6” rosewood try square, but I had to open and test (pencil test) every one with a piece of paper and clipboard that I brought. All but the very last one were off, and that was out of 6 or 7 in stock.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 4633 days

#4 posted 08-06-2008 04:20 AM

Yep, that is the standard response of a lot of people these days. Many prefer the instant solution and a new tool to fixing an old one. Those of us on a budget can appreciate good old tools just fine. Honestly after a couple of hours in the shop most of my squares are in good shape and I didn’t have to spend a penny.

I think I just lucked out on the HF. I checked it in the store against an aluminum carpenters square (triangle kind with one combo edge). I am not sure where I heard it, but someone mentioned that those triangle squares are generally pretty accurate. The rosewood square was marked down to $4, so I figured there was little risk. At checkout it rang at $2. One of the best $2 I have put in my shop.

The 1-2-3 blocks just came in yesterday. I have used them for odd jobs at work, but had forgotten how useful they are. If you can find them on e-bay they are definitely the most economical precision square on the market.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4734 days

#5 posted 12-11-2008 10:47 PM

at the risk of sounding ignorant, how are 123 blcoks used? I looked them up and they look like they are just squared that are precicely sized. do out use them to detmine right andgles on things instead of a square? Also, what are the holes for? Sorry for the questions, but I’m really curious.

View dsb1829's profile


367 posts in 4633 days

#6 posted 12-11-2008 10:55 PM

Hey Hokie,
1-2-3 blocks are just precision ground blocks with both threaded and unthreaded holes. You can bolt stuff to them for a rt angle jig. Typically in a machine shop they are used for material setups for machining or inspection reference.

I use them for setting fences square on my machines or to set a bevel gauge to 90 degrees. It is really easy to plop one of these on the jointer table, then prop the fence against it and lock it down. Bingo, dead on 90 degree fence setting.

Honestly the uses are as many as your imagination. Just when I think I have them figured out I come up with a new use.

-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4734 days

#7 posted 12-12-2008 09:29 PM

cool. thanks for the info. I’m going to look into a set. sounds way more affordable than a traditional square.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics