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All Replies on are starret/PEC tools really worth it?

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View Spikes's profile

are starret/PEC tools really worth it?

by Spikes
posted 10-24-2018 02:19 PM


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63 replies

63 replies so far

View Heyoka's profile

Heyoka

17 posts in 247 days


#1 posted 10-24-2018 02:47 PM

Good tools are always worth the cost!

-- Heyoka

View Rayne's profile

Rayne

1209 posts in 1934 days


#2 posted 10-24-2018 02:52 PM

They are worth the cost, but if you don’t mind blemished ones, Harry Epstein sells the PEC measuring tools for super cheap. Both of my combinations squares are from them and love using them for everything. Always square.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#3 posted 10-24-2018 03:00 PM

Starrett and PEC are worth the money if you need the precision they offer in my opinion. They also have the benefit of peace of mind. I check my Starrett and PEC squares occasionally and they have all remained dead square always. But if your Empire square is square, then it’s good. Careful though because aluminum squares will wear the small pads the scale rides on fairly quickly and it can go out of square. So check it often. Higher-end squares offer the advantage of cast iron or hardened steel so they wear much more slowly and as a rule last a lifetime.

As far as 1/64 being too much, it does depend on how precise your work needs to be but, it also depends on how big your combination square is? If you check a 24” framing square with a 6” combination square and there’s a 1/64” gap, that’s 1/16” at the 24” mark. In other words, the error is per unit length so the longer/wider your work, the more the error will be.

Also remember that scoring a square line is one thing. Cutting to it is another. A perfect square won’t help if your miter gauge is out ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5549 posts in 2888 days


#4 posted 10-24-2018 03:31 PM

You might check Harry Epstein’s prices on the PEC tools if those are the ones you want (they are very nice). He has some factory seconds (blemished) for very good prices.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Robert's profile

Robert

3405 posts in 1875 days


#5 posted 10-24-2018 03:40 PM

I owned/tried to tweak 3 different combination squares, then got a Starrett.

That said, I have a Starrett 8” square (not a combo) that was pitifully out of square.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

540 posts in 1014 days


#6 posted 10-24-2018 03:43 PM

You can also do the same test on your framing square to check for square. Adjustments are done by using a center punch to at the corner to “push” the edge you need to move to bring it into square. If you punch near the outside corner, the legs move closer together, towards the inside of the corner, the legs move farther apart. Took longer to write this than it does to do it.

-- Sawdust Maker

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 884 days


#7 posted 10-24-2018 03:43 PM

For a beginning hobbyist – no. Starret is a great machinist tool, but I’ve used an Empire for the past few years, and it is more than accurate enough. Just make sure to test it every once and a while to ensure it is square.

The reality is that if you are noticing inaccuracies in your work, it’s likely due to either your technique, cutting/shaping tools, or most likely both. You will get far more benefit learning how to tune your table saw properly, and how to make accurate cuts than buying an expensive combination square.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

875 posts in 2353 days


#8 posted 10-24-2018 03:51 PM

”one of the things that came up was buying a good combination square to use to check all the other tools.”

YES.

https://www.amazon.com/Starrett-K53-8-N-Stainless-Carpenters-Square/dp/B00ELMS8Q6

I like this one best. It is my go to to check blades and fences. In woodworking, you do not need machine precision, but your machines do. Having one of these should give you confidence in your tools. Starrett is actually a good value for precision. Once you see it and use it, you will understand.

Edit… and the comments about Hobbyist vs Professional, how is that relevant? I am not a professional race car driver, so should I not worry about air pressure or wheel alignment? I don’t care if you work in your shop for 20 or 2000 hours a year. Right is good, wrong is bad.

I threw away my craftsman combos and some other cheap stuff after realizing they were not actually square.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

875 posts in 2353 days


#9 posted 10-24-2018 03:58 PM



I owned/tried to tweak 3 different combination squares, then got a Starrett.

That said, I have a Starrett 8” square (not a combo) that was pitifully out of square.

- rwe2156

I have few Crown squares that are not square. That 8” is budget Starrett, mine is dead on, guess QC is lacking on that one. Bummer. I like the lightweight feel because it is more of a utility tool for me. Some have complained about it not “feeling” like a real Starrett.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12814 posts in 2775 days


#10 posted 10-24-2018 04:13 PM

Yes they are worth it. I’ve never regretted buying a high quality tool but I have often regretted not it sooner.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5414 posts in 2746 days


#11 posted 10-24-2018 04:18 PM

Buying quality only hurts once, junk tools hurt every time you use them.

I used it to check the rafter and framing squares and they are both slightly off, about 1/64.

That is not much off for framing a house but for making furniture that is a huge error because errors accumulate.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

7487 posts in 3762 days


#12 posted 10-24-2018 04:58 PM

I agree with bondogapos as it is also my opinion, you need ONE precision square!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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jonah

2075 posts in 3693 days


#13 posted 10-24-2018 05:32 PM

The cosmetic blemished PEC squares on eBay are an excellent deal.

I have several, and the biggest plus over cheapo squares is ergonomics. They’re easier to lock down and tend to stay locked a little tighter. Not a huge deal, but they’re not much more money, the markings on the rule are easier to read, and they have better ergonomics. That’s enough for me to pay a little more.

I’d never buy a Starrett (or PEC) square for full price. That’s completely unnecessary, IMO.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5936 posts in 3208 days


#14 posted 10-24-2018 06:03 PM

For most tools there is a cheap starter model, some mid-price options, and the cream of the crop.

With combo squares there only seems to be garbage and gold. I tried every make and manufacturer under the sun, before switching to Starrett. In the end, I paid way too much money on many, many, many cheap combo squares. I should have switched sooner.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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ColonelTravis

1976 posts in 2288 days


#15 posted 10-24-2018 06:11 PM

yes

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#16 posted 10-24-2018 06:42 PM

As I said, the Starrett and PEC are worth the money. But, I’d also like to add that there are other brands that are also as good as those 2. Of course they also command a premium price just like those 2… Mitutoyo makes excellent combination squares. Vintage and new are solid tools. Brown and Sharpe were the cream of the crop as far as try-squares once upon a time preferred even over Starrett among machinists. They were bought out some years back and from what I understand the quality has suffered to some extent but they still produce quality tools. I have had an old Craftsman combination square (40’s-50’s vintage) that was hardened steel and was good but it’s kind of a crapshoot with vintage Craftsman because the quality was all over the place over the decades. Vintage Miller’s Falls combo squares have a reputation for accuracy and are hardened steel. Same for Ward’s Master. Orange Tool Company and Union Tool Company were short-lived I think but made quality tools.

Just a few options if you want to hop on Ebay and find something vintage, you’ll save a little dough. Of course, there’s always a bit of a gamble with used stuff too.

I’ll second/third/fourth/whatever it is now ;-) the recommendation for the PEC cosmetic blems. I don’t like the “feel” of the PECs as well as Starrett or B&S but that’s purely subjective. They are very well made tools and the blems, from my experience as well as lots that I’ve read online over the years, are just as good quality-wise as the rest. They just have the occasional chip in the enamel or scratch on the scale or whatever the case may be. And sometimes you can’t even find what it was that made it a “blem” in the first place.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View SMP's profile

SMP

1058 posts in 300 days


#17 posted 10-24-2018 06:54 PM

I have an old Union, an old Stanley, and a 6” Empire pro. I’ll usually grab 2 of them before doing anything and check the 2 together real quick to make sure they are square. When they are not, then I have to see which one is square and do the pencil flip test, etc. Then I am left second guessing on which one is square etc. What I found with the Empire is after a couple years of use the screw gets bound up and doesn’t tighten up all the way, leaving the rule just slightly loose, but loose enough to where at the end it may be a 1/6th off. I wish I had one good one that I know would just be square. So is it worth the piece of mind? The blemished PEC, definitely, I’ll probably order one of those soon.

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

3448 posts in 3503 days


#18 posted 10-24-2018 07:28 PM

Most of my squares are Starrett, just because I worked with machine tools quite a lot. That said, I have a Great Neck rafter framing square that I use to make sure larger boxes like tool chests are square during glue up. I used the center punch method mentioned above to bring it into square. On checking, it has less than .005” out of square over the length.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View brtech's profile

brtech

1065 posts in 3317 days


#19 posted 10-24-2018 09:19 PM

The thing I notice between my (vintage, ebay) Starrett and any Empire I’ve picked up is the feel. The Starrett is smooooth. Very nice slide, solid lock, no rocking. The Empire is much rougher, harder to lock and wiggles around a lot (I found if I didn’t lock down the Empire, it didn’t give me a reliable square, but if I locked it, it went back to the “right” position). The markings on an Empire are not as good as the Starrett, although you would have to abuse it or keep it quite a while to make that matter much.

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TheFridge

10858 posts in 1881 days


#20 posted 10-24-2018 11:26 PM

Yes.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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MrRon

5496 posts in 3638 days


#21 posted 10-24-2018 11:28 PM

The older Starrett tools were the standard of the measuring world, but their quality seems to have slipped a bit. Mitutoyo has taken first place among precision tools. Starrett is still good, but has gone way up in price. A high precision tool takes away the “guess” as to if the measurement you just took is truly accurate.

View Sark's profile

Sark

100 posts in 755 days


#22 posted 10-24-2018 11:44 PM

I love my Starrett tri-square and use it for all my woodworking. It is a highly accurate machinist tool, which from a practical point of view means that it is somewhat heavier than most of the other tri-squares made for woodworking. Other than the increase in weight (and cost), that’s the only drawback and you will never have to wonder about its accuracy.

Also, I use a set of machinest squares which, like the Starett, are heavier than their counterparts for woodworking since they are machined steel, not wood/metal hybrids or aluminum. Those other squares are plenty accurate, but I got started with the machinest tools and never bothered to change. The machinest square sets with 3 or 4 different sizes are pretty cheap. I take in my machinest squares to home-depot when buying other squares, like carpenter squares, and I can tell which of the cheaper tools are accurate.

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Richard Lee

241 posts in 1170 days


#23 posted 10-25-2018 12:31 AM

There is good Starrett and bad Starrett, check and see where they are made.

View Markmh1's profile

Markmh1

105 posts in 838 days


#24 posted 10-25-2018 02:08 PM

I am a journeyman toolmaker. I have used Starrett exclusively in my career and Starrett has never let me down.

That said, now that I have MS and am now working as a hobbyist, I’ve wondered how a hobbyist checks for square. I kept all my tools from the shop so I’m still in possession of my Starrett 6” hardened steel square. This square was checked against a Moore jig grinder and a B&S coordinate measuring machine for squareness. It was found to be .0002 out in 6” of travel, pretty close. With this master square I have checked my Starrett, B&S, and Millers Falls combination squares using a cigarette rolling paper as a .001 feeler gauge.

I don’t know if this means anything to another fellow with one of these brands unless they have checked their particular tool. I’ve found you really can’t say just because it’s “Brand X”, it’s square. Scribing a line, then flipping the square around and scribing another line to compare the two lines seems silly to me if you are looking for .002-.003 thousandths. Does anyone think they can see that consistently? Still if that’s all you have I believe that test is better than saying just because it’s Starrett, “It’s right on”.

Still, do you need better accuracy for woodworking?

I wish I could tell of a test where a fellow with one combination square could determine whether that tool was square. Sadly, the scribed line is about it. I do think that checking is better than not.

Mark

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waho6o9

8652 posts in 2971 days


#25 posted 10-25-2018 02:30 PM

Yes

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#26 posted 10-25-2018 02:37 PM

Mark, I was taught to check for square (quantitatively) using a surface gauge and DTI:

The pic shows a ball attachment for the surface gauge, I just use the ball on the end of the surface gauge spindle. I have an 8” B&S that’s checked annually against calibration masters and on CMM in the QA department at work. It serves as my master and is within +/-.0001” of square over full length.

So, basically I do it like you but I use a DTI and surface gauge instead of feelers to check against my master.

I should add too, FWIW, my master is used only as a master to check other squares. It’s never used for setups or layout or measuring.

As a machinist-turned-engineer, I’m like you… I kinda giggle when people talk about checking squares by scribing a line, flipping and scribing another line ;-) But, that’s our background influence. It’s good enough for woodworking and better than nothing!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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MrRon

5496 posts in 3638 days


#27 posted 10-25-2018 03:05 PM

Yes! It’s usually good enough for woodworking. I have found that making a square frame, like a large picture frame for example, .002” or .003” is not close enough. Imagine putting together 6, 8, 10 or more pie shaped segments together and having the first and last surface to come together tightly; here is where precision is needed. A woodworker will “fudge it”, by modifying the last segment to fit. In the metal working world, this is not acceptable unless you are just a hobbyist. Precision is akin to fine penmanship. It takes a concentrated effort to do it right. In today’s hurried world, people won’t take the time needed to get it right. That is a sad documentary of the human race. There are great craftsmen, musicians, artists, writers, etc among us and we should all be trying to mimic them as much as possible. That is what drives people to elevate themselves above the level of a caveman. In school, we should all strive toward an “A”, not just a passing grade.

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Planeman40

1413 posts in 3155 days


#28 posted 10-25-2018 03:43 PM

I am going to get roasted for saying this, however as a long time amateur machinist and woodworker (60+ years) this is my opinion.

Woodworking cannot be done to the precision of machining metal and it doesn’t need to be, so trying to is useless and unnecessary. Whereas you do need accurate measurement in woodworking, you only need so much. Thus my opinion is you only need measuring instruments that meet these needs and no more. As a long time machinist (50 years), I have Starrett, Brown and Sharpe, Mitutoyo, and other brands of top end measuring tools. I also have Harbor Freight measuring tools. Having used both, I find that Harbor Freight digital dial calipers and combination squares are accurate for my needs in both woodworking and metalworking. Using these, I can machine consistently to .001”. Precision is in the SKILL and KNOWLEDGE of the person using these instruments.

Thus you are welcome to buy and pay for the ultimate and even have them gold plated, but you don’t NEED them to do accurate woodworking or metalworking. My two cents and I stand by it!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Markmh1's profile

Markmh1

105 posts in 838 days


#29 posted 10-25-2018 07:41 PM

HokieKen, I have a dedicated tool for checking squareness based exactly on that method. It is based on the fact my indicator has never lied to me.

It is a shame a method like this isn’t available to hobbyists at a more reasonable cost. Ponying up the money for a GOOD indicator, buying the necessary auxiliary equipment, then learning the principals for using this tooling, IMO is more than most fellows want to jump into. I really don’t know if this level of accuracy is needed in woodworking.

A fellow can buy a hardened solid square like a Starrett, B&S, or even Mititoyo (SP?) but how can one state even a big money square is right unless there is a means to check it?

In my career I’ve seen a few $500 disappointments.

Mark

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HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#30 posted 10-25-2018 07:54 PM

I hear ya’ Mark. You can actually grab a good surface gauge for little-of-nothing on eBay and you could use a dial indicator which are pretty reliable and cheap these days. Of course you also have to have a known flat surface plate and some standard by which to zero the indicator.

After pondering it a bit, the ideal way to check for square, assuming you don’t have a known good reference square, would be to check one side, zero the indicator and flip the square, and check the other side. If it goes back to zero, then you have to be square, right? Unless your blade sides are out of parallel and happen to be out the exact amount you’re out of square in order to fool the indicator. We can assume that impossible, statistically speaking ;-)

So, what if we use a couple of parallels, to sit the surface gauge on? If the bottom of the surface gauge sits high enough that we can slide the base leg of the square underneath it, then we can touch off the ball and the indicator on one side and flip and check the other side.

Just thinking and typing at the same time. Parallels aren’t really feasible with a combination square because the stock is so tall but some precisely ground 1-2-3 blocks would do the job. I might give it a go if I stumble on some free time ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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Spikes

125 posts in 440 days


#31 posted 10-25-2018 08:38 PM

wow, blown away more than usual by the comments. I may be pushing the envelope here, but I really like the conversation about precision and craftsmanship because to me that’s one side of this journey (the other being the fulfillment of a need in the community where I volunteer). I find for myself that it’s very useful to explore the pattern of “Person1: you should use x to check y. Person2: uhm ok, what do I use to check x?” and so on and so forth. It’s definitely a spiral down into a narrow deep rabbit hole, but having gone through that in another discipline it was fun and revealing and I’m interesting in repeating that in the world of woodworking. Likewise, echoing @MrRon, I’m interested in slowing down, I’ve certainly picked up some bad habits of going too fast for the sake of getting the job done.

At the same time I want to acknowledge a few comments I’ve seen about skill and knowledge in the use of instruments, I’m glad @Planeman40 brought that up as well as @lumbering_on , I’ve definitely got lost many times trying to optimize something and missed the forest for the tree. Also precision for the sake of precision is, I think, not the same as focus and taking the time to do things right, but can be just an equally unhealthy obsession as cranking stuff out as quickly as possible with no regard for craftsmanship. And for some of the work I do I definitely do not need that level of precision.

In summary, I’ll keep an eye out for a good Starret or another of those good brands @HokieKen mentioned and in the meantime make sure my Empire is square. I’m sure once I finally get a good square I’ll appreciate it even more than if I never tried a bad one.

thanks all for the input

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

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lumbering_on

578 posts in 884 days


#32 posted 10-25-2018 09:55 PM



I hear ya Mark. You can actually grab a good surface gauge for little-of-nothing on eBay and you could use a dial indicator which are pretty reliable and cheap these days. Of course you also have to have a known flat surface plate and some standard by which to zero the indicator.

After pondering it a bit, the ideal way to check for square, assuming you don t have a known good reference square, would be to check one side, zero the indicator and flip the square, and check the other side. If it goes back to zero, then you have to be square, right? Unless your blade sides are out of parallel and happen to be out the exact amount you re out of square in order to fool the indicator. We can assume that impossible, statistically speaking ;-)

So, what if we use a couple of parallels, to sit the surface gauge on? If the bottom of the surface gauge sits high enough that we can slide the base leg of the square underneath it, then we can touch off the ball and the indicator on one side and flip and check the other side.

Just thinking and typing at the same time. Parallels aren t really feasible with a combination square because the stock is so tall but some precisely ground 1-2-3 blocks would do the job. I might give it a go if I stumble on some free time ;-)

- HokieKen

Actually, there are a few ways to check for square without a known reference. Just off the top of my head

1) use Pythagorean’s – aka 3,4.5
2) use your square to draw a square and then measure the diagonals to ensure they measure the same
3) suspend a plumb bob from each corner and see if it intersects the board, if it does, it’s not square

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Kazooman

1319 posts in 2347 days


#33 posted 10-25-2018 10:22 PM

I read most of this thread but I may have missed some of the nuances. How many rely on a combination square as opposed to a dedicated square? How often do you find that you really need the ability to adjust the position of the head for a 90 degree angle? How often do you really use the 45 degree angle?

I have a cheap “big box” combination square, and I virtually never use it. I have a much nicer dedicated square with a 6” blade that I use all of the time. On the occasion that I need a 45 degree angle I have a high quality drafting triangle that can be held against a flat piece of stock butted up against the edge I am using as a reference.

As a rule, I can’t cut, plane, sand, etc. a piece of wood any more accurately that these tools can measure and after the freshly cut piece sits on the bench with all of its newly exposed fibers reacting to their new humidity environment all bets are off.

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Sark

100 posts in 755 days


#34 posted 10-26-2018 02:27 AM

I’m enjoying this thread. Totally agree with Planeman that woodworking doesn’t require the precision that metal working does. But its nice having some precision tools around to jig up the machinery, and why not use a dead accurate square vs. one that isn’t that precise?

One way of assessing the accuracy of a square…assuming you have a flat reference like a granite flat or a thick piece of glass…is to get two squares stood upright with the thinner blade portions touching. If there is no gap the squares are probably square. Check by nesting them, so that one square is nested with the other. If there’s still no gap, you’ve got two square squares. If there is a gap, get a third square and repeat.

About 25 years ago, I spent some time at a machinist’ supply store running these tests. The store was willing to let me use their granite flat, and one certified square. I then proceeded to check a bunch of the cheap knock-off India made squares against the certified reference square till I found one that was almost perfect…and that’s been my reference square ever since. It was about 1/5 the price of the certified square.

The machinist also told me, that using 3 squares (even uncertified) you can quickly determine which is the most accurate…but I really forget the trick. Maybe someone knows it. Anyway, back to more than enough accuracy for woodworking. Also I got a set of 1-2-3 blocks which I love for setting the tablesaw blade. (And picked up a surplus granite flat for $25. Its ground to about .0001” of flatness and is about 18” wide. Highly recommend something like it.)

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Woodknack

12814 posts in 2775 days


#35 posted 10-26-2018 05:29 AM

To Kenny’s point about old squares, I have a Lufkin 6” combo square that is the equal to any Starrett, hardened steel, dead nutz, love that little guy. Paid about $1 for it in a box of drafting tools.

Also the fastest way to check a square for square is put two squares back to back, if you see light between them, one isn’t square. So once you have 1 true reference square you can check any other square in a second.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Sark

100 posts in 755 days


#36 posted 10-26-2018 12:35 PM

And to Kazooman’s point, I use the combination square as a means for transferring a constant distance (like the distance for drilling cabinet pull holes)...or for direct measurements when the tape measure won’t fit. Great for marking lines by sliding along the edge of piece. Or just marking a right angle. Really too many uses for it to describe. It’s an invaluable tool in my trade which is cabinet-making. Never use the protractor head.

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Markmh1

105 posts in 838 days


#37 posted 10-26-2018 02:04 PM

HokieKen, If, using your indicator and ball/surface gauge, you check one side of a “square” block, set the indicator to zero, then flip the block and if your indicator doesn’t read zero on the second side, true square
is right between the two readings.
Boy, that was a run-on sentence. I hope it made sense.

When I used my squareness checker with the indicator it was not necessary to have something square to calibrate the checker. I would set the indicator at zero on the first side of the block then whatever reading I
got on the second side, lets say .004, the amount the block would be out is .002 per side. .004 total indicator runout. I could then zero the indicator midway, at the .002 reading. After that the indicator would express “out of square” as the amount per side. Rechecking this block would show me one side +.002 and the other side -.002.

It’s funny how error seems to accumulate. If error was introduced at the beginning of a job, that error would stack onto any other evil that found it’s way in. I can’t ever remember where 2 errors canceled each other out.

Mark

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HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#38 posted 10-26-2018 02:52 PM

Very true Mark. That is the preferred method. However, using a surface gauge and a square instead of a block, you can’t do that because the stock of the square prevents you from checking that side. I was just trying to think if there was a relatively simple way to check both sides of a square without using a block or a known good square or cylinder square or angle plate or etc. etc. to set the indicator zero first.

I have to point out also, that using a block to zero the DTI also relies on parallelism of the block faces. Now that I think about it, using this method at all assumes that the sides of the square’s blade are parallel…

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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Bill White

5206 posts in 4355 days


#39 posted 10-26-2018 03:14 PM

I have Mitutoyo, B & S, etc., but my framer is from my Dad. A Nichols union made, copper clad framer that has been around at least 70 years. My try square is an old Stanley.
I check my squaring devices with a Staedtler drafting square. That drafting square is dead on and inexpensive.
I’m surprised that no one mentioned that process.

-- [email protected]

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bigblockyeti

5746 posts in 2115 days


#40 posted 10-26-2018 04:33 PM

are higher end combination/try square really worth it?

No, sadly they are not. You are looking for precision in your woodworking and these tool are metal, you need layout and measuring tools made from the finest wood there is . . . . . Alder!

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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DrDirt

4558 posts in 4137 days


#41 posted 10-26-2018 04:47 PM

Good quality tools are more of a joy to use…
There are plenty of cheap tri-squares, with plastic heads that don’t slide smoothly.. but are still “Square” from the flip test.

Planeman pointed to the issue – that other than being ‘Far out’ of square… we are dealing with wood.

If you are going to take your Starrett square… and grab your Blue Spruce Toolworks, 75 dollar ‘small marking knife’ to scribe the perfect line….
Then you are going to “Cut on the waste side anyway”.... and Pare it down with a chisel until you have the desired fit….
Suddenly having the most super perfect square on earth, really didn’t matter in the end. – you cut one part to fit the other.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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MrRon

5496 posts in 3638 days


#42 posted 10-26-2018 04:48 PM

Precision tools never stay “precision” forever; not a HF one or a Starrett or Mitutoyo. Regularly, companies that use precision tools must have them certified by people that do that for a living. It is not suggested that we, as amateurs do the same; it’s not necessary. Every precision tool can be suspect. Generally speaking, the more expensive the tool is, the more precise and accurate it is. Metrology labs work to millionths of an inch, something we will never need to adhere to with our tools, whether cheap or expensive. As Planeman 40 has said, most inexpensive precision tools, like HF are perfectly adequate for woodworking and even some metalworking. It’s nice to have a “state-of-the-art” tool, but really not necessary in the real world.

Precision is nothing new. Back during the industrial revolution, before there were precision tools (as we know them today), machinists first had to invent precision tools and the machines that would produce them. They did this by hand with nothing more than some blacksmith tools and tools that were being invented as they went along. In closing, anyone can produce fine work without ever using a precision tool. It just takes more time and effort.

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Lazyman

3432 posts in 1782 days


#43 posted 10-26-2018 04:55 PM

LOL. Never ask a bunch of guys whether it is worth it to buy a good tool.

My answer would be it depends. If buying the Starrett would prevent you from affording other good quality tools that will be more important to quality work then no. You can find or even make a good cheap square that will be good enough for wood working but if you have a $quare but no other tools, what is the point.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Andybb

1920 posts in 998 days


#44 posted 10-26-2018 05:58 PM

Square is square regardless if you made it or bought it from Starrett or HF. My avatar is an expensive Woodpecker t square underneath a square I made. Both are square.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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MrRon

5496 posts in 3638 days


#45 posted 10-27-2018 02:31 PM


Square is square regardless if you made it or bought it from Starrett or HF. My avatar is an expensive Woodpecker t square underneath a square I made. Both are square.

- Andybb


But you had to use the Woodpecker square to make the square. The square you made can never be as good as the square you bought.

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Andybb

1920 posts in 998 days


#46 posted 10-27-2018 04:00 PM

The square you made can never be as good as the square you bought.

- MrRon

I know what you mean but…It’s square! I don’t need it to make me coffee. :-) You’re right though. I bought the WP knowing I could use it as a standard to check everything else. But since buying it a few years back everything has been square including the Chinese machinist square set I got for $7.99.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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jonah

2075 posts in 3693 days


#47 posted 10-27-2018 06:13 PM

You need a reasonable degree of precision to set up tools. You do not need anything near that for actual woodworking.

The wood you’re working on will move enough way, way more than the margin of error on any cheap measuring or layout device.

It’s wood.

I have three plastic speed squares. None cost more than $4. They are all completely dead flat and square. Is it possible they’re a few thousandths out of 90 degrees? Sure. Does it matter? No, no it does not.

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HokieKen

9594 posts in 1533 days


#48 posted 10-27-2018 07:07 PM

Bottom line is that as a rule, the higher-end tools are more reliable and precise. But, whatever lets you do the work that you want to do is what you need.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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therealSteveN

2876 posts in 969 days


#49 posted 10-27-2018 07:49 PM



after doing the line-flipping test (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-square-a-combination-square/) on my $5 empire square bought at HD I don t see any problems with it.

are higher end combination/try square really worth it?

that said, once I had made sure my combination square was square I used it to check the rafter and framing squares and they are both slightly off, about 1/64. Is that big enough of an error to worry about?

thanks,

Spike

- Spikes

If your square is square a higher priced version of square won’t add much to your work. Just make darn sure it is square. If it is it would be the first Empire I have seen be square, must have been dropped just right, and bent out of what would be the normal Empire mis-alignment. The seconds noted on the PEC tools at Harry Epstein’s are a great deal, the other suggestion is the iGauging squares are very nice, about 30 steps above an Empire, and also lower cost as compared to the very high priced Starretts. The Starrettts are made in Taxachusettes by Union laborers who average a few hundred K a year in income, so you are paying a lot, before you get to the first part of the tool box, much less the tool.

You mention a 64th out. That isn’t slight, it’s a 64th right there, but at 10’ it’s out 1/2” or so, make a wall for a house that is 30’ long, and you won’t be able to hang drywall from it. At least not be able to get the corners to fit.

Heard a guy say, you get what ya pay for a long time ago. I’ve found that to be true for the most part, but never more the truth than with layout and measuring tools. Someone said it’s wood, it moves. Yes it does. All the more reason to be as dead nutz as you can be, so those doors close, and the drawers pull without racking, and on and on…

-- Think safe, be safe

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Andybb

1920 posts in 998 days


#50 posted 10-27-2018 08:12 PM

For anybody who is interested here is a really cool video about the evolution of precise machine measurements. Never knew that the cm is based on the inch and other interesting facts. Helped us win the war.

Origins of Precision

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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