Nice product, nice price.

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Review by Tedstor posted 04-25-2011 06:34 AM 3868 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Nice product, nice price. Nice product, nice price. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

For the past couple years, I have been using a 12” Swanson combination square. Its a good sqaure, but far too often I find it too big for the given application. I was constantly grabbing a 40yo Companion Try Square in order to avoid the cumbersome 12” combo sqaure. Unfortunately, the try sqaure is only graduated in 1/8s, and lacks the functionality of a combo sqare. All that said, I went to Sears in search of a smaller tool.

I often times buy tools via internet. However, measuring tools are tough to judge without actually holding them in your hand, and examining them with your eyes. So I was glad to see my local Sears had three different small CS in stock. One was some off brand garbage with an aluminum blade and plastic body. It was immediately disqualified without much thought.
The other two were a Craftsman 7” and the Empire e255 6”.
Both tools had identical bodies. And I mean identical as in they appeared to have both been made in the same foundry and built to the same specs. No complaints here. The aluminum body is decently machined and no defects can be identified. The locking screw mechanism turns smoothly and locks the blade securely. The level is fine… good as any I guess. One thing I really like about the body is the scriber compartment. The scriber is secured into the body with some sort of spring/friction mechanism instead of the screw threads that seem to be common on other makes/models. Definitely not a make/break feature, but I like it none-the-less. Heck, I rarely use the scribe, but maybe I’ll use it more often since this model’s is easier to install and remove. A firm pull or push is all that is needed to remove and reinstall. Nice.

Heres were the Empire and Craftsman part ways. The craftsman had a 7” steel blade with black numbering and graduation marks. I have an el cheapo sqaure with similar type markings, and it tends to wear rather quickly. The graduations were another issue. It was graduated in 1/8ths on the top of the blade on both sides. The bottom of the blade had 16ths on one side and centimeters on the other. I really prefer a measuring device be graduated in 16ths at minimum. The side with metric graduations is almost useless to me since I don’t use metric and the SAE scale was in 1/8ths (i hope that makes sense).

The Empire on the other hand was etched and graduated flawlessly. The marks are not colored, but are etched fairly deep into the stainless steel blade, so they are easy to read. Both sides of the blade have a scale graduated in 16ths. The other scales are in 1/8ths and 1/32nds, which is great. No metric here.

Both tools were made in the USA. Empire actually gets a lot of my business since many of their products are domestic and tend to meet my standards for features and quality.

So the empire came home with me, where I immediately tested it out for sqaure. I adjusted the blade several times in several different points along the blade. After each adjustment, I checked for sqaure. Zero deviations. A solid tool. And only cost $9. One of these days, after I hit the lottery, marry a supermodel, or get an unexpected inheritance I might spring for more pricey measuring tools. The Staretts sure look nice. But for now, on my budget, and at my skill level; this will get it done.

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3478 days

10 comments so far

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3855 days

#1 posted 04-25-2011 11:12 AM

Just received the same square from Amazon and I too am pleased. Sometimes hanging out on these forums it’s easy to start to think you need the premium version of every tool or else it’s junk. There are bargains to be had and this is a nice quality tool at an excellent price.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 3957 days

#2 posted 04-25-2011 04:49 PM

Sears has two different versions of the Craftsman pocket combo square listed online. Mine has an etched stainless steel blade with 1/8, 1/16 and 1/32 graduations and no metric measurements. The etching is blackened which makes it very easy to read. $7.27 delivered to my door, and made in USA.

View cranesgonewild's profile


344 posts in 3753 days

#3 posted 04-25-2011 05:50 PM

I have the same square as well. Mine is called the Empire True Blue. I use that square more often then any other square I have. However, mine has metric on one side that I could do without. Even though I live in Canada, I don’t use metric for measuring.

-- I'm a Fungi --

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4077 days

#4 posted 04-25-2011 07:28 PM

I have the same one. Mine rusted up VERY fast on the blade. It works great, just discolored really badly…

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View Sarit's profile


552 posts in 3985 days

#5 posted 04-26-2011 03:11 AM

I love the empire combi squares. I can’t see any need to get starretts when these are perfectly square.

View TheDane's profile


5846 posts in 4508 days

#6 posted 04-26-2011 05:25 PM

I have 3 of the 6” Empire combination squares, a 7”, and a 12”. One of the 6” squares stays in my apron pocket … the others lurk around the bench, table saw, etc.

Starrett Tools are first rate, and I take nothing away from them. But the Empire measuring tools I have suit my purposes extremely well at a fraction of the price. Plus, I am a bit of a ‘homer’ ... Empire Level is headquartered in Mukwonago, Wisconsin.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4802 days

#7 posted 04-27-2011 12:57 AM

I have that and the 12”..they are great but somehow the level vial on the small one leaked..other than that I use both all the time.


View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3905 days

#8 posted 04-27-2011 02:51 AM

I will buy one to replace my currently cheap one.

View bonobo's profile


304 posts in 2901 days

#9 posted 12-17-2012 02:23 AM

Love mine. I eased the sharp corners off to make it nicer to handle.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View skeemer's profile


95 posts in 3209 days

#10 posted 05-24-2013 12:30 PM

I too have this square and have been happy with it. Picked out from Amazon based on the price/good reviews there and use it more than any other measuring tool. Great value.

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