great combination squares - at a great price

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Review by teenagewoodworker posted 07-01-2008 04:33 AM 4344 views 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
great combination squares - at a great price great combination squares - at a great price great combination squares - at a great price Click the pictures to enlarge them

these combination squares from Empire are great. they have found a specialy place in my shop also. they are very inexpensive at around 15$ for the 12” square and 7% for the 6” square. they have a lifetime warranty and are guaranteed flat and square to .oo1”. it may not be a Starret or anything but it is a great square for the price. i like the big 12” one but since i got the smaller 6” one i have found myself reaching for that one more often. it feels very nice in your hand and is lightweight but at the same time rugged. it is great for laying out mortises and a lot of layout work as it is easy to control. also in a handy place there is a small scratch awl as can be seen in the third picture. overall these are great squares and i would recommend both of them to anyone looking for a combination square.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4577 days

16 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6869 posts in 4789 days

#1 posted 07-01-2008 05:18 AM

Hi Denis;

They look like they’re good quality.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4877 days

#2 posted 07-01-2008 05:19 AM

Agreed. I have the smaller one. I use it more than my 12” of another make. I use it for laying out crosscuts at 90 and 45. Haven’t used the screwed in scribe much. I’ve stuck with mechanical pencils for the most part.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View steveosshop's profile


230 posts in 4435 days

#3 posted 07-01-2008 06:50 AM

Where is the empire brand normally sold?? It sounds like a good deal, but I havent seen many empire products around. I have an empire tape measure and it is really good, but I got it at Sears a few years ago and I dont think they carry that brand anymore.

-- Steve-o

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4580 days

#4 posted 07-01-2008 06:57 AM

Untill today, I would agree that the Empire are good squares, they are even more substancial than the Stanley versions that are available. I bought a 12” Starrett today and the first thing I did was use it to check the accuracy of the two Empires and the one Groz that I own. The 6” Empire was not too bad, but I could see the slight runout. The 12” Empire was the worst! I did notice my cuts were a little off (the reason I went for the Starrett) but I did not know it was that much. (and these have never been dropped)

I’ll keep the Empires for carpentry, but I’ll now use the Starrett for machine set up and checking my cuts for squareness. If you do have any other brand of square, including Starrett, check them against a known square occasionally for your own piece of mind.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4458 days

#5 posted 07-01-2008 05:21 PM

I also use the Empire Combination Square, and It works great for me, I checked for squareness (scribing a line at the edge of a board, then flipping the square and scribing another line at the same spot to check if they match- and they did.

compared the ~$12 of an Empire to a ~$70 for a Starrett I never really figured why there was such a huge price difference between the two…? is the Starrett THAT MUCH better ? THAT MUCH more accurate? to what degree? 600% better?

so far I’m happy with my Empire square… does what it needs to, and at a fair price.

PS. I noticed that your 6” square if of the ‘higher end’ line of squares Empire makes (guaranteed to within .001”) but the 12” is of their ‘lower-end’ line of squares… did you notice any difference other than how they feel in your hand?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

731 posts in 4428 days

#6 posted 07-01-2008 05:32 PM

Never purchased a Starrett square probably because of the great cost difference. After all how square is good enough, I mean in 12” can the less expensive squares be that far off? Does it really matter unless you are cutting a wider panel, say for a cabinet side, and then you would be reaching for a carpenters square? I have only recently purchased a 6” square and find myself reaching for it a lot more than the 12”. I also bought one of those 12” metal rules and wonder how I did without it!

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4482 days

#7 posted 07-01-2008 07:15 PM

Remember that Empire has several levels of Quality. Is the Pro the one in the review? The square is steel instead of aluminum in the Pro model. I can’t remember the price difference but I got a 16” Pro from Sears that is very nice. Fairly hefty compared to the cheaper aluminum models out there.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4877 days

#8 posted 07-01-2008 09:43 PM

Here’s a thread about correcting a machinist square from a while ago. I made the comment that I had purchased a cheap combination square from the big box and was pretty happy with it, it was the Empire 12 inch. I was happy with it then and I’m still pretty happy.

BUT, is a Starrett that much better? In an answer, yes, yes a Starrett is that much better. Hardened faces, smoother operation, better accuracy, long term confidence in the tool. So while I use the Empire, quite a bit actually, I feel it does not compare to a Starrett.

I picked up the Empire square at Home Depot.

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4458 days

#9 posted 07-02-2008 03:12 AM

both my 6” and 12” are the empire pro, and sure at times I wish they would slide smoother, and lock tighter, but hey – they were $7 and $9 at home depot (which I really don’t like shopping at , but sometimes there really isnt much choice) – but If I had an extra $60-$70 to spend – I’d rather get a good quality saw blade, or a ROS, or some other tool/material that is averaging at that price…

I know the starrett is top-notch quality, but it seems like sometimes people forget that there are more affordable solutions out there, that are still pretty damn good.

I really enjoy (as much as you can enjoy a combi-square) my empire squares, and find them accurate and pleasing.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4631 days

#10 posted 07-02-2008 03:49 AM

This is a nice review. Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4781 days

#11 posted 07-02-2008 03:57 AM

When I Can find somethinf as gppd as a sterrott I will buy it

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4580 days

#12 posted 07-02-2008 04:46 AM

Don, You can buy it through the Lumberjocks Amazon link. FYI… Amazon states it can’t be shipped out of the US.

Buy the good stuff and only cry once!


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View matter's profile


210 posts in 4578 days

#13 posted 07-02-2008 12:34 PM

I usually buy mid-range squares, including Empire. I check them religiously on Friday afternoon against an engineer’s square, which is accurate to .0001/4”

Good review, you should be happy with them.

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 4474 days

#14 posted 07-02-2008 03:03 PM

I’ve used there framing square and the combination squares… it’s convenient that I can run over to Home Depot and get them, without spending a fortune.

Thanks for the review!

-- Ryno

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 4551 days

#15 posted 07-02-2008 07:35 PM

I like that 6” one. I have the 12” version and love it. I use the ruler by it self a lot and have found that this square is very precise.

-- Tyler, Illinois

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