Excellent Resource . . . a fun read . . . a source of appreciation for craftsmen of the past

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Review by JohnR posted 07-23-2008 02:28 AM 2380 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Excellent Resource . . . a fun read . . . a source of appreciation for craftsmen of the past No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Over the years, when I have looked at a “framing square”, I have been put in mind of going to the beach and seeing a guy wearing a tiny, lime green Speedo. The connection may not seem apparent at first, but as to the inadequately clothed male, I shake my head and think, “There are 11 men in America who might qualify to look right in that miniscule patch of lycra or spandex . . . . unfortunately, he is not one of them.”

When I have looked at a framing square with all the numbers, hash marks, dots, and seemingly inscrutable sets of fractions, I shake my head and think, “There are only 11 craftsmen in America who qualify to actually make total sense and proper use of that instrument . . . unfortunately, I’ll never be one of them.”

I’m sure I will never be qualified to wear a Speedo. I am even more certain I will never be qualified to fully understand or use a framing square. Further, I anticpate the company of folk ever to have been so qualified in terms of the framing square has never been large in number. Sadly, that number is growing ever smaller as digital tools, hand-held computers, and software capable of near-instant-calculations continue to crop up in the construction trades and woodworkers’ shops.

Before the framing square slips into antique and woodworking memorabilia emporia, take the time to read and enjoy Ken Horner’s Essential Guide to the Steel Square. An intention to use a square (whether it be a try square, combination square, speed square, or otherwise) for anything other than marking lines or simply checking your woodcuts for “square”, is not a necessary prerequisite for reading and enjoying this book.

This book is part history lesson, part instruction manual, part puzzle solver, and all terrific. It’s value is to be measured by much more than the sum of its parts. Whether you want to know how to estimate board feet, lay out stairs, compute complex compound angles for roofing rafters, draw a circle, find the radius of an arc, compute the dimensions of an elliptical hole through a pitched roof necessary to accept a round pipe, or even measure the height of that big red oak in the backyard, you will learn how to do it all in simple step-by-step instructions.

Not interested or in need of such eye-opening information for actual application? Then just read, or at least thoroughly browse, the book for pure joy, entertainment, and appreciation. If you need the information, you will be hard pressed to find a better, clearer, more easily applicable resource. If you don’t need the information (that’s me) read the book and you will find yourself sharing the secrets of the square with friends just for kicks.

Nope, don’t know Ken Horner; don’t get anything else out of this review than the excitement of passing along good news.

-- Sola Gratia, John

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4 comments so far

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#1 posted 07-23-2008 02:34 AM

thanks for the advice.. I will check this out

-- making sawdust....

View GaryK's profile


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#2 posted 07-23-2008 03:06 AM

Thanks for the review.

Here’s a book from 1883 (copyright has long expired)
“The Carpenters’ Square and It’s Uses”


I would do a right click and then “Save Target As” since it’s 22 megs.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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#3 posted 07-23-2008 04:35 AM

thanx for sharing – definitely something worth checking out… I know I will!

And GaryK – thanx for the link – I LOVE softbooks… my computer is almost out of room because of all the PDFs I collect… and It uses less paper – and that mean less wood to waste – and more wood for woodworking! isnt that what it’s all about?

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

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4527 days

#4 posted 07-23-2008 02:36 PM

Thanks for the review I have seen this book up on the Woodworkers Book club and thought about getting it.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

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