Fantastic Value

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Review by momalle3 posted 02-20-2016 04:47 PM 3425 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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So over the years it’s hit me that the tool I reach for most often, and use ALL THE TIME, is the combination square. Use it for rough squaring, for marking and layout quick 45 degree marks, general measurement and marking of depth, etc.

I’ve been using a cheap one I got at Home Depot—I think it’s the “empire” brand. it’s been adequate, but it’s not exactly square, and more annoying the rule doesn’t want to stay where you set it—tighten it down and it self-loosens and the rule moves.

So started looking for a new combination square. Wow, Starrett—over 100 bucks! If I was making my living at this, maybe, but that’s just too much. I looked on Ebay and there are used Starrett’s that aren’t outrageous, but are they still accurate? Also the last minute bid sniping is just sort of tiresome. I want to get it done, not wait through a bunch of bids that fail.

After much research I ended up with the PEC Square, sold as a “blemished” model for $24.

This is a really great tool. It’s dead square by simple eyeball measurement (mark a line, flip it, mark another line, check for square) it’s got a solid feel and the rule is engraved, not printed, with a matte finish that’s easy to read. And then it really holds its position—the thumbscrew is precise and effective. I bought two of them, one all US and one US/Metric.

The “blemished” part seems to be the the “products engineering corp” name has been ground out. Somewhere I read on the web the reason for this—I found a link to a legal filing that explained it. But I can’t find it now

But i’m just completely impressed with the quality and value of this thing. Again I’m not saying it’s a good as a Starrett, but it’s everything I could ask for in a humble tool that I use every day. Very happily tossing the Empire square into the trash

-- Dreading the midas touch of expertise

View momalle3's profile


12 posts in 1648 days

13 comments so far

View WillliamMSP's profile


1108 posts in 2411 days

#1 posted 02-20-2016 06:59 PM

It’s likely that the “PEC” label is ground out because it’s blemished, as opposed to it being blemished because it’s ground out. It’s probably a measure that PEC takes to ensure that the seconds aren’t re-sold, mistakenly or otherwise, as firsts.

In any event, thanks much for the review! It prompted me to look in to the company (they evidently make the double squares for LV) and the availability of seconds a little more closely; I’ll likely pick up something along these lines in the near future.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View Rayne's profile


1314 posts in 2346 days

#2 posted 02-20-2016 07:28 PM

If this is from Harry Epstein, then I also have their 12” and 6” combination square from PEC. Fantastic quality and dead on square. Love mine and has helped me adjust my tools and my work to be ever so slightly more precise. Thanks for the review.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3791 days

#3 posted 02-21-2016 12:07 AM

PEC is great stuff. I use my 12” set much more than my 18” Starrett, but I love them both!

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View pintodeluxe's profile


6176 posts in 3619 days

#4 posted 02-21-2016 03:29 AM

I’d go for one but I don’t care for the non-standard markings. I agree the Empire squares are not too good. Thanks for the review.

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

View ScottKaye's profile


783 posts in 2759 days

#5 posted 02-21-2016 12:50 PM

You wouldn’t happen to have a link to the place you bought it? Other than that, good post.. good review.. Ebay perhaps?

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View momalle3's profile


12 posts in 1648 days

#6 posted 02-21-2016 12:55 PM

You wouldn t happen to have a link to the place you bought it? Other than that, good post.. good review.. Ebay perhaps?

- ScottKaye

Here you go

-- Dreading the midas touch of expertise

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9599 posts in 3135 days

#7 posted 02-21-2016 09:47 PM

I’ve seen three methods used for putting the graduations on the rules used in combinations squares.
1. printed on:
As you might guess, this rubs off with time
2. photo-etched:
On older examples, this has been just a little better than printed, with very shallow etching and the marks wider than they should be.
But on the newer examples I’ve seen, the etching is very good, with very thin precise marks that have some depth. I bought the Grizzly example for the guys at work and I think these are an excellent value.
3. Engraved:
This is what you will find on the Starrett, Browns & Sharp and Mitutoyo level brands. The engraving is razor thin and deep and holds up a very long time. These are machine shop caliber tools.

The bases on these should (imo) be either be cast iron (nice heft with machined faces) or forged steel (stronger, but lighter, with machined faces).

I think PEC private brands their squares for other distributors, and I suspect that the make them for Grizzly.

The base on the Grizzly one we use at work is just as nice as my forged Starrett, and cost less than half the $.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9599 posts in 3135 days

#8 posted 02-21-2016 09:53 PM

OBTW, if you didn’t know, on the better squares, the profile of the trough in the base is not machined square on the bottom, but has very slightly deeper cut corners and a humped bottom. These can be tuned up with a jeweler’s file, should they not be perfectly square.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Woodknack's profile


13439 posts in 3186 days

#9 posted 02-21-2016 11:47 PM

I bought a Blue Point but have thinking of buying one of the PEC blems in 18”. What held me back I that I’ve seen so many blems for sale – makes me think their manufacturing isn’t so good.

-- Rick M,

View Julian's profile


1592 posts in 3497 days

#10 posted 02-25-2016 04:35 AM

After reading your review I checked out their website and ordered a 6” double square. Always wanted a precision small square but didn’t want to pay $50+ for one. I received the square today. I compared it to my 12” machinist square and it is perfectly set at 90 degrees. There is no name anywhere on it but has a blemish on one side of the blade. Very please with this website and their products.

-- Julian

View Diomar R.Silva's profile

Diomar R.Silva

2 posts in 1469 days

#11 posted 08-01-2016 11:25 PM

Hello everyone, I would like your views on squares combination, I plan to buy a PEC on ebay or harryepstein, my question would be about the size, 6-Inch and 12-Inch? For woodworkers which size is best?

Best Regards

Diomar R.Silva

-- Diomar

View Woodknack's profile


13439 posts in 3186 days

#12 posted 08-02-2016 12:03 AM

They are all useful but I’d start with 12”

-- Rick M,

View Diomar R.Silva's profile

Diomar R.Silva

2 posts in 1469 days

#13 posted 08-03-2016 01:48 AM

They are all useful but I d start with 12”

- Rick M.

Ok Rick M.
Thank you

-- Diomar

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2391 days

#14 posted 02-15-2017 06:01 AM

I have been thinking I needed one with metric rulings, not often, but every once in a while. I think this is the way to get just that – thanks for the writeup.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

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