Veritas - Aluminum Straightedge (38") (Rating: 5)

I just purchased the VERITAS 38" Aluminum Straightedge from Lee Valley. The straightedge was shipped in a sturdy cardboard tube that I'll continue to use as a place to store the straightedge to prevent any damage in the shop.

I had a very good first impression once I removed the straightedge from the packaging. It has a very nice finish, which looks great and feels nice in your hand. Its contour makes it very easy to grip and handle.

To check the straightness of the straightedge I used .5" reference blocks to support the straightedge on its ends on a machinist's granite surface plate and a precision dial indicator (see pictures). The straight edge measured within .0005" at each ends with a .0015" deflection in the middle, easily within the specified .003". I also performed the same procedure with the reference blocks placed closer to the center. The straightedge then measured within .0005" across the whole length, meaning that the .0015" deflection initially observed was actually sagging caused by the weight of the straightedge.

I then performed the same tests on my 4' Harbor Freight level. The level measured .00015" at each ends with a .003" sag at the center. Even though this is impressive for such a cheap level, it is very flexible and very little pressure causes the center to sag dramatically more.

I purchased this straightedge in order to align my in- and out-feed tables on my jointer. I have an INCA 570, which has relatively short tables (40"). Because I need over 20" of the straight edge to be suspended over the in-feed table, the amount of sag is very important in your accuracy. This is the primary reason why fiberglass levels, even very straight levels, are not adequate for the job.

For anybody with longer jointer tables, who may be considering the 50" model, I would recommend you to consider the VERITAS steel straightedges since the amount of sag that you may experience when using the aluminum model may dramatically effect the accuracy of your table alignment.

All in all, the 38" inch model is perfect for my needs. If you have never purchased a precision straight edge before, the $39 price tag may scare you. But, compared to other precision straight edges on the market, this is a good value.