Protractor advice

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Forum topic by simonov posted 02-26-2017 11:43 PM 1273 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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63 posts in 1562 days

02-26-2017 11:43 PM

This isn’t necessarily about power tools, but it is about an accessory.

Some time ago I bought this nifty protractor from Rockler:

I’m not crazy about Rockler, because so much of their stuff is cheap crap from China. I wonder whether this protractor might be a representative example. It’s made in China and I already had to open up the holes at the top to accept the screws for the square block (the other holes were the correct size. Now after spending all afternoon trying to cut some equilateral triangles out of plywood and being unable to get the sides correct after several attempts at setting up the jig, I am beginning to question whether the angles on the protractor are correct at all.

I noticed Rockler no longer carries this protractor.

I really detest this shoddy imported crap. Can anyone recommend a quality layout protractor? Or give me some tips on cutting plywood at a correct 60 degree angle?

-- Nunc est bibendum.

16 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3633 days

#1 posted 02-26-2017 11:53 PM


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13552 posts in 3436 days

#2 posted 02-27-2017 12:18 AM

The Rockler looks like a simplified adjustable triangle.

I have one of this style except mine is a Lufkin, it comes in pretty handy.

The Incra looks nice, I wouldn’t mind having one but truthfully the only time I need a very exact angle is cutting trim and I don’t think it would be any more useful for that than my Lufkin.

-- Rick M,

View josephf's profile


218 posts in 3153 days

#3 posted 02-27-2017 12:19 AM

ahhh -hate that and yes rockler has gotten me also . Bought a few clamps once ,big sale .It was such a let down.they were harbor frieght quality at 3x the price . i use them they just bind .but your protractor , thats questionable value . I give away things like this ,i do not want to toss it but sure cannot afford the mistake it makes ,lost time using it . i do tell people up front why ,though maybe i mumble some at that point . actually have this stupid square i paid 40$ for , i will use it in a jig sometime .
as for protractors -i really love the digitals ,at least the accurate ones . i can see the display for one thing .

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9016 posts in 3633 days

#4 posted 02-27-2017 12:50 AM

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170 posts in 1729 days

#5 posted 02-27-2017 01:24 AM

Ahhh, you learned your lesson “Grasshopper”, now you are very wise.

Protractor and adjustable bevel square works well. Then make your own square.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View simonov's profile


63 posts in 1562 days

#6 posted 02-27-2017 02:55 PM

Thanks, dudes.

Forgot about the geometry method (it’s been a long time since geometry class). I’m going to use that to get my 60 degree angle, and think about getting a better protractor for future requirements.

Most of the basic angles I need for the kind of work I do I can be worked out with a compass.

-- Nunc est bibendum.

View HokieKen's profile


17318 posts in 2195 days

#7 posted 02-27-2017 03:11 PM

I have several styles but I use one like this almost all the time:

Which one works best really depends on what you’re doing with it though. I have one like Rick linked that is handy and the Incra would be nice for quick layouts.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View diverlloyd's profile


4103 posts in 2913 days

#8 posted 02-27-2017 03:21 PM

Lay out a 3×4x5 triangle and you have your 60 degree angle. It can be any form of 3,4,5, like 6×8x10 or 1 1/2×2x2 1/2.

View LittleShaver's profile


745 posts in 1676 days

#9 posted 02-27-2017 06:40 PM

Get some plastic drafting triangles. They commonly come in 30-60-90 or 45-45-90 angles and anywhere from 6” to 18” long. The angles are spot on, and they are relatively inexpensive.

-- Sawdust Maker

View simonov's profile


63 posts in 1562 days

#10 posted 02-27-2017 06:44 PM

The high school geometry method worked perfectly . . . and I mean perfectly. I got perfect equilateral triangles with this jig (you can also see my makeshift compass):

-- Nunc est bibendum.

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 3124 days

#11 posted 02-28-2017 02:27 PM

ditto Incra

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3633 days

#12 posted 02-28-2017 02:57 PM

That’s a cool jig there simonov. Was that a regular cross cut jig and you added the

60 degree jig to it?

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63 posts in 1562 days

#13 posted 02-28-2017 03:46 PM

Yes, that’s a big single-runner crosscut sled to which I screwed the form for the 60 degree cut. I made it specifically for this project, but then I realized there was no reason to add the 90 degree fence at the bottom if all I was going to do was screw on forms for specific odd-shaped parts. Nonetheless the fence will come in handy for crosscuting large pieces of flat stock later.

The single-runner design makes it really easy to make, compared to a two runner design, where you have to use the tedious five cut method to square up the fence. With the single-runner, I just cut one edge and use a roofing square to line up the fence. If I size my runner properly (I cut them from oak), I don’t know why I can’t use the single-runner design for most jobs. I’m going to try it next with a ¼ inch box joint jig.

I’m relatively new to woodworking. This was my first sled:

I made some mistakes when assembling it (namely, taking it off the saw when adjusting the fence so the runners got slightly misaligned, so I had to aggressively sand the runners to get the sled to slide easily and of course that allows some movement in the sled. Very slight, but it’s there). The first one is always a learning experience, right?

Still, I use the smaller sled all the time. For now, it’s works well enough (I’m not making cabinets or furniture or anything like that yet). I found myself using it with screwed on blocks to make smaller odd-sized pieces as in the photo above, so I decided to just make a bigger one when I needed to make these equilateral triangles that are 26¼ inches on a side.

-- Nunc est bibendum.

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9016 posts in 3633 days

#14 posted 02-28-2017 03:58 PM

Very good simonov, thanks for the explanation.

I thought the gap between the fence and base was used for another purpose.

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63 posts in 1562 days

#15 posted 03-02-2017 04:54 PM

When life gives you lemons . . . you make a caster base for your band saw.

I had a lot of odd-shaped scrap plywood left over from my early attempts with the 60 degree angle jig. What to do? Well, I glued some small pieces up into bigger pieces, then laminated them into a 1½ inch thick slab:

Then I cut the slab square in the table saw, drilled some holes, painted it and mounted it to my band saw with some casters as a mobile base:

Commercial bases seem to try to keep the machine as close to the ground as possible. I can see how this makes sense for keeping the center of gravity low, but I’m almost six and a half feet tall and all machines are too low for me. The casters are five inches tall and added to the slab raise the band saw six and a half inches. Life is good.

If I need more weight on the base, I’ll just bolt on a body builder’s free weight or something.

Next I need to get to work on the base for the disc sander.

-- Nunc est bibendum.

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