Recommendations on good set of dividers/compass?

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Forum topic by gauntlet21 posted 11-09-2018 02:31 PM 1355 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 980 days

11-09-2018 02:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dividers compass

I’m interested in buying my first pair (or pairs) of dividers for woodworking. I’ve heard buying ayx least two sets is ideal (especially for dovetails) which I haven’t attempted yet but am working my way up to.

Most of my projects are medium to small sized (lots of jigs all the way up to bookshelves) and I know Starrett dividers are probably great but they’re also very expensive. I looked through the Starrett catalog and saw so many styles that it seemed overwhelming.

I’m just asking for recommendations on a good locking pair of dividers in probably the 3-4” range and 6-8” range if that sounds about normal. I’ve got some Starrett stuff but just wasnt sure I wanted to drop $65 on a first pair. Maybe if I find I use them all the time but I also dont want inaccurate ones with slack/slop that are going to be more headache than help.



I’m looking for the style that doesn’t use a pencil tip as one of the legs btw. Stepping up from the middle school math ones for now. I did see a pair someone was using that actually scored a line in the shape of an arc which seemed quite useful if those go by a specific name?

12 replies so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7538 posts in 1482 days

#1 posted 11-09-2018 02:49 PM


-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View PPK's profile


1746 posts in 1579 days

#2 posted 11-09-2018 03:11 PM

I have been using this set for a year or so now, and I’m REALLY pleased with the set. Very affordable.

-- Pete

View Smirak's profile


102 posts in 1288 days

#3 posted 11-09-2018 04:51 PM

I have 2 pair of Starret 6” divider with round points on the legs, not the “squarish” points. They were expensive at like $75/pr, but I get a discount through a vendor at work, and wound up paying about $45 a pair. I have PEC squares and have used their dividers. They are good quality as well, but have the “squarish” legs that I didn’t care for. Otherwise, I might just have those because the price is very good.


View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2256 days

#4 posted 11-09-2018 06:59 PM

Stuff like that can be dirt cheap in ebay

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View HokieKen's profile


14002 posts in 1908 days

#5 posted 11-09-2018 07:00 PM

Stuff like that can be dirt cheap in ebay

- TheFridge

+1 Vintage Starretts are what I have and ebay is where I got ‘em.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View jdh122's profile


1163 posts in 3587 days

#6 posted 11-09-2018 07:05 PM

For just pacing off measurements the spring-loaded generic ones of the type linked above are fine. But for laying out symmetrical carving I prefer this style because the dividers keep the setting more reliably. (I don’t have these exact ones, but mine look the same).

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Woodknack's profile


13383 posts in 3150 days

#7 posted 11-09-2018 07:34 PM

Ebay, quality calipers & dividers are cheap. Starrett, B&S, Lufkin; all good.

-- Rick M,

View gauntlet21's profile


69 posts in 980 days

#8 posted 11-09-2018 07:43 PM

Pardon my ignorance, I know I could go search YouTube but if you’re bored and don’t mind, what’s the difference between solid nut and spring nut? I’m assuming there’s a spring pressing apart the spring version and the nut keeps it in place? Then do the solid nut dividers just move apart as you walk the nut in or out? Any advantages/disadvantages to either design?


View bondogaposis's profile


5784 posts in 3121 days

#9 posted 11-09-2018 07:54 PM

I got my Starrett dividers on Ebay. Dividers are a good bet to by used as generally they are not subject to tremendous abuse, like say a chisel can be.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View YouthfullMind's profile


70 posts in 921 days

#10 posted 12-08-2018 02:23 PM

In my hometown the only option was the general tools brand for $10-15 dollars. I figured I better check eBay and got a vintage like new starrett 6” divider for $9. There were a lot of options in the <$20 range

View MrRon's profile


5910 posts in 4013 days

#11 posted 12-08-2018 06:10 PM

Find a large draftsman’s compass that uses a pencil lead for scribing circles and arcs. I have Starrett tools and a draftsman’s instrument set from my drafting days. After learning autocad, I never thought I would ever do manual drafting again, but now that I am in woodworking, I find that set very handy.

View bondogaposis's profile


5784 posts in 3121 days

#12 posted 12-08-2018 07:13 PM

I’ve gotten all of my dividers on ebay, vintage Starrett and my favorite is Millers Falls.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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