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Try square vs. machinist's square

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Forum topic by David A. P. posted 08-29-2008 07:45 PM 14505 views 3 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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David A. P.

28 posts in 4476 days


08-29-2008 07:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tools try square machinist square question measuring

Incra Guaranteed 5-Inch Square vs. Machinist's 6-inch Square

I’m curious as to what the reasons are for using wooden try squares rather than machinist’s steel squares. The main reason I’m asking is because it’s a fair bit cheaper to get a guaranteed-square metal square than the wooden/part-wood type.
Undoubtedly one reason is tradition (itself likely driven by expedience in days of yore). Are there other reasons?

-- David A. P. -- Ars Arboris ("Art of the Tree") -- ArsArboris.com


29 replies so far

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Joey

276 posts in 4727 days


#1 posted 08-29-2008 07:57 PM

i use machinist squares. rockler sells the ones that are have measurements on them. the ones at woodcraft don’t.
i’ve never tried a try square.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms http://woodnwaresms.com

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ChicoWoodnut

904 posts in 4727 days


#2 posted 08-30-2008 02:44 AM

Hi david,

That Incra Square does not have wood in its construction. It is a solid anodized aluminum billet. Is it worth over twice the price of the steel machinist square? Only if you like the difference in fit and finish. In use, I think they are functionally the same. That Incra is pretty and it won’t rust or stain from being handled.

As for the wooden ones with the steel blades. You are correct, it is a tradition thing. I have one I bought long ago. I never use it (it’s not square) but it sure looks pretty up there on the rack by the rosewood marking gauge.

-- Scott - Chico California http://chicowoodnut.home.comcast.net

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tooldad

665 posts in 4626 days


#3 posted 08-30-2008 02:56 AM

We use the stanley try squares in class. All metal construction, and they have measurements on them. I have not ever used a machinists square. Have had success with the squareness of both the metal and wood handled try squares. Other than that I don’t know much difference, it probably is just preference. One other note, all of our textbooks refer to a try square, but only the books with metal working sections refer to the the machinist square. Probably the tradition thing.

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GaryK

10262 posts in 4900 days


#4 posted 08-30-2008 02:58 AM

I have always used machinist’s squares. 30 years ago I used to be a machinist and I still have all the tools.
Never needed anything else.

I don’t see any downside and the are inexpensive. You can buy a set of 4 at grizzly for $17.

http://grizzly.com/products/4-pc-Machinist-s-Square-Set/H2993

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

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Rob Drown

823 posts in 4744 days


#5 posted 08-30-2008 04:27 PM

If the size is convenient and you check them for square, what difference could it make?

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

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nmssis

161 posts in 1897 days


#6 posted 01-19-2017 06:20 PM



I have always used machinist’s squares. 30 years ago I used to be a machinist and I still have all the tools.
Never needed anything else.

I don t see any downside and the are inexpensive. You can buy a set of 4 at grizzly for $17.

http://grizzly.com/products/4-pc-Machinist-s-Square-Set/H2993

- GaryK

are the Grizzly’s square precise?


-- Learn something new everyday!

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LittleShaver

704 posts in 1531 days


#7 posted 01-19-2017 06:47 PM

I have both and use both. But I’ve also checked them both for square.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Woodknack

13512 posts in 3291 days


#8 posted 01-19-2017 08:00 PM


I m curious as to what the reasons are for using wooden try squares rather than machinist s steel squares.
- David A. P.

Technically they are the same thing, a machinist square is a calibrated metal try square. The industrial age and especially the assembly line meant that parts had to be made to high tolerances so they could be interchangeable. Prior to that, parts were made for a specific machine and wouldn’t fit another without modification. I’m speculating but it makes sense that try squares were originally made of wood because they were made by woodworkers, probably from off cuts and scraps. Metal blades allowed them be used with marking knives without damaging the square. I’ve read that in pre-industrial woodshops, every piece of wood was accounted for and if a workman wanted to use scrap for personal reasons, even to make a tool, he had to pay for it. People use wood squares today because they look nice and it’s traditional.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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nmssis

161 posts in 1897 days


#9 posted 01-19-2017 09:44 PM



I have both and use both. But I ve also checked them both for square.

- Dan Hulbert

you have the grizzly and what other brand? btw, is grizzly made in US like PEC?

-- Learn something new everyday!

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Woodknack

13512 posts in 3291 days


#10 posted 01-20-2017 12:40 AM

Grizzly sources from the PRC.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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nmssis

161 posts in 1897 days


#11 posted 01-20-2017 12:46 AM



Grizzly sources from the PRC.

- Rick M

thank you

-- Learn something new everyday!

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Loren

10782 posts in 4559 days


#12 posted 01-20-2017 12:49 AM

I’d just say with that stuff you can pick it
up at flee markets over time. About half
my collection of squares was bought on the
cheap that way.

I can’t praise enough the 4” double square for
laying out joints and marking drilling holes.
I also use it for checking machines, depth
of mortises, etc. It fits in an apron or shirt
pocket easily while a 6” square kind of doesn’t.

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Loren

10782 posts in 4559 days


#13 posted 01-20-2017 12:50 AM

This is a really old thread. Oops.

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nmssis

161 posts in 1897 days


#14 posted 01-20-2017 03:51 AM



I d just say with that stuff you can pick it
up at flee markets over time. About half
my collection of squares was bought on the
cheap that way.

I can t praise enough the 4” double square for
laying out joints and marking drilling holes.
I also use it for checking machines, depth
of mortises, etc. It fits in an apron or shirt
pocket easily while a 6” square kind of doesn t.

- Loren

that’s good to know…thanks. m a newbie to all this.

btw, has anyone used iGaging squares?

-- Learn something new everyday!

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realcowtown_eric

638 posts in 2848 days


#15 posted 01-20-2017 04:38 AM

My thoughts on wood vs machinists squares was that it was weight that decided. If any of you neanderbuddies have tried to pick up traditional tool chest loded with tools, you’ll realize that the extra weight of a few more pounds of iron on a few machinists tools add up real quick. Freak, even lifting a much smaller machinists chest can be quite an exercise.

So weight reduction and also costfactor into the equation, particularly way back when folks actually moved their tool chests to job sites. .

I got many different types of squares, including a machinists square with a 36” tongue that takes two men and a boy to take out of its case. OTOH, I have drating t-squares which weigh a fraction of that, and once “proved” are just as accurate, just don’t tand y]up to the wear and tear

Not to mention that I have had a few of the imported machinists squares which did NOT prove out to be square.That’s a path you don’t want to be on.

Eric

-- Real_cowtown_eric

showing 1 through 15 of 29 replies

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