Are the cheaper Starrett squares worth buying?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Rob posted 07-02-2014 09:08 PM 4003 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Rob's profile


704 posts in 4408 days

07-02-2014 09:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: square starrett

I don’t have a try square yet, and my current combo square is a piece of junk Swanson whose ruler/bar isn’t even flat along its face. I’ve managed to get by so far and I understand that wood moves so at some level precision goes out the window anyway; but I’ve heard/read enough testimonials about the difference in a $100+ Starrett square vs. a run-of-the-mill square, that I thought I’d look into upgrading. I was surprised to find several Starrett squares on Amazon that weren’t as obscenely-priced as what I expected.

For instance, they have a $14 try square. But they also have a $129 try square.

I’ve been thinking about buying the $14 try square and maybe one of their less expensive 4” or 12” combo squares in the $60-$80 range, but the fact that I can get a Starrett try square for 14 bucks has me wondering whether their cheaper stuff is really any better than anyone else’s products in the same price range, and whether I can really expect the sub-$100 Starrett combo squares to be any better than a $10 Empire square.

I can see that Starrett’s higher-priced squares have finer graduations on the ruler (1/64” vs. 1/32”). Is that it, or are their higher-priced squares also manufactured to tighter tolerances than their cheaper squares?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

23 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11370 posts in 4985 days

#1 posted 07-02-2014 09:34 PM

For woodworking the fine tolerance machinist tools
are overkill. They may be a pleasure to own. Get
some inexpensive things and keep your eye out
for machinist tools at yard sales, flee markets. You
will find them, cheap, and they are nice to have.

Lee Valley sells some really useful layout tools. I
particularly like the 4” double square and the
cabinetmaker’s sliding square. I also use a saddle square
that marks a line around a corner. All these are
most useful for laying out joints and hole positions.

4” double squares are available on ebay for something
like $20 too.

View bondogaposis's profile


6103 posts in 3688 days

#2 posted 07-02-2014 10:54 PM

I think the cheaper square would be fine. It is very easy to check a square for “squareness”. They are easy to make too. Another way to get Starrett squares a little cheaper is on ebay. I’ve gotten all of mine that way.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Planeman40's profile


1560 posts in 4098 days

#3 posted 07-03-2014 02:55 PM

Square is square is square . . .

Before I would spend $100 on a square for woodworking I would buy a cheap one and check it for squareness. Simply put it on a wood edge and mark a fine vertical line. Then flop the square and see if the line properly matches up to the flopped square.

I have two cheap Harbor Freight squares that are perfect and one older top end Stanley that is out of square. You just have to check.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View bonesbr549's profile


1589 posts in 4404 days

#4 posted 07-03-2014 03:04 PM

I have many squares. I like my woodpecker ones just because the machined lettering is easy to see and I just lover their tools. I also have a groz 30$ set that had 3 in them that are fine. Love starret tools. the main thing is check one against another and if it’s good stick to that one and you will be ok. I do that with my tape measures as well. Got a boat load of em, but if you mix and match you can get into trouble. Like other said working with wood that moves is diff than metal.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View waho6o9's profile


9134 posts in 3914 days

#5 posted 07-03-2014 03:04 PM

Here’s a value that should be considered as well.


View ras61's profile


132 posts in 2858 days

#6 posted 07-03-2014 03:24 PM

Second the squares from Harry Epstein. They are PEC cosmetic blems that are 100% functional. I bought two.

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

View MrRon's profile


6259 posts in 4580 days

#7 posted 07-05-2014 07:19 PM

This is a relatively new tool in the Starrett arsenal. Note that it is called a “carpenters” try square. It is not a machinist’s square. It may be as close to accurate as their more expensive squares; it is probably made offshore. Note: the blade is marked only in eights of an inch.

View jtm's profile


243 posts in 2973 days

#8 posted 07-05-2014 08:07 PM

I bought the set of 4 machinist squares (Grizzly) on Amazon for ~$20.

They are all square as can be, and they make setting up my tools easier.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4645 days

#9 posted 07-09-2014 03:47 AM

I have the Starrett square that is $14 and it is dead on accurate. It is made in china. I also own two other Starrett squares in the higher priced range and they are USA made and noticeable better quality…but accurate is accurate

View Andre's profile


5009 posts in 3143 days

#10 posted 07-09-2014 05:04 AM

I think what many of you are missing is will they still be square next year or 10 years from now? after building my Wabi sabi and borrowing a Starrett square I went to LV and bought some quality squares, the 12” Starrett included. I have an empire which I use all the time unless it is critical ! IMHO!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Julian's profile


1676 posts in 4027 days

#11 posted 07-09-2014 02:47 PM

I have a Woodcraft 12” sliding square that was about $50. It was about a 1/2 degree off but truing up a square is fairly easy with the right size file. I also frequently use a 6” machinist square. These can be reasonably priced and found at many stores. I like having a precise square that I know is exactly 90 degrees. I personally would not use a cheap square, often made with plastic parts. But to each his own.

-- Julian

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

491 posts in 3017 days

#12 posted 07-09-2014 03:00 PM

Veritas has a house branded Precision Double Square for $40 that is made in the USA and excellent quality. I have one and it’s my go to reference tool for square for all my tools.,42936

View ChefHDAN's profile


1844 posts in 4186 days

#13 posted 07-09-2014 03:26 PM

I have my grandfather’s Starrett squares, he was a mechanical engineer for Sperry during WWII, they needed some buffing with a bit of jewelers rouge to make them a bit easier to read, but they’re dead nuts accurate after all these years, even with the rare drop in the shop that always nearly stops my heart whenever it happens…

I’ve got several of the Incra tools as well, (from a great CL deal) but I never seem to be able to find the damn pencil to use with them .

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View MrRon's profile


6259 posts in 4580 days

#14 posted 07-09-2014 06:38 PM

Starrett is a name that people have looked up to for a long time. They are not going to risk their reputation on a bad product.

View bit101's profile


106 posts in 3213 days

#15 posted 07-09-2014 09:25 PM

Another +1 for Harry Epstein. The PEC tools are way better than home store ones, an at Epstein, totally affordable.

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics