combination square for woodworking

Combination Square for Woodworking Projects

One of the first tools I bought for my shop was a combination square. At the time, I didn't really know what it was called. I just saw it hanging on the shelf at Home Depot and thought it looked handy. Since then, I've discovered that a combination square is much, much more than that. In fact, It's amazing how many different uses I've invented for this tool, and how it always ends up being a critical part of every project I build. Now I own several in different shapes and sizes.

First and foremost is how easily it draws rip lines along the edge of a board. I can remember a time long ago when I would meticulously mark a long series checks along the edge of a board, and then try to line them up with a straight ruler. Gee. That was a pain. My combination square changed all that. Now all I have to do is slide the square along the edge of the board—with my pencil following along in its path. That was a huge discovery for a guy like me, who was used to doing everything the hard way.

Shopping around for a combination square can be a little confusing. The prices vary wildly. You can get a pretty decent Johnson or Stanley combination square for under $10. However, the Starrett brand squares are more in the range of $75 - $100. I think the prices you see on squares reflect durability rather than accuracy. So unless you're taking your combination squares to a jobsite every day, the less expensive models will probably work fine for your basement or garage.

Keep in mind that the cheaper combination squares won't last forever. I've noticed that the ruler on one my older Stanley squares is starting to look a little bent up. And that's probably from me carelessly tossing it in my tool box where I also toss my hammer. With that kind of abuse, it's reasonable to think that a $10 square might need replaced, eventually. For most people, that's probably a better choice than spending $100 on the more expensive combination squares.


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