Buying a Square
Paul Sellers recommends a 12″ (300mm) combination square as this should be suitable for almost all woodworking projects. He finds the try squares don’t remain accurately square as with the better quality combination square. When buying a square, look out for one with a cast iron head as the ones with aluminium heads tend to go out of square after a while and are difficult to make square again. If you cannot get one with a cast iron head, just make sure you check that it is square before starting each project. The ones with a cast aluminium head can be found for under £10, the ones with a cast iron head are more expensive and can be bought between £25-30.
To view the parts of a square, click here.
🇬🇧 We purchased this combination square from Amazon for £23.99)* in November 2017.
🇺🇸 If you are ordering from the US, we recommend this one from Amazon. Please note Paul has not purchased this, however it seems to fit his recommended criteria.
*Price checked October 2022
To read more on Squares, we recommend the following from Paul’s blog:
Buying Good Tools Cheap #2- The Combination Square
Hi Paul the guide are a good idea thanks
So the question is how would you check for square if you have no reference tool.
Thanks for your comment.
Our ‘Setting up a Square‘ guide explains how to check for square.
the squere that is shoun in the picture(Stanley), the body is realy cast iron??
Yes it is.
I think it’s well worth saving for a good one as well. I bought a Starrett square eventually, it was expensive but the accuracy is bang on and it’s very high quality. I think the model is 33M – 300 (all metric graduations) and it has a hardened steel stock which is probably designed for continuous working metal to metal in engineering. It feels like it will last for ever.
It was a tough decision but I’ve never regretted it.
The number one quality failure of modern economy combination squares, (Stanley, Empire, Irwin etc) the ones from the local hardware or big box stores is the screw locking part with the “t” that fits into the groove of the ruler. That skinny little t ridge is not like higher quality squares. It is smaller, crudely shaped and the metal is of inferior quality. It will wear out and/or break off inevitably with regular use leaving you with a ruler that no longer locks in the square. It is one of the most important tools so don’t cut corners and be wary of vintage ones as they can be bent or worn. Spend money on a high quality lifetime purchase and you will never regret it.
Re: the Stanley Rabone square (model 0-46-151).
As Paul has noted elsewhere, this model is now made in China. Frustratingly, images from most of the online retailers I looked at (and Stanley’s own website!) are out of date and show the product marked “Made in England”.
I contacted a number of retailers to check if they still had any of the English made squares left, but without success.
I ordered one recently and was disappointed. It was poorly finished and not square. No improvement on the unbranded aluminium square that lasted me a decade.
Doubtful I would find anything in the price range that left the factory actually square, I instead chose a die-cast Stanley (model 2-46-028) at less than half the price of the Rabone.
On arrival it was out of square as expected, but no worse than the Rabone I’d returned, and after fettling is as square as I can measure it.
If it lasts half as long as my previous cheap square I’d get through another nine of them, and more than 45 years, before a Starrett would begin to prove it’s value.