Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Barry Gray
No matter what kind of project I’ve got my hands on, I simply cannot fathom the thought of attempting a measurement without one of my woodworking squares. It’s risky and careless, and you may end up ruining your project.
After all, no matter the scope of your woodworking project, accuracy and precision are important, right? So, to make sure that you are well-equipped for your next project, I have put together a list of 9 of the best woodworking squares.
- Best Woodworking Square Value Pack – Swanson S0101CB Speed Square and Combination Square
- Best Double Square – iGaging 4” Precision Double Square
- Best Framing Square – Empire Level e1190 Professional Framing Square
- Best Premium Choice – Woodpeckers 1281R Precision Woodworking Square
- Best Try Square – Swanson Tool TS152 Try Square
- Best Versatile Woodworking Square – Johnson Level and Tool 1959-0700 Rafter Square
- Best Woodworking Square for Parallel Marking – Kapro 353 Professional Ledge-It Try and Miter Square
- Best Combination Square for Professional Use – Starrett Steel Combination Square (11H-12-4R)
- Best Rafter Square – Mercurate Rafter Square Set
There are many types of woodworking squares, and you will probably need all of them at some point. This list contains all of them. Let’s get started!
Best Woodworking Square Value Pack – Swanson S0101CB Speed Square and Combination Square
- Type: Speed square, combination square
- Size: 6 inches (combination square)
- Material: Aluminum
- Product dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches
This package includes a speed square, a pocket sized combination square, and a blue book that teaches you everything you need to know about rafter lengths and roof construction. But the best part is that the speed square is actually 5 tools in 1! It can be used as a try square, a miter square, a protractor, a line scriber, and even a saw guide.
The combination square fits into your pocket easily. The tools are sturdy and made out of aluminum, which means they are built to last. The black markings are easy to read and don’t get rubbed off. This is a package that every woodworker must have – whether you are a beginner or a pro.
However, the markings on the speed square are imperial and not metric, so that might be a disadvantage if you tend to use only metric. There have also been some complaints about the tools being bent.
- 5 tools in 1
- Sturdy and built to last
- Can make accurate measurements
- Fits into pockets and toolboxes easily
- Comes with an instruction book on roof construction
- Speed square markings are imperial, not metric
- Complaints of the tools being bent
My Thoughts: Swanson is a trusted name when it comes to tools and this package is no different. It is a perfect kit to have, no matter your experience level!
Best Double Square – iGaging 4” Precision Double Square
- Type: Double square
- Size: 4 inches
- Material: Steel
- Product dimensions: 5 x 3.25 x 0.75 inches
The iGaging 4” precision double square is a perfect pocket-sized tool to help you with your measurements as well as squaring. You can do this from either side of the head without flipping the tool over. The blade is made out of heavy-duty hardened chrome. Not only is it durable, it reduces glare and also resists scratches. However, the tool does begin to rust after a few months.
The measurements are very accurate and are permanently laser etched in black, making them easy to read. They are also marked in 4 precision scales: 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32nd, and 1/64th. The double square has a knurled screw that locks the blade into the base tightly. The tool comes with a protective case for safe storage. But there have been complaints that the edges had burrs that had to be removed.
- Ideal for quick checks
- Can be used from either side of the head
- The chrome plated blade is durable and prevents glare
- Easy to read markings
- Marked in 4 precision scales
- Protective case
- The tool begins to rust after a few months
- Edges may have burrs
- The slide keeps sticking
My Thoughts: This is a pretty affordable double square, ideal for some quick measurements, and handy enough to be carried around in your pocket. If you smooth the edges yourself using an axe sharpener, you should be good to go!
Best Framing Square – Empire Level e1190 Professional Framing Square
- Type: Framing square
- Size: 16 inch by 24 inch
- Material: Aluminum
- Product dimensions: 16 x 24 x 0.13 inches
Made out of anodized aluminum, this framing square is suitable for all types of woodworkers – whether beginners or professionals. The aluminum body makes this tool durable and sturdy, meaning it will last longer and won’t bend easily. It also has a rust-proof coating to add to its lifespan.
The framing square has deeply stamped gradations, making it highly visible. The markings don’t rub off after a few months of use as well. It includes ⅛, 1/10, 1/12, and 1/16 graduation marks along with conversion tables to help you understand the measurement system.
This tool is very accurate and square, and will help you with all kinds of jobs. However, there have been complaints of the framing square arriving a little bent out of shape, so if that happens to you, you might have to spend some time straightening it back up.
- The aluminum body makes the framing square durable and sturdy
- Rust-proof coating
- Markings are highly visible
- Comes with conversion tables
- Accurate and square
- The tool may get bent during shipping
- The company’s big label is an inconvenience
My Thoughts: I really like this framing square because it is durable and sturdy and can be used for professional use as well. Just make sure that it didn’t get bent during shipping, and you will be good to go!
Best Premium Choice – Woodpeckers 1281R Precision Woodworking Square
- Type: Precision square
- Size: 12 inches
- Material: Aluminum
- Product dimensions: 14.5 x 10 x 1.75 inches
The Woodpeckers’ precision woodworking square is a stellar piece of equipment. Both the blade and the base are made using a single solid aluminum block at Woodpecker’s state of the art equipment. This tool is perfectly square and will stay that way, no matter how long you use it. It provides accuracy to within a thousandth of an inch, so you can easily use it for professional use as well.
The precision square comes in a wall-mountable wooden case that makes for easy storage. Its unique design allows you to rest the tool on the table or board by itself, which means you don’t need to constantly keep holding it. However, there is a finger slot that allows you to hold the tool easily while checking for square ends. The tool is also thick and sturdy! While the tool is expensive, it is certainly a great investment.
- Dead-on accuracy.
- Great for professional use.
- Perfectly square.
- Can rest it on the table hands-free.
- Has a finger slot to hold it easily.
- Comes with a wall-mountable wooden case.
- Very expensive.
My Thoughts: If you need a woodworking square that is super accurate, I highly recommend this one if you have the bucks to spare. It is a premium quality tool.
Best Try Square – Swanson Tool TS152 Try Square
- Type: Try square
- Size: 8 inches
- Material: Stainless steel
- Product dimensions: 5.4 x 5.5 x 0.75 inches
The Swanson try square is a tool that every woodworker must have in their arsenal. It is useful for marking and checking 90 degree angles, and for level as well as plumb work. The blade is made out of stainless steel and has precision-etched black gradations that are easy to read.
The quality brassbound hardwood handle increases durability as well as making the tool easy to hold. It also has a reverse reading scale. The accuracy is top-notch and Swanson boasts that this try square is truly square. But there have been complaints that the square falls out of order after a while. Sometimes, the markings on both sides of the scale do not match as well.
- Very accurate.
- Ideal for everyday use.
- Quality brassbound hardwood handle.
- Reverse reading scale.
- The square falls out of order after a while.
- Complaints of the markings on both sides of the scale not matching.
My Thoughts: This tool is affordable and gives you the accuracy of try squares that cost hundreds of dollars. It will make for an ideal addition to your collection of woodworking squares!
Best Versatile Woodworking Square – Johnson Level and Tool 1959-0700 Rafter Square
- Type: Rafter square
- Size: 7 inches
- Material: Aluminum
- Product dimensions: 1.38 x 10 x 5.25 inches
The Johnson Level and Tool magnetic rafter square is very versatile. Carpenters, builders, and even welders can benefit from it. The broad edge of the tool works as a saw guide and the protractor scale can be used for making cross cuts or angled cuts right against the square. The rafter square has a solid aluminum body with CNC machined edges, so you can be sure that it will give you accurate readings every time! Moreover, the aluminum body also makes it durable.
The best feature of this rafter square is that it has powerful magnetic edges that you can attach to metals, enabling you to use the tool hands-free. This will come in handy especially measuring or marking angles and setting and checking squares before and after welding is complete. The tool features continuous scribing notches that make it easy to rip lumber of any width and to measure 2×4 board measurements.
The laser-etched gradations are easy to read and don’t wear off. Another great feature of this tool is its EZ-read finish. This coating enhances the friction of the tool and adheres it to the lumber. The anti-glare protective coating makes sure that the rafter square is just as easy to read in the sunlight as it is in the shade, so it is perfect for outdoor use as well.
- Versatile tool.
- Accurate readings.
- The magnetic edges allow you to use it hands-free.
- Continuous scribing notches.
- Gradations are easy to read.
- Anti-glare protective coating.
- Fits into pockets.
- The magnets are not that powerful.
My Thoughts: Looking for a versatile woodworking square that will make your life easy? This is it! However, I do recommend that you don’t purchase it for the magnets, because they are soft and don’t do a good job of holding the rafter square’s weight.
Best Woodworking Square for Parallel Marking – Kapro 353 Professional Ledge-It Try and Miter Square
- Type: Ledge-it try and miter square
- Size: 10 inches
- Material: Stainless steel
The Kapro Ledge-it square is the perfect tool for parallel marking as well as angle marking. Its stainless steel blade is durable and perfect for drywall, construction, and technical drafting. The ruler has permanently etched gradations that are easy to read and accurate. The first 4 inches of the markings are incremented at 1/32 for fine measurements. The rest are incremented at 1/16 of an inch.
The tool comes with an aluminum cast handle and 3 machine-milled surfaces that offer maximum precision. The handle has a retractable metal-edge support that makes it easy to use the tool hands-free. This is quite a sturdy tool and has been designed with professionals in mind.
The blade has marking holes at periodic intervals: at 10°, 15°, 22.5°, 30°, 40°, 50°, and 60° to help you mark angles. It also features openings after every ¼ inch to help you make parallel markings. Perfect for beginners as well as professionals.
- Sturdy and durable.
- Very accurate.
- Perfect for marking angles as well as parallel marking.
- Well-built aluminum cast handle.
- Retractable metal edge support helps you use the tool hands-free.
- Permanent etchings that are easy to read.
- Only imperial markings.
- The periodic marking holes sometimes make the markings hard to read.
My Thoughts: This is an amazing tool that gives you the precision of quality of tools that cost way more. It is also very easy to use. I highly recommend it!
Best Combination Square for Professional Use – Starrett Steel Combination Square (11H-12-4R)
- Type: Combination square
- Size: 12 inches
- Material: Steel
Starrett is a brand that is known for its high-quality precision tools, and this combination square is no different. This tool has a machine-hardened and tempered steel blade with an adjustable cast-iron square head. The blade is resistant to wear and tear, as well as pressure and shock. It is built to last and can withstand even harsh environments.
The cast-iron head comes with a black wrinkle finish. The square head can be used for a variety of purposes – measuring, tri-squaring, scribing right angles and parallel lines, height and depth gauging, leveling, and even metering. The reversible lock bolt allows you to turn the tool over or end-for-end without removing the lock bolt or nut! The perfect woodworking square for all your projects!
The gradations on the blade are clearly visible and easy to read. The tool comes with 4 gradation types: 1/8th and 1/16th for quick reading and 1/32nd and 1/64th for increased accuracy. Whether you are a toolmaker, mechanic, or a carpenter, this tool is bound to come in handy. The combination square is expensive, but I think it is well worth the money.
- Very versatile.
- Durable and built to last.
- Reversible lock bolt.
- 4 gradation types.
- Easy to read.
- The blade tends to retain moisture if you work in closed and sweaty spaces. This might make the markings hard to read.
My Thoughts: This is an expensive tool, but well worth the money! It is super accurate and very versatile. No matter your project, this will definitely come in handy. It is very well-built as well.
Best Rafter Square – Mercurate Rafter Square Set
- Type: Rafter square, Combination square
- Size: 7 inches, 12 inches
- Material: Aluminum alloy, Stainless steel
- Product dimensions: 13.66 x 6.18 x 1.61 inches
This kit contains 2 tools in 1: a rafter square and a combination square. Both, for an affordable price, so you are essentially buying 2 tools for the price of 1. Whether you want to work on a rafter layout or just want to mark a 90 degree angle, this kit will come in handy! Here, I will review only the rafter scale as it is the man of the show, so to speak.
The rafter square is made out of CNC-machined aluminum alloy with permanent laser engraved markings. This means that the tool is not only light and sturdy, it is also easy to read. It comes with an angle conversion table to make things more convenient for you. It also has a good oxidation and corrosion resistance and is thickened and hardened for increased durability.
The surface and edges are smooth and polished so as not to hurt your hands. The rafter square is versatile and can be used as a protractor, triangle square, woodworking compass, and even a frame square. Accurate to 0.1 mm of an inch, this is an amazing tool! The package also contains 2 woodworking pencils as an added bonus.
- 2 tools for the price of 1.
- Well-built and durable.
- Has an angle conversion table.
- Good oxidation and corrosion resistance.
My Thoughts: This is a great tool (or tools) and can be used for a variety of things. Surprisingly enough, this tool has no cons as of yet. All of its reviews have been great! I will update this piece once I find any cons.
What to Look for When Picking a Woodworking Square
As is evident from the list above, there are several types of woodworking squares. Chances are, you will have a need for all of them at some point of time. Before we go into what to look for in a woodworking square, let us look at all the types that are available.
Types of Woodworking Squares
- Combination square. Also known as a sliding square, this tool has a ruler with an anvil attached. The anvil slides across the scale. It can be used for marking, measuring 45 degree angles, and making sure if something is at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Try square. Also known as a tri-square, this tool consists of a metal blade and a stock. It is used to check if objects are square in relation to each other. In short, it measures and marks 90 degree angles.
- Speed square. Also known as a rafter square and a triangle square, this tool actually has several uses and is an invaluable addition to a carpenter’s toolbox. It can be used to measure, mark, and even scribe angles.
- Framing square. Also known as a carpenter’s square, this tool is L shaped and is used to mark angles and cuts and for other construction measurements.
- Double square. This tool is used to measure 90 degree angles in pairs of two. It is used whenever a pattern needs to be maintained.
So, these are the 5 types of woodworking squares. The next stop is learning what to look for when choosing a woodworking square.
The point of a woodworking square is precision and accuracy.
Your tool needs to be perfectly square and must have accurate measurements.
Even a slight variation will cause your entire project to derail.
Markings and Measurement Types
The second most important thing is to make sure that the markings are permanently etched on to the blade and are clearly visible. Otherwise, they will wear off after some time and you won’t be able to take accurate measurements.
Many tools sold in the U.S tend to have imperial markings. If you use metric, you can use a conversion scale or look for other tools that feature a metric system.
This depends on the amount of area you want to cover while taking measurements.
Tools with a smaller blade length are easy to carry around but won’t cover as much area as the longer ones. But the longer ones might pose problems if you are measuring tight spaces.
My recommendation is that you can go for tools of various lengths if you have the need for it.
Build Material and Durability
Your woodworking square should be well-built and last you a long time. Nobody wants to keep shelling out money periodically for the same thing, right?
Most woodworking square blades are made using aluminum or stainless steel. Both options make the tool durable. But do make sure that they are protected against oxidation and rust.
And.. that’s it! Choose the type of woodworking square you need based on your project and start making accurate measurements. Happy woodworking!