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My Favorite Marking and Measuring Tools

There are four squares in my tool box, two that I use every week, one that is used a few times a year and one that is my neighbor square. One more hangs high on my wall just in reach.

When I was 8 my father presented me with a few tools for Christmas; a hammer, two screw drivers (flat head and Phillips), a six inch adjustable wrench and a square. These tools were purchased from Sears and proudly have the craftsman name on the side. I still have all of these tools in my tool box with the exception of the hammer which remains in his tool box. All of these tools are still used with the exception of one……the square.

There is nothing special about the square it has a red plastic handle and metal edge marked off in inches. I used it until twelve years ago to build book shelves and beds and many other projects around the house. Until I went to a class on table saws at Highland Hardware. In this class they talked about setting up the saw and how to square the blade using a board cut on all sides to check for accuracy. As in most classes they pointed out the tools you could purchase from their store to help you master your craft including several machinists squares made by Groz. I didn’t need any tools since I had a nice craftsman square and besides I had just forked over cash for the class.

In my garage I went through the suggested set up for my saw and to my amazement it was not square. I repeated again and again, same thing. In frustration I sat down on a 5 gallon bucket and stared out my garage door. Three hours later I had a new 6″ Groz machinist’s square and a table saw that was cutting true lines. The old square was relegated to the back of the tool box. My woodworking took a dramatic leap forward as joints fit and I spent less time making adjustments.

I later ended up with a 12″ Stanley combination square that was accurate and could handle wider boards. The Groz was used on my machinery, it’s heavy weight helped it to stand accurately when adjusting blade settings and the Stanley combination square became my marking square . This worked great until we moved, and the Stanley square was misplaced. I replaced it with a similar square and ready to work checked it with the Groz, it was not square. I returned the square assuming it was unique and checked the entire store stock about 8-10 squares. None of them were accurate!

Back to the 5 gallon bucket for some contemplation and after some research a red box showed up at the house with a Starret 12″ square. This was another leap since it operated smoothly was easy to ready and had a definite feel of quality. The Starret squares are not low cost but they are worth every penny. A year later another red box arrived with a 4″ Starret square. It is now my favorite; used for marking joints, checking edges for square and many other tasks. The message in this blog is purchase the most accurate measuring and marking tools you can, they affect every cut you make.

I almost forgot my neighbor square. I am happy to loan tools to my friends that understand their value not only in cost but the joy they give me. I am even happier to go aong and give them a hand. However, I have not loaned out my Starret squares, but I do keep an old combination square for their use. There are some tools that mean that much.


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