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5 Best Woodworking Squares of 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

a woodworking square

woodworking while using a square-tool

You may think that you know everything there is to know about woodworking squares, but if you’re looking to go pro or want the best model on the market today, you may be surprised at what you find. The most expensive models aren’t always the best, and sometimes you can find a deal for a great square that takes advantage of modern materials design for a fraction of what the most expensive models cost.

Of course, comparing two products can be tricky when you’re shopping online. Product descriptions can sometimes be misleading, and it can be hard to compare apples-to-apples and be sure that you’re getting a good deal for your money.

Our reviews are designed to make the shopping process far easier. We cover each model in detail, showing you the best and worst attributes so that you know what you’re investing in before you buy. That way, you can find the model which is right for you, and hopefully get a great deal, too.

Comparison of our Favorite Picks

Rating Image Product Details
Top Pick
Winner
Woodpeckers Precision 1281R Woodpeckers Precision 1281R
  • Imperial or Metric
  • Easy line creation
  • Rests on board lip
  • The Runner-Up
    Second place
    iGaging Double Square Set iGaging Double Square Set
  • Two squares
  • Steel frames
  • Great precision
  • Best for the Money
    Third place
    IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square
  • Great price
  • Stainless-steel blade
  • Includes bubble level
  • Irwin Tools Combination Square Irwin Tools Combination Square
  • Etched markings
  • Adjustable handle
  • Heat-treated stainless-steel
  • Starrett K53-14-N Starrett K53-14-N
  • Long blade
  • Average precision
  • Good material quality
  • The 5 Best Woodworking Squares

    1. Woodpeckers Precision Woodworking Square 1281R – Top Pick

    Woodpeckers Precision Woodworking Square 1281R

    If you’re looking for a premium square, then you’ll be very happy with the Woodpeckers Precision Woodworking Square 1281R. This model comes in both Imperial and Metric versions, so you can get the variety with which you’re more comfortable. It’s also cast from a single block of aluminum. That manufacturing method lends it an incredible mix of both strength and lightness, making it one of the best models on the market in that area. Its design also allows it to be hung off the edge of a board without falling. That allows you to make careful, measured lines all the way to the board’s edge without having to guesstimate.

    This model comes with separate rulers on each side so that you can measure from the outside or inside line without having to reposition or do quick mental math. The only thing that could possibly turn people off towards this model is that it’s very expensive. It far above other models when it comes to quality and usefulness, but the price tag is still one that many people will consider excessive for a square. Still, if you want a great product that will make your jobs faster, you’ll love this one.

    Pros
    • Imperial or Metric
    • Aluminum frame
    • Easy line creation
    • Rests on board lip
    Cons
    • Expensive

    2. iGaging 4″ & 6″ Double Square Set 4R – The Runner-Up

    iGaging 4

    The iGaging 4″ & 6″ Double Square Set 4R are a good set of squares for woodworking. This set comes with two squares for the price of one, which makes them a tremendous deal that most people will appreciate. These adjustable squares come with steel frames. Together they weigh about a pound, which isn’t terrible, but since they’re made from steel, they’ll be some of the strongest models you can find on the market today. These squares allow for great precision, allowing for measurements down to 1/64th of an inch, which is more than most people will need.

    They also come with a great case. If you’re frequently moving from job site to job site, or you just want to make sure that you’re taking care of your tools when they’re not in use, you’ll be very happy with the sturdy case which comes with these squares. Our only gripe with this model is that it sometimes comes under-machined. Sometimes the parts don’t fit together well, requiring lubrication or a little sanding to start to work smoothly. For the price, it’s not a terrible problem to have, but it is enough to drop this set out of first place.

    Pros
    • Two squares
    • Steel frames
    • Great precision
    • Case included
    Cons
    • Could be better machined

    3. IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square – Best for the Money

    IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square

    The IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square is another great square for woodworkers. This model comes with a bubble level built into the handle, making it one of the best choices for those looking to do more with just one tool. It also comes with a stainless-steel blade. Stainless-steel is very strong, but it’s also corrosion-resistant, so you’ll have far more years of use out of this model than you would with one that uses plain, untreated steel. This square also comes with etched markings. These will last longer than printed markings and will be generally impossible to rub off, so you’ll always be able to make precise markings with this tool.

    You can get this model for a fraction of the cost of the first two. Since it provides so much quality at such a low price, it’s the best overall value for the money on our list. However, this model isn’t perfect. The plastic handle which contains the bubble level isn’t made to the same great standards as the stainless-steel blade, and that drops it to third. Still, if you’re looking to get a great tool and save some money, this is the model for you.

    Pros
    • Includes bubble level
    • Stainless-steel blade
    • Etched markings
    • Great price
    Cons
    • Plastic part is underwhelming

    4. Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square

    Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square

    The Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square is a tool with some potential, but which ultimately fails to deliver the same great experience you can get from some of the other models on our list. However, this model does come with a heat-treated stainless-steel blade, which may be one of the strongest and most durable blades on our list. It’s also 12 inches long, so it’s one of the largest as well. It comes with an adjustable handle which allows you to precisely measure out the distance you need to mark. Plus, the markings are etched on the blade, so they’ll be long-lasting and easy to read, even years after your purchase.

    However, this model suffers from quality control concerns. Complaints about this model’s failings vary widely, from rough operation to pieces which don’t fit together right and throw the whole device out of square. Given the variety of problems, there seem to be problems with quality control at the factory. If the handle comes off the blade, it’s hard to reattach it, which leads to a frustrating experience. While this model’s design isn’t horrible, these problems will drive most people crazy, and they’re enough to drop it to fourth place.

    Pros
    • Heat-treated stainless-steel
    • Adjustable handle
    • Etched markings
    Cons
    • Quality control concerns
    • Hard to reattach handle

    5. Starrett K53-14-N Stainless Steel Try Square

    Starrett K53-14-N Stainless Steel Try Square

    Starrett may be a name that you recognize from its long line of great squares, but this model doesn’t live up to those expectations. The Starrett K53-14-N Stainless Steel Try Square doesn’t live up to its name, which is a shame since it’s a simple model which isn’t saddled with extras, you won’t use. However, it does come with a 14-inch blade, making it the longest model on our list. It also comes with good overall material quality. The blade is made from stainless steel and the handle from aluminum. The markings every eighth of an inch will be enough for some workers, but won’t satisfy everyone.

    However, this model sometimes arrives slightly out-of-square, and there’s nothing you can do to fix that. That’s the sole purpose of this model, and if it doesn’t work in that regard, it’s not worth anything. It also comes at a relatively high price. The Starrett name seems to drive up the price, even though the quality isn’t as high as most people would hope. You could certainly do worse when it comes to squares than you could do with this model, but you could also do far better for the same price.

    Pros
    • Long blade
    • Good material quality
    • Average precision
    Cons
    • Slightly out of square
    • Relatively high price

    Buyer’s Guide

    Even when all the best models are laid out in front of you, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the choices and be unsure which option to get. This buyer’s guide can help you decide on a woodworking square.

    Factors to Consider When Buying a Woodworking Square

    Precision

    Precision is the sole purpose of a woodworking square, making it the most important factor to consider when buying a model. If the tool is even slightly out of square, it can throw off your entire project.

    Make sure that your woodworking square is completely square and provides accurate and precise measurements. You may even want to look into squares with a leveling bubble and other features to maximize precision capabilities.

    Blade Length

    Some woodworking square blades are longer than others. The longer the blade, the more area you will be able to measure. At the same time, long blades will be difficult to use in tight, hard to reach places. Select a woodworking square length that best suits your intended purposes. If you have a variety of square needs, consider buying more than one square.

    Marking And Measurement Types

    Woodworking squares come with measurements and markings on the blades, allowing you to measure accurately. This may sound like an obvious fact, but make sure you select a square with measurement units you are most familiar with. If you intend to need more than one measurement unit, find an option with both imperial and metric units.

    You will want to consider how the measurements are placed on the blade. Most woodworking squares come with measurements printed on, but other models include etched on measurements. The printed measurements will be less expensive, but they will eventually wear off and throw off the device’s precision. To assure that your square will last a long time, select a model with measurements etched onto the blade.

    Different Types of Woodworking Squares

    There are several different types of woodworking squares. Select a woodworking square type based on your intended use.

    Best For Size
    Try Square Carpentry Small
    Combination Square Versatile use Medium to large
    Framing Square Carpentry Medium to large
    Speed Square Versatile use Small
    Drywall T Square Drywall and plywood measurements and cutting Large
    T Square Carpentry or engineering Medium

    How to Make Your Own Woodworking Square

    Buying a square will be more convenient and possibly more precise, but you can make your own woodworking square if you would like.

    1. Gather Your Materials

    Materials needed:

    • A piece of cherry wood for the handle
    • Quarter-inch-thick white oak for the blade
    • Razorblade
    • Straight edge
    • Saw
    • Chisel
    • Wood glue
    • Try square
    • Clamp
    • Tape measurer (optional)

    2. Make the Handle

    Using the piece of cherry wood, grab your straight edge and razorblade. Mark how long you want your handle to be. The length is completely up to you. This marking will help you cut a straight line. On the line, use a hand saw to get rid of the excess material.

    Then, you will need to create a mortise, which is the groove that the blade will fit down into. Place the oak blade beam on the cherry handle to mark the mortise thickness. Use a mortise gauge to further mark the mortise based on the length. Once all your markings are precise, use the rip saw to create the cuts for the mortise. Clean out the excess wood within the mortise using a chisel.

    3. Make the Blade

    Now, it is time to make the blade. Using the quarter-inch-thick white oak, cut it so that it is about two inches wide. Cut the length of the blade based on your intended use and preferences. As you are cutting, leave a little extra room between the cut and marking line. You will flatten it down all the way to the marking line once you are finished cutting.

    4. Create Stair Steps

    Add a stairstep by making lines at the quarter-inch, half-inch, and three-quarter-inch of the oak blade. Cut down along these lines to create a stair step design. This design will serve as a measurement gauge.

    5. Connect the Pieces

    Apply wood glue to the blade and wiggle the oak blade into the cherry handle. Before clamping the pieces together, use a regular try square to ensure that your square is precise and square. After you have confirmed the squareness, clamp the pieces together. If there is any excess glue, wipe it away to perfect the look.

    6. Add the Measurements

    Let the square dry for several hours. After it is dry, use another square or tape measurer to add measurement markings. Take extra time to ensure the accuracy of the markings.

    FAQs

    What square do I need for woodworking?

    There is no one square that is best for all woodworking projects. You will select a square based on your specific projects to ensure that the square performs as needed.

    What square should I get if I need to make different angles?

    If you intend to use a square for making different angles, the speed square will be the best option for you since it is designed to create all types of angles.

    Should I make my own square?

    Making your own woodworking square can be fun and challenging, but it is generally recommended to by a square to ensure precision and accuracy. Professionally-made squares will be more precise, and they may offer more functions to enhance usability and accuracy.

    Conclusion

    The Woodpeckers Precision Woodworking Square 1281R is the model to get if you’re looking for an easy-to-use square available in Imperial or Metric, with a lightweight but sturdy frame. The iGaging 4″ & 6″ Double Square Set 4R comes with two squares, made from steel, and which have excellent precision, though its sometimes rough machining keeps them out of first place. The IRWIN Tools Tri and Mitre Square has a bubble level, a stainless-steel blade, and etched markings, and since you can get it for a low price, it’s the best overall value for the money on our list. In fourth is the Irwin Tools 12-Inch Combination Square which is made from heat-treated stainless-steel, and comes with etched markings, though its quality control concerns and sometimes-difficult operation cost is a few positions on our list. The Starrett K53-14-N Stainless Steel Try Square comes with a long blade and good material quality, but it sometimes comes out of square, and its relatively high price makes it a poor overall deal.

    We hope that our reviews have helped you better understand woodworking squares and have led you to the model which is right for you.

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