Woodworking squares make your projects easier and hence the need to have a few of them in the workshop. With the best woodworking square, you have a reliable tool for marking workpieces to ensure greater precision when cutting.
Squares come in various types for different purposes, such as speed squares typically used to mark lumber and framing squares for various framing-related jobs. But, regardless of the square type you want, it is crucial to make sure you pick a good model.
In this article, we look at some top woodworking squares that deserve a spot on your toolbox and explain how to choose one with our comprehensive buying guide.
Things to Check Before Buying Woodworking Squares
Photo: Swanson Tool Co.
1) Your Purpose
How you intend to use the woodworking square is perhaps the primary determinant of the right one for you as they come in various types.
Speed squares like the Swanson Tool Co SW1201K are among the most common types, and they are the best choice when you want something you can use to mark lumber for precise cuts.
Combination squares such as the Irwin 1794469 come in handy if most of your jobs entail marking 90 and 45-degree angles. But for woodworkers that are more into framing jobs, a framing square like the Milescraft 8410 is always a better buy.
Various other square types like try, rafter, and sliding t-bevel squares are meant for different purposes. Hence, before you start shopping for a woodworking square, you have to decide how you intend to use it.
For any square to work well for you, it needs to offer precise measurements. Contrary to what many people assume, some squares can be a bit off, which in most instances is due to poor manufacturing.
Therefore, before settling on a square, make sure the angles and measurements are true. The best way to check this is by measuring the square against lumber with a straight edge. Reading customer reviews and feedback can also give you an idea of a square’s precision before buying.
The material needs to be at the top of your mind when shopping for a woodworking square. Material determines the durability of the square and its ability to handle the abuse that comes with use in the workshop.
Additionally, the material also affects the markings and overall feel of the square. That said, the best ones are made from heavy-duty materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel.
A square’s length determines the maximum measurements you can use it to make. Therefore, as you shop for the best woodworking square, you need to make sure you know the maximum length you are likely to measure.
You can get squares that are anything from 3-inch to over 12 inches long. The smaller 3-inch models are ideal for simple, small-scale projects, while the longer ones are best suited for the huge ones where you deal with larger workpieces.
5) Marking and Measurement Types
The markings on your woodworking square are perhaps the most vital factor to consider as they determine how accurate the tool will be for you.
Besides being precisely marked, they also need to be durable to ensure you get to use the square long enough. Markings that are etched on the tool are always better than those printed on it as they will not wear or fade quickly.
Another critical factor to consider is the measurement types. Most squares provide measurements in inches using different graduations like 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64. Many will also have them in millimeters to give you more options. The most important thing is to make sure the tool uses measurement types you can easily understand or are comfortable with.
Like any other handheld tool, the woodworking squares need to be comfortable when using. Comfort is mainly associated with the handle on the square. Something made from soft materials like wood or rubber is always preferable.
Apart from the handle material, the handle has to be the right size to fit your hand perfectly. Furthermore, the overall weight of the tool affects its comfort, and here the lighter it is, the better.
10 Best Woodworking Squares To Buy in 2021
1. Swanson Tool Co SW1201K (Best Overall)
2. Mr. Pen FR01 (Best for the Money)
3. Irwin 1794473 (Best for Carpenters)
4. Milescraft 8410 (Best Framing)
5. Irwin 1794469 (Best Combination)
6. DeWalt DWHT46031 (Best Saw Guide)
7. iGaging 34-4466-S (Most Precise)
8. Starrett 56366 C11H-12-4R (Heavy-Duty)
9. Johnson Level & Tool 420EM-S (Professional-Grade)
10. WorkPro NOVASAT-0409-1513-35 (User-Friendly)
1. Best Overall Woodworking Square: Swanson Tool Co SW1201K
Photo: Swanson Tool Co
- Length: 7” & 12”
- Graduations: Billet aluminum alloy
- Weight: 1.89 lbs
The Swanson Tool Co SW1201K seems to have the edge over many other woodworking squares as it has a lot more to offer, starting with multiple gradations. With these gradations, the squares are ideal for marking all kinds of rafters and various other things like determining and drawing angles when you want to make square cuts.
You also get two different size squares: the 7 and 12-inch models, which makes this an even better buy as you can do much more with the two squares. Moreover, this ensures you get great value for your cash.
The construction does not disappoint as the squares feature a heavy-duty billet aluminum alloy build and are die-cast to ensure maximum accuracy. Better still, the black gradations are highly visible thanks to the non-glare, matte finish.
Although these squares seem to have a few finish imperfections, they are not significant enough to affect their usability or precision.
- Includes various gradations for increased versatility
- Great value for a pack of two
- Heavy-duty material
- Highly visible markings
- A few finish imperfections
2. Best Woodworking Square for the Money: Mr. Pen FR01
Photo: Mr. Pen
- Length: 12″
- Graduations: 1/16″, mm
- Material: Carbon steel
- Weight: 8.8 oz
Mr. Pen FR01 is our best woodworking square for the money as it is a premium-quality model that comes at a more affordable price. You would have to spend way more cash to get something better.
The woodworking square is designed to cater to all kinds of users as it includes measurements in both metric and imperial units. These measurements are also easy to reach thanks to the white on black markings design.
You can use this square for various applications as it is designed to be more versatile. Besides use for carpentry jobs, it works well as a straightedge when you want to determine the flatness of a surface.
When you measure this square, it might not be entirely square, but this is typical of most budget models. Moreover, it is still highly reliable as it is hardly ever off by anything significant.
- Unbeatable for the price
- Includes both metric and imperial units
- Easy to read measurements
- Suitable for various applications
- Not entirely square
3. Best Carpenters Square: Irwin 1794473
- Length: 8″
- Material: Stainless steel, ABS
- Weight: 7.84 oz
Every carpenter needs a reliable tool to measure workpieces and mark them when on a job, and the Irwin 1794473 is just the tool for that. It is a very reliable square for marking 90-degree angles, and you can be sure of greater accuracy as it also includes a spirit level.
Overall, this woodworking square is made to offer an extended service life as it includes a heavy-duty and rustproof stainless steel blade and a high-impact ABS handle.
Additionally, taking the reading is a breeze as the scales are black and precision-etched to make them super easy to read. The etched markings are also more long-lasting as they do not fade or wear off like printed ones.
The only gripe some users might have with this tool is with the size of the spirit level, as it seems a little too big, but the good news is that it is still sensitive enough.
- Durable and rustproof blade
- Reliable tool for marking 90 degrees
- Easy to read scales
- High impact handle
- Spirit level bubble is a little too large
4. Best Framing Woodworking Square: Milescraft 8410
- Length: 12″
- Graduations: 1/4″
- Material: Anodized aluminum
- Weight: 8.8 oz
Everything about the Milescraft 8410 is meant to ensure framing will be a more effortless task. The square allows users to measure both the inside and outside section of the workpiece as it has scales on both sides, which can be very useful when framing.
What’s more, the square includes quick angle finders for 30 and 45 degrees, meaning it can speed up marking jobs for you. Better still, line scrubbing is more accurate since the square has some elongated notches.
You can also be sure of using this square for a long time to come, thanks to the thicker and more long-lasting anodized aluminum material.
The screws set seems cheap, but it should still hold up well long enough. Also, the removable fence can be problematic as it can move out of place when you do not want it to, but it should be okay once you get used to the tool.
- Allows you to mark the inside and outside of a workpiece
- Includes quick angle finders
- Accurate line scrubbing with elongated notches
- Thicker and more long-lasting anodized material
- Cheap screw set
- Removable fence can be problematic
5. Best Combination Woodworking Square: Irwin 1794469
- Length: 12″
- Graduations: 1/8″, 1/16″ & 1/32″
- Material: Stainless steel, cast zinc
- Weight: 13.62 oz
When you want to mark a line for ripping lumber or making cross cuts, a combination square like the Irwin 1794469 is a handy tool for you. It is a perfect square for measuring 45 and 90-degree angles and can handle larger workpieces as it is 12 inches long.
Like most other combination squares, this tool is ideal when you want to transfer measurements accurately. Additionally, many users love that it is built to last with a rustproof stainless steel blade and a cast zinc body.
One more thing woodworkers seem to appreciate a lot is the scale markings as they are black precision-etched for easy visibility and maximum durability.
The slide function on this square is not the best and would do with some improvement, but it does not affect the tool’s usability. Also, some users complain it is not entirely square. But like most other top-quality squares, it is off by an insignificant margin.
- Accurate angle measurements
- High-quality scale markings
- Highly durable construction
- Allows for precise measurements transfer
- Slide function needs improvement
- Not completely square
6. Best Saw Guide Woodworking Square: DeWalt DWHT46031
- Length: 7″
- Material: Aluminum
- Weight: 8 oz
For woodworkers looking for a square they can use as a saw guide, the DeWalt DWHT46031 is a fantastic option. It has an extra-thick aluminum body that makes it very suitable for guiding saws and ensures it holds up well to heavy usage.
Additionally, this 7-inch square has a more extensive base that provides an excellent grip on materials. When it comes to reading the scale, you also get an easier time since it is stamped in contrasting colors to ensure easy readability.
This DeWalt square will be ideal for marking rip cuts as it includes scribe line notches, meaning it is also a pretty versatile tool.
Although some of the lines on the square do not appear etched onto its surface, they should still hold up well with proper tool usage and care.
- Very ideal for guiding saws
- Markings are easy to read
- Thicker body holds up well to heavy usage
- Includes notches for marking rip cuts
- Some of the lines are not etched
7. Most Precise Woodworking Squares: iGaging 34-4466-S
- Length: 4” & 6”
- Graduations: 1/8″, 1/16″, 1/32 & 1/64″
- Material: Chrome
- Weight: 1.17 lbs
Anyone shopping for a precision woodworking square needs to give the iGaging 34-4466-S a try. The squares come as a pair and are designed to meet the strict US accuracy standards, meaning you can always be sure of their precision.
The 4 and 6-inch squares have a heavy-duty hardened steel blade that delivers a long service life and is highly resistant to rusting. Better still, you can be sure of an easy time using them as they have some easy-to-read markings and the head locks in place securely.
You should also not worry about storage when not using these squares since they come with a nice storage case that includes foam inserts for extra protection.
Even for a pair of two squares, these seem pretty expensive. However, the higher price tag reflects their superior build quality and accuracy.
- Made to meet strict US precision standards
- Heavy-duty blade
- Head can be locked in place securely
- Easy to read markings
- Nice carry case with form inserts
- Relatively pricier
8. Heavy-Duty Woodworking Square: Starrett 56366 C11H-12-4R
- Length: 12″
- Graduations: 1/8″, 1/16″, 1/32 & 1/64″
- Material: Cast iron, steel
- Weight: 1.22 lbs
With the Starrett 56366 C11H-12-4R, you can be sure you are getting a heavy-duty square guaranteed to give you exceptional service for a long time to come. It features a hardened steel blade with a satin chrome finish, and a cast iron head with a black wrinkle finish.
The satin chrome finish on the blade and the fact that it is machine-divided makes it easier to read. Additionally, the scale has a type 4R graduation with 8ths, 16ths, 32nds, and 64ths markings.
On the other hand, the head includes a reversible bolt and a spirit level, making it easier to use and significantly enhancing accuracy.
Although this tool is the priciest on our woodworking square review, it is worth every extra buck for a premium quality model.
- Heavy-duty overall build
- Easy to read scale
- Head is precision-ground for maximum accuracy
- Reversible lock bolt
- Spirit level included
- Quite an expensive square
9. Professional-Grade Woodworking Square: Johnson Level & Tool 420EM-S
Photo: Johnson Level & Tool
- Length: 16″
- Graduations: 1/8″, 1/16″, 1/32″
- Material: Stainless steel
- Weight: 11.8 oz
The Johnson Level & Tool 420EM-S is designed with the professional woodworker in mind. It is a 16-inch long square that can handle larger projects and is also made to withstand heavy usage for a long time.
Its design includes a heavy-duty cast zinc head with a chip-resistant coating and a stainless steel blade with some easy-to-read and durable markings as they are permanently etched. Better yet, the square has a self-aligning drawbolt for user convenience.
Many woodworkers will also love using this square because it has a durable acrylic level vial and an auto-locking blade assembly.
This square seems pricier than competing brands, but for a heavy-duty 16-inch model, it is well worth the price. Also, the head lock mechanism could be tighter, but it still works well enough.
- Great for professional use
- Heavy-duty blade and head
- Durable level vial
- Drawbolt is self-aligning
- Auto-locking blade assembly
- A little pricier
- Head lock mechanism could be tighter
10. User-Friendly Woodworking Square: WorkPro NOVASAT-0409-1513-35
- Length: 7” & 12”
- Graduations: 1/16″, 1/32″ and 1mm
- Material: Aluminum alloy die-cast, stainless steel
- Weight: 1.54 lbs
The WorkPro NOVASAT-0409-1513-35 is one of the most user-friendly woodworking squares you can get out there. It includes a lip fence that allows you to brace it square with the workpiece, and the combination square in the set has an easy detach ruler. What’s more, the ruler is smooth and easy to slide around when measuring.
With the clearly identifiable scale on this square with permanent markings and low glare, you can easily see the measurements even from far. Additionally, the squares feature more durable construction with aluminum alloy die cast and stainless steel construction.
You can use these squares for a wide variety of tasks thanks to the multiple graduations and the fact they also include other things like a metal scriber and an easy-to-read level vial.
The edges on the squares seem a bit rough, but for the bundle’s price, this is a minor issue to leave with, given it does not affect the usability.
- Designed to be more user friendly
- Easy to read scale
- Suitable for various uses
- Heavy-duty and durable materials
- Edges are a bit rough
Woodworking squares will come in handy for most of your projects. But, it is vital to make sure you choose the right type and model for your specific jobs.
That said, the Swanson Tool Co SW1201K is our top overall recommendation. This speed square is well-built with heavy-duty material, versatile, and comes with a clearly identifiable scale.
However, if you are looking for something that will give you the best value for your money, go for Mr. Pen FR01. It is a premium-quality square that comes at a great price.
In this post:
- Things to Check Before Buying Woodworking Squares
- 10 Best Woodworking Squares To Buy in 2021
- 1. Best Overall Woodworking Square: Swanson Tool Co SW1201K
- 2. Best Woodworking Square for the Money: Mr. Pen FR01
- 3. Best Carpenters Square: Irwin 1794473
- 4. Best Framing Woodworking Square: Milescraft 8410
- 5. Best Combination Woodworking Square: Irwin 1794469
- 6. Best Saw Guide Woodworking Square: DeWalt DWHT46031
- 7. Most Precise Woodworking Squares: iGaging 34-4466-S
- 8. Heavy-Duty Woodworking Square: Starrett 56366 C11H-12-4R
- 9. Professional-Grade Woodworking Square: Johnson Level & Tool 420EM-S
- 10. User-Friendly Woodworking Square: WorkPro NOVASAT-0409-1513-35