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Best Framing Square

collarandhames's picture

Hi Y'all,, been reading and posted a couple,, My question is, since my only full size framing square (lee valley stainless steel) is in my tote, and often on site, and I'd like to treat myself to a nice shop square, does anyone have any recommendations as to  the "best" square to own?  Certainly I'm wanting basic rafter tables, octogon, brace table, (but it is so easy to do on your own) and the regular scales.  I dabble in timberfaming using snap line, so marks halving the ends would be nice, but I don't mind modifying myself.  Thougts?


Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #1 of 26)

i bought some cheap steel ones cause they were yellow with black markings , very easy to read for me

(post #125404, reply #2 of 26)

All I have ever purchased are Stanley aluminum.

"Poor is not the person who has too little, but the person who craves more."...Seneca

Life is Good

(post #125404, reply #3 of 26)

Aluminium squares change shape and go out of square...
ones with painted marks .. the paint fades away...

steel ones that are engraved and not stamped are good...
steel engraved ones with rafter and jack tables are better....

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming

WOW!!! What a Ride!
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!

"Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints"

(post #125404, reply #4 of 26)

In the past you could tell the difference between a pro framing square and an also ran by the hundredths scale. Many inexpensive squares don't have it. I've had a Stanley aluminum for 40 yrs. Now it's cracked in the corner due to years of dropping off roofs and other abuses. It rains and snows around here, steel tools suffer the effects. I can't say I ever use any of the markings on it since there are so many other ways to get the same information. If you don't need the markings, it doesn't matter what square you use as long as it's square. When it comes to finding the center of something, there are centering rules at most drafting suppliers. You can also just swing your tape until it's on an even number and mark the mathematical half, double check.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

(post #125404, reply #5 of 26)

I'd like to treat myself to a nice shop square, does anyone have any recommendations as to  the "best" square to own? 

Might try the Stanley with yellow markings on black.  It has the standard professional tables.  Mine stays in the shop.  Looks very decorative on the hooks. It's too nice to expose to the job sites.  Have an Empire alum. one for that.

Orco wanted about $20 for one.  Lowes wanted $14 for the same thing.

The ToolBear

"Never met a man who couldn't teach me something." Anon.

The ToolBear

"You can't save the Earth unless you are willing to make other people sacrifice." Dogbert

(post #125404, reply #6 of 26)

I've got that square,   pretty nice.  Had it about 8 months or so and it has held up good. 


"If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball."  Patches O'Hoolihan

Matt- Woods favorite carpenter. 

(post #125404, reply #7 of 26)

Usually look for the 3/16" thick aluminum framing squares.

Never owned a steel framing square.  Too much laying around outside.


It's not too late, it's never too late.

(post #125404, reply #9 of 26)

I just left my 3/16" thick aluminum square behind at a jobsite last week and naturally it had 'walked" by the next morning.  I'm still in mourning!  That had been my favorite framing square for almost 20 years.

I've been quite unsuccessful in finding another one and just broke down and bought the black and yellow one at lowes.

" If I were a carpenter"
" If I were a carpenter"

(post #125404, reply #8 of 26)


Thanks all for the responses!  I love my stainless steel square, so will continue to use it for site work, and will continue the search for a thing of beauty for the shop!

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #16 of 26)

One word...Miller Falls.

Whoops...two words.

Edited 5/3/2007 10:09 pm by woodway

(post #125404, reply #17 of 26)

Woodway,,  o.k,,, why?  Tell me more tell me more like did he have  a car, tell me more tell me more did you get very far, uh huh, uh huh,   sorry,, my kid is listening to alot of grease these days!

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #18 of 26)

If you want really well-made and accurate squares that are also well made, get into the Starrets.

I accumulated a few when I was doing construction millwright work and now use them for timber framing layout.

They are expensive and the blades are machined steel, so you have to protect them from the elements.

Probably overkill, but they are dead on and the blades slide through the base so you can use them like a tri-square for laying out mortises and a variety of notches and one of mine has a protractor in the base so you can set the blade for angle cuts.

You might find some used ones on ebay or the estate sale of some retired or deceased machinist.

(post #125404, reply #19 of 26)

Notchman,  Now this is interesting.  I'll be up all night!  i'll check the starret site, there

is a dealer in Toronto I visit that sells them I think.  It isn't about money,, it is about owning a nice tool!  And we all know about the value of a nice tool now don't we? Thanks!

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #20 of 26)

If you're interested in some really beautiful heirloom quality handtools, you might look into

They're located in Portland, Oregon and started out with a variety of measuring tools (squares, bevels, rules, etc.), but have apparently gotten into some high end hand planes.

Their website is a bit limited but provides some links you might enjoy.

I could never bring myself to buy any of their stuff because it was quite spendy but their tools, as you will see, are absolute pieces of beauty....lots of brass and various wood components....very finely turned out.

(post #125404, reply #22 of 26)


I wasn't able to find framing squares at starretts.  I own a starett combination,and got a neat angle layout one at a flea market.  Thanks anyway! They make super tools!  Re: Bridge city ,, We have Lee Valley up here,, they sell lots of nice stuff too, and i own a pile of it!  Something SO nice about nice quality tools.  No,, the Best quality tools!  d


Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #23 of 26)

There are some old framing squares that were made for the original timber framers that had slots cut in the blades for marking out mortises.

Those will definitely be available only in antique tool shops, or, if you get lucky, you might find one at a flea market or something.  I've seen them in some of the timber framing books, but never a real live one.

Your tag line; "It's a Horse thing" makes me chuckle a bit:  I had Shire draft horses for several years and, over time, found that the expense....and addiction....of owning horses is similar to those of us who are drawn to nice tools.

I gave up the horses finally (and with a lot of soul-searching) but I still suffer from the tool addiction.  :-)

(post #125404, reply #24 of 26)

I'm cool with notching my own.  Never seen any "pre notched" ,, yet!  Shire's are really big!  Too big!  I like Suffolk punch.  Have a saddlebred now,, dream of owning a proper beast,, but $$,, and time eh? Maybe if custom timberframing picks up!  One day!

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #10 of 26)


Miller Falls Alluminum. Best square ever.


Chuck S


live, work, build, ...better with wood
live, work, build, ...better with wood

(post #125404, reply #11 of 26)

My shop sq. is an OLD Craftsmen , a 12x16 with a 1.00 tongue amd a 1.5" leg...the beef at the corner is a good 3/16th thick. It is a beauty.

You don't need the tables.

I'd wager that no one here on this site, purports to actually using the scales, If so, speak up.

Go ye to a yard sale..score an oldy...they are adjustable, if not too rusty.

Parolee # 40835  

(post #125404, reply #12 of 26)

True enough,  The timberframer I've worked for has some really nice old old old squares,, he adjusted them,, painted them to infill the engraving,, and sanded them up shiny and nice!  It will not see weather,, just an old beauty to hang in my shop! I love collecting old tools,, most of them see sharpening, cleaning, de rusting,, and then just sit there for the day years later when they are the right tool for the job!

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #13 of 26)

What scares me is that I made Hames at one point in my life...Vegetable tanned leather, no chrome.

Parolee # 40835  

(post #125404, reply #15 of 26)

Sphere,, tell me more?  I have a kit of leather making stuff,, but veg.leather hames?  I thought they were either metal or wood with metal.  were they sheathed in leather?  What kind of ponies you got down there?  Mine's an American Saddlebred, bought 12 years ago as a yearling,, tried to break to the cart, but didn't work out!  Hang on is this supposed to be a different thread?

Its a horse thing!


(post #125404, reply #21 of 26)

Layers of leather with a metal insert...this was many yrs. ago.

Horses ? Here?  LOL This is Derby weekend dude, we got all the fast ones!

Parolee # 40835  

(post #125404, reply #14 of 26)

I always use the tables on staightfoward projects but use a calculator on the more involved ones.
I don't use a CM, would rather understand the math.

Check out Chappell Universal (post #125404, reply #25 of 26)

Check out Chappell Universal Squares.  Guaranteed square to within 0.003"

That sounds like marketing BS. (post #125404, reply #26 of 26)

Guaranteed square to within 0.003" means nothing.  Guaranteed square to within 0.003" per inch or foot etc. means something.