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Level Up Your Accuracy With the Best Combination Squares
From drawing technical sketches to joining pieces of wood, combination squares will always be a significant part of your toolkit. No matter how proficient you’ve become, uncertainties are always a possibility, especially if you try taking measurements on a DIY project without the right tool. So let’s explore some combination squares and make your projects stand out.
Combination squares are easy-to-use measuring tools, keeping your 45 and 90-degree angles highly precise. These versatile marking instruments are widely used in woodworking, stonemasonry, and metalworking. And, by switching square heads with center or protractor heads, you can ensure optimal performance.
Since there are many options to choose from, scroll down to examine some of the top combination squares in 2023 as well as our detailed buying guide – helping you make an informed decision with confidence.Show contentsReviewing of the Top Combination Squares in 2023
Buying Guide: Combination Squares
- WORKPRO Rafter Combination Square - Best Overall
- IRWIN Tools Combination Square - Great Value
- Swanson Tool 6-Inch Combination Square - Compact Design
- TICOFTECH 12-Inch Combination Square - Most Versatile
- Johnson Level & Combination Square - Multipurpose Design
Buying Guide: Combination Squares
Seeing all the options above, you can imagine the abundance of options available. However, there are some standard features you should look out for that can help you land on the exact right product for your particular needs.
Check out this detailed buying guide, helping you draw a clear picture of an ideal combination square in your mind, ensuring confidence in your purchase.
What Are Combination Squares?
Combination squares are versatile measuring and marking instruments used widely in woodworking, metalworking, and stone masonry. They include a detailed ruler and multiple interchangeable heads depending on the needs of a project. These are also known as sliding squares, combo squares, and adjustable squares.
The most common uses of combination squares are:
- Distance measurements
- Finding depth
- Determining level accuracy
- Measuring the central points of circular objects
- Marking and testing 90 degree and 45-degree angles
Types of Combination Squares
Before considering essential features, understanding the types of combination squares can help with using them in a more versatile manner. Here are the basic types of combination squares you can use on different projects.
A “square head” is a standard type of combination square commonly used in workshops and construction sites. It has both 90 degrees and 45-degree edges, providing dual functions as both a miter square and a try square. Square heads are used for marking 90-degree angles, and miter squares are used for marking and referencing 45-degree angles.
Square heads are versatile and can also be used as depth and height gauges. Also, being on a spirit level allows it to check the level of surfaces.
The center, or centering, head allows you to find the center of the square and round objects like dowels. Marking multiple spots at different angles can help you with precisely determining the center point of objects. You can also use it with perpendicular angles on a curved edge. The edge has been molded in a v-shaped body, and a locking thumb nut is present near the endpoint.
The greatest advantage this provides is the blade fitting perfectly into the central point of a center head, sliding through it.
Protractor heads are widely used for measuring and examining angles between markings, edges, and surfaces. After fitting your blade with a protractor head, you can set any angle between 0 and 180 degrees. When used with center heads, protractor heads allow for finding central points and marking accurate angles from the main point.
This head can also directly transfer angles, minimizing measurement errors and uncertainties, just like a bevel gauge.
Factors To Consider With Combination Squares
This section is all about the indispensable features you should consider before making any purchase. Missing a single one of them may cost you your chance at achieving woodworking perfection.
The materials used reflect the quality of anything made, and if you are seeking a long-lasting combination square, good materials should be a special priority. The blade of a combo square is crafted either with stainless steel or hardened steel. Stainless steel has extreme rust resistance but is not as strong as hardened versions. On the other hand, hardened steel is much less likely to prevent rust and corrosion.
That’s why stainless steel is so prevalent in the market; however, if you want to opt for hardened steel, make sure it is chrome plated, providing resistance to rust and ensuring durability.
Most of the materials used for constructing combination squares are cast iron, high-impact polystyrene, and die-cast zinc. Plastic tools are also available and sell at a low price, but they keep degrading with time, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Die-cast zinc is in heavy demand because of its usefulness in preventing rust and maintaining accuracy. Premium combination squares fabricated with cast iron are the king of durability but need to be cleaned after each use to prevent rust.
Combination squares might all come in one shape but they do have different sizes to choose from. The most common sizes are 4 inches, 6 inches, 12 inches, 16 inches, and 24 inches. Several sizes are the perfect backup to any situation and 12-inch combination squares offer the greatest versatility if you have to choose just one.
Most combination squares have metric and imperial markings etched on their surface. Different models of blades have graduation between 10R and 4R. However, blades with 4R graduation are an excellent fit for detailed markings of ⅛ inch, 1/32 inch, 1/16 inch, and 1/64 inch. Blades with 10R graduation have equal divisions of 1/10 inch.
Markings play a massive role in maintaining the longevity of a combination square. Painted markings are clear to read initially, but fade with general wear and tear. Measurements can become unclear over time if the square’s markings were etched by the same machine used for cutting its blade.
Etched machine markings are carved inside blades and won’t fade away quickly. Therefore, these markings are the best possible option for getting precise, clear, and reproducible readings.
Combination squares are considered versatile woodworking tools because of their interchangeable heads. The standard head coming with any combination square is a “square head”. However, you can switch to a protractor head or a center head based on your project’s requirements.
If you’re working on a complex job requiring all these heads, it’s a good idea to purchase a sturdy set of combination squares. Plus, several models offer a spirit level and a scriber, offering even greater convenience and accuracy.
Reviewing of the Top Combination Squares in 20231– Best Overall
WORKPRO’s combination square is a great option for people prioritizing precision and looking for a quality product for their workshop. This item is so outstanding, in fact, it’s managed to grab our “best overall” award, owing to uncompromising quality and durable construction. This combination ruler offers fantastic durability, granted by the use of zinc-alloy, and will keep providing accurate readings for a long time. Also, it carries a sturdy ruler fabricated from stainless steel with a matte finish, adding to its strength and making it easy to slide while measuring.
Thanks to the deeply etched markings engraved on the steel ruler, you can read numbers effortlessly and clearly. This 12-inch ruler has three short markings divided into 1/16 inch, 1/32 inch, and 1 mm. The spring screw allows you to detach the ruler easily, and the built-in metal scriber and level vial offer extreme versatility.2– Great Value
When we talk about premium combination squares with perfect balance in price, value, and performance, Irwin tools are practical and dependable examples. A stainless steel blade, integrated with the cast zinc body, provides extended durability and protects the product from rust. Additionally, deep markings carved on the ruler’s surface provide precise 45 and 90 degrees readings, and the black paint used keeps them easy to read.
On one side of the blade, you’ll find several imperial measurements as well as other metrics, making this one of the most versatile combination squares out there. A built-in scribing tool and a bubble level also help you spot the level with just a glance. Its 6-inch length also makes this a handy tool appropriate for DIY tasks.3– Compact Design
If larger scales are overkill for your projects, and it’s affecting the quality of your measurements, then Swanson can help you find balance and reliability. This 6-inch blade features both imperial and metric measurements, allowing you to use whatever best suits your needs. And, black etched markings make this compact combo square a breeze to read. Also, stainless steel construction ensures this product’s longevity and precision.
These sturdy combination square sets are made of die-cast zinc that is highly rust-resistant and plays a significant role in fortifying the tool’s toughness. A built-in brass scriber and a heavy-duty level bubble make marking easy even when you can’t find a pencil. Additionally, a spring-loaded bolt keeps the stainless steel blade in place so angles won’t slip, causing you to lose accuracy.4– Most Versatile
Whether taking measurements, marking spots, or transferring precise angles, TICOFTECH’s 12-inch combination square is an indispensable tool for workshops. A heavy-duty cast zinc body and rustproof steel blade offer resistance to most impacts. This multifunctional tool is not limited to use as a combo square but can also serve as a scriber, gauge, and spirit level.
This exclusive carpenter square is dedicated to providing you with quick and error-free measurements in several applications such as decks, rafters, roofing projects, stairs, and more. This tool provides precise 45 and 90-degree angle measurements and is a handy indicator for transferring exact angles. Additionally, TICOFTECH provides dual side measurements in both 300 mm Metric and 12-inch British systems, making them some of the best combination squares for woodworking.5– Multipurpose Design
Johnson Level and Sturdy Combination Square sets are affordable and decent options to consider. A heavy-duty cast zinc head combined with a chip-resistant coating makes this capable of withstanding even the most rigorous workshop use. Also, its one-year warranty adds to its credibility. And, the auto-lock mechanism of the blade helps with aligning tools for use, and the screw-in scriber increases this product’s strength and convenience.
The tool is a stainless steel blade with metric and English measurements engraved on its surface. The markings include ⅛ inch, 1/16-inch, and 1/32-inch and have been printed permanently, preventing fading over time. The head of this metal square ruler has been processed with a CNC machine, improving precision. This feature makes it ideal for marking, as a depth gauge, a straightedge, a miter square, an adjustable try square, and more.
Combination Squares FAQQ: What are some tips and tricks for extending the lifespan of combination squares?
A: Here are the essential tips for maintenance of combination squares:
Q: What is a try square used for?
- Wiping it off after every use can increase a product's life by years
- Cleaning it with rubbing alcohol, a nonabrasive scouring pad, or any lubricant can help prevent rust, extending the tool’s lifespan
- Make sure to wipe off any lubricant after cleaning
A: Unlike a combination square, try squares are designed for measuring and marking at fixed 90-degree angles. Try squares ensure greater accuracy than combination squares because their blades are fixed rather than adjustable.Q: Is it necessary to have metric measurements on my combination square?
A: It depends on the intended purpose of your purchase. However, if you are unsure, most sliding squares feature both metric and imperial systems, covering you in any situation.Related Content