Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Basic Tool Kit Project - Square

I decided one can only go so long writing about woodworking without actually doing any.  To put my money where my mouth is, I designed and constructed a square and used only the tools in my Beginner's Tool Kit.

It's not too pretty, but here is my prototype:

The very first Beginner's Tool Kit Square.
If you want to see all of the gory details, check out the slideshow.

You really need a square in your basic tool kit.  The size of this square isn't all that critical (mine is around nine inches long and 4 1/2" wide).

I chose lap joints because my basic tool kit doesn't have a chisel narrower than 3/8" yet.  The lap joint should be plenty strong for this.  Besides, if it comes apart, you can easily make another one.

Construction is pretty straight forward, just lap joints and perhaps some chamfering if you so desire.  The idea is that the handle is thicker than the blade, so you can push the handle up to your true edge and mark with your pencil or knife along the blade.

In retrospect,  I recommend not going chamfer-happy like I did.  You'll notice that there is a nice pretty chamfer that makes it comfy to hold like a pistol (indeed, when I showed it to my wife, she shot me with it).  However, it may reduce its accuracy if it slips on the work you are trying to mark square.

I also don't think having the joint off-set looks as nice here as it might on one with a bridle joint. Not to fear, this only took a couple hours to make, mostly because I was being anal about squaring my stock.

Stay tuned for Mark II.

Music:  No Money No Honey All We Got Is Us (The Underscore Orkestra) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


  1. Interesting choice, makes sense based on what you used to make it. What about making a bridle joint and using a file instead of a chisel?

    1. Thanks, Ralph.

      There isn't a file in my Beginner's Tool Kit. Nor a coping saw, which is the only way I can really think of getting the waste out with.

      You will notice, however, that there is a hammer in the photo of the tools I used, and I didn't mention a hammer yet. I used it to adjust the plane blade in my Jack plane.

      Overall, I have to rate this project a failure, due to the chamfers. The square does not hold the edge of a board unless you are very careful.

      The good news is, I am only out a couple bits of scrap, and a couple hours (mostly taking pictures), but I learned a lot. I think I will try another with the same lap joint and tool set.