Sunday, January 6, 2013

Square - Mark III

Perhaps you are getting tired of my repeating over and over this project.

Too bad, it's my blog!

I actually am working on my next project in my beginner's toolkit series.  For this project, I needed a repeatable angle that is five or ten degrees out of square.  Normally I would use my sliding bevel for this, but since it isn't in the list of tools for newbies, I decided to make one.

This one is even simpler than the others.  I had a bit of oak that was around 1/4" thick, and decided to use it without cutting a mating lap in the blade.  I only cut a lap joint in the mahogany stock to make the handle.

Even simpler design
The fact that there is only one lap to cut instead of two, coupled with the fact that practicing this joint is paying off with some skill finally being acquired, I think this one has joints that look flawless.  I know, there is just one joint, but still, there are no gaps anywhere on this one.

Another thing making it easy, is it is about five degrees or so out of square.  Yeah, yeah, I did it on purpose so I could mark out this joint:

This lap will be wider at the top than at the bottom.
Here is the new square in action.
Nice joint, eh?

Out of square - on purpose
I eyeballed the angle of this.  I actually have no idea what the angle is, but it is sufficient for the project I am working on.

Oh, one mea culpa is that I used my Bad Axe crosscut sash saw for this project, rather than the Ryoba that is in my beginner's tool kit. 

The reason I used this saw is a rather amusing story.  Long story short:  I loaned my saw to a friend.  Long story long:

The other day I was helping a friend install new flooring.  When taking my tools over there, I looked for my old bent ryoba blade, but couldn't find it.  "Oh, well, I'll just be careful with my good one." 

While using it to cut the door frame to allow the parkett to slide under it, the saw really stopped cutting.  I couldn't figure out why it was cutting so slow.  After several dozen strokes, it started cutting quickly again. 

When I removed the cutoff, I discovered that I sawed through a nail - lengthwise!  I wish I kept that piece so I could show a picture.  I never saw anything like it. 

Remarkably, no teeth broke, even though I was using the fine crosscut side of the saw.  I imagine that the saw is not sharp anymore.  I therefore felt no trepidation in loaning that saw to my friend so he could finish his baseboards the next day.

Back on topic:  This current square only took about 30 minutes to construct.  It was smaller, so squaring up the lumber was easier.  It seems to work great.  As long as I have some scrap in my bin, I shouldn't have any problem coming up with squares in any configuration I need. 

I think the secret to accurate paring with a chisel is accurate sawing.  The less one has to mess with paring a shoulder or a cheek, the better.

If you haven't read about my suggested list of tools for someone starting out in hand tools, read this series.

If you would like to read about the projects I am making using only the tools in this toolkit, read about them here.


  1. Looks like a good (even if one time) tool.

  2. In his recent book, The New Traditional Woodworker, Jim Tolpin starts off with a basic kit of tools and then builds some additional tools and appliances like this. Not that you need to copy, but it may interest you

    1. I love that book. He has some great projects that build skills. I recommend it.

  3. Lengthwise nails suck..
    I like that there are 4 interlocking trombones on the cd you chose for reference square.

    1. I knew somebody would see that. You should hear it, amazing!

      By the way, I measured the angle of this square today. It is short of 90 degrees by two and a half degrees. I hope that is enough that I don't accidentally use this square someday thinking it is square.

    2. I don't think you can miss it. I would say that you can pretty easy see if something is that much off. Otherwise you could engrave 87.5 into the handle.
      Regarding the trombones. They would make an impressive stamp kind of like the one "The Schwarz" has. But maybe it will be blurred if it is too small a stamp.

  4. I like it. And I think I'll make me one. :)

    1. Thanks, Jeff! I'd love to see what you come up with.