The 10 Best Carpentry Squares

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This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Whether you're a full-time contractor or a home DIYer, whenever the job calls for accurate measurements and angles, you'll need one of these carpentry squares. They are ideal for stair and roof framing as well as a variety of woodworking applications. We've included inexpensive plastic models that are perfect for the occasional user in addition to more elaborate options suitable for professionals. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. WorkHorse 3049

2. Swanson Big T0108

3. Stanley 46-071 Premium Quick

Editor's Notes

February 09, 2021:

It was a fairly painless round of updates, as all of our previous picks continued to be great selections for this category. One thing that we did notice, however, is that our current list included six speed squares, and while nobody’s denying that a good speed square is an indispensable instrument for any carpenter – not too mention many other tradespersons working in construction – we did feel that 60% might be a bit too much representation for the tool, in a blanket category that’s supposed to cover all sorts of carpentry squares.

While framing squares did have decent representation on our list – in the form of the Vinca SCLS-2416, Johnson Level & Tool CS10, and arguably the infinitesimal Zona 37-434 – the only combination square that we were including was the Irwin Tools 1794469. So, in taking one small step toward getting these underrepresented tools the recognition they deserve, we removed the DeWalt Premium Rafter – recognizing that it was essentially the same offering as the Stanley 46-071 Premium Quick, just offered at twice the price – and replaced it with the Workhorse 3049 — a versatile piece of gear that includes an integrated level and protractor.

April 08, 2019:

Removed the Maxtech 18140MX due to it being clumsy to use, in large part due to the manufacturer's attempts to load the thing up with unnecessary features. It's a case of trying too hard and making something simple far too complicated.

In its place is a model from Irwin Tools. It's clean and simple, setting it in diametric opposition to the Maxtech. The bubble level ensures that your angles are always square, and it can be quickly taken apart for storage or if you just need a ruler.

When choosing between a metal or plastic model, pay less attention to the price difference (with a few exceptions, most of these are within a few bucks of each other) and consider other qualities the model has. Plastic models feature very little wobbling, and are ideal for anyone who suspects they'll abuse or misplace their new tool. Metal options are more durable, but there might be a little play in the ends, especially on longer models.

4. Irwin Tools 1794469

5. Vinca SCLS-2416

6. CH Hanson 03060 Pivot

7. Stanley 46-053 Premium

8. Zona 37-434

9. Swanson Tool T0118 Speedlite

10. Johnson Level & Tool CS10

Will Rhoda
Last updated by Will Rhoda

After deciding that the pen was mightier than the pliers, Canadian electrical contractor William Rhoda abandoned his career and headed back to college, where he majored in marketing and advertising and won a scholarship along the way to earning a diploma in creative communications. His past career landed him a depth of knowledge in tools and hardware, while his current career schooled him in audio, video and camera equipment. During his leisure time, he’s learned lots about outdoor gear, and years of tiresome backyard maintenance have taught him all about pools and hot tubs. His recreational pursuits include rest, relaxation and revolutionary action, and his roommate’s a hairless cat.

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