Toolsday: Carpenter Square

Since I talked about a tool for accuracy last week, let's talk about this slightly less accurate tool, the humble carpenter square.

Carpenter Square

You may also see these referred to as "rafter squares", since they're commonly used when cutting 2-by-4's for construction framing. I don't mean to say they're awfully inaccurate, but they're not exactly built for accuracy. They're mostly just built to enable you to work quickly and easily, marking angles on lumber.

Marking a line 90 degrees from the edge of a board or beam is easy. The upper left edge (in this photo) has a thick ridge. Press this up against the edge of the material and draw a line along the upper right edge.

The square is also a rudimentary protractor. Drive a small nail into the material through the notch near the apex of the square, then pivot the square away from the edge until the angle you want (at the bottom of the square) lines up with the edge of the material. Then, draw your line. Like I said, not truly accurate, but fast.

This square is ABS plastic. You can also find these in different metals, but I figured the plastic would be more durable. You can see I've used a pencil to mark multiple measurements directly on the plastic, which is textured. That doesn't work as well with metal, usually.

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2010.08.24 at 10:00am EDT