A speed square is a must-have woodworking tool for those who love to build cool stuff. The best speed square will deliver you the ultimate pleasure of taking precise measurements of angles and pitch. It is regarded as the best friend of carpenters.
Generally, it is pretty easy to use a speed square. If you love to construct, erect, install and repair structures made of wood and just after that, a speed square is the most needed tool you’ll find. Because of its importance, a speed square can put you on stress if not bought wisely.
So, before you decide to purchase a speed square, let us help you to find the most suitable product for you. Through our review and buying guide section you will understand all the pros and cons necessary to know for purchasing your final choice.
What Is a Speed Square?
A speed square is a triangle-shaped marking out tool used by carpenters. Generally, it merges all the common functions of a combination square, tri square and framing square into one. So, it is called a speed square as it fastens the working process by combining three squares into one.
Basically, a speed square is a right triangle containing a ruler on one side and a fence on the other. So, carpenters use it to make basic measurements. It is also used as a saw guide depending on the product model manufactured by different companies. Some models in the market come up with a pivot point that allows the user to make easy angle measurements efficiently.
Best Picks for the Best Speed Square
Have a look at what we’ve got for you.
1. Swanson Tool S0101 Speed Square Layout Tool
Swanson tool S0101 7-inch speed square layout tool is definitely an attractive product for its amazing features. Almost every measurement that you could expect to see on the body of a speed square comes up with this model. It comes up with a Swanson Blue Book containing text and pictorial descriptions that are useful for planning roofs and staircases.
This model has ¼ inch spaced scribing notches and diamond cutout to ensure easy rafter seat cuts. For marking common, hip, valley and jack rafters, it has gradations included. Such gradations are also useful for determining and marking angles. This speed square has black gradations with a non-glare matte finish for easy reading in any lighting condition.
If you have to move the speed square around, this product comes up with a pivot. This pivot makes it very easy to mark an angle. Its cast aluminum makes it very sturdy and lightweight. Its affordable price range, protractor, try square, reference cutting guide and scribing property have made it a must-have product for all jobs.
The only glitch that I found is sometimes due to factory default, this product comes up with a rough-cast or sloppy paint which decreases the working capability of this speed square.
2. Johnson Level & Tool Johnny Square
Johnson Level and tool 1904-0700 7-inch speed square are specialized in almost all the fields of a speed square. It comes up in the market with two broad variations of 7-inch long and 12-inch long. Each of them has almost all common features except the length.
This speed square has an aluminum-made body and machine compressed edges to deliver better accuracy and durability. It has scales for trimming hip, valley and jack rafters. It can be used as a saw guide by placing it against the saw for crossed cuts and angled cuts. Its integrated distance and angle scales will help you get cut lines marked quickly for simplifying your staircase layout.
This product has permanent white gradations on black which makes it easy to read. Also, it has continuous scribing notches, ideal for ripping at 3-1/2”. It has a fine touch of finishing off a low-gare protective powder. By providing a lot of fantastic features combined with a reasonable price, this product certainly shows the potential to survive in the market.
A crucial drawback of this product is its construction material. It is basically made of soft aluminum. So, its edges will definitely get damaged if dropped a few times. Its paint gets faded quickly.
3. DEWALT DWHT46031 Aluminum Premium Rafter Square
DEWALT is a pretty well-known brand for manufacturing handy tools. DEWALT 7-inch premium rafter square comes up in the market with some prominent features. Primarily, it is featured with a stamped in contrasting color gradations for better readability. Then its extra-thick extruded aluminum body is framed to tolerate heavy-duty use.
This product comes up with a larger base than most other ordinary speed squares. Such an extra-large base makes it a very suitable speed square for holding larger pieces of lumber. It is also equipped with great scribe-line notches which makes the lumber marking process for rip cutting pretty easy. It is an ideal product by its durability for using it as a saw guide.
A mid-range affordable price, eye-catchy color contrast gradation, structural strength, high durability makes this product a very demanding one in the market. It has shown the proper potential to be a time-saver for professional people.
It has a very notable glitch to be mentioned. It doesn’t have any pivot point. So, the lack of a pivot recess marker makes it pretty tough to keep on the mark for angles.
4. CH Hanson 03060 Pivot Square
CH Hanson 03060 pivot square is a true state-of-the-art speed square in the market. It comes up in the market with a bunch of surprising features. If it is presented to any buyer, it will be very tough for that buyer to resist himself or herself from buying it.
This speed square includes a locking mechanism that can set the square at any particular angle for precisely marking repetitive cut lines in either degree or roof pitches. It is made from the finest machined aluminum alloy that makes it extremely durable.
An exclusive feature of CH Hanson speed square is that it is equipped with 3 UV resistant vials that can accurately determine roof pitches and angles. These liquid-filled vials precisely indicate gradation while facilitating miter cuts and allowing a user to determine perfect leveling.
It also has an innovative pivot point that makes precision layout fast and super easy by allowing a user to measure any angle precisely. It can be locked in any particular point for any repetitive layout too. A drastic combination of all the modern features has made this product a crucial tool for roof construction and framing.
Despite having so many features it has a drawback. The only issue that I found in this product is that it is a tad bit expensive.
5. Empire Level 2990 Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square
Empire level 2900 Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square is a classic speed square. It is a modern product that comes up in the market with a lot of promising features. The first thing that will attract any customer is its built quality.
Empire 2900 7-inch long speed square is made from proprietary steel and it is heat-treated for a better hardness. Its forged tip is designed for a secure grip. Such a tip also ensures maximum contact by eliminating stripping. Basically, it is a heavy-duty speed square. A thick, bend or break-proof aluminum frame makes it way more perfect for using it as a saw guide.
Conversion tables permanently embedded on its body simplifies measurement tasks. It comes up in the market including the instruction manual and complete rafter table to help a user. So, its comparatively cheaper price, solid aluminum construction, and fine marked gradations make it a very good choice for beginners and professionals.
This product has two decent drawbacks. It doesn’t have any scribing notches for rip cutting. Another fact is that its gradations have very poor color contrast. No extra color was used for gradations. This makes it cheaper in the market but makes it hard to read.
6. IRWIN Tools Rafter Square
This IRWIN made speed square is a core product of this field. It comes up in the market with an attractive look. It will fascinate the buyer’s eye initially by its yellow markings on blue. Such color gradation creates a bright color contrast making it easy to read for the user.
This product is primarily designed for professionals. Its permanent deep stampings increase its durability at a large scale. It is made from aluminum. Such a strong aluminum structure is rust-proof and weather resistant. Unlike most other products in the market, it comes up with different scales including 1/8-, 1/10-, 1/12- and 1/16-inches.
Since, rafter blades, brace, octagon scales, and Essex board measures are featured by this product, it is certainly a smart product. Scribing notches are also combined in this product for rip cutting. So, picking up this product will be a very good investment.
It has only a couple of glitches to be mentioned. It doesn’t have any pivot point included. Also, another crucial thing is its price. It’s a pretty expensive speed square.
Finding the Best Speed Square
Speed squares are your first pick up in any type of designing and measuring work. If you wish to buy a speed square, you will need proper knowledge about it. We have prepared this buying guide to provide you the necessary information that will help you to find the one you will be hankering after.
There are endless ways to choose a speed square. We have narrowed down the required major aspects. Therefore, to pick up the top speed square you need to consider a few factors before buying. These are durability, construction material, readability.
Durability is the most important thing to consider while buying a speed square. Durability indicates whether a product will last longer or may receive damage after a little usage. While there are two mainstream variations of speed squares in the market, metallic squares are way better than the plastic squares in the race of better durability.
When it comes to the question of using a speed square as a saw guide, plastic speed squares are usually more rigid while offering less durability. On the contrary, aluminum made metal speed squares are strong enough to tolerate extreme applications like being dropped off and run over. So, metallic speed squares are the most durable as they last longer.
There is not much option for the manufacturers to differ by using a different material for the production of a speed square. Mostly, manufacturers tend to consider three types of medium for the production of speed squares.
Wood has been the most ancient construction material for speed squares. It has a lot of drawbacks making it unfit to be used for the production of speed squares. Wood easily gets damaged or even gets broken very often. So, over the past few decades manufacturers have gradually moved to different construction mediums of speed squares.
Plastic has been a very promising construction material for producing speed squares. Plastic made squares are cheaper usually. So, plastic made squares have been a very demanding product in the market. Plastic offers less durability. It doesn’t have the proper strength to tolerate extreme applications. Plastic made squares tend to get broken easily.
Metal has been proved as the most satisfactory construction material for speed squares. Metallic squares have extreme durability to be used in tough situations. It is almost impossible to get a metallic square broken into parts. Over the years, finally, manufacturers have made a sustainable production line for metallic speed squares.
Anybody using a speed square should have a decent scope to take the reading of various measurements easily. The primary concern for better readability should be a good color contrast of the markings that are stamped on the body of a speed square.
Some of the speed squares might have a poor color contrast for which it becomes very tough to take a reading of measurements, especially in low light. So, to overcome such a problem, it will be beneficial to look for a speed square that has a clear readable gradation stamped on it.
Q: Is it possible to measure pitch and angle using a speed square?
Ans: Yes. A speed square is manufactured for making precise measurements of angles and pitch.
Q: Is there any difference between rafter square and speed square?
Ans: Technically, there are no dissimilarities between a rafter square and a speed square. The angle at the top of a speed square is called the rafter angle. So, a speed square is also called a rafter square.
Q: Can I use a speed square to draw straight lines like a ruler?
Ans: Surely, you can. In fact, it will be an elementary use for a speed square.
Q: Can I use a speed square to find the diameter of a circle?
Ans: Yes. Basically, the angle markings on a speed square are intended for taking circular measurements precisely.
Q: Which type of speed square should I use?
Ans: Metallic speed squares are better than plastic speed squares. Also, metallic squares are comparatively cheaper than plastic squares, so, it is always preferred to go for a metallic speed square.
A model speed square will undoubtedly work as the best companion in your work. Hence, it is very important to pick up the best speed square. We already have covered the pros and cons of some of the most valued speed squares both in our buying guide and product review section.
All of these products are the very best at their level. But we will go with two particular models this time. These are “Swanson Tool S0101 7-inch Speed Square” and “DEWALT DWHT46031 Aluminum 7-inch Premium Rafter Square”. The latter is outstanding for its extra edge inbuilt quality and hence durability. An extra-large base that this Dewalt tool provides can certainly make it the apple of the eye to who needs it
The Swanson speed square peeks its esteem higher than others because of its easy-to-read features and versatility in terms of lighting conditions. So, dimmer worksites and low light applications are the best scenarios to have their full utilization.