Carpentry is not just about cutting wood and directly connecting lumber. Although woodworking might seem like a profession built on brute strength, it requires intense levels of precision and accuracy. A simple miscalculation or shortcoming in measurements can ruin the final wooden product.
One of the essential tools required for measuring out lumber dimensions is speed squares. For a craft that massively relies on precision, only having the best speed squares is acceptable.
The accuracy is of grave importance as your entire project depends upon it. Only buying any such product would be a terrible decision in this regard.
Best Speed Squares of 2020 Reviews
Although these tools might seem like a simple device and not a bulky woodworking tool like nail pullers or digital protectors, you'd be surprised at the varieties in which it's available. So, read on if you're looking to buy your first tool or feel that your current one is just not up to the mark.
1. Swanson NA202 Metric Speed Square Layout Tool (Aluminum)
Such tools are a dime a dozen in the market right now. But these devices with perfect accuracy are a different question all in all.
Furthermore, such products with versatility are even rarer in the market. Attention to detail is something that has never been of greater emphasis when it comes to such products.
This is a device that you can use in rugged environments with heavy materials moving around, so it needs to be super-sturdy. It is of utmost importance that the product is also durable and susceptible to rough use.
With a device as demanding as this, the Swanson NA202 Metric device ticks all the boxes correctly. Made by the very manufacturers known to have come up with this device back in 1925, this is a piece that carries the reputation of an entire legacy proudly.
It is a device that adheres to the metric system, which is why it is perfect for those living outside the USA. The manufacturers compiled it to execute the function of 5 tools; a meter square, a try square, a line scriber, a saw guide, and a protractor.
Aerospace aluminum alloy is the material that is used in this product, so there's no doubt in its durability. It is one kind of a product that you can rely on with your eyes closed.
2. IRWIN Tools Rafter Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum
One of the significant problems with using such items is the low-quality markings they have. The markings tend to fade away in a short time, even though the build quality of the device is top-notch.
This factor leads to most users running to the hardware store and buying a new tool, although their cudevicet device is relatively unscathed. As a result, the process of purchasing such a tool for the long run becomes redundant.
The IRWIN Tools Rafter Square seems to be the perfect answer to this problem ideal effect for professional use; as a result, this device should remain in necessary condition for longer than its competitors.
Instead of having the measurements printed on top of the device, they are embedded permanently by being deeply stamped. Although this speed stamp is super-light with its weight being a measly 0.01 ounces, the build material of it is the aluminum and is resistant to both rust and rough weather, making it difficult to get damaged.
The device can also function as a tri-square, a protractor, a saw guide, and a meter square, thus proving to be a fairly versatile tool.
3. Stanley 46-053 Premium Adjustable Quick Square Layout Tool
One of the most important qualities such a tool should have is being easy on the eyes and modifiable in matters of size. Construction and carpentry, both of these professions may require users to work in environments of varying lighting conditions, so such a tool that can adapt itself to these situations is always highly appreciated.
Having a tool that you can't adjust for a larger project or a miniature product can be quite the hassle, and it requires users to have multiple devices. This situation can be a significant issue in portability and can increase carrying weight as you have to gather numerous tools.
Keeping these problems in mind, the Stanley 46-053 Premium has taken the market by storm. The design of this speed square sports, the color combination of yellow graduations on a black body, pushes its readability to the maximum in any light condition.
Build quality of this product is premium in every way due to being constructed by heavy-duty aluminum, which provides superior hardiness to the device. The adjustability of the tool also offers an excellent opportunity to use this product as a bevel, saw guide, or protractor.
An adjustable arm of it provides much-needed length extension in some instances as well. It also eliminates the need to have products of varying lengths.
4. Johnson Level & Tool 1904-0700 7-Inch Johnny Square
One of the most common trade-offs that are prevalent among these items is making the readings negligible to maintain perfect accuracy. Therefore, people with poor eyesight often struggle to read the texts in the device.
Another common defect in these products is complicating the entire device by trying to cram multiple purposes into it and messing up the dimensions that allow the device to fulfill said purposes. This phenomenon also makes the usage of the device imperfect for any of its objectives.
However, The Johnson Level & Tool not only ensures an excellent performance but does that without the need for any of the trade-offs. It is a device that is very much easy on the eyes as it has the engineered EZ-Read finish feature of Johnson.
You can find it in pair with anti-glare coating diverts, which can tackle even the harshest of sunlight, instead of creating a reflection. Thus, it guarantees perfect visibility.
The EZ-Read finish also grants the device a heightened friction rate, making it easier to place it upon the wood. Invented by Johnny Wong, a professional framer, this is one such product you can trust to not falter in either function or measurement.
5. Empire 3990 12-Inch Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square
One of the biggest hesitations a new-comer feels when venturing out into carpentry is the workplace hazards that come with it. It’s no different when it comes to these products as they also pose a threat of cutting.
Therefore, purchasing a safe product should be at the top of the list when looking to buy carpentry and construction products for beginners. Workplace hazards are no joke, after all.
Thankfully, the Empire 3990 12-Inch Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square is an excellent choice in this scenario. It has a compact frame design; thus, this tool has a built that can avoid unfortunate accidents with sharp tools. The notched area has an elevation, making it perfect for creating layout lines too.
You will also get an instruction manual with each purchase to ensure smooth and safe operation. The aluminum extended squares prevent the device from breaking or bending as well.
Even if the device were to break under any circumstances or get damaged, you could quickly fix the product with professional help. So, you can have peace of mind knowing that they are easily fixable. The device also has perfect angles of 90 and 45 degrees.
6. DEWALT DWHT46031 Aluminum 7-inch Premium Rafter Square
Your average speed square has a price of around USD 20-25. For hobbyists, the price might seem a bit too steep. But to compromise on the quality of such a device is a bad idea.
A device that is required to provide pinpoint measurements should be bought of premium quality only. A simple miscalculation in woodworking can have disastrous consequences and pose as an accidental hazard.
There are many cheap options for such tools in the market. But not all of them necessarily are excellent opportunities to be used.
These tools should have a certain level of safety when being used now. It should also have a comfortable and dependable grip for easy application. A multi-purpose option is also a great additional feature.
Thankfully, the DEWALT DWHT46031 is the one you can rely on, without turning out your pockets. Priced at a relatively moderate rate, it has the same features as its more expensive counterparts.
Heavy-duty aluminum is used in this product, which assures excellent durability. The base is significant, which allows it to be placed on any surface area easily. High contrast marking allows for better reading.
You can also fix the product whenever needed. It's also very lightweight and only weighs about 8 ounces, thus guaranteeing comfortable portability.
7. CH Hanson 03060 Pivot Square
It is ubiquitous for professional woodworkers to buy tools that can serve multiple purposes. Since they prefer to make one solid purchase, which can last them for a long time, they aren't hesitant to break open their wallets.
Another factor they highly emphasize on is the easy portability of the device. Even with so many professionals' requests, it is infrequent that they'd find a tool that meets all their necessary demands.
Although tools now claim to be versatile and are stocked to the brim in markets, their effectivity is quite questionable. They also have unforgivable trade-offs, which makes them an unsuitable candidate for purchase.
The same goes for these products. Versatility is something that is an absolute must when looking to purchase these products. Thankfully, the CH Hanson 03060 Pivot perfectly fits into this specific criterion.
This product ticks all the right boxes when meeting the regular requirements of providing stellar accuracy and having a sturdy build material. You can achieve this thanks to the excellent machine-cut aluminum alloy.
The trademarked Pivot Square of this device makes the product easily rotatable, allowing for a precise measurement during repeating layouts. It also works like a charm when calculating roof pitch, grade, miter facilitation, level, and plumb cuts.
8. Mr. Pen Metal 7 Inches Rafter Square
There are only so many premium quality speed squares one can buy for their business. For the construction business and carpentry, you often need to purchase these tools in bulk. So, it's not feasible under any circumstances to buy expensive flagship branded tools for the entire workforce.
In cases such as this, it is common for business owners to look for making purchases with as much value as possible. Thus, products of this requirement will have to retain the bare minimum of specifications and should also provide additional features.
Mr. Pen Metal Rafter Square is something that you will undoubtedly find lying around in almost all construction sites and lumber shops. Its popularity skyrocketed for the incredible value it provides at such a low price point.
Sold at a very affordable price, it is the ultimate value product among such devices as they come in packs of two. These 7-inch long tools are no-nonsense products. Made with the sturdiest of Aluminum Alloy, it won't get broken or damaged easily.
It focuses more on functional perfection instead of aesthetics. You can use this tool for various purposes, and each purchase includes a free e-book which works excellently for first-timers.
9. VINCA ARLS-07 Aluminum Rafter Carpenter Triangle Square
This product is an excellent alternative to the speed square, perhaps even better. With an aluminum-alloy body, clear and accurate markings on the scale, and an elegant, smooth look, this is undoubtedly one for the toolbox.
Although many might look for an enormous tool, the 7" aluminum construction of this product would beat a 12" with a cheap, plastic, and easily breakable tool. The product also prevents abrasion; the flat edges of the product helps for easy measurements too.
Easily readable units, and are great for all light conditions. This is one square all people of all skill-sets can easily use without any worries for a reasonable length of time.
It provides a good grip on surfaces to thanks to a broad base. All these features on such a product that is also reasonably priced is an excellent deal!
The tapered and rounded off corners of this product avoids all forms of working hazards that other products in the market might pose.
However, that doesn't stop it from being a weapon if mishandled, but that is entirely dependent on the user. Overall, this is a pretty solid device with barely any flaws and is definitely worth the purchase.
10. Framing Square 7 Inch Square Tool Rafter Square Layout Tools Professional Aluminum Combination Square
It is an excellent tool made from top-notch aluminum with a gorgeous black finish and a whole load of details to boot, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t buy this to replace your current product.
Even first-time buyers would get a kick out of using this device. This is certainly one product that would set your standards very high regarding speed squares.
Although it could certainly be a bit thinner, the sturdiness is worth the additional weight and thickness, and it is still quite useful in its use. Moreover, thinness means that it will take less space in your bag.
Its added thickness also provides an added grip when placed upon wooden surfaces. The markings are stamped onto the product, ensuring elevated durability.
Markings of itself are yellow, and the primary color of the product is black, making the process of taking measurements easier on the eyes and readable in all lighting conditions.
This product might feel a bit odd when holding it. It happens due to the different dimensions of the device. Soon enough, it will feel like an acquired taste.
The product itself, however, provides accurate measurements and easy to read markings making it an absolute must as a part of a toolbox. So, this is in-fact a pretty well-balanced tool and certainly worth the purchase.
11. Swanson Tool T0118 Speedlite Square Layout Tool
Closing this list means we have to revisit the very brand responsible for the development of speed squares, Swanson. Compared to other products on this list, this is by far the most user-friendly option.
This device is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get themselves acquainted with carpentry. The build material is polystyrene, which ensures hardiness while eliminating every possibility of harm or accidents.
It has easily readable markings, and the product itself is very light in weight. Considering how the current market has numerous such devices catered for professionals, this is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air.
This product also is excellent for use on softer surfaces and provides a more delicate touch. Sporting a 32 x 8 x 1-inch dimension, the product is available in unique orange color.
It is worth mentioning that it is not as durable as other tools on this list. This is mostly because of the plastic build, which is still very much breakable, although it is of premium quality.
This nifty tool serves the purpose of a try square, a miter square, a line scriber, and protractor at the same time. Be on the lookout for Swanson's Diamond cutout when purchasing this product, though, as the shops can have several model's knock-offs of this brand.
Qualities to Look for When Buying a Speed Square
The requirements of speeding squares might seem simple enough when looking to make a purchase. However, the complications become more visible when trying to buy one for professional usage.
Here are the features which separate an excellent speeding square. Keeping an eye out for these qualities will undoubtedly ensure the perfect speed square for you.
Ironically, most tools of this category are not proper squares. The angling is off slightly. Be sure to ensure that the angles of the devices are 45 degrees and 90 degrees. One of the prime functions of such a product is the determination of angle.
Therefore, buying a tool with the angles all messed up is a big no-no and can make the entire purchase a massive loss.
Now, this is a factor that depends entirely on the person who's buying the product. If you're someone who does carpentry as a hobby, then a 7"-8" tool should do the job for you. They are pretty easy to carry and usually lighter in weight.
However, if you're in the construction business or manufacture large-scale wooden products, then a 12" device is what you should look to purchase. I mean, sure, they might be challenging to carry around, but it's not like you'd be taking them out of your construction site or workshop, to begin with.
Considering how one uses such tools to construct wooden objects, and you will often find them in cluttered environments with other heavy-set tools, it's best to ensure a sturdy product. Therefore, the build quality is one factor that you should not compromise under any circumstances.
It's best to buy speed squares made with aluminum alloy as they are near impossible to break or damage. Pair that up with anti-rust and weather-resistant features for the best output.
Suggested: Stair Treads In-depth Review
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the use of a speed square?
These tools have a wide array of uses. Some of the most common applications of these products are tiling, woodworking, and framing. They are used for fundamental measurements by carpenters. These tools also function as a saw guide and help to create 45-90-degree cuts.
What is the difference between a rafter square and a speed square?
They are the same thing. People often mistake them to be two different products, but the two are the synonyms of the same product.
Are these tools better when they are of plastic or metal?
No, these products are certainly more durable and sturdier than plastic tools. They also provide a more accurate measurement than plastic tools in most cases. The only saving grace of plastic squares is that they are much more inexpensive than their steel counterparts.
What are the functions of each side of speed squares?
These devices have a total of three sides. You have to use the first square to measure inches. The second side has a more elevated edge, and the third square is longer than the other two sides and is used to determine degrees.
What are the sizes of speed squares?
These items are available in different sizes, and the sizes matter and change according to the project it will be used for. The most popular sizes for such pieces are 7" and 12".
There's no doubt that you are now acquainted with the best speed squares available on the market currently. Hopefully, now you won't have to spend hours staring at the hundreds of these tools stacked on top of the shelves the next time you visit your local hardware store.
BTW, here we also reviewed the best hand file sets for professional carpenters.