Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Hi, welcome to ReviewBox Brasil! Today's text is about the square, the tool that is on the basic list of many manual activities, from carpentry to carpentry, from architecture to engineering, from the production of parts to the installation of electrical networks.

With a couple of angles and a few centimetre or inch markings, the square can do a lot. It is a gauge for measuring, a reference for an entire job, a ruler for drawing, among other uses, all of which are easily performed, provided they are done in the right way.

Its multifunctionality - either in several areas or in the "tools within the tool" - happens because of its simplicity, tradition and huge variety of types and models. In this guide, we will go through all these steps, so that in the end you can choose the ideal square for you and your projects.




Summary

  • Despite the versatility of the square, it's important that you have an idea of which) activity you intend to use it for. Each model has a more suitable purpose.
  • It is of paramount importance that your square, well, be on the square. Always try to verify if the angulation and the measures of the chosen model are exact.
  • Due to the large number of different models and materials, prices vary a lot. You can find simple squares for £30, as well as professional ones for around £1,000.

The Best Square: Our Picks

Buying Guide

The construction site, the building site, manual production, in short, has one of its most faithful and oldest companions, even after successive technological revolutions. This is because the tool works with the most basic (and necessary) things: angulation and measurement. And the best, in a simple way.

But today's square is not necessarily the same as the first projects of humanity. It has incorporated different functionalities, while maintaining its original premise. In this Buying Guide, we go deeper into these innovations, the disadvantages and advantages surrounding the product, among other valuable tips and information.

Imagem mostra um carpinteiro em sua oficina, com sua mesa repleta de ferramentas.

The square is a long-time helper of carpenters and other manual workers. (Source: Alejandro Ramírez / Pexels)

What is the square?

The set square is fundamentally a drawing tool, both in the playful sense of the word, like a floor plan of a building or a furniture project, for example, and in the technical sense, by guiding, via drawn lines, works and any other activities that need metric-visual references.

Shaped like a triangle - a complete triangle, with three edges, or a virtual one, with two and the third "virtual" one, in the shape of the letter "L" - its function is to measure distances and angles.

These triangles, complete or not, are usually of the isosceles type, yielding angles of 45º and 90º, or scalene rectangles, with angles of 30º, 60º and 90º.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the set square?

The fact that it is a simple-to-use tool encompasses certain advantages to the set square, while working with measurements adds some other disadvantages. Let's look at both sides, to give you a complete overview of the product.

Starting with the advantages, of course, the first is its practicality. All you need is a pencil and a stable surface and you can operate the traditional object.

The second is its versatility. With a square, you can measure distances, angles, draw, in short, go from planning to execution with the same tool - not to mention the other extra functionalities that some products have, such as checking levels, for example.

Consequently, the set square is "multidisciplinary", that is, it can act in a large scope of activities, from the simplest carpentry to the most complex engineering project, which is another great advantage.

Imagem mostra um esquadro em meio à uma composição de ferramentas básicas, como martela, furadeira, trena, etc, sobre uma superfície de madeira.

Versatile and "multidisciplinary", the square is a basic item in any workshop, professional or not. (Source: Eugen Str / Unsplash)

On the other side of the coin are the inconsistencies with the measurements, a certain disadvantage. The most noticeable are the differences in measurements between squares from different manufacturers, which is not unique to this product, but a consequence of different reference uses of something "immaterial" like distance.

Another problem is the common cases of "brackets out of square". Due to manufacturing defects, reference errors or just poor quality, some models may not have exactly the promised angles, which can cause problems throughout a project.

These situations can also happen for reasons of durability. A metal that bends slightly, a beaten wood, all this can take away the accuracy of the measure and the angle of the product over time, making the bracket, in many cases, a product with an expiry date.

Advantages
  • Practicality
  • Versatility
  • Large scope of activities
Disadvantages
  • Divergent measures
  • Models "out of square"
  • Durability

Simple, combined, speed or universal square?

Well, let's go to the so spoken varieties of the square. Before everything, know that there is, in fact, an even bigger diversity of models, but that they add specific characteristics to your purpose and they are almost unique tools, besides models with different names, due to your popular apprehension, as, for instance, the "carpenter's square".

The most common types of square on the shelves, physical or virtual are: the simple, the combined, the speed and the universal.

Imagem mostra um esquadro rígido sob um papel, ao lado de um elaborado projeto desenhado.

The set squares are differentiated by their format, "appendixes" and functionality. (Source: BrooklynJohn / Pixabay)

The simple square, also called carpenter's square, has the format of an "L", with a longer plate, usually made of metal, with the measures gauge, and a smaller handle, forming an angle of 90º.

The combined square is so called because it combines different functions within a main square. The "normal" is for it to be together with a centering square (which helps to find the centre of circles) and a protractor, and its handle is mobile, which allows you to use the model as a small grass.

The only "complete" triangle in this list - in this case a rectangle - the speed square, or rigid square, is widely used in carpentry and joinery, with an outstanding performance in solid wood. Its functional differential is the precise measurement of angles and the ease of making parallel marks.

The universal square, another "L" shaped, is characterized by its built-in protractor, the quarter circle that "connects" the two edges beyond their common vertex.

It is perhaps the most versatile among areas and functions, especially in the markings it adds, such as angular traces, hinge points, among others, which may vary from model to model.

Simple Combined Speed Universal
Format In "L" In "L" Rectangle Triangle In "L"
Versatility Normal High High High

Purchasing Criteria: Factors for comparing types of square

Faithful to our mission to help you choose the ideal square, we have drawn up a very useful list containing criteria to be noted when buying. We've drawn it up based on the characteristics of the models and other elements of their use.

  • Use
  • Accuracy
  • Features
  • Durability

We will explain each item below, so that your choice is the best informed, and your purchase is the best possible.

Use

As we have highlighted and reiterated throughout this Guide, one of the great advantages of the square is its aptitude for several areas of manual work. At the same time, it is the origin of a certain confusion at the time of purchase.

Thus, it is recommended that you be clear about what use you intend to give your square, even if it is "just" to complete your general toolbox. For this use, for example, a simple square is the most suitable, because it does what is necessary without complications.

For carpentry, on the other hand, a combined, more robust square is a good fit. For carpentry, which is more delicate, the details of the speed square can be more useful, as well as for drawing, an activity in which the universal square can also be very productive.

Precision

An indispensable factor for the decision of the ideal square is its precision, especially of angles. Besides avoiding models that are too cheap and/or crooked, you can do a super quick test to check if it really "is in the square".

It consists in "mirroring" the model: draw a straight line with the help of the largest edge, turn the face of the model and draw another straight line, next to the first. An accurate square will result in two parallel lines.

Features

The idea here is a kind of cost-benefit. The more features your model adds, for the price range chosen, the better. This ensures that you are choosing the most versatile and complete model within your reach.

One of the features is the possibility of measuring the level. Analyse what you use most and try to find a bracket that combines elements to meet all your needs.

Durability

One of the big issues of the square is the possibility of it losing its accuracy over time, by the natural wear of their materials. So, look for the model with the greatest durability, that is, whose material best resists the weather.

Imagem mostra um esquadro sob uma escrivaninha, parcialmente encoberto por uma caderneta e rodeada de outros itens de escritório.

The number of functions and durability are decisive indicators of the square. (Source: Jeff Sheldon / Unsplash)

So, prefer steel, aluminium or wooden models, and keep an eye on the quality of the finishes, such as the handle and the fixing between the edges.

(Featured image source: Fleur / Unsplash)

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