Using Different Types of Squares Using Different Types of Squares

Squares Safety Tips

  • When using a square as a saw guide, try to use a clamp to hold the square so you can keep two hands on the saw.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when using framing squares, as the edges can sometimes be sharp.
  • When not in use, always close the blade of a sliding T-bevel square back into the handle. The tip of the blade can be quite sharp.
  • Avoid dropping any square to preserve its integrity
  • Combination Square

  • Has a grooved blade and head that can be adjusted (by loosening the thumbscrew) to many locations along the 12” blade to provide different measurements and for scribing.
  • One edge of the head (which is usually metal or plastic) has a 90-degree fence for crosscutting while the other has a 45-degree angle for use as a miter square.
  • The head also contains one level vial to check for level and plumb and a scratch awl for scribing.
  • Some combination square sets are available with an attached protractor that is movable throughout 180º for setting the blade at any angle within that range.
  • Drywall Square

  • Useful tool for measuring and marking 4’x8’ sheets of drywall, plywood and other 4’x8’ building materials.
  • Often used as a guide to score drywall.
  • Some models available with adjustable bevel for marking and scoring angles.

  • Framing Square

  • 90 degree L-shaped tool made from one piece of material (steel or aluminum), with the long end (blade) usually 24" and the short end (tongue) 16".
  • Also known as carpenter’s or rafter square because this tool is generally used for laying out rafters and marking stair stringers.
  • Similar squares are also available in other sizes (8" x 12").
  • Generally has framing tables (rafter and Essex tables) etched into the body to provide information on roof framing.
  • Also has ruler increments printed on the inside and outside edges.
  • Try Square

  • An L-shaped tool used as a guide for pencil markings of 90 degree cuts and to check the edges and ends of boards for squareness.
  • Also used to determine whether a board is the same depth for its entire length.
  • Try squares have broad 6" to 12" blades set at right angles, with wood, plastic or metal handles.
  • Also available is a try/miter square, which features a 45º corner edge.
  • Sliding T-Bevel Square

  • Used for locating and transferring any angle between 0 to 360 degrees.
  • Has a movable blade that can adjust to any angle by loosening and tightening wing nut or locking mechanism.
  • Available with plastic or wooden handles.
  • Also used for bisecting angles for mitering when used with a compass.
  • Folding Square

  • Square that conveniently folds for easy storage.
  • Locking mechanism locks tool securely for use.
  • Angle markings from 0 to 60 degrees.
  • Often used in tiling projects.
  • Generally available in sizes ranging from 12”x12” to 48”x48


  • Measuring Square

  • A small triangle-shaped square with a flanged edge for butting against the edge of a work piece to draw 90-degree or 45-degree angles.
  • It has different angle measurements marked on its surface and edges.
  • Also used as a cutting fence for circular power saws.
  • Markings on diagonal edge correspond to layout dimensions for rafters and stairs.
  • Generally available in 7” and 12” sizes.

  • Courtesy of NRHA.org

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