Good morning gentlemen,

I recently started putting together my own toolbox, and I have a question about one tool in particular.  I purchased a speed square, and while reading about its functions how it combines the elements of three other tools - the framing square, combination square, and try square - I began to wonder, is there any reason or circumstance that a man with a speed square should also have any of the other squares?  One of the reasons I started collecting my tools is to learn handyman skills to use around the house, but I'm also interested in learning some carpentry.  My first project was going to be a storage shed for my disabled parents (which unfortunately I had to postpone because my mother passed away last week after two weeks in the hospital).


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While I don't specifically do a lot of carpentry work, I have learned one thing the hard way working on home improvement projects - if something is touted as a "multi tool", it usually does several things OK and nothing really well. I have a speed square and I love it, but I've never built a free-standing structure either.

My two cents, from someone who is a Jack of all but master of none, would be to use it on a bunch of smaller projects whenever you can, to become familiar with it's accuracy and limitations.

I've also learned, when it comes to tools, you get what you pay for. Sometimes you can cobble something together with the tools you have, but that one time you REALLY need a left handed widget you're much further ahead using the right tool.

My father told me to buy craftsmen tools for the warranty.  If you break or thrash them you take them to Sears and get a new one.  

Beyond that start slow and get what you need as you need it.  You may find an air compressor and finishing nailer the thing for trim.  Really what you need is project specific. 

I agree about the Craftsman tools, their hand tools are the best. Watch out, though - not all Craftsman tools carry the free lifetime replacement warranty. Usually it's the "plain jane" tools that do - the fancy screwdrivers with the ergonomic handles and such don't - it's in fine print on the package.

Also, I have never had a craftsman power tool that didn't break on me within a year. Your mileage may varry.

"I agree about the Craftsman tools, their hand tools are the best."

You've obviously never used Proto.

It depends on what you're going to do with the tools. 


I, too, am a big fan of Craftsman for basic hand tools.  I actually search for them at garage sales...pick them up for $0.10 and they're *still* guaranteed forever.  For any owner.  I asked.  Other exceptionally good brands include Home Depot's Husky, Lowes' Kobalt (really good), and surprisingly, if you shop carefully, the Pittsburgh brand at Harbor Freight.  Their 1/2" sockets are shockingly good, and have a "forever" warranty, too.


But, be aware that a speed square, and most of the other framing tools you've mentioned, are best for 90 degree angles.  Roofing squares are a bit more flexible in that respect, but overall 90 degree angles are their strength.  Since I like non-90 degree angles they're of less use to me.


And, to answer your next question, everything from pergolas, to gazebos, to internal structural framing, to a steel framed geodesic dome (octahedral breakdown) and even anticlastic fabric structures.

Speed squares are just that, speed squares.  Their purpose is for rough framing of relatively small dimensional lumber.  Framing squares are good for larger dimensions and building stairs and rafters.  Tri squares and combination squares are useful for trim carpentry and/or cabinetry/furniture making as they allow for more exactness in measure which a rough framing tool like a speed square can't give.

They all have their place.  For a shed, a speed square is more than adequate.

Thank you for a very clear statement on the uses.  I think tools are created to solve problems, the trick is to know what tool solves or helps with what situation.

It all depends upon what type of projects you're goin to be undertaking.

If you're going to be doing a lot of framing carpentry, i.e., beyond bulding a small shed, a framing or rafter square is very useful.

You'll find yourself in the same situation with levels.  I've found, over the years, I've been well served by having four of those: a torpedo level, a 2' spirit level, a 4' spirit level, and a post level (a 90 degree bracket with 3 spirit level bubbles that is used to ensure upright levels on fence & corner posts, and to set horizontal levels for fencing layouts & mason's twine.  OTOH, serious carpenters and masons will find my collection of levels to be too limited for big jobs.

For most uses, no there isn't a need.

As a tradesman , l have both , the speed square/ adjustable square has many uses that a fixed square falls short , it can be used in a tight spot where a traditional square is to long , it can be used to scribe a line , and you can also get them with a level that is extremely useful when doing roof flashings , but the down side is that after a few months of use they lack the accuracy needed for fine work . 

A speed square-much like a Leatherman's tool does many things-none of them well. I possess many squares but I use a combination square more than all the others combined.

A chalk line is a handy tool if you are working with large material and layout. Sounds like you got enough advice on squares.



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