Try square

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Try square
Trysquare.jpg
A try square with a steel blade rivetted into a wooden stock faced with brass.
Other names
  • Gallows square
  • Joiners square
Classification
Used withPencil, pen, marking knife

A try square or try-square is a woodworking tool used for marking and checking 90° angles on pieces of wood. Though woodworkers use many different types of square, the try square is considered one of the essential tools for woodworking. [1]

Contents

The square in the name refers to the 90° angle. To try a piece of wood is to check if the edges and faces are straight, flat, and square to one another. [2] A try square is so called because it is used to try how square the workpiece is. [3]

Description

A try square is made of two key parts, the blade (also known as a beam or tongue) and the stock, which are fixed together at 90° to form an 'L' shape. [4]

The blade is usually made of wood or steel and is fixed into the stock, which is usually thicker than the blade and made of wood, metal or plastic. Both the stock and the tongue are usually made with parallel edges. Typically the blade and the stock will be rectangular in profile, though on some wooden squares the ends of the blade and the stock might be cut to a decorative shape. [2] [5] Some steel blades also have ruler markings for making measurements.

Often the top of the stock will not cover the full width of the blade so the stock does not get in the way when making a mark. [6] This gap also allows space should an inaccurate blade need to be planed, filed or sanded.

Try squares are typically 3 to 24 inches (76 to 610 mm) long. [6] 3 in (76 mm) squares are handier for small tasks that don't require a longer square, such as marking small joints. A typical general purpose square is 6 to 8 inches (150 to 200 mm). Larger squares are used for tasks such as cabinetry, and are more likely to be made by the woodworker themselves, but other methods are often preferred for such larger tasks. [7] [2]

A common form of try square has a broad blade made of steel that is riveted into a stable, dense tropical hardwood stock, often ebony or rosewood. The inside of the wooden stock usually has a brass strip fixed to it to reduce wear. [7] [4]

On some squares the top of the stock is angled at 45°, so the square can be used as a mitre square for marking and checking 45° angles.

A similar type of square is the engineer's square used in metalworking and by some woodworkers. The blade is made with both a steel blade and a steel stock and is usually manufactured to a higher degree of accuracy.

Use

Using a try square to mark lines perpendicular to the edge. Illustration on using a try square.png
Using a try square to mark lines perpendicular to the edge.
Using a try square to check if the full length of a board is square. Image from page 147 of "Teacher's handbook of Slojd" (1900).jpg
Using a try square to check if the full length of a board is square.

The stock is usually held against the edge of the workpiece and either side of the tongue is then used as a straight edge for making a mark, or as a reference to check the accuracy of an angle. [7] [2]

When checking if an angle is square, the woodworker will test the workpiece in multiple places or will pun the square along the length of the workpiece. The woodworker might hold the workpiece up towards a light to help see any gaps between the workpiece and the square. Another method is to try sliding feeler gauges between the square and the workpiece.

For making a mark a woodworker might use a pencil, a pen or, for greater accuracy, a marking knife or blade.

History and symbolism

Wooden try squares have survived from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome and can be seen in art from the time. [8] From the 18th century squares began to be manufactured in factories, prior to that they were typically made from wood and made by the tradesmen themselves. [6] Some woodworkers continue to make their own try squares. [5] [1] [2]

The square is incorporated into the most common Freemasonry symbol, the Square and Compasses. [9] Historically squares have also been used by woodworkers, such as joiners and carpenters, as symbols in signs and heraldry to represent their trade. [10] The square as a symbol is also seen in artistic representations of the Christian saints Thomas the Apostle and James the Less. [11]

Accuracy

A square can become less accurate over time through both common use and abuse, such as the edges becoming worn over time or the square being dropped or mistreated. Wooden squares can also vary with changes in temperature and humidity. For this reason more dimensionally stable woods, such as mahogany, are preferred. [5] [4]

There are a number of methods for correcting an inaccurate square by hand. Wooden blades can be corrected using a hand plane and sandpaper, while metal blades can be corrected using a file, emery cloth, or sandpaper. [4] [12]

See also

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Card scraper Woodworking shaping and finishing tool

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Miter saw

A miter saw or mitre saw is a saw used to make accurate crosscuts and miters in a workpiece by positioning a mounted blade onto a board. A miter saw in its earliest form was composed of a back saw in a miter box, but in modern implementation consists of a powered circular saw that can be positioned at a variety of angles and lowered onto a board positioned against a backstop called the fence.

Machinist square

A machinist square or engineer's square is the metalworkers' equivalent of a try square. It consists of a steel blade inserted and either welded or pinned into a heavier body at an angle of 90°. Usually a small notch is present at the inside corner of the square. This prevents small particles from accumulating at the juncture and affecting the square's reading.

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Marking knife Woodworking layout tool

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Knife sharpening

Knife sharpening is the process of making a knife or similar tool sharp by grinding against a hard, rough surface, typically a stone, or a flexible surface with hard particles, such as sandpaper. Additionally, a leather razor strop, or strop, is often used to straighten and polish an edge.

This glossary of woodworking lists a number of specialized terms and concepts used in woodworking, carpentry, and related disciplines.

Fence (woodworking)

A fence is a part of many woodworking tools, they are typically used to guide or secure a workpiece while it is being sawn, planed, routed or marked. Fences play an important role for both accuracy and safety. Fences are usually straight and vertical, and made from metal, wood or plastic.

Square (tool) Handtools for marking and checking 90° and 45° angles

A square is a tool used for marking and referencing a 90° angle, though mitre squares are used for 45° angles. Squares see common use in woodworking, metalworking, construction and technical drawing. Some squares incorporate a scale for measuring distances or for calculating angles.

Miter square Hand tool used for marking and checking angles

A miter square or mitre square is a hand tool used in woodworking and metalworking for marking and checking angles other than 90°. Most miter squares are for marking and checking 45° angles and its supplementary angle, 135°.

References

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Thiel, David (2007). Hand Tool Essentials: Refine Your Power Tool Projects With Hand Tool Techniques (1st ed.). Cincinnati, Ohio, USA: Popular Woodworking Books. pp. 180–183. ISBN   978-1-55870-815-0. OCLC   76871452.
  3. Garrett, Hack; Sheldon, John S (1999). Classic Hand Tools. Newton, CT: Taunt on Press. p.  46. ISBN   1561582735.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "On Woodworking Squares and Working Wood". Paul Sellers' Blog. 2014-06-13. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  5. 1 2 3 "Make Wooden Try Squares". Popular Woodworking Magazine. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  6. 1 2 3 Salaman, R. A. (1975). Dictionary of Tools Used in the Woodworking and Allied Trades, c. 1700-1970. Internet Archive. New York, USA: Scribner. pp. 476–477. ISBN   978-0-684-14535-8.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. 1 2 3 "All About Try Squares". Popular Woodworking Magazine. 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  8. "Melencolia Square, Part 6: From the Grave". Lost Art Press. 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  9. "SQUARE AND COMPASSES - Freemasonry's Logo". www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com. Retrieved 2020-10-17.
  10. Schwarz, Christopher (29 May 2014). "Melencolia Square, Part 4: Look for a Sign". Lost Art Press. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  11. "Dictionary : CARPENTER'S SQUARE". www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  12. "How to correct an engineer's square that is not square?". Wonkee Donkee Tools. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  13. "Dictionary : CARPENTER'S SQUARE". www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved 2020-10-19.