If you usually do a lot of cutting and measuring of wood, one tool you want to have is the speed square. Speed squares are special scales or measuring tools for precise markings. The triangular tool is sometimes called triangle square, rafter square, and rafter angle square. The speed square has become quite valuable to woodworkers, from basic measurements to guides for angles like 45 and 90 degrees.
The versatility of this hand tool is the reason for its huge acceptance by woodworkers. One side of the speed square is marked in inches, the second is marked in degrees, and the third is raised so it can be butted to the workpiece or the edge of a wood. The triangular scale tool can be made from aluminum, steel, or wood, with several other differences like size separating them.
Getting a professional speed square for your woodworking projects is essential, but choosing the right speed square is tricky, especially with the vast number available. We understand this confusion, which is why we’ve come up with a concise list of some of the best speed squares, with full reviews and a buyer’s guide.
WorkPro Rafter Square and Combination Toolset
Out Top Recommendation for Speed Squares!
You can get a combination square toolset alongside the speed square for more versatility as this WorkPro rafter square, and combination tool set provides. Its markings are clear and protected to prevent fading while the tool remains user-friendly.
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Best Professional Speed Square
Even though these speed squares typically perform the primary duty of checking for squares, marking 90 and 45-degree angles, and guiding straight lines, the various speed squares have different features. Following each speed square’s features will show its ability and effectiveness in providing its core value. First, here is a list of best speed squares and then a comprehensive review:
|WorkPro Rafter Square and Combination Toolset||• 7-inch speed square|
• Durable aluminum speed square
|DFM Small Carpenters Square||• Lightweight design|
• Can mark 2 x 4 lumber
• 1/16" increments up to 3"
|DeWalt DWHT46031 Speed Square||• Etched and stamped numbers|
• Glossy surface for easy cleaning
• Perfect square makes accurate markings
|Irwin Tools Rafter Square 1794463||• Weather resistant|
• Made from aluminum
• Visible yellow inscriptions
|Swanson Tool Co S0101 Speed Square||• Notches and diamond cutouts|
• Hip, common, valley
• Comprehensive blue guide book
|Johnson Level & RAS-1B Johny Square||• CNC machined edges|
• Graduated numbers
• Thick edges for more stability
|Mr Pen Rafter Square||• Easy to read white markings on black background|
• Non-glare matte finish for better
• Versatile tool
|Swanson Tool Co T0118 Speed Square||• Extremely affordable|
• 8" square for sliding larger materials
• Several notches are available
1. WorkPro Rafter Square and Combination Toolset
This WorkPro rafter square and combination tool set is made by the popular WorkPro brand and is at the top of our list. It features an aluminum die-cast speed square and an additional zinc-alloy die-cast square ruler. Durability is not an issue here due to the quality of the materials used for the tools in the set. To prevent the clear markings from fading. WorkPro coats the markings with protective powder. The raised fence allows you to brace against a surface for precise markings without stress. You’ll also find it easy to detach the ruler from the combination set.
The speed square and combination tool set gradations to use a miter square, try square, framing square, and a protractor. Drawing straight lines is easy due to the bubble level-checker similar to those on the carpenter’s level. The rafter square is 7-inch and features white markings on its blue surface, which produces impressive visibility levels. With a combination set, you get a longer 12-inch tool with the versatility of including metric and imperial markings. You’ll find three combinations with minimum scale values of 1/16″, 1/32″, and 1 mm rulers.
While the speed square is great, the combination square is not entirely square and has a slight now, affecting its precision. Nevertheless, at a good price, this product is surely turning heads.
Pros & Cons
- 7-inch speed square and 12-inch combination set
- Durable aluminum speed square and zinc alloy combination set
- Features a bubble-level checker for drawing straight lines
- It contains two essential tools
- Clear and durable marking helped by the protective powder on the speed square
- User-friendly tool
- It leaves you with a less effective tool if you only require a speed square
- The combination tool is not entirely square
2. DFM Small Carpenters Square
DFM is a relatively small brand with a solid carpenter’s speed square with a fixed miter angle pin. The gradation here is by 1/16″ increments up to 3″. Between each increment, there’s a hole you can mark with a mechanical pencil. There are also five larger holes on another side of the square for marking polygon markers with the angle pin included in the package.
Weighing 7.2 ounces, this fairly lightweight speed square has all its components manufactured in the US. The DFM speed square is small but large enough to make a 2 x 4 lumber. The foot is thick to create balance and ensure squareness at ¼”.
Pros & Cons
- Lightweight design
- Can mark 2 x 4 lumber
- 1/16″ increments up to 3″
- It comes with a fixed miter angle pin
- Small design not suitable for marking large lumber
3. DeWalt DWHT46031 Speed Square
The DeWalt speed Square is 7 inches and made from aluminum steel. Its black background and white markings make the markings visible. DeWalt is known for its quality tools, and this speed square does not disappoint with a rugged build. The gradation is painted and stamped to keep the markings clear and prevent fading even in tough environments. Unfortunately, the paintings chip quicker than you imagine, so you might find a few markings chipped off after a while.
Since it doesn’t come with any notches, this speed square is suitable for people who have no use for notches. However, the lack of notches makes this less of a beginner-friendly tool since notches help to guide newer users. With a perfect square, getting precise markings in all use cases will not be a problem. The wide base helps to keep the tool upright and provides a guide against the wood edges. The DeWalt speed square is resistant to corrosion and has a glossy surface, making cleaning easy.
Pros & Cons
- Etched and stamped numbers
- Perfect square makes accurate markings
- Glossy surface for easy cleaning
- A great contrast to improve visibility
- Lightweight design
- Paint around the markers chip off easily
- No notches
4. Irwin Tools Rafter Square 1794463
This rafter square by Irwin tools is affordable, with a blue background and yellow inscriptions making it one of the easiest to read. Yellow on blue color combination is always quite legible, with Irwin tools capitalizing on the blend to produce an easy-to-use speed square. It features scales on either of the three sides and two scales on its longest side.
The Irwin rafter square is quite expensive, especially for its features. While the pivot is marked, the point is tiny and may be difficult to use; however, a mechanical pencil with a small lead will enter the point. The speed square is weather and rust-resistant, and while the engraved stampings make it legible, the paint may chip off quicker than you would’ve thought. With a brace, octagon scales, and a rafter table, this speed square is highly versatile, covering many activities.
Pros & Cons
- Weather resistant
- Made from aluminum
- Visible yellow inscriptions on black background
- Includes different scales
- Deep stampings
- Expensive for its features
- Tiny pivot point
5. Swanson Tool Co S0101 Speed Square
Here’s an even more affordable square than the previous product and is one of the most popular squares judging from the number of confirmed buys from reputable online stores. It comes in the standard 7 inches with gradations such as hip, common, valley, and jack rafters. The package includes the speed square and a blue manual explaining how to use the square to get accurate markings.
It sports ¼” notches and diamond cutouts for easy cuts, which is especially important for beginners. In addition, the black inscriptions are engraved into the grey background of the Swanson speed square, making it easy to read. Made in the USA with durable metal construction, this speed square offers exceptional value for money.
Pros & Cons
- Notches and diamond cutouts
- Hip, common, valley, and jack rafter graduations
- Comprehensive blue guide book
- The small design makes it unsuitable for large workpieces
6. Johnson Level & RAS-1B Johny Square
Straightforward design, ease to use, and affordability are some qualities of this Johnson-level rafter angle square. Since it is truly square, precise markings are guaranteed every time. With its thick edge ensuring you get a guide to butt against surfaces, you’ll get more precision. The tool is made from durable aluminum with its edges CNC machines, so they remain firm and do not break off with little pressure.
The powder coating on the tool reduces its glare and makes it quite easy to use. The markings on this square do not fade even when used in harsh environments because it has been permanently die-casted. Johnson level rafter angle square also features standard straight slots and diamond cutouts. The body of this square is made from polystyrene, keeping it at a decent 8.8 ounces in weight. You’ll find the continuous scrubbing notched essential in quickly ripping boards.
Pros & Cons
- CNC machined edges
- Graduated numbers
- Thick edges for more stability
- Standard straight slots and diamond cutouts are available
- Affordable square
- Markings are hard to read
- Coatings are not very durable
7. Mr Pen Rafter Square
Mr Pen offers a decent rafter square that does the basics without fancy features. It comes at an incredible price, making this square highly sought after among DIY enthusiasts and part-time users. At 7 inches, Mr Pen Rafter Square comes in the standard sizes. The gradation here is common, valley, hip, and jack rafter. Its quality heavy-gauge billet aluminum alloy body makes the square rugged and able to withstand most of the pressure it’ll likely face.
Added durability is achieved through its die-casting production system. Visibility is high here due to the white inscriptions on a black background providing the contrast needed to see the gradations without stress. As mentioned earlier, the price of this square puts it in the minds of users, especially when the need for a square is rare.
Pros & Cons
- Made with durable material
- Easy to read white markings on black background
- Non-glare matte finish for better visibility in bright conditions
- Versatile tool
- No diamond cutouts
8. Swanson Tool Co T0118 Speed Square
Here is a larger-than-normal 8″ Swanson T0118 speed square with an unbelievable price that will be difficult to beat. The square comes in varying colors with changes in cost. This is a yellow background square with engraved markings that ensure the painting doesn’t chip off. What it does limit, however, is the overall visibility since the markings are only engraved without an inscription color to provide contrast.
It sports consistent scribe holes, while the v-shaped slots make it difficult for pencils to produce straight lines. There are notches here spaced ⅛” apart and help to inscribe lines. Even though this is a long 8″ square, it is made from a lightweight, high-impact material.
Pros & Cons
- Extremely affordable
- 8″ square for sliding larger materials
- Several notches are available
- Beveled edge to make it easier to read
- It comes in 3 colors
- Lightweight at 3.2 ounces
- Poor visibility as inscriptions do not carry paint
Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Suitable Speed Square?
You can select the best square by following a set of guides, in this case, factors. These factors will quickly give you an idea of which type of tool you need and then point you toward the tool that can satisfy your needs.
The weight of the square can be a huge problem considering squares are expected to be lightweight and easily movable. Therefore, you want to purchase lightweight squares that you can pack in your tool bag. Often, the material can affect the weight, with metal squares proving to be quite heavy while aluminum is lightweight.
The type of material and the marking quality can affect a square’s durability. While squares should withstand normal pressures, the major durability indication is the long-lasting inscriptions on the square.
Accuracy is essential for measuring instruments like the speed square, as tiny deviations can cause a big difference across a longer distance. Again, you can go for well-known brands or consider squares with a thick foot.
While most will be under $10, some squares go beyond that price, which is understandable. However, considering the price you’re willing to pay, the squares in that range will help you focus your energy on the squares within your budget.
Here are frequently asked questions about speed squares and their answers:
Ans: Typically, the best depends on your needs, with plastic or aluminum suitable when you require affordable, lightweight designs. At the same time, steel material is great for professional use.
Ans: 12-inch is the best speed square size because it is versatile and highly durable.
Ans: You can use diamond cutouts to make birdsmouth, after work, and notch.
To make angles 90 and 45, scribe lines and get accurate squares requires the simple speed square tool. You’ll have to navigate several speed squares, but luckily, a list with the top is available. Making the selection process yourself can be challenging but gets simpler when you follow the buyer’s guide here.