More on Shop Built Layout Square.

A few days ago I started writing here about making your own tools, I have done several other projects here in the past, and this time around I decided I needed to make a wooden square, or at least when I started I thought I wanted to make "A" wooden square, I ended up with a couple more than the singular "A" should refer to. This really can be a nice quick little weekend project that is great for building or practicing a number of hand tool skills. The design of the square is not mine, Chris Schwarz blogged, built, and wrote about this square that he found on Patrick Leach's monthly "for sale" e-mail. (If you don't get this monthly edition of hand tool nirvana in your inbox yet, the you should go HERE and chose the "contact me" button and send him an email to add you to the list.)

If you want to catch up on where we are in the process you can read the previous post HERE.
At any rate, here we are with two arms of the "English Layout Square" glued up, it's been removed from the clamps and had the squeeze out cleaned up.
There ae several ways you could mark out where to locate the cross member of the square by measurement or by eye. The big trick is the cross member is the same length as the arms and you want to locate it to use all that length. I tried to set the level by eye as best as I could and then I checked to make sure it was symetrical on both sides using dividers. I like dividers, no numbers, no fuss, they're almost sailor proof

Since the joint here is also a half lap careful mark out was critical to having it look good. With the cross member set just where it had to be, I held pressure down to make sure it wouldn't shift as I marked the placement on the arms with a pencil. I then used those lines to relocate the piece and secire it with a couple clamps so I could flip it over and make similar marks on the cross piece.
I then went to work cutting the half laps in the cross piece first. I used a first class saw cut for the shoulder and marked my line with a marking gauge. I hardly needed to saw at the shoulder at all because my chisel work from setting up for the first class cut nearly took me to the propper depth already.
I kind of like this picture because it shows how you get to move the angle of the saw around to make this kind of cut and keep a straight track on your line on both sides of the stock. After I cut both sides of the cross piece I repositioned it on the arms to make sure how accurate I had been, If I had cut just a little too far on one shoulder the best fix would have been to move the cross piece up on the arms a little bit.
With everything satisfactory on the cross poece I moved on to excavating the half laps out of the arms. I reinforced my pencil lines with a marking knife and used a chisel to prep some more first class cuts. I also scribed a depth using a marking gauge.
I then used the router plane to clear out the waste. I dropped the depth setting three seperate times. The first time taking half the thickness, the second time taking half of what was left and the last pass at the deepest setting.
The half laps fit well and reasonably tight, no big gaps, no big errors. I took a deep breath because this really is the telling part of the build. Either these joints look tight or they look like crap. I have to admit I was pretty happy with these. Just a little planing and sanding and everything was on the same level,
Now it was time to cut the details into the cross piece. I started by marking them out on the board and making some basic 90 degree cuts where they were called for
Then I used the bandsaw to excavate the thinner space between the details. I cleaned up the saw marks with a wide chisel held tight and flat against the edges.
Then it was just a matter of finishing off the ogee details using a little coping saw, a chisel, and some rasps and sandpaper.
Here is the square, I think this is dry fit, just before glue up, but I did leave those "wings"  hanging out there until the clamps came off and the glue was set up. Then I trimmed them flush with a pull saw. 
I was very happy with what I had going here, but as I looked at it hanging on the tool rack, (I have not made a home for it yet) I couldn't help but feel like I needed to add something more.
We'll go over my little detail additions and something cool I was able to add to this square after I had a suggestion from a fellow woodworker on Twitter.



  1. I know what *I* would add. A hole for a plumb bob.

    Very nice. What kind of finish you planning?

  2. Looks great, Derek. A well done square. Looks like a successful project.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts