5 Best Speed Squares in 2020

Last updated: October 8, 2020
Published 5:24 pm

Swanson seven inch speed square with Blue Book

Dewalt 7 inch Speed Square DW HT4 603 1

Irwin tools 7-inch rafter square

Published 5:24 pm

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A speed square is a triangular carpenter marking out tool, manufactured and sold by Swanson tool and co. The speed square combines standard functions of the combination square, try square and framing square into one. Carpenters use it to make necessary measurements and mark lines on dimensional lumber, and as a saw guide for short 45 and 90-degree cuts.

A Speed Square is not only used for marking 45- and 90-degree angles cuts. It can be used to find roof pitches and also guide your circular saw and more. It is a tool used by Engineers and carpenters, to lay out a square or right angle. It is made of steel, aluminium and other materials like plastic. The speed square can also be used to make additional measurements like small lengths, but it is specially made for angles.

The Best Speed Square Reviewed Below

Are you in search of the best speed square and don’t know which to get? We have compiled a list to help you out. The following are the best speed squares.

1

Swanson seven inch speed square with Blue Book

The Swanson seven-inch speed square with Blue Book is a 7-inch mini speed square, which also has a 12-inch variant. The square has two scales, the common rafter and hip Valley rafter, which helps you make better angle cuts. It also has one number of references as well as a slot for adjustable 1/4 inch locking pin. There is a sixty-two video illustrated pocket reference book to aid in building rafters roofs and stairs 1/4 inch scribing notches. The square has a high visibility black gradations makes this tool perfect for roofers.

Key Features:

  • 7-inch mini speed square
  • A slot for adjustable 1/4-inch locking pins.
  • Weighs 1.8 pounds

Specification:

  • Brand: Swanson
  • Model: Swanson-Tool-S0101
  • Item Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 1
  • Material: Aluminium
Pros
  • The aluminium is sturdy and durable
  • It has easy to read markings.
Cons
  • Slipping of a square through QC with die casting flaws, which can affect measurements or readability in extreme cases.

2

Dewalt 7 inch Speed Square DW HT4 603 1

The Dewalt 7 inch speed square has an extra thick extruded aluminium body, which allows it to take a real beating added in a broad base; and you have a tool that won’t slip when you’re marking materials. The Dewalt 7 inches speed square has notches that assist in drawing rip cuts and the stamped in contrasting colour gradations ensure easy readability.

Key Features:

  • Extra thick extruded aluminium body.
  • Notches assist in marking rip cuts
  • It weighs 8 ounces
  • Stamped in contrasting colour gradations ensure easy readability.

Specification:

  • Brand: Dewalt
  • Model: DWHT46031
  • Item Weight: 8 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 1
  • Material: Aluminium
Pros
  • It is sturdy
Cons
  • The colour also means this tool can soak up a lot of heat in sunlight, so be sure to keep it shaded.
  • The edges of the square can be rough on pencils.

3

Irwin tools 7-inch rafter square

The Irwin tools 7-inch rafter square has a blue aluminium body with permanent deep yellow stamped markings and this 7-inch speed square is rustproof and weather-resistant. You also get the 1/8 1/10 1/12 and 1/16 inches scales, as well as raptor tables, brace, Octagon scales and Essex board measure on the hypotenuse.

Key Features:

  • Blue aluminium body.
  • Permanent deep yellow stamped markings.
  • It is rustproof.
  • Weather-resistant and easy to read.
  • Octagon scales
  • Essex board measure hypotenuse.

Specification:

  • Brand: IRWIN
  • Model: IRWIN Tools-Rafter-Hi-Contrast-Aluminium
  • Item Weight: 0.01 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 9.25 x 7.5 x 0.98
  • Size: 7-inch
  • Material: Aluminium
Pros
  • It is perfect for when you need a mitre to cut angles.
  • The markings are high contrast, which makes it easy to take accurate measurements.
  • The aluminium is very sturdy.
Cons
  • Poor paint jobs that make it hard to take readings

4

Johnson level and Tool 1904-0700 Johnny square

The Johnson level Johnny square has an extruded aluminium body. The seven-inch rafter square has CNC machined edges and laser etched graduations for superior readability and accuracy. The Johnny square has an anti-glare coating, which makes it easy to take readings in shade or sunlight. If you want to use the speed square as a saw guide, the coating also provides friction too.

Key Features:

  • Aluminium body.
  • It has CNC machined edges.
  • It has etched laser graduations for superior readability and accuracy
  • Scribbling notches

Specification:

  • Brand: Johnson Level & Tool
  • Model: Level-Tool-1904-0700
  • Item Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 0.88 x 10.25 x 8 inches
  • Size: 7″ Johnny Square
  • Material: Aluminium
Pros
  • It comes with five scribe slots.
  • Some variants of the square are magnetized.
  • The speed square comes with easy to read markings
  • It has a durable coating
Cons
  • The coating negatively impacts the markings

5

Swanson tools T0118 speed lite square

The Swanson tools T0118 speed lite square is made of high-impact polystyrene instead of metal. The speed square is also unusual as it is 8 inches in size. It was made specially to be used on more delicate surfaces such as glass laminate and intended for making cuts in 8-inch siding.

Key Features:

  • 8 inches.
  • It is made of high-impact polystyrene

Specification:

  • Brand: Swanson Tool
  • Model: Tool-T0118-Speedlite-Square
  • Item Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 32 x 8 x 1 inches
  • Material: High-Impact Polystyrene
Pros
  • The bevelled edge makes it easier to read.
  • The scribe line notches are spaced 1/8 of an inch apart.
  • It has a centerline guide, which aids in finding the centre of round stock.
  • You can choose between a gentle matte grey or high visibility yellow or orange for the finish.
  • The square is very durable.
Cons
  • It is very fragile
  • The markings have low visibility.

Buying Guide Questions

After reading our review, you may have some questions, so we helped you compile frequently asked questions and the answers.

What size of speed square should I get?

If you are looking to get a speed square, then you already know that the main sizes of the squares are 7 and 12 inches. If you are in search of something you can carry about in your tool belt then a 7″ speed square is what you need, and it may be adequate for your hobby. The 12″ square is great for those who work with large lumber; you can use it to measure two by eight lumbers. Of course, if you are a professional, you may need to have both sizes of speed squares and even the more unpopular size, like the 8″ square.

Is a Rafter Square the Same as a Speed Square?

Yes, a Rafter square is also the same as Speed Square. A speed square can also be referred to as a Rafter square.

How thick is a Speed Square?

The thickness of the speed square depends on the brand and model of the square. Most speed squares are about an inch thick, and this may vary by specialization and the material used in making it too.

How long is a Speed Square?

The primary sizes of the speed square are 7 inches and 12 inches; the longest sides of each size of speed square are ten inches and seventeen inches respectively. Speed squares are not made to take measurements over large areas like meter rules or tape rules, hence the short length.

The 12 inches square is often used when you are working on large lumber. You can use it to transfer measurements from different lumber and to layout framing too. The longer speed square is also used to when you want to lay rafters or stairs.

Why is a Speed Square Called A Speed Square?

Albert Swanson invented the speed square in 1925, and he was the one who coined the name speed square. You may wonder why the word square is used to name the speed square; after all, it’s not square. The square is referring to the right angles (90 degrees) it makes. It is a common terminology in construction; when something is square, it’s done correctly and accurately. The speed square comes with degree graduations on it, which helps you make quick cuts without the hassle of making trigonometric calculations, hence the speed in the name speed square.

Who Makes the Best Framing Square?

Framing squares are used to check how square large boards are. They are L-shaped with measurement increasingly graduated as ⅛, 1/10, 1/12, and 1/16 inches. To choose the best framing square, you have to consider a few things. Check the material it is made from; steel or aluminium framing squares are recommended due to sturdiness.

Consider how comfortable the framing square to hold is. The measurements on it must be well engraved and must be well coloured to make it very visible; it’s a no brainer that the measures have to be accurate.

You can also get recommendations from professionals or those who own framing squares.

What is the Best Square for Woodworking?

There are different types of squares, and they all have different shapes and sizes. As a woodworker, you will need to use various types of squares for your jobs. To check right angles in frames or stairs a framing square is well suited to the job, a try square will also be great to mark right angles.; and if you need to mark or check small cuts in lumber, then a combination square comes to play.

Asides the squares we mentioned above, we have other types too such as the sliding T-bevel, which is used to copy angles; a drywall square works when you have drywall to cut, or want to cut plywood.

More often than not, a professional woodworker will have different types of squares and use each appropriately as the situation demands.

What are Speed Squares Used for?

The speed square was created as a layout tool for carpenters. It is used to mark perpendicular cuts, angles for roofs and stairways. If you have to mark common, hip, valley and hip, and valley jack rafters then the speed square will come in handy.

Speed squares make it easy and fast to mark angles, make square cuts and to lay stair stringers. If you cut, you can use the speed square to check whether or not it is square. When you purchase a new speed square, you get an instructional manual which helps you understand the various techniques and uses of the speed square.

You can use the speed square as a saw guide; use it to keep your circular saw true when you cut lumber. You can use the precision speed square to determine the pitch angle of a roof, all you need is a level and the square to get a rough estimate.

You can use the best metric speed square as a protractor too. It can be used to measure different angles for crosscuts. It can double as a try square when you need to make 90 degrees angles; and as a mitre square for 45 degrees angles.

A speed square is an essential tool for construction workers, craftsmen. DIYers find the different types of speed squares convenient as it speeds the process of work and also makes the job neat and very professional.

Conclusion

A speed square is an essential tool for people in construction and other professions where square cuts are required. With speed squares, math becomes not entirely necessary as they have angles graduated on the body, which makes everything more comfortable and faster.

Ensure that the speed square you are getting has accurate measurements, is painted for high visibility, and is made from durable materials. Getting the most expensive speed square doesn’t mean your work will be perfect, that takes practice and consistency. Instead, go for the suitable size of speed square for your needs. You don’t need to get the fanciest square out there, especially if you are a hobbyist. Go for something practical.

It’s worthy of mentioning that if you are going to be working a lot in the sun, then you should stay away from steel squares as they will get hot and be uncomfortable or painful to hold.