Best Carpenter Squares: Purpose, Selection & Others

Published on: April 11, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by Eric Devin

Carpenters are always in the rush of making squares. From the roof to wall, decks, windows, or simply a box, if it is not a square then it is failed. The door wouldn’t open, the box would not form or the windows would not close. Only squares can make the accurate corners, edges, and angles so that every time you end up making the perfect square. 

best carpenter squares

As woodworking varies, so does the carpentry and the tools associated with it. Large projects and stocks require large tools and making smaller items need smaller tools. The same goes for using squares as well. A carpenter always has to be ready to use the right tool for the right job. The different job requires different types of squares. Some jobs may require all types of squares too. So, know your square, how to find the good one, and how to use it. 

What is the Purpose of a Carpenter’s Square?

The main purpose of using square is attaining accuracy to the workmanship. If the perpendicular and parallel cuts are not accurate, it will affect the woodworking. Cabinetry, furniture making, framing, door making, or other woodworking where multiple wooden stocks are joined or aligned, will be impossible. 

An accurate square makes sure that all the joints are made seamlessly. This is what is the true purpose of carpenter’s square. Squares also help to use as a saw guide and protector.

What Are the Essential Squares for Woodworking?

Tri/combination Square

The most accurate way to make corner joints is to use a tri square. In cabinetry, carpenters use this tool to make the edges and corners of the cabinets flawless. A combination square serves to create angles and is more versatile. 

Framing Square

There are other measurements in the framing square other than matric scales. The angle on the door frame, rise, and thickness are determined with this square. This is an L shaped square with a long edge and a short edge. 

Speed Square

A speed square is also triangular, but it determines the angle. Need to cut stock in unusual cuts? Then the speed square is your best friend. The perpendicular edges have metric readings and the base is used for making the layout of the rafter, stair angle, and roof team. In the body of the square, there are angles defined clearly to make the cuts. 

How to Choose the Correct Square?


We are using the tool for accuracy, so, accuracy is the first thing to look for. Get the square and place it on one edge of the table and make a mark on the diagonal side of the square. Now flip the square, place it on the opposite corner of the table, and make another line. If you see that both lines are parallel, then that is an accurate square. If it forms a V or an X, then the square is not accurate and should not be. 


It is very simple, large stocks need large tools to measure and cut. Small projects of homeowners, carpenter’s or beginners only need small tools to survive. So, you should get the square based on the projects you work on. Keeping multiple sizes of squares is the key to be prepared for the next job. 


Above, I have explained the type of square and where to use it. Before buying the square, try to learn the main functions of the squares. After that, you will be able to determine which square you will be using most. 

During layout making, one may need multiple squares to measure and cut but for making joints, frames, and any other angles, only one or two squares will be enough. 


Impact-resistant, rustproof, and long-lasting squares are our main priority. Together, we will get a square that will be durable and wins over the test of time. Aluminum, stainless steel, hardened steel are the main material of carpentry squares. Some also choose plastic ones for affordability. 


There is no point in using a square if low visibility causes accidents and mistakes. Make sure the imprints of the square are etched and painted clearly. Highly visible squares help to minimize mistakes. 

Our Recommended Carpenters Essential Squares-

We are here to help you get the most useful squares of all kinds a carpenter uses. It will save time and hassle to fish through numerous squares in the market and go for trial and error processes. 

VINCA  L Framing Square

  • Made of hardened steel material;
  • Measures 16″ x 24″;
  • 0.09’’ thickness. 

With accurate tools, a carpenter can deliver flawless woodworking. Unfortunately, not all squares available in the market claim for their accuracy like this VINCA square does. With its ±0.0573° accuracy, non of your workmanship will be questionable. 

The square is made of hardened steel and has a punchin press finish on the graduation. It results in a clear and accurate reading on the scale. There are graduations of both sides, one side has inches measurement and the other side has millimeters. To make this square rust proof, a clear coat of anti-rust material is applied. 

Yes, this square doesn’t rust over time, but the problem is, the thick coating makes reading the graduation harder in some items. Besides, this is also an overpriced item. But its undeniable accuracy made me place this square on top of this list. 


  • Long-lasting square;
  • High square accuracy;
  • Rust resistant. 


  • Anti-rust coating affects the readability of some pieces. 

DEWALT Rafter Square for Versatile Carpentry

  • 7-inch;
  • Model: DWHT46031;
  • Made of aluminum. 

This item is usually priced high, but it is available for one-third of its actual price due to refurbishment. However, there is only one option to make multiple types of cuts on wood material, that is a rafter square. Other than making parallel and perpendicular lines, this square can be used to make almost any angle. Besides, making identical cuts like bird’s mouth, tail cut, end cut on a collar tie, plumb cut, and miter cut like professionals is only possible with a well-marked rafter square. 

This Dewalt rafter is made of aluminum. So, there is no question of rusting out. The markings are etched and painted yellow on black on the square. This way, the markings are highly visible and make carpentry a lot easier with this tool. The size of this rafter square is only 7 inches, which is suitable for small jobs. For larger projects, you might need something bigger. 


  • Cheap; 
  • High visibility markings;
  • Durable, rustproof. 


  • Refurbished. 

Swanson Tool – Composite Speedlite Square

  • Model: T0118;
  • Size: 8 inches;
  • High Impact Polystyrene material.

The last thing I want is marks on my soft material surface while taking measurements of cuts. Metal squares are best in terms of durability, but the hard metal often leaves marks on the soft siding. This Swanson Speedlite square is a speed square and also lightweight. The square is light, but it doesn’t affect its durability. It is made of high impact polystyrene, which is super tough compared to plastic, and also more durable. 

I like the bright neon orange color of this set. In my workshop, this square is easier to locate compared to other models. The markings are beveled or engraved. It would be better if those were painted as well. However, there are scribed lines on this speed square so that you can make lines ⅛ inch apart easily. This one is the cheapest and convenient square I have ever encountered. 


  • Lightweight;
  • Non-marring;
  • Great to use on siding material. 


  • Marks are not easily visible. 

Stanley Adjustable Quick Square Layout Tool

  • Highly durable aluminum square;
  • 10-¾ inch base with 6-¾ inch ruler length. 

Cutting angles at awkward angles is difficult even for professionals. When it comes to repetitive cuts of angles, it becomes nerve-wracking. This adjustable quick square makes angle cutting a breeze. Just set the adjustable bar at a desirable angle. Now you can make a thousand cuts on any wooden board accurately. 

This square is a must-have if you need common, Jack and Hip, and Valley scales. This is a versatile square that you can use for various applications. It also works great as a saw guide, saw bevel, and protector. Yellow markings and imprints on black squares are highly visible compared to metal squares. This multipurpose square is available at a reasonable price. 


  • Adjustable;
  • Maximum readability;
  • Makes angle cuts;
  • Multipurpose. 


  • No cons.

Johnson Level & Tool Easy-Read Carpenter’s Square

  • Square measures 12″ X 1-1/2″ body, 8″ X 1″ tongue and is 1/8″ thickness;
  • Permanent thermal bonded markings. 

This square is what I call a beginner’s luck. It is a useful one if you luckily get the right one. L shape squares are best for right angles. Mastering framing, stair making, and roofing skills are not possible without this type of square. Making layouts and patterns on wood stocks or drawing right angles are the basic works of woodworking. An L shape square is just the right one to start off. 

With 12 inch length, this square from Johnson is suitable to make cutoffs from thick stocks. At an affordable price, a durable, rustproof, and user-friendly square is hard to find. The only one thing you have to worry about this square is, it used to have a high defect rate a few years back. As a beginner, this cheap tool will help you to grow your skills in carpentry. 


  • Cheap;
  • Stainless steel durable square;
  • Rustproof;
  • User-friendly design. 


  • Low accuracy;
  • Not for professional use. 

Swanson Metric Speed Square Tool 

  • 7-inch tri square. 
  • Made of Aluminium. 

No need to buy multiple tools for effective woodworking. This 5 in 1 square work as a try square, miter square, saw guide, line scriber,  and a protractor. As a 7 inch square, its functions are limited for small projects. There are multiple packs of this square in various sizes to work with different sizes of stocks. 

There are metric and degree scales on this set for common cuts and hip-valley rafter cuts. Speed notches are marked at 0.5 inches for drawing no-fail scribing lines. Unlike other models, this square causes minimum glare due to its matt finished aluminum alloy construction. All the markings and numbers are engraved and painted for long-lasting use. 


  • No-glare metal square;
  • High accuracy;
  • Long-lasting markings;
  • 5 in 1 multipurpose square. 


  • No cons. 

Woodstock 4-Piece Square Set

  • Pack of 4 squares, 2″, 3″, 4″ and 6″ size;
  • Hardened, tempered, and polished steel material. 

All the time, precision is what we look for in carpentry. This set of three squares is just the right tool to start a new project precisely. These squares evidently have a high accuracy of up to ± 0.0006″. Set up and layout works on wood stocks and boards require basic cuts. When these three squares are combinedly used, the downtime of using multiple scales and squares to start layout minimizes. All the squares have the same blade width and common beam. 

Hardened, tempered, and polished steel is used to make these sleek and flawless tools. These are good for beginners to start with and also for carpenters to make their works flawless. There are no markings on the squares, these are just to make the basic layouts easier. 


  • Highly accurate;
  • Precisely aligned; 
  • Required for common layout making;
  • Solidly built squares. 


  • No markings. 

STANLEY 7-Inch Carpenter’s Layout Tool 

  • 7-inch square;
  • Works as a  0º to 90º protractor scale and a saw guide. 

Basically, it is a simple tri square that serves multipurpose use. Use it for framing, edging, or making angles, and also as a saw guide the choice is yours. But in every way, this 7-inch square is a boss of making layouts. 

There are neon yellow markings on the black square body. So, the hi-viz markings are a great advantage of this square. It is only a 7-inch square, so, don’t expect to use this to measure large boards and stocks. For small to medium jobs in carpentry, cabinetry, and even construction sites, this square is a gem at a cheap price. 


  • High contrast imprints for clear visibility;
  • Affordable price;
  • Small, compact, and light. 


  • Not for big jobs. 

Zona Stainless Steel L-Square

  • 3-Inch x 4-Inch L square;
  • Made of Stainless Steel. 

Buyer beware! There is only one L square in this pack, not two. People get disappointed when they get one square instead of two, due to the misleading photo on the site. However, this L square has an inch measurement on one side, and a millimeter or metric measurement on another site. So, it should serve you well when you need accuracy up to a millimeter. The measuring interval is exactly 3/32 inch.

This square is made of high-quality stainless steel of 0.22-inch thickness. All the graduations are etched and then painted black. The overall quality of this square is quite satisfactory according to the price. 


  • Reasonable price;
  • Durable material;
  • accu


  • Misleading advertisement. 

Palmgren CH Hanson Pivot Square

  • Measures roof pitch, levels, grade, angle, plumb cuts, and so on. 

Palmgren and gone an extra mile and made this Pivot square more versatile than any other competitors in the market. This aluminum tri square easily pivots and locks. You can measure any angle and lock it for repetitive works. There are three vials for measuring levels so that intricate grade, roof pitch, or simple leveling can be done easily. 

The only problem with this square is, its sides are rough. Once you get your hands on it, the first thing you have to do is, sand the sides so that it becomes smoother. However, it is an all-in-one accurate measurement square at a reasonable price. So, I don’t think a little roughness won’t hurt. 


  • Versatile use;
  • Excellent tool for repetitive works;
  • Accurate measurement. 


  • Poor finish;
  • Crazy expensive. 

Frequently Questioned Answers

How Do I Pick a Framing Square?

Adjust the tongue to a straight edge and define a border below the edge. At that point, invert the tongue along the edge and define one more border below the edge in the same place. Assuming the lines are equal, the square is valid, however, if they form a finite X or V, it is closed.

What Is a Speed Square Utilized for?

Speed squares aren’t only for stamping 90-and 45-degree points while you’re cutting 2x4s. You can utilize a speed square to observe rooftop pitches, guide your roundabout saw, and seriously include denoting any point from 0 – 90 degrees.

What Size Carpenters Square?

The present standard model estimates 24 by 16 inches. Nonetheless, the level square, beam square, developer’s square, and material square, different names by which this apparatus is known, are sporadical to be found in different sizes, including 12 by 8 inches or 24 by 18-inches.

Bottom Line

Beginner carpenters, woodworkers, and homeowners should start their career by using only the cheapest squares. I am not saying to compromise the accuracy, but there is no need to buy fancy squares if you don’t know how to use them. Because those are very expensive. Later on, a few specified and pro-quality squares are all you will need. 

Professionals require several squares, and sometimes in every size. It saves downtime virtually. No matter which square you get, always store the squares in the right way so that their edges don’t contact other tools. Once the marking is erased, the square will no longer serve you with accuracy.

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About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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