Combination squares are often a necessary piece of equipment for anyone who works with wood, stone, or metal. There is a long ruler attached to a head that you can swap out and change depending on your needs.
Perhaps the most common head on a combination square is the square head, which allows you to measure right angles and 45-degree angles without any hassle.
The first combination square was invented in 1877, and they have become very popular throughout the years. They can be used for a number of different purposes and offer you excellent precision for all of your projects.
If you’re a contractor or love to dabble in DIY and you don’t have a combination square in your toolbox, we’d highly recommend getting one.
With great power comes great responsibility, and you’re going to need a combination square that is durable, reliable, and precise. Of course, you don’t want to have to spend hours comparing different models on the market, which is why we’ve done all the hard work for you.
Below are the top five best combination squares out there on the market, as well as a handy buyers guide and a few frequently asked questions.
In a hurry?
Our favourite combination square on the market right now has to be the Bahco 300mm Combination Square.
Why, you may ask - there are just too many reasons to list here, so we’ll mention the top three.
Firstly, the materials that have been used to create this model are all durable and high-quality, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking mid-job. Secondly, it actually comes with a handy string that holds it in place while you’re using it for a more accurate reading.
Finally, this combination square is incredibly well-received by the majority of people who have used it, and over a thousand people can’t be wrong, can they?
Best Combination Squares
OUR TOP PICK
First up is Bahco’s combination square, which is a model with a die-cast body that has been widely well-received by the public due to its great price point and high-quality.
The blade is made from industrial stainless steel, so you know that this is a durable and reliable combination square.
Marking 45- and 90-degree angles has never been easier than with this handy tool. An interesting feature of this combination square is the Dyneema string. This prevents your tool from moving while you’re using it, giving you a more accurate result with less hassle.
Both the square head and the blade are made from metal which is a welcomed change from the usual plastic square heads that you often find on the market. This tool comes equipped with a scriber to give you the easiest time using it. Bacho has quite obviously focused on ease of use and quality while making this model.
- This combination square is widely used and appreciated.
- An additional string to keep the tool steady while in use.
- It is made from high-quality and durable materials.
- The locking mechanism may come loose over time.
- Doesn’t offer the nicest feel.
You can choose to purchase this combination square with a 6-, 12-, or 16-inch stainless steel blade. This is etched with black measurements and offers a depth gauge, height gauge, scriber, leveler, and plumb level.
The square head is made from die-cast zinc which offers you great durability and reliability. Choosing the smaller size will allow you to fit this tool right in your pocket, which is an impressive feat for something so useful.
The square head comes equipped with a spring-loaded brass bolt that keeps the blade in place while you’re using it so that it doesn’t slip and cause you to completely redo your task.
- You can choose from different lengths of the blade.
- A tool made from durable materials.
- There are measures in place to keep the tool reliable.
- A few customers found that they received a non-square model.
- Some reviewers had issues with missing parts.
STANLEY is a well-known brand of tools and hardware in the UK, so of course their combination square has been featured on our list. The leveller vial offers a 360-degree viewpoint so there are no more awkward angles that you have to reach to see if your work is accurate.
This combination square is very durable and easy to read. The measurements are etched into the metal blade and blackened for extra visibility. The hardware is made from brass, making it very reliable and long-lasting.
The blade features both imperial and metric units of measurement and it is coated for additional strength and resistance to premature wearing and rust. You’ll be able to find 45- and 90-degree angles with this combination square in a matter of seconds.
- This product is made from a well-known and trusted brand.
- The measurements are both etched into the metal and blackened for extra visibility.
- You can choose from metric and imperial measurements to use.
- One customer found that the markings on the leveller rub off over time.
- It only comes in one length.
Next up is actually a combination square set, meaning that rather than just the square itself, you’ll also receive an attachable 180-degree protractor and a centre head. This set is excellent for any handyperson who would benefit from an extended set of tools.
The benefit of purchasing a set like this one, rather than the different parts separately, is that you don’t have to worry about all of the pieces fitting together seamlessly. The blade is made from stainless steel, and the centre head and protractor are aluminium.
This tool works exactly the same as the rest of the tools on our list and is made of high-quality durable materials so the tool will last you for a long time. The hardware is made from brass so you can rely on them to keep the tool accurate.
- It comes with additional features and add-ons.
- All of the parts are made from sturdy metals.
- This set is bound to last you a long time.
- One customer did not appreciate the quality assurance.
- The edges of the blade may be sharp.
Next up is a 12-inch combination square from Johnson Level & Tool. The blade is made from stainless steel and offers measurements in 1/8-, 1/16-, and 1/32-inches for extremely precise measurements. The manufacturer offers a one year warranty for this model, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your money is protected.
The blade auto-locks into place to prevent accidental slips while you’re using it, and the square head features a removable scriber for ease of use. You can reliably measure 45- and 90-degree angles with this model without worrying about inaccurate measurements.
You’ll find that the head is made from heavy-duty cast zinc for the ultimate durability. Moreover, there is an acrylic leveller built into the square head for added reassurance.
- Made from a trusted brand.
- Constructed out of high-quality and durable materials.
- The build quality may not be as impressive as a more expensive model.
- One customer stated that what they received was different from the image.
Best Combination Squares Buying Guide
Below we’ll be discussing the basic information that you should know before confidently buying the best combination square for you. Using a poorly made combination square can reduce the quality of your project, as well as causing a lot of frustration when you have to redo everything all over again.
The factors that we’ll be looking at here will give you more insight into the most important features to look for when you’re choosing your combination square. Provided that you keep an eye out for these, you shouldn’t be left with a dud that proves to be more of a hindrance than an aid.
Parts of a Combination Square
Before we look into the factors to consider, it’s important to know the basic individual parts of the model.
The blade is the metal ruler that has the measurements etched into the blade itself. The angle of this can be adjusted depending on how you need it to sit.
The scriber is a metal tip that can mark different materials such as wood and metal. They are better to use than a pencil as the marking is less likely to be rubbed off as easily.
A leveler helps you ensure that all of your lines are even and level. This comes in handy more than you may think when you’re woodworking. You can either get levelers in either a bubble vial form or a laser level.
The square head is the most commonly used head and allows you to adjust the blade to different angles. It is very easy to get an accurate right angle and a 45-degree angle with this head, which is why it’s so useful for DIY purposes. There is a screw that will ensure that the angle doesn’t shift in the middle of your using it.
The shoulder of your combination square points at a 45-degree angle so that you can easily determine this popular angle. The blade against the anvil makes up a 90-degree angle.
You can find combination squares with blades that have been made with different materials, from plastic to hardened steel. For your combination square to last you for the longest time, it is imperative that you choose a model with a high-quality blade.
Hardened steel is generally the best choice for your blade as it is one of the most durable materials without having to be incredibly expensive. You can also choose a blade made from steel or chrome as these are other reliable materials, however, you may find these to be slightly more expensive.
For the rest of the combination square, you’ll find that the majority are made from plastic. While some are made from metal, plastic is the most common so ensure that the plastic is not too thin or flimsy.
Unit of Measurement
Of course, you’re going to find it rather difficult to use a blade with a unit of measurement that you’re not familiar with or used to. For this reason, make sure that you determine the best unit that you need so that you don’t have to waste time converting the different measurements.
Some combination squares come with additional accessories that you can use alongside the model. More often than not you’ll be able to attach them to the body easily and upgrade your combination square.
Protractors and center finders are typically the most common additional accessory to come with a combination square, and you’ll be able to rule a larger number of angles with this. The more accessories that come with your model, the more use you’ll get from it.
Bear in mind that the more accessories that you opt for, the higher the price is likely to be. Having said that, you might prefer to buy all of your accessories in one go as they are more likely to fit onto your combination square better than another accessory from a different manufacturer.
If your combination square doesn’t offer you supreme accuracy, there is not much use of using it. A common handyperson’s phrase is ‘measure twice, cut once.’ If you’re having to repeat the job more than once because of an inaccurate pocket square, you’re going to waste time and become more frustrated about your project.
The units of measurement should be accurate on the blade and the protractor (if your model offers one). Moreover, the etchings should be easy to read so that you don’t get confused or have to spend too much time reading them.
Moreover, the leveler must be accurate to avoid uneven lines. This can lower the quality of your project by a considerable amount, so it’s important to make sure that this is accurate. We’d suggest reading the comments from past customers to see if any of them had any troubles with the accuracy of the combination square.
You’ll want your combination square to last for a long time while it’s in your toolbox, unless you enjoy repurchasing items often. Firstly, the etched measurements in the blade need to be high-quality so that they don’t wear away too quickly. If the etchings rub away within a couple of weeks or months, you’ll find it much harder to use thereafter.
There is often more than one adjustable screw on a combination square, and these need to be durable as well. If these break or falter prematurely, you run the risk of your angles being altered mid-way through your task, or the blade may come loose while you’re using it.
We’ve already touched on the best materials for your combination square earlier, but remember that whichever materials you choose need to be durable enough to withstand natural wear and tear, as well as continuous use and living in your toolbox. Toolboxes are often full of sharp and heavy objects, so the model you choose needs to be able to coexist with the big boys.
The price of an item will affect the likelihood of you purchasing it, no matter what it is. Luckily, the majority of combination squares on the market are pretty inexpensive so you won’t have to worry about delving too much into your life savings.
The more additional accessories that come with a combination square will increase the price, and the higher-quality materials that are used will also have an effect on this. However, some models on the market are of a rather poor quality and still have a high price point.
You need to know what you’re looking for to avoid overpaying for your combination square. Hopefully, our buyers guide has helped in this regard and you feel more confident choosing the right model for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are combination squares used for?
Combination squares can be used for a number of different purposes, including laying out joinery accurately, lining up the ruler precisely for straight lines, and setting heights for different pieces of your project.
Of course, there are many other uses for these handy tools, and every handyperson would benefit from having one in their toolbox.
How do you know if a combination square is accurate?
For the anvil, you should take a perfectly straight line and put the anvil against this line and draw another line on the outside edge of the blade. Turn the combination square over and draw another line across the outside edge of the blade.
When you take the square away, you should be able to see if the two drawn lines are parallel to each other. If they are, it’s likely that your model is accurate.
For the shoulder of the square, you can use another reliable protractor to determine the angle of this. Similarly, using another reliable ruler will allow you to see if the measurements on the blade are accurate.