Top 11 Best Speed Squares In 2020

Getting the right measurement of roof rafters, and lumber is easy with speed squares. As a layout tool, the speed square allows you can do scribe cutting, mark angles and make shapes on materials precisely.

Consider the perfect tool for the job when you want to boost the quality of your shelving projects. One of the advantages of using a speed square is that it combines multiple features (protractor, set square, triangle square, and rafter angle square) in one tool.

During roof construction projects, you can use speed squares as measuring and framing tools. It makes your markings very accurate before cutting rafting woods and lumbers into different shapes.

More so, the speed square often comes in polystyrene, metal, and plastic designs. While the plastic types are easier to read, metal speed squares are heavier and often have CNC machined edges.

Usually, abrasion-resistant speed squares are ideal saw guides because they are made from tougher materials. When they are impacted by rough surfaces or work tools, it will be difficult to clean their indelible prints of numbers and letters.

Apart from the quality of design, the readability of speed squares depends on many factors. However, it’s important to use lightweight and reliable speed squares that are built to last. The best speed squares come with easy-to-read numbering and they are sturdy.

These types often come with bi-colored designs that include contrasting background colors, letterings, and heavy-gauge materials.

You can use speed squares with reflective colors conveniently even in poorly-lit work environments. Also, aluminum speed squares have high resistance to corrosion and they are more durable than plastic versions.

Before picking any speed square, you should compare well-built models that align with your projects. This buying guide will help you to choose framing tools with superior designs. Let’s analyze some 7 and 12-inch quality speed squares.

11 Best Speed Squares

#1. Swanson NA202 Aluminum Metric Speed Square

Swanson NA202

This Swanson Metric Speed Square is made from heavy-gauge aluminum. Apart from the impressive alloy quality, it guides your saw’s blade and prevents it from moving off the line. A high-quality matte finish allows you to read the letter and numbers on this speed square.

Unlike other metric squares, this 25cm version comes with an instructional guide for constructing roofs and measuring rafter lengths. The content of Swanson’s Blue Book is in English and Spanish.

With a protractor that’s well-marked (1 to 90 degrees), you can set this speed square and pivot the desired angle that fits your project. Since the NA202 speed square is designed with degree scales, you can measure hip-valley rafters and maintain clean and straight 90 (or 45) degree cuts.

Pros
  • It comes with 0.5 cm speed notches for scribing lines

  • The package includes Swanson’s blue (instructional) book

  • It’s a 5-in-1 tool that allows for accurate measuring, and notch marks.

Cons
  • The nuts on the bottom of this speed square are hard to adjust.

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#2. IRWIN Tools Rafter Square

IRWIN Tools Rafter Square

This version of Irwin speed square comes with high-contrasts of aluminum and blue colors. It measures 7-inches, and you can pivot the set square to desired angles accordingly.

You should be less confident that this toll will mess up your mark because its small, but the compact size allows enough room to use pencils with very sharp tips.

This pro-grade tool comes with a weather-resistant body and it allows you to see its gradations clearly. Also, this 3/16-inch (thick) IRWIN square features the Essex board measure, brace, rafter tables, and octagon scales.

The blue aluminum body makes it easy to read these yellow markings. Unlike other tools that wear easily, this version of the rafter square has deep stampings that are stable. With these features, you should expect a durable tool.

Pros
  • It has multiple (1/16, 1/12, 1/10, and 1/8 inches) scales.

  • Deep stampings and hi-contrast colors

  • Weather-resistant designs

Cons
  • When you set up a laser with a blue color, it might be difficult to see the laser on the background of IRWIN Rafter Square.

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#3. Stanley 46-053 Quick Square Layout

Stanley 46-053 Quick Square Layout

Stanley 46-053 square is well detailed and it fits multipurpose use. In workspaces with any visibility conditions, its contrasting blend of yellow graduations and black background allows you to enjoy maximum readability.

More so, this layout tool is adjustable and designed for use as a saw guide. You can use it as a protractor and bevel too. However, the base length and the rule length are 10-3/4 inches and 6-3/4 respectively.

This 46-053 square’s adjustable arm and heavy-gauge aluminum body show a durable construction. Apart from DIY applications, this version of Stanley’s layout tool has sturdy designs that fit commercial projects.

Unlike primitive marking tools, this adjustable square allows you to make straight marks on the edges of wooden boards.

Pros
  • This adjustable comes with durable aluminum construction

  • It features Jack, Hip, Common, and Valley scales

  • It’s a versatile layout tool

Cons
  • Apart from crude measurements, it can’t be used to make repeatable and accurate measurements.

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#4. Johnson Level & Tool 7-Inch Johnny Square

Johnson Level & Tool

This 7-inch Johnson Level & Tool Johnny Square comes with a low-glare finish. Without those protective (powder) coated body, it might be difficult to read the markings and get accurate measurements in all light conditions.

Since the graduations are permanent, you can use this layout tool under harsh weather conditions. Johnny Square’s scribing notches are suitable for ripping at 5-1/2 and 3-1/2 inches. Also, it comes with an etched protractor scale, and dimension markers for 2×4 boards.

With these features, you can measure 3-1/2, 3, 1-1/2 inches conveniently. During your building construction, the thick edge of this 7-Inch Quick Square serves as a saw guide and allows you to mark out saw lines for rip cuts.

Pros
  • A pro-grade layout tool with easy-read aluminum body

  • Durable construction with CNC machined edges

  • Permanent and deep graduations

Cons
  • It doesn’t come with an operational manual.

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#5. Empire 3990 12-Inch Rafter Square

Empire 3990

Don’t you want a compact rafter square that’s more durable than diecast models? Empire Level rafter square has CNC-machines aluminum body with graduations and stamped metric conversion tables. This 1/4-inch (thickness) rafter square helps to mark cut lines on stringers, and about 12 inches on boards.

With its thick frame and other designs, you can guide saws safely. Also, this 12-inch Empire rafter square allows you to work with the accuracy that makes your project easy.

As an affordable layout tool, it’s cost-effective for woodworkers that need durable rafter squares. Additionally, it comes with graduated notch designs that help to pull layout lines quickly.

Pros
  • It’s a Heavy-duty magnum square

  • The tensile strength of its aluminum material prevents the tendency to bend or break ease

  • This tool comes with an easy-to-use instruction manual

Cons
  • The engravings are big, and might not help with the accurate measurements.

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#6. DEWALT DWHT46031 Rafter Square

DEWALT DWHT46031

DEWALT 7-inch Rafter Square has an extruded aluminum body with bold numberings and markings for angled cuts. Its extra-thick design shows this DWHT46031 rafting tool is solid. Also, the square is etched with coats that can’t wear off when it’s exposed to unfriendly weather conditions.

With these precise numbers, you can cut wide lumber without making mistakes. The scribing notches help to make clear marks at consistent intervals before you cut into any desired size. There’s no chance of slipping because this rafter square has a compact design.

However, this refurbished version of the DEWALT rafter square has been cleaned and inspected. It’s one of the most functional framing tools that are easy to use.

Pros
  • It measures 10 x 6 x 1 inches

  • This 7-inch version is a premium rafter square

  • It’s been refurbished with a high-quality control process

Cons
  • The white labels might not hold up for a very long time.

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#7. CH Hanson Pivot Square

CH Hanson Pivot Square

Wouldn’t you like to measure angles and lock the measurement for repetitive layouts? This CH Hanson Pivot Square is simple to use, and it adjusts to 0.5 degrees with the space between its degree marks.

With this pivot square’s locking mechanism and machined scale, you can mark cut lines in roof pitches or degrees. Also, these features help to set the pivot square at desired angles before you mark cut lines repetitively.

It guides saws, but it’s more suitable for leveling and plumbing cuts. During your next framing and roof construction project, you can measure any angles and pitches accurately.

Unlike other framing squares with the poor build quality, this CH Hanson model’s machined aluminum alloy comes with durable construction.

Pros
  • It has 3 UV resistant vials

  • It’s suitable for indicating grades and making miter cuts

  • You’ll enjoy more accuracy when making plumb cuts, roof pitches, and angles

Cons
  • Sometimes the lock doesn’t hold the angle very well.

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#8. Mr. Pen- Rafter Square Set

Mr. Pen- Rafter Square Set

For sheet metal and lumber cuts, Mr. Pen 7-inch Rafter Square is a better alternative. The aluminum-alloy body is rust-proof and compact. So, you don’t have to worry about sloppy processes of marking any material before a cut.

This rafter square set comes with accurate gradations that are easy to read. Unlike painted numberings, this rafter square comes with etched metric values. It serves as a protractor saw guide Also, you’ll receive an e-Book that gives quick guidance with the use of this framing tool.

Since this woodworking tool has plain graduation, you can mark squares and find angles precisely. The durability of this tool is great too. Usually, aluminum alloys have lightweights and this square tool is portable.

Pros
  • Two options rafter squares

  • You can mark accurate 45-degree lines, and find roof pitches

  • It’s a multi-purpose square tool

Cons
  • These speed squares lack scribing notches.

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#9. VINCA ARLS-07 Aluminum Rafter Square

VINCA ARLS-07

With this VINCA ARLS-07 Layout Tool, you can handle rough and tedious jobs like fence-building and roofing projects. It has deep stampings of yellow marks on the black aluminum body that doesn’t wear easily.

This durable design ensures that you can use the aluminum rafter for heavy-duty applications. Also, this thick aluminum material is solid, and it doesn’t break easily. You can work under intense sunlight without glare.

Vinca square 7-inch square comes with multiple (1/8, 1/10, 1/16, 1/12) scales, and it has 7-inch x 0.001 accuracies. After buying this device, you don’t need any conversion tool because it has a built-in rafter conversion table. It’s a perfect layout tool for builders, craftsmen, and carpenters.

Pros
  • Its wider base enhances the grip on materials

  • Etched rafter conversion table

  • Easy-to-read deep stampings

Cons
  • There are more affordable speed squares with similar designs and quality.

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#10. QIHANG 7-Inch Speed Square

QIHANG 7-Inch

It’s important to buy multifunctional framing tools like this QIHANG rafter square. This 7-inch speed square will increase the quality of your craftsmanship because it comes with precise gradations. Additionally, it has a double scale that allows users to take angle readings and use the metric scale.

You can use it for a long time. Unlike other carpenter’s square, the body of this QIHANG Pro-grade square is sturdy. It was made from lightweight aluminum alloy, and the letterings were laser engraved.

With an impressive construction of CNC machining, this triangular-shaped can help you to measure accurate angles and lineation.

More so, the speed square has a wear-resistant and smooth surface because it has been well polished. Since this carpenters’ layout tool has different features, it will make your projects easy.

Pros
  • Heavy-gauge aluminum rafter square

  • Corrosion resistance

  • Laser-engraved scale

Cons
  • It’s not designed with contrasting colors and low-glare finishes.

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#11. Swanson Tool Speedlite Square

Swanson Tool Speedlite Square

Swanson Tool’s Orange Speedlite Square comes with a distinguishing appearance. It’s made from high-impact and durable polystyrene material.

This 8-Inch square fits most framing jobs that need layout tools to mark lines and take measurements. Also, this lightweight speed square has 1/8-inch notch spaces that you can use for scribing lines on lumber and wooden boards. It has beveled edges that allow you to take readings easily.

Normally, layout tools that are great for siding can improve the user’s confidence. Apart from guiding a saw, you can make 90 and 45-degree cuts with this Speedlite Square.

However, its centerline guide helps to locate the center of round stocks. As a multifunctional (7-in-one layout tool) square, it’s the right tool for beginner woodworkers and professionals.

Pros
  • It has a Center Line guide

  • It comes line scriber, miter square, Try square, protractor, saw guide, angle finder, and level functions.

  • A high-visible body

Cons
  • Unlike Aluminum, speed squares polystyrene material is not sturdy.

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How To Buy The Right Speed Squares

Readability

Since the speed square is a measuring tool, it needs to be readable. Most times, contrasting color schemes helps you to see little details on speed squares. This style of designing speed squares with double colors exposes everything on the surface of the material.

When you buy steel or aluminum alloy squares with laser-engraved numberings, they often lasted longer than squares with prints. The ease of reading is one of the essential features of these framing tools. Consider speed square models with backgrounds that allow you to see its markings even under intense sunlight.

Durability And Resistance To Corrosion

While you work under rain and snow, it’s normal for environmental conditions to degrade your tools. However, metal speed squares with anti-glare designs and non-fade colors are durable. Apart from their non-fade colors, machine-etched digits on aluminum squares can’t be affected by corrosion.

Plastic models of speed squares tend to break easily. During roofing projects that involve rough tasks, this tendency might affect your level of confidence. Unlike polystyrene squares, aluminum squares are lightweight materials with high-tensile strengths.

Size and Weight

Generally, there are 2 sizes (12 and 7 inches) of speed squares. Consider a 12-inch speed square if your projects involve installing roof rafters or wooden stairways.
This size of the square is suitable for measuring two-by-eight lumber too. Also, a 7-inch square might be very handy when you compare it with 12-inch models. However, 7-inch speed squares are more portable and suitable for guiding a wet saw.

Lightweight speed squares prevent fatigue during long hours of work. However, metal speed squares have more weight than plastic models. It’s better to buy any model that makes you comfortable during work.

Some high-tech speed square models combine different digital features and often come in compact sizes. Since you’ll be working with other tools, use speed squares that are easy to handle and sizeable enough to guide your saw.

Design

Since you would be consulting with the right speed square regularly, it’s important to choose models with the right designs. A premium speed square is impact-resistant and comes with a range of measuring functions.

Every part of this layout tool is useful, even its internal dimension can help you measure angles precisely.

Without anti-glare coatings, you might experience inaccurate measurements because the body of your tool will be poorly visible. Consider squares with the right designs, and the capacity to perform multiple functions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is the speed square different from framing squares?

Speed squares are framing tools, but they are different from framing squares because of their shapes. While framing squares have L-shapes, speed squares maintain their right triangles and flanges. Also, the edges of framing squares have increments of 1/10, 1/12, and 1/16 inches.

During roofing and fence-building projects, speed squares allow you to measure 45 and 90-degree angles. However, their non-flanged sides serve as rulers for straights marks and cuts.

What’s the importance of notches?

Speed squares with notches allow users to make scribe lines. With the notches, you can make precise marks and accurate rip cuts on metal and wooden materials. An example of a speed square with great scribing notches is the Johnson Aluminum Rafter Square.

Final Verdict

Since the days of yore, builders have used speed squares to measuring roof pitches. However, these modern versions of speed squares make your layout marking quicker than primitive speed squares. Any of these premium speed squares can be used during extreme weather conditions because they have excellent designs.

Apart from the CNC- machined edges of the aluminum versions, the Orange Speedlite Square comes with a very bright color. Our recommendations for quality speed square models will boost your confidence and satisfaction because these are multifunctional layout tools.

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