Decent Squares

Coyote Jim

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A week or more ago Johnathan Katz-Moses (of dovetail jig fame) posted a video about all the great things you can do with squares. It's not bad, you can view it here:

In that video he mentions that at they sell "Blemished" PEC squares. I do not know much about PEC but from the very limited research I did it looks like PEC makes some pretty high quality tools. Not quite at the level of companies like Starrett but way better than your normal home center tools.

I decided to pull the trigger and get some of these "blemished" PEC tools. I bought:

12" Combination Square that Amazon sells for $79.99 for only $37.99. 

6" Double Square that Amazon sells for $49.99 for only $25.99.

4" Double Square that Amazon sells for $45.99 for only $24.99.

Plus tax but free shipping. I got all 3 of those for just under $100


They only took a couple days to be delivered and as soon as I got a chance I checked them all for square. And I was very disappointed. The Combination Square was spot on, but both the Double Squares were off. The 6" one was off by almost a 64th and and the 4" one was off by about half that.

I was annoyed so I emailed Taylor Tools right away. Then I calmed down. Took my time, and re-checked all 3 squares. This time I did not use crappy particle board to check them for square. I used a board that I knew to be perfect. Turns out....all the squares are perfect. Good 'ol human error.

As for the "Blemishes"? I can't find any flaw at all with either of the Double Squares. They look perfect to me. The casting in the combination square has some pits. Non of the pits effect the square in any way. Here are some pictures of the pits.



All of these tools have some strange scratch marks on the rulers. These scratch marks look to have been put there on purpose. If I had to guess I would say that during QC, the person responsible for rejecting the rulers scratches them to make sure that they don't accidentally make it into the normal stock. Again, the scratches do not effect the use of the tools. Here is a picture of all the scratches.


The quality of these tools is very good. I have never used a Starrett or Woodpecker square so I cannot compare. I can say that after a day of using them (I did a lot of milling and dimensioning today) these are the nicest squares I have ever used. I very much recommend them to anyone that has been getting by with a cheap square.

They have more blemished tools on that site (all of which are squares, rulers and gauges) and when I need something that is listed there I feel confident in buying it knowing how good these squares are.

If you are interested you can have a look at all their blemished tools HERE.

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Neat video Jim. Thanks for sharing. I guess the “holder” in his apron is for a square? Either that or for a small .380? At about 9:38, he mentions something about a Jimmy Duressa (sp?) ice pick and pulls it out of his apron pocket. Is that just a long scratch all? 

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Thanks Jim i love the 6" double squares but haven't been using them as much for the reasons below. I think i'll order a couple now.

20 hours ago, ..Kev said:

Great review!  I typically order my squares from Harry Epstein which sell these blems as well and have never been disappointed..


They haven't had the PEC 6" doubles there for a while it's been irritating to me. I bought a couple not realizing they were the 1/50s and 1/100s which is incredibly irritating ti use. Made me realize i MUCH prefer fractions. I can halve 1/16ths really fast but couldn't tell you that in decimal to save my life

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I have had PEC squares for several years.  Was happy with it until I dropped one of them once too often.  Since this one had some sentimental value I thought I would buy the broken part.    After calling PEC they, promised to send me the part (this happened several times), gave me the phone # for a part supplier, who never answered the phone and never returned several calls. Etc etc.

i finally bought a new square from Harry Epstein, used parts from that to put into the sentimental square.  Simply put PEC has a good product but terrible customer service.

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Funny that combination or sliding squares get checked for “squareness” by running a line along the side. Since they are used (in my workshop) at the ends if the rule (marking to a depth), they should also be checked for having square ends. Never seen anyone do this.

The best ... repeat Best ... squares for woodworking, are machinist squares. These are two sections of steel riveted together The worst are squares which look similar but are made from wood and metal. The rivets will stretch the wood and move out if alignment.

The best of the best are squares made for woodworking by Chris Vesper. These are machinist square, solid metal (with inlay), and come with an accuracy certification. Use one to judge your sliding square is square, inside and outside. Use them for woodworking,

The cheapest accurate squares are the plastic drafting squares you can get from a news agent. Useful for setting up a shooting board.

Regards from Perth



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I have a couple of those squares... also ordered from harryepstein.  I have a 12" and 6" combination square.   And then a 4" and 6" double square.   I agree that they're quite nice.   What I appreciate is they move along the ruler easily.   My old big box store combo square never did.

My 6" double square was also off and not square.   But I was able to fix it with a small file.   There was just a little extra piece of metal in the groove.   You need a pretty thin file for this... Here's a video from Ben Strano using some folded up sandpaper.


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