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10 Speed Square Hacks

The Speed Square was created in 1925 by Alfred Swanson and has become an essential tool for carpenters and DIYers the past 90 years. Its uses extended beyond square measurements and measuring rise and run for roofs, check out some of them.

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Guiding Saw CutsFamily Handyman

Guiding Saw Cuts

Speed squares are a quick saw guide for cutting 45- and 90-degree angles. The plastic squares are thicker than most metal ones, making them a good fence for the shoe of a circular saw to ride along. Check out other essential saw cutting guides.
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Marking Angles

Marking Angles

Swing the square until you read the desired angle on the board’s edge, and make your mark. Shown being marked is a 33-1/2 degree angle. Learn how to get tight miters for your next project.
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Squaring LinesFamily Handyman

Squaring Lines

The Swanson Speed Square has a diamond cutout along the ruler that allows you to square lines and make sure they’re perfect. That diamond cutout can be used to make a notch, or a birdsmouth, for rafter work. Learn how to build a gabled dormer in your home.
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LevelFamily Handyman


The Swanson Speed Square can substitute as a level in a pinch. If you’ve got a plumb bob, you can use that to determine if something is level by measuring it in comparison with the 45 degree mark. If you don’t have a plumb bob, you can improvise with a string and a nut. Check out how to use levels and plumb bobs.
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Line ScriberFamily Handyman

Line Scriber

A Speed Square often gets used as a line scriber because of the precision it can provide in a hurry. It can easily mark parallel lines. Find out how to scribe for a perfect fit with some tips.
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Drawing CirclesFamily Handyman

Drawing Circles

Yes, you can even draw a circle with a Speed Square. Place a screw at the 90 degree corner and then pick a notch for your circle. Move the pencil and Speed Square around the nail and you have a circle. Learn how to cut curves in wood as well.
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Find the Center of a CircleFamily Handyman

Find the Center of a Circle

You’ll need a carpenter square to assist with the Speed Square for this hint. Place a carpenter square on the edge of a circle and put the Speed Square’s angled side inside the corner of the carpenter square. Draw a line and repeat on the opposite side to find the center of the circle. Learn to use a bandsaw to cut a circle as well.
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Cut Trim at an AngleFamily Handyman

Cut Trim at an Angle

If you need to cut trim quickly, a Speed Square will give you a 45 degree angle in a hurry. Cut trim perfectly each time with your next home project.
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Ripping WoodFamily Handyman

Ripping Wood

If you need to rip wood, then the Speed Square can be an asset as well. Because of its lipped fence you can make a straight line the length of the board. It features ¼-inch increments on the inside triangle cutout where you can place your pencil to draw a line for however much you want to cut from your wood. The divots help keep the pencil straight when measuring. Gather other tips for ripping wood to get the job done well.
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Measuring Saw BladesFamily Handyman

Measuring Saw Blades

The angle of a saw blade will get out of whack slightly over time and through use. A quick way to check the angles is by using a Speed Square. Lay the lipped fence flat on the shoe and take note if it’s not even with the Speed Square. Check out some tips on working with a circular saw.