The first time I saw my furniture-maker friend Matt Kenney using the 4-in. Lee Valley Precision Double Square, I remarked, “Oh, isn’t that adorable!” Then he let me handle it, and the precise machining and perfectly straight edges that make it easy to create a superfine pencil line turned me into a believer. I’ll likely never have the patience to be a fine-furniture maker, but it turns out this little square is just as useful for finish carpentry and built-ins as it is for fine woodworking.
The blade on a typical 12-in. combo square can be really unwieldy, which is particularly evident when you try to use it to even out a counter or tabletop with a shallow overhang or when you’re marking a 1⁄4-in. reveal on an extension jamb or trim buildup. This leads to inaccurate measurements and shoddy work. This 4-in. square shines when you’re working with smaller measurements, and it won’t weigh down your toolbelt.
The Precision Double Square is also available in a 6-in. version. Both fractional squares have graduated 1⁄8-in., 1⁄16-in., 1⁄32-in., and 1⁄64-in. scales. I suggest treating yourself to one of these tools—both of which are available for right around $50—if you want to up your finish-carpentry game. You won’t regret it.
Tool setup, too. The square’s precise machining and sharp edges make it easier to align a saw, calibrate blade stops, and accurately set heights for blades and bits.
Photo: courtesy of Lee Valley
From Fine Homebuilding #307