Introduction: Wooden Try Square

About: I have been working with wood since I could stumble into the shop with my dad. About a year ago I moved into a house with no space for a full shop so I decided to take up all hand tool wood working. That start…

Making a Try Square is an incredibly easy project, but it does require a high amount of precision. When first starting off in woodworking, some of the best projects are creating tools for your own shop. A Try Square is one of the easiest tools that can be used for the rest of your life. Later on, we will learn how to make a bridle joint and how to adjust the Try Square as it will move over time. Put your worries aside and feel free to jump in and make your very own try Square. If you want to see more detail, you can find a video with more information here:

Tools Needed:

Chisel set:

Hand saw:

Hand plane:

Block plane:

Mortising gauge:

Marking knife:

Wooden screw clamp:

Card Scraper:

Supplies Needed:

Scraps of lumber:

Wood glue:

Boiled linseed oil:

Paste wax:

Step 1: Cut Post to Length

For this project, the size of the boards do not matter. The post in mine is about 6 in long, about 2 in wide, and about ¾ inch thick. Feel free to use whatever scrap you have lying around, just make sure your scrap has parallel sides and is cleaned up and ready to work with. I began by cutting mine to whatever length looked good using a hand saw at the bench.

Step 2: Cut the Mortise

In the next step, I used a mortising gauge to lay out the thickness of the mortise. This mortise should be the same width as the beam material you want to use. For instance, if the beam is a ¼ in wide, my mortise should be a ¼ in wide and cut about a ½ inch shallower than the width of the beam. In this case, my beam is 2 ½ inches wide so I cut the mortise to in deep. I used a hand saw to cut down both sides of the cheeks of the mortise and then removed the waste with a chisel.

Step 3: Cut the Beam to Shape

The beam can also be made out of any material you have lying around, but it is best if the beam is ⅓ of the width of your post. For this project, mine was from a scrap of ¼ inch thick white oak. I made mine about a foot long and 2 ½ in wide. If you're going for simple, you can just leave it rectangular, however, I wanted to add a little bit of decoration to my Square. For mine, I cut a 45 degree cut on one end and a stair step on the other end. This stair step can be used for quickly laying out lines at ¼ inch, ½ inch, and ¾ inch increments, though most people just leave it a ¼ inch longer than the post.

Step 4: Glue the Beam Into the Post

Next, I used some wood glue to glue the beam into the post making sure that the ¼ inch step on one end of the beam stuck out exactly ¼ in from the post. After that, I used a wooden screw clamp to clamp together the mortise onto the beam. Before I clamped it all the way down, I made sure that the square was indeed Square. If you do not have another Square, to see if your square is square, you can do so by following the instructions here.

Step 5: Adjust the Square

The inside of the square should be perfect since it was checked before gluing with another square or with using the line trick on a straight board. However, if the two edges of the beam are not perfectly parallel, the outside will be out of square. Also, since the square is made of wood, it will have a tendency to move a little bit over time. Because of this, I will use the line trick on a straight board to check and see if the outside of the square is indeed Square. If I need to adjust it, I can use a plane and start at the end of the beam that is too high and take off a little bit on that end and then slowly move the plane back along the board taking off longer and longer strokes until I get one nice pass from one end of the beam to the other. This process will take off more material on one end than the other and taper it from one end to the other. Next, I can take it back to that straight board and test to see if it is square. Repeat the process until it is within tolerance.

Step 6: Finish It

Once the glue has dried, I cleaned up any squeezed out glue with a card scraper and chisel. Then, I do any small finishing and smoothing I want done before applying finish. For the finish, I chose boiled linseed oil and paste wax. I love the way it feels in my hand and it brings out the color of the White Oak in the Cherry like nothing else. It is a very easy finish to apply. The boiled linseed oil goes on to the wood until the wood stops absorbing it. Next, wipe off the excess and apply paste wax. The whole process can take less than an hour and leaves a finish that is fantastic to the touch and will a long time.

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