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6 Best Speed Squares (2021 Review)

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The best speed square should be well-machined, durable and accurate. Look for one that is manufactured from a quality aluminium alloy. It should feature a wide base, to make it easier to hold the square tight against timbers. Markings should be precise and easy to read, contrasting sharply with the background colour or finish, and ideally stamped into the aluminium.

For making accurate angle measurements speed squares should feature a notch in the pivot corner. Notches cut out of the scribing section make rip cuts easy to mark out too. Also look for both imperial and metric scales.

I’ve heavily researched and tested the best speed squares, so you don’t have to. Read on to discover what I found…

What is the Best Speed Square For You?

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Comparing the Best Speed Squares

Use the dropdown to sort the table by the feature that's most important to you.

  • Best For
  • Number of Items
  • Speed Square Size
  • Construction
  • Imperial or Metric Scale
  • Combination Square Included
  • Cost
  • Our score
  •  

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In-Depth Reviews of Our Recommended Speed Squares

Swanson Tool S0101 7Swanson Tool S0101 7

Best speed square for durability

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
5
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Swanson Tool S0101 7" Speed Square Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 1
  • Speed Square Size: 7"
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Imperial
  • Combination Square Included: No

The Swanson Tool S0101 is one of the best speed squares because it’s well machined and comes with a useful layout bar for out of square corners. Designed by founder Albert Swanson back in 1925, this is the original and best speed square UK carpenters can get their hands on.

Die cast from one piece of solid aluminium alloy, this is a durable roofing square that will last a lifetime. It also comes with a few tricks up its sleeve. the patented diamond cut-out works like a window so you can square off lines scribed onto a board. And the legendary Swanson Blue Book you get is an in-depth guide to getting the most out of the best speed square.

Pros

  • Swanson invented the speed square. If you want the original and best, this is my top pick.
  • If you take the time to read the Swanson Blue Book, you’ll soon reach for the speed square for almost any layout job. There’s just so many shortcuts and “secret” uses of this tool
  • This square is proudly made in the USA. It’s good to see a brand that takes care of its heritage and keeps the manufacturing and quality control in house.

Cons

  • As you might expect from a tool made in the USA, it uses only Imperial measurements. If you’re only comfortable measuring in metric, it might take a while to master.
  • Some users have complained about the quality of the finish on some surfaces. You might need to fettle the edges with fine grit sandpaper unless it’s solely for rough work.
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DeWalt DWHT46031 Aluminium 7-Inch Premium Rafter SquareDeWalt DWHT46031 Aluminium 7-Inch Premium Rafter Square

Best roofing square with matte black finish

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.6666666666667
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DeWalt DWHT46031 Aluminium 7-Inch Premium Rafter Square Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 1
  • Speed Square Size: 7"
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Imperial
  • Combination Square Included: No

Easily one of the most loved power tool brands in the world, DeWalt have legions of fans and make some serious kit. The DWHT46031 rafter square doesn’t disappoint. It’s extremely robust and comes with a matte black finish that should keep down any glare.

Manufactured with an extra-wide base to keep it more stable, you can scribe along the length of timbers in ¼” gradations using the cut in notches. The black finish doesn’t just help to stop any glare, it also shows up the numbers in extremely high contrast.

Pros

  • Thanks to the wide base, it’s easy to hold the square tight against timbers. It’s one of the best speed squares for cross cutting with a circular saw.
  • I like the sharp contrast of the white markings on a black background. Luckily, they’re not printed on either. The markings are cast into the square, and then filled with paint.

Cons

  • Some users have complained that their squares have been shipped with defects. It’s worth holding your new square up to a reliably straight source before putting it to work.
  • Other users have found the white markings are too wide on the degree measurements. If they’re too wide, they can’t be accurate enough for precise angles.
  • Compared with the Swanson speed square, the DeWalt doesn’t come with a notch in the pivot corner. This notch is essential for making accurate angle measurements.
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Dashuaige 7-Inch Blue Triangle Ruler with Metric MarkingsDashuaige 7-Inch Blue Triangle Ruler with Metric Markings

Best speed square with metric scale

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.3333333333333
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Dashuaige 7-Inch Blue Triangle Ruler with Metric Markings Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 1
  • Speed Square Size: 7"
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Metric
  • Combination Square Included: No

With an interesting range of clever gadgets, Dashuaige have also made an incredibly useful speed square for us metric users. It features everything you’d need for making layouts, but without the added head scratching of converting from Imperial measurements.

Manufactured from a quality aluminium alloy, you’re not going to lose this square any time soon thanks to it’s bright blue finish. The sharply contrasting white markings are also easy to follow. What I like most about this handy tool is that I can use the metric side as a ruler without having to think.

Pros

  • The blue finish on this square makes it easy to find in your tool bag. Compared with the Swanson’s dull finish it’s bright and a cinch to spot.
  • For most users in the UK and across Europe, metric measurements are a lot more common. Compared with the DeWalt DWHT46031, you’re not forced to use Imperial scales.
  • If you’re struggling with common rafter conversions, Dashuaige have included a handy chart on one side. It should remove a lot of the guesswork from laying out rafters.

Cons

  • Some users have complained that this triangle ruler isn’t square. Always check any measuring tools against a known and trustworthy source before use.
  • Compared with the Swanson speed square, this triangle doesn’t have a notch on the pivot corner. It’s not going to keep the most accurate angled lines without one.
  • The numbers and other markings aren’t stamped into the metal surface. After using this square for a while, it’s likely the numbers will be impossible to read!
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Hinmay 12-Inch Rafter SquareHinmay 12-Inch Rafter Square

Best 12" roofing square with metric scale

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.3333333333333
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Hinmay 12-Inch Rafter Square Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 1
  • Speed Square Size: 12
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Metric
  • Combination Square Included: No

Makers of cutlery, kitchen aids and other useful kit, Hinmay have also created a robust 12-inch rafter square. Coated with a black oxide finish, it’s a big square for marking off cross cuts and angles on big timbers.

Marked in a high contrast white, it’s easy to read all the numbers on this square. The numbers are marked off in metric on the measurement side as well, which makes it ideal for a lot of users. I really like the notches cut out of the scribing section; it should make rip cuts easy to mark out.

Pros

  • Large size speed squares are incredibly versatile tools. Marking out perpendicular cuts, angle finding, and scribing are just some of the uses, and they’re big enough for full size timbers.
  • The high contrast white markings on the black oxide finish are simple to read. Compared with the Swanson Tool S0101, it’s easier on the eyes than a dull alloy colour.
  • The large size of this square means there’s space for a metric to imperial conversion chart. There’s also a list of common rafter conversions that’ll speed up layout work.

Cons

  • Some users haven’t been impressed by the quality of the finish on these squares. Some of the edges still have burrs on, and the corners can be sharp
  • As useful as the scribing notches are, they seem to correspond with imperial measurements, not metric ones. This square has likely been redesigned for the metric market.
  • Big speed squares are ideal for heavy duty applications, but if you want precision, they’re not ideal. These types of measuring devices are better for rough work.
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Opopark Two Pack Rafter Square 12 inch and 7 inch Imperial Carpenter SquaresOpopark Two Pack Rafter Square 12 inch and 7 inch Imperial Carpenter Squares

Best speed square two pack

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
4.3333333333333
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Opopark Two Pack Rafter Square 12 inch and 7 inch Imperial Carpenter Squares Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 2
  • Speed Square Size: 7" / 12"
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Imperial
  • Combination Square Included: No

Specialising in tools, accessories, and other clever things, Opopark have put together a mighty pair of squares. You get a two pack consisting of one 12 Inch and one 7 Inch speed square. It means you’ve got one for smaller bits of timber, and a full size one for laying out roof trusses and stairs.

Constructed from an aluminium alloy, both these squares are identical in design. You can scribe, angle find and guide a circular saw across timbers. There’s plenty more you can do with a bit of practice as well. For the money, this is an excellent pair of squares that should last for years.

Pros

  • You’ll never be stuck for a speed square if you buy a two pack. The 12-Inch is a bit unwieldy for small pieces of timber, so having the 7-Inch as well is just a bonus!
  • The white markings on a matte black background are easy to read. Compared with the Swanson speed square, it’s a much sharper set of measurements.
  • Opopark have included a handy set of conversion tables on both speed squares. You don’t need to look up common rafter conversions or imperial to metric measurements anywhere else.

Cons

  • The white markings look great now, but I doubt they will last for as long as the heavily stamped ones on the Swanson S0101. They’ll probably scratch off over time.
  • Some users have complained about casting marks and rough edges on these speed squares. You might need to run some sandpaper over the edges before the first use.
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Swanson Speed Square and Combination Square Value PackSwanson Speed Square and Combination Square Value Pack

Best speed square and combination square pack

Build Quality
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
5
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Swanson Speed Square and Combination Square Value Pack Review

Specifications

  • Number of Items: 2
  • Speed Square Size: 6"
  • Construction: Aluminium Alloy
  • Imperial or Metric Scale: Imperial
  • Combination Square Included: Yes

The original speed square kings, Swanson, invented the tool back in 1925 and have been proudly making them ever since. Manufactured in the USA, this value pack speed square and combination square is everything you need to cut things just the way you want them!

Supplied with the legendary Swanson Blue Book, this is an all in one roofing kit. You can learn how to cut rafters to length and all the tricks of their famous speed square. No competent carpenter would be without a combination square either. Useful for measuring, checking things are 90° or 45°, scribing or even as a spirit level, they’re a vital part of a decent toolkit.

This is a great set of tools for a beginner or even experienced carpenter. There’s everything you need to get working, so long as you’ve got a sharp pencil!

Pros

  • For the money, this is a brilliant value square kit. With a bit of practise, you could measure out and cut anything you like! Learning to use both these tools will improve your skills.
  • Compared with the Opopark or Dashuaige speed squares, these markings will never rub off. They’re deeply stamped into the aluminium and will last forever.
  • If you need to make multiple cuts in timber and they need to be straight across, you can’t beat the Swanson speed square. It’s tough, easy to handle, and gives 90° every time.
  • The combination square contains a miniature spirit level. You can find and mark perpendicular lines anywhere you want, with a little bit of practise.
  • Forgotten your pencil? Don’t worry, you can unscrew the little brass knurled knob on the anvil part of the combination square. It holds a scribing tool that works in a pinch.

Cons

  • There’s a good chance that unless you’re an absolute novice carpenter, you’ll already own a combination square. You probably don’t need to buy a two pack if that’s the case.
  • Some users have complained about the finish on the edges of the speed square. Seeing as Swanson do everything in house, it’s a bit disappointing if they go out with rough edges.
  • Compared with the high contrast finish on the Dashuaige speed square, the drab aluminium finish isn’t as easy to see in all lights.
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Things to know Before Buying a Speed Square

You’ll never know how you got by without a speed square once you’ve tried it out.

Speed Square Construction

A speed square is actually a triangle! It needs to be light, durable and accurate. Only the highest grades of aerospace aluminium alloys are used to make the best speed squares.

Speed Square Dimensions

Speed Squares (aka roofing squares) come in two main sizes – the standard 12″ framing square or pocket 7″ carpenters square.

Main Features of Speed Squares

The most obvious feature of a speed square is the thick edge, used to make perpendicular cuts quickly. The best speed squares are packed with angle measurements, scribing notches, and rafter cut angles as well.

Speed Square Uses

Speed triangles are used as a combination square, try square and framing square in one. A roofing square is used to mark out cuts for rafters or any angle between 0 and 90°. You can also scribe lines and use it to guide a saw across a board.

Speed Squares Users

Framing squares are used by carpenters, metalworkers, engineers, hobbyists, DIYers and roofers.

Conclusion

Having the best speed square in your hand will speed up your work on site or in the shed because it’s simple to read and easy to use. Speed squares or roofing squares all do a similar job, but the best speed square UK users can get is the original speed square made by Swanson. The S0101 is a brilliant tool.

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Speed Square FAQs

How do you use a speed square?

Using a speed square is easy. Mastering all the features takes a bit of practice but it will save you time and effort.

To make perpendicular cuts with a circular saw, simply brace the roofing square against the board and use the thick edge as a fence.

To measure angles with your framing square, hold the speed triangle against the board and pivot it on the corner market “pivot” until the numbers on the edge match the degree you want.

To scribe, hold a pencil or marking tool in one of the scribing slots and slide the whole square tool along the board for a straight line.

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