Friday, October 19, 2012

Making a Simple Try Square

I find that I often get time between glue-ups and finish coating to plink away at small little projects. I made a simple little try square out of cherry this week. It will be great for my reenacting at Leonard’s Mills next summer. This one is a 12” square. I also have a 6” in the works. It was a fun project. I just sort of made it up as I went along.

Straight grain cherry stock

Squaring the stock with handplanes

Used Dozuki saw to cut the bridle joint for the blade to fit into

Chopped out the waste with 1/8” chisel

Hot Hide Glue for glue up

Clamped my 6” Starret into the square to ensure it won’t slip

Drilled out two holes for the pins. I used a modern twist bit but then slightly angled the bit once through. This gave the hole a subtle ovality resembling antique drill bits. Then I shaped the cherry pins with a bench chisel.

Hot hide glue installation of pin

Everything trimmed flush. Make sure to check for square on all sides!

Marking out details

The coping saw makes quick work of this

Files to smooth out saw marks

Three applications of dewaxed bleached shellac applied by rag. Then scuff sanded with maroon synthetic steel wool and waxed with Antiquax in Liberon #0000 Steel Wool.


Ps. A few things I wish I had done:

1. Left the blade about 1/4" proud of the top of the handle. This makes truing up easier later. In fact, I may trim the handle down a bit so that I can have at least an 1/8" for later if it goes wonky on me.

2. Saw the bridle joint from both sides of the handle. This would make a cleaner looking joint. (Refer to Bob's video above for an explanation.)


  1. Eww!! Thanks for the blow by blow. I wanna make one of these!

  2. Your welcome, sheworkswood. It was a good break from the work in the studio. Thanks for coming by!

  3. Wooden squares are great. I use my large one all the time in conjunction with my striking knife to mark for cross-cuts on the bench hook. I have three but want to make some more. I really need to make a small one with just a 2" blade or so to check for squareness of the edge as I'm jointing a board.

  4. Awesome!!! How easily & good you made a simple try square.It is really great.I also learn from this something.Try square is very important tool in wood working.Thanks for this post.