Arts & Mysteries: André Roubo’s Try Square


The details of this 18th-century tool will both please and puzzle you.
By Christopher Schwarz
Pages: 24-25

From the February 2010 issue #181
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One of the first tools I bought was a 9″ steel try square with a brass and rosewood stock. Like a supermodel, it’s nice to look at, but not so fun to deal with day-to-day.

Its blade is too short, it rusts when you look at it and it chews up the backs of my marking knives. It’s too heavy, and the rosewood stock is difficult to hold – I can’t get my fingers around the thing. But, I figured, that’s what they sell in the stores so that must be as good as it gets.

Then my mother went through a phase where she collected antique measuring and marking tools, everything from log rules to T-squares.

Lucky for me, she outgrew this phase and foisted her small horde on me. Most of the tools were useless to a woodworker, but I started using one of her homemade wooden bevel gauges and what I thought was a framing square to lay out my work.

Impressed by the weight and accuracy of the wooden tools, I made wooden straightedges and put away my 24″ Starrett.

And while browsing through André Roubo’s masterwork “Des Arts Et Metiers: Le Menuisier En Bâtiment,” I finally found the solution to my trying problem.

Online Extras

* Click here to purchase the full size plans and instructions from the Arts & Mysteries: André Roubo’s Try Square article.


From the February 2010 issue #181
Buy this issue now