Chris Schwarz's Blog

Coming in 2011: Build the Square that Built Bridge City

If there were a woodworking tool hall of fame, the Bridge City TS-2 try square would definitely be on display there.

In
my travels through shops all over the country I’ve seen this square in
the hands of many woodworkers, including those who prefer their tools to
be salvaged from junk stores and incorporating bottlecaps, goat hooves
and bits of tin foil.

Why would cheapskates shell out serious
money for this square? Because it is square. Really square. Dead-on
square. And for many years the term “try square” meant that the
manufacturer would kinda “try” to make it “square.” I have a few of
these tools. I call them “fail squares” or a “try rhombus.”

John
Economaki, the founder of Bridge City Tool Works and maker of the TS-2,
is now doing something that sounds a tad crazy. He is showing home
woodworkers how to build this square using home shop equipment in
classes. And in 2011, we are going publish an article by Economaki (a
funny writer – check out his blog if you don’t believe me) on how to build this square.

If
you don’t want to wait until the article appears in the fall, you can
take a week-long class with Economaki May 23-27, 2011, on toolmaking and design
at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.
Adams has kindly agreed to let us photograph Economaki and the students
at work building this square, so it should be a fun class.

You can get more information at marcadams.com.
Registration for all the classes at the school opens on Dec. 1.
Economaki taught a short version of this class this fall. You can see
photos from that weekend here.

Of course, the big question here is why Economaki would teach people his trade.

Here’s
his answer: “The motivation for teaching the tool-making class is to
foster some young buck into starting a tool-making business – we need
more toolmakers and woodworkers.”

— Christopher Schwarz

Like Making Tools?
• Want to make a fancy French wooden try square? We have plans for A.J. Roubo’s beautiful try square in our store for just $5.

• We’ve also just added Steve Olesin’s “Tool Making Projects For Joinery And Woodworking” – a great book on building all sorts of tools. Right now it’s on sale for $10. Sweet.

• One of the coolest DVDs I own is Larry Williams’s DVD on making moulding planes. Even if you don’t want to make tools, this is fascinating to watch.

5 thoughts on “Coming in 2011: Build the Square that Built Bridge City

  1. Sean

    What’dja check the Starrett’s with? By the way, you don’t need a square to check a square; you just need a piece of wood with a straight edge. My Incra’s check out.

  2. James Watriss

    Back when I worked in woodworking retail, I took a look at the incra squares. I pulled a starrett square out of the case to double-check the incras, to see if they were more than pretty aluminum.

    I decided to stay with my Starretts.

  3. Henrique

    I asked MASW about this class two days ago…

    I am seriously considering to get two weeks vacation to be there (Economaki will teach about design during the week before)!

  4. Sean

    Bridge City’s is prettier and more traditional looking, which is nice. But for what it’s worth to those looking to avoid "try rhombi," you might check out the Incra "Guaranteed Square"s in the 5 and 7 inch models (45 degree versions too) as they are dead on and very durable. Making one’s own is of course very cool, and it is generous of Mr. Economaki, to share the details.

    As a disclaimer, I have no Incra stock or anything. I just like their squares in my own shop, so thought I’d mention them for folks who may not be up for making tools. You can see them in this shot on the side of rolling cart under my bench:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chevy_chase_hughtos/4142595942/sizes/z/in/set-72157607001006126/

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