Chris Schwarz's Blog

Free Plan: English Layout Square

I’m fond of wooden layout tools – squares, straightedges, winding sticks and the like. They are lightweight, don’t damage your work like metal tools can and are made from scraps.

Plus, you can make them to suit your taste, whether that’s plain, fancy or something between.

Last fall I built a couple of these layout squares after seeing an original
that was for sale. I’ve been using mine quite a bit and have some maple
set aside for a couple more for friends and family.

We published plans for this square in the December 2010 issue, and now we are
offering the full article for free on our web site here.
At the bottom of the page is a link to download a pdf of the article,
which contains the construction drawing and cutting list.

You can download a SketchUp model of the square from the 3D Warehouse.
I recommend using the SketchUp model. You can print out the square
full-size on several sheets of paper and then use that plan to cut all the details and curves.

One last note: Several readers have asked me what the heck this square is used for in the shop. I use it for lots
of chores. It’s a straightedge. It lays out dados and other joinery on carcase sides like a framing square. It checks my carcase glue-ups to
ensure they are square. And other uses that my coffee-deprived mind cannot summon up this morning.

— Christopher Schwarz

Roubo’s Try Square
If you like this project, you might be interested in building some fancy
wooden try squares ripped right from the pages of Andre Roubo’s
18th-century books on woodworking. We prepared a detailed plan for these
squares with full-size patterns that you can download for a small fee
from our store here.

6 thoughts on “Free Plan: English Layout Square

  1. Christopher Schwarz

    Bob,

    I use it for layout work on faces. When I am marking dados or sliding dovetails, rabbets on the ends of case sides, etc.

    You are right that it won’t lip over an edge because of that middle brace, but I have a combination square for that.

    It’s also a great straightedge.

  2. www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm4UjJ-_4xUg7q9-jlvhBj9ikzGUZLVvCw

    Chris,
    I am having trouble understanding how to use the layout square in place of a metal framing square. With a framing square I drop one of the legs along the edge of the board to square off that edge. Since this square is flat (unlike a combo or try square) and has a brace angled across the middle I am unsure about how to align it to an edge. I can see how it would be very useful for inside corners but for anything else I am at a loss. Can you illuminate this issue for me so that I have a good excuse to make one of these beasties?

    Thank you,
    Bob

  3. Mike

    Chris,

    After reading the article on the layout square I picked up your plans for the Roubo try square and had a great time building it. The reason I went with the try squre is because I didn’t know what exactly to use a layout square for. Thanks for giving a little more insight on the use of it. Now I just have to decide how to get one; and here are my options as I see it. One is to bring beer to the next event you are at and try to buddy my way into friend status, two is to devise a plan for becoming family (I’m married so this will have to be some kind of shirtail relation), and three is almost too simple to state but may prove to be just as much fun. Thanks for the great article and for shhedding light on two interesting tools that would go great in anyone’s shop.

    Mike

  4. my wife says i'm square

    Thanks for the freebee.

    I looked at the picture of the glue-up. A block of wood on the corner could be useful. It would provide a reference for cross board or panel work. It would provide support for vertical case construction work.

    You work with the square. Can you think of a reason not to add that feature.

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