From the “I need three hands” file: Sometimes when you scribe a line on a board with the guidance of a try square you need one hand to hold the knife, one hand to press the blade down against the work and a third hand to hold the square’s handle up and against the edge of the board.
When we cleaned up the shop last week, I stumbled on some somewhat crappy parts left over from building a batch of Andre Roubo’s try squares. The parts had a few pin knots, some tear-out and some spelching , but they were otherwise stable and true.
So I used those discarded components to build a square yesterday with a feature I’ve always wanted to try: A small dowel that moves in and out of the handle. This 1/4″ dowel matches the thickness of the square’s 1/4″-thick blade and moves back and forth through the handle with thumb pressure.
When the dowel protrudes out the inside edge of the handle, it rests on your work and supports the handle. This makes the square easier to manage as you work. When you need to use the square to take a reading that requires that inside edge, the dowel easily pushes to the outside edge of the handle.
I got the idea from an Incra square I owned years ago. That square had a rabbeted handle, which created a shelf that rested on your work. That was nice, but I found that the rabbet would cover my layout line. So I gave the square away to a fellow woodworker (Sorry John).
The little dowel works great, and now it looks like this square has one of those turkey buttons that pops up when the bird is done (a feature I wish Lucy had had when she was pregnant). And it’s cheaper than getting a third arm grafted on my chest.
– Christopher Schwarz