In Shop Blog

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.


I promise this is not an all-Starrett Christmas. Truth is (I hate to say) the last few things I’ve bought new from Starrett have been disappointing (especially a small pair of dividers). This tool, however, has not been a disappointment. Quite the opposite.

For years I struggled with compasses in the shop. They were not hardy enough. They lost their settings. Even the expensive German ones I bought were just not up to furniture work. Then I bought the Starrett No. 92, and I am now set for life.

It’s robust, precise and sharp. It holds its setting even when knocked a bit. And you can swap out the pencil for a metallic tip so you can use it as a divider. I know it’s expensive. But I spent way more money on the five other compasses that weren’t up to snuff.


Get it and be done.

The next item on the gift guide is dirt cheap. Promise.

— Christopher Schwarz

For Day 1 of this year’s gift guide, click here.
Day 2 is here.
For my gift guides from 2013 and 2014, click here.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts
Showing 6 comments
  • tailwagger

    Alternatively, I have a vintage French made “Goldenberg” “Tout Acier” (All Steel) dividers. They are beautiful, stout, hefty, and suitable for a wood shop. They may be a bit hard to find but when you do, well worth it.

  • jasalomon

    Chris – Not long ago you mentioned that you bought a vintage Starrett 85. What prompted you to buy a new Starrett 92 in addition (or as a replacement)?

  • stefanrusek

    Chris, can you share a few words on what you see as the difference between compasses and dividers? Growing up I called a thing with a pencil a compass, but Pete Ross calls his trademark dividers compasses. Also besides writing on paper, what do you use the pencil one for?

  • stiltdancer

    I’d suggest buying a vintage drafting set instead. One can buy a top-quality American or German set from the 1950s (or earlier) on eBay for less than $20 with shipping if you take a little time. The set will contain several compasses and dividers, and they are a joy to use.

  • stjones

    Or, if you have access to old tools or old tools users/collectors, you might look for similar tools made by the Wm. Johnson company of Newark NJ. I have several in varying sizes which are functionally similar to the Starrett. On my Johnsons, the curved beam is flat, not round, and the microadjustment is spring-loaded so you could theoretically change the setting by applying unusual pressure to the legs. And, of course, the old tools market includes Starrett, Brown & Sharpe, and other quality makers, but the only intact sets (including the metal tip and all the fittings) I’ve found have been Johnson.

Start typing and press Enter to search