Chris Schwarz's Blog

Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 11: Masons’ & Engravers’ Square

Every year with this gift guide, I recommend one tool that is just a little more expensive than the others but is definitely worth the money. This year it’s the Lee Valley Cast Masons & Engravers’ Square.

This is a new item in Lee Valley’s catalog, and the minute I saw it, I ordered one.

This well-made tool excels at scribing lines that are parallel to the edge of a board or assembly. Yes, you can do this operation with a combination square. But with this tool you have far more bearing surface – the fence is 6-1/2” long – and you don’t get squiggly lines because your pencil tip slips into the divot in the ruler. (This ruler is divot-less.)

The fence is a gorgeous brass casting (as a toolmaker, I am quite jealous of what they could achieve here for the price). The ruler is a typical stainless 6” rule that is .022” thick. I wish it were just a hair stiffer, but it doesn’t affect the tool in use.

The Masons’ & Engravers’ Square is based on a vintage Preston model, and Lee Valley took pains to make its version something that Edward Preston would admire. The square is $39.50 – that’s a bargain for the workmanship and materials.

— Christopher Schwarz

To read past entries from this guide (and from former years), click here.

P.S. This concludes the 2017 gift guide. I hope you found a few things for your shop that will make your work more enjoyable. And by the way, don’t let anyone tell you that you can make a great hand cream by mixing Old Man Schwarz’s No-Kill Mutton tallow with sugar. That’s not a good idea.



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