Retro home run from Lee Valley.
By Steven Der-Garabedian
Photos by Steven Der-Garabedian
I like my 12″ Starrett combination square, but there are times I wish I had a smaller version as well. Along comes the Lee Valley catalogue and I notice a very interesting and shiny new tool. I can honestly say I’m in full control of impulse buys, even those with shiny surfaces. I have achieved this level of zen after many years of woodworking.
The bevel square is a replica of a Stanley Rule and Level Company tool that was, interestingly enough, developed and patented, but never brought to market. This model is an improvement over a previous version made a couple of years before. It has an 8″ stainless steel rule with no graduations, and it slides on a triangle-shaped head. It provides two 45° surfaces, as well as a 90° edge with an extended lip. The tool is a good weight and fits nicely in the hand during use. A thumb screw allows the rule to slide up and down, and provides a positive lock when engaged. There is also a slotted screw that holds an eccentric washer, allowing you to make sure the tool stays accurate even after some wear.
I’ve been using the bevel square mostly as a combination square in the shop, a smaller brother to the Starrett. This square is great for marking perpendicular lines to an edge or marking 45° angles, such as those on the blade beds of wooden planes. Much like the larger version, it can also be used to directly transfer measurements from one surface to another without being cumbersome. Unlike the combination square, it has no level nor a pullout scribe buried in the head. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I used either of those features from that tool. One of the many uses for a combination square is the ability to set it to a specific length and have the head ride along an edge to mark a parallel line. At various points of drawing that line, our pencils will inevitably dip in and out of the groove on the edge of the ruler. With the bevel square, you just let the pencil ride at the end of the center slot.
I’m glad I bought this tool. I tend to reach for it first, especially when working on appropriate-sized projects. It also looks good in my tool cabinet. If its shiny good looks outweighed its usefulness, only then would it have been an impulse purchase. See, I’m getting better.