Canadian Woodworking

Ulmia precision layout tools

Premium layout tools for precise work.

Being efficient and productive in the workshop means doing precise work. Whether you’re laying out or checking angles for your projects or setting up machinery you’ll do your best work with precision tools. And if you take care of these tools they’ll last a lifetime.

Ulmia is a company well-known for their high quality wooden hand planes and workbenches. They also produce a full line of precision layout tools. I had the opportunity of using three of these tools – a traditional try square with a lovely walnut inlaid handle, a multifunction sliding bevel gauge (also with inlaid walnut) and a rather unique marking gauge.

Manufacturer: Ulmia
Made in: Germany
Source: Northwestpassagetools.com (Canada); Pecktool.com, Veneersystems.com (USA)
Warranty: 2 years
(Note: Canadian retailers wishing to stock Ulmia products please email [email protected]

 

Precision try square

Model: 500-150
Price: $68 Euros; $95 CAD
Blade length: 150mm / 5-7/8″
Stock length: 100mm / 3-7/8″
Blade thickness: 1.5mm / 7/128″
Blade width: 35mm / 1-3/8″
Stock width: 14mm /  9/16″
Accuracy: +/- 0.02 mm / 0.00078″ along the entire length of the blade

 

Multifunction sliding bevel

Model: 605
Price: $282 Euros; $407 CAD
Blade length: 324mm / 12-3/4″
Stock length: 194mm / 7-5/8″
Blade thickness: 1.5mm / 7/128″
Blade width: 44mm / 1-3/4″
Stock width:  46mm / 1-25/32″
Accuracy: +/- 0.05 mm / 0.002″ along the entire length of the blade
Pre-set stops: 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 210, 240, 270, 300, 330 degrees

 

3-in-1 marking gauge

Model: 0030
Price: $79 Euros; $115 CAD
Beam length: 324mm / 12-3/4″
Beam thickness: 1.5mm / 7/128″
Beam width: 44mm / 1-3/4″
Accuracy: +/- 0.05 mm / 0.002″ along the entire length of the beam
Maximum circle radius: 320 mm / 12-3/16″

Precision try square

The Ulmia try square is available in 150, 250, 350, 600 and 750 mm lengths. The stock is made of anodized aluminum and has walnut inlays on both sides. Shallow routed hand recesses make it easier to grip the stock. The hardened steel blade is laser-marked with a metric scale on one side. On the end of the blade is a hole that you can use to hang the square in a conveniently accessible location.

The square is accurate to +/- 0.02mm (or .00078″) along the entire length of the blade – certainly accurate enough for fine furniture making. Heaven forbid, but if you do drop the square and it comes out of alignment there are 2 set screws on either side of the stock that allow the square to be adjusted.

ulmia try square

Ulmia try square

I found the 150mm (4″) model well suited for a host of small scale projects and it fits nicely in an apron or pants pocket. I’ve been using it regularly for laying out cut lines for mortises, tenons and dovetails. I like that the edges of the blade are perfectly square to the faces, which makes it easy to register a marking knife tight up against the square. The blade is very rigid with no flexing.

Ulmia try square

My only complaint (and it’s a rather small one) is that I would have liked the scale etched on the outside face of the blade as well as on the inside face. Nonetheless, this is a lightweight and nicely balanced square, machined to very high standards, and will give a lifetime of enjoyable use.

Multifunction sliding bevel

I own a couple of small bevels that I use for marking out odd angles and laying out larger dovetails (for small dovetails I use a dovetail guide). I almost always have to get out a protractor to set the desired angle of the bevel. Not so with the Ulmia multifunction bevel.

It’s a bevel of substantive size, weighing in at 523 grams (1.15 pounds) and with a stock that’s roughly 3/4″ thick, 1-3/4″ wide and 7-3/4″ long.  Similar to the try square above, the stock is made of anodized aluminum, but with walnut inlays. There are also shallow routed hand recesses to facilitate a better grip.

ulmia bevel

The 12-3/4″ long hardened steel blade, which is marked only on one side with a metric scale, is accurate to +/- 0.05 mm (0.002″) along the entire length of the blade. For a sliding bevel this is a high degree of accuracy

A locking knob at the top of the stock enables you to firmly lock the blade at any angle. On a lot of sliding bevels as soon as you loosen the locking knob the blade flops downward. A wonderful feature on this sliding bevel is that you can control the drag on the blade with that locking knob. Slightly loosen the knob to allow the blade to move without slipping and sliding, then tighten when you’ve reached your desired angle.

Further down on the stock is a thumb activated switch that enables you to lock the blade at one of 10 preset stops (0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 210, 240, 270, 300 and 330 degrees). It works very smoothly and secures the blade precisely at the preset angle.

ulmia bevel

Ulmia tags this as a 5-in-1 multi-tool because you can use it as a try square, sliding bevel, miter rule (for laying out 30 and 45 degree angles), angle meter (for determining an existing angle) and a marking gauge. I’ll add a 6th – you can also use it as a depth gauge. Remember thought that all the linear measurements are metric.

ulmia bevel

The size of this bevel and the range of features it provides make it ideal for those who work on large scale furniture projects, cabinetry, doors, windows, trim work and the like.  A superb sliding bevel that is well made and is highly functional.

3-in-1 marking gauge

I’ve not seen or used anything quite like the Ulmia marking gauge. It combines the functions of a compass, marking gauge and 45-degree try-square.

ulmia marking gauge

The gauge consists of two moveable anodized aluminum heads – one has a built in compass tip made of hardened steel and a hole for a pencil, the other has a hole for a pencil and a 45-degree side. The 324mm (12-3/4″) hardened steel beam is imprinted with a metric measuring scale.

ulmia layout tools

As a compass it has a radius of 320 mm (12-3/16″) enabling you to draw arcs and circles up to 24-3/8″. Setting the desired radii can be done quickly. My only concern is that the compass tip isn’t user replaceable nor is it retractable.

Using it to layout 45-degree angles or as a depth gauge is straightforward. Because of it’s size I find the gauge more awkward to use (particularly on smaller scale projects) than a set of trammel heads or a shop made depth gauge or combination square.

ulmia depth gauge

Here again I can see this tool being more useful in a cabinet shop or on a jobsite for use on large scale projects.


Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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