10 Best Framing Squares and Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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A framing square is a tool used in carpentry to help make sure that corners meet at right angles. A good framing square should be large, sturdy, and high quality, so it does not break easily. It also needs to have an accurate blade for measuring purposes and depth measurements on one side of the edge.

With the recent boom in home renovations, more and more people are taking on projects they have never done before. One of those projects is installing drywall to create a new space or adding insulation for a warmer winter. When you’re working with drywall, one of the essential tools to have is your framing square. It’s not just any old tool; it will help you make sure everything is level and ensure that all four corners are at 90° right angles!

Framing squares are also an excellent tool for ensuring that all of your measurements for cutting wood or other materials, whether to frame out a room in the house or to create a new garden plot in the backyard, come out ideally and look exactly how you imagined.

Finding the perfect framing square can lead to many hours of research. This article will help you find the right one for your needs.


Here’s what we cover in this best framing square review article:

  • First, we compare our top 10 picks side-by-side in an easy-to-see table.  Ideal if you’re short on time.
  • Next, we take a deep dive into each model and share their main features and benefits we think you’ll love
  • Then, we explore the drawbacks of each framing square we believe you should know about
  • And finally, our buyers guide will give you a greater insight into the product range so you can easily see which one is best for your needs.

Sound good?  Great, let’s begin!

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Our Favorite Framing Squares | Compared

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Related reading:  5 Best Woodworking Squares for the Money | Reviews & Buying Guide


10 Best Framing Squares | Product Reviews

 

1. Johnson Level & Tool CS12 (Best Overall)

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is light and hence highly portable.
  • It is meant for professional usage.
  • Won’t rust away
Cons
  • It only comes with a one-year warranty.

 

2. Irwin Tools Framing Square (1794447)

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It has a solid build.
  • It is durable
  • It has a rust-proof body.
Cons
  • More expensive option

 

3. Powertec Rafter Table Square 80008

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is portable
  • The numbers are easy to read
  • It appears sturdy
Cons
  • Consumers have complained of poor construction.

 

4. Mr. Pen Steel Carpenter’s Square (Best Value)

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is affordable
  • It has a high-quality ruler
  • It is durable
Cons
  • The scale has a stamped defect

 

5. VINCA (Model SCLS-1208) Carpenter L Framing Square 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • The marking is excellent
  • It is pretty affordable
  • It is light
Cons
  • Some customers have observed that the coating interferes with readability.

 

6. Swanson (Model SVL123) 12-Inch Savage Builders Square 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It has a sturdy frame
  • It is easy to read
  • It is light
Cons
  • It is thicker than most framing squares which may be a turn-off to some.

 

7. Starrett (Model FS-24) Steel Framing Square

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is heavy on the hand and feels like a professional-grade tool
  • It has an attractive finish
  • It is easily readable
Cons
  • Users have complained of the plastic rust-proof coating.

 

8. Empire Level (Model e1190) Professional Framing Square 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is durable
  • Offers value for money.
  • It is pretty accurate
Cons
  • Some customers have complained it was out of square upon purchase.

 

9. Milwaukee MLSQ024 Framing Square 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It is durable
  • It has a thick edge
  • It is durable
Cons
  • Expensive for occasional use

 

10. Mayes Level (Model 10222) 12-Inch Utility Steel Square 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • A lifetime warranty covers it.
  • It is durable.
  • Offers several features at a great price
Cons
  • Even though consumers agree that the scale is visible, some would have preferred black on yellow markings.

 

Related reading: The Ultimate Best 10 Speed Squares Showdown | Reviews & Buying Guide

 


Video: Framing Square Pro Tips

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Framing Square Buying guide

Even though we have covered some of the best framing squares to obtain in the market, we understand that you may have your preferences. Therefore, we want to ensure that you make an informed decision before spending your hard-earned cash. 

This part of the article looks at some things you ought to consider before getting a framing square. Remember, several critical factors dictate the quality and usefulness of a product, and in this case, a tool. 

Here are the features to look out for in a framing square: 

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Material of construction 

Most framing squares are usually constructed using aluminum and steel. However, you still need to take some time and ascertain what the framing square is made of since it plays an essential role in the tool’s accuracy and sturdiness. 

Your woodworking project will flow smoothly if you have a stable, sturdy framing square. Tools made of aluminum are lighter and easier to operate compared to those made of steel. Whereas this may sound enticing, tools made of steel also come with their fair share of advantages. 

They are usually sturdier and more accurate than their aluminum counterparts. However, they get hot faster when exposed to sunlight for longer durations, hindering most outdoor work. 

Intended purpose 

One of the reasons why people love framing squares is because of their great versatility and functionality. Even with that, one must ask themselves the intended purpose of the framing square. 

Whereas some models work best for woodworking projects, others come in handy during construction projects. Therefore, if you need a framing square for more delicate tasks, get yourself an option with several functionalities and all the features you need. This should guide you in every tool purchase you make. 

Blade 

The blade is by far an essential part of the framing square. Therefore, when buying one, make sure that it has the best edge. We advise that you keep off products with thin and soft blades as they are vulnerable to damages. Such tools also move out of place, which may make readings challenging. 

We advise that you pick a product with a sturdy blade. This ensures that you will be comfortable while using the tool. Also, such blades stay in place while working on your project for high levels of accuracy. 

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Warranty 

Does the manufacturer cover your product of choice? Most people overlook the product warranty under the belief that measurement tools do not need one. However, it plays a vital role in the overall usage of the product. 

We advise that you settle on models which have lifetime or extended warranties. Note that most products lack this as manufacturers bank on the belief that it is not necessary. You need to be sure that the company will replace or repair the square if it is deformed or encounters any problem. 

Note that products with extended warranty periods cost more than their counterparts. 

framing square
POWERTEC 80008 Steel Framing Square (Credit: Amazon)

Readability 

How easily can you obtain the readings? This depends on the graduations and markings on your framing square. Ensure that these are easy to read and clear enough to give you an easy time obtaining readings. 

Do not pick an option that will be hard to read during low light. Also, the graduations should be able to last throughout the lifecycle of the product. Your tool will be of no value if all these fade away after some time. 

Therefore, make sure that you know how the framing square’s graduations and measurements are marked before spending your hard-earned cash on a framing square. 

Inch divisions 

Given that a framing square is a measurement tool, different models have their inches and sub-divisions. Therefore, we advise that you identify the different inch-divisions and subdivisions of the inch markings before picking on one. Ensure that you settle on something that you are well conversant with. 

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Informational tables 

The framing square has necessary informational tables to help you measure delicate layouts. These offer an arithmetical guide needed for this role. We advise you to settle on one with an array of these tables to help you make accurate measurements. 

If you are wondering where these are located, check the tongue of the tool, its front or back. Ensure that you look out for rafter tables, Essex board measurement tables, and a conversation table, converting inches to decimals and vice versa. 

Measurement System 

The last factors that you ought to look out for are the measurement system and scale range. Sadly, you will not find much information on the measurement systems when looking for the right tool. Different squares have different measuring and scale systems. The two standard scales are the octagonal and the square scale. The octagonal scale comes in handy when cutting an eight-sided figure. 

Other features that you may need to consider are the brand and the money-back guarantee. However, we do not advise that you rely entirely on the brand if you are not a brandophile, as you may miss the chance to enjoy a quality, reasonably priced option from a lesser brand. 

All in all, make sure that your purchase counts and you get all the features you need in a framing square. 

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Framing Squares Conclusion

There are many framing squares on the market today, and it can be challenging to choose which one is best for you. This article reviewed ten different framing squares to help you find the perfect one for your woodworking and project needs. 

For those of us who are not carpenters or professionals in construction, these tools might seem confusing at first glance. But don’t worry! We are confident our product reviews and buyer’s guide will teach you everything there is to know about framing squares so that you can make an educated decision when deciding which one to buy.

Our Best Overall choice is the Johnson Level & Tool CS12 framing square offers stainless steel construction for durability, toughness, and strength. The frames are permanently etched with EZ Read graduations measuring 1/8″, 1/10″, 1/12″, and 1/16″. It also includes octagon scales, rafter tables, brace tables.

The Best Value framing square we could find is the Mr. Pen Steel Carpenter’s Square which is an affordable framing ruler that is designed with a long leg and a shorter one to help with calculations; the 8-inch side of this L ruler measures outside at 8 inches and 6.5 inches inside, while the 12-inch side reflects 11inches outside and 11 inches inside. It’s made of carbon steel material for durability against rusting, so whatever you put it through, it will be as reliable as when it had first come out from its package. Its easy-to-read markings are bright white against a black background so that you won’t have any problem.


Here are some other articles you may like:

Best Basin Wrenches for the Money | Top 10 Reviews and Buyers Guide

Top 10 Combination Squares for Everyday Woodworking | Reviews & Buyers Guide

5 Best Woodworking Squares for the Money | Reviews & Buying Guide

 


Here are our favorite combination squares

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Walter Snyder