How to Use Squares, Bevels and Gauges

Learn about the variety of tools used to make and measure angles and guidelines.
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Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carpenter's Square

The carpenter's square is the most common type of square. The main function of a square is to provide an accurate right-angled guide. This simple design has been adapted into a number of tools for different types of guide lines.

Framing Square

This larger square sits flat on a surface and combines the right-angle guide with calibrations along the square's edges which is used for calculating stairs and rafters. Framing squares are ideal for square-checking corners.

Combination Square

This square features a steel rule that slides within the stock of the square. Use it for determining 45-degree angles, scribing (marking a material to fit exactly against a wall or ceiling) and finding levels. It is also ideal for measuring small rabbet or grooved cuts. A step up is a combination set, it has a 180-degree protractor for producing angled guide lines.

Using a Square

Position the stock against the edge of a section of wood. The blade will form a right angle. Using a carpenter's pencil, draw along the edge of the blade to create your right-angled guide line.

A bevel provides a guide line for angled cuts. The metal blade is set at an angle using a protractor or other guide, then locked in position by a screw or wing nut. The handle may be moved along the blade to find the required position. Draw the guide line along the edge of the blade.

Marking Gauge

These are used to score guide lines on pieces of wood. They are comprised of two main sections of wood — the stem and the stock. One or more marking pins are positioned on the stem. The marking pin is positioned close to the end of the stem. The stock is moved into the appropriate position and locked in place with a retaining nut. The pin scores a guide line when the gauge is drawn along the edge of a piece of wood.

Mortise Gauge

This version can score two parallel lines and may be used to mark off the edge of a door for a mortise lock. It has two pins — the top one is fixed in place and the lower is adjustable and is used in the same way as the marking gauge. On some models, one fixed pin is provided on the reverse, so that the tool can also serve as a marking gauge.

Step 1: Using a Marking Gauge

Move the stock into the desired position, corresponding with the area to be marked off. Turn the nut to lock the gauge in place.

Step 2: Using a Marking Gauge

Draw the gauge along the wood, holding the stock against the edge. The marking pin will score a guide line to the set measure. When storing a gauge for any length of time, position the stock near the pins to protect them. Keep the gauge in a dry place. If it gets damp, the stem may swell and stick in the stock.