Well, it's back. Seems I've been stricken by another case of WWADD (Wood Workers Attention Deficit Disorder). With a tool chest sitting by my bench just begging to be finished and two panel saws and 4 back saws in various state of incompletion, it would only stand to reason that with the little bit of shop time I've had lately that I would work on building some wooden squares. I don't know why, other than the fact that I think they're pretty cool. Well, that and the fact that I've been watching Bob Rozaieski's pod-cast a lot lately and the episode on wooden squares caught my attention. If anyone reading this (IS anyone reading this?) hasn't been to Bob's site, do yourself a favor and check it out. He probably has the best, most informative blog going when it comes to hand tool woodworking. And his pod-cast are fantastic. He is doing the woodworking community a great service with his site.
Now, about these squares. The miter square is made from walnut with oak dowels pinning things together at a 45* angle. I cut the bridle joint with a small tenon saw and chiseled out the waste with a mortise chisel and then refined it by paring away at whichever side of the bottom of the bridle needed material removed to get my 45* angle. I established a true 45* angle on a test board by basically using this method. One more reason that dividers are one of the most valuable tools in the shop. When you strike these lines on your test board, I recommend that you use a knife rather than a pencil. A knife leaves a much more precise line.
The two try squared are made from beech with walnut dowels pegging things square. These squares started out as a piece of 1 3/4" x 1 3/4" beech, 18" long. I marked a line about 7/8" on the edge of the beech for the stock and ripped it with my D-8 rip saw, making sure when I marked it to orient things so that I'd wind up with quarter-sawn wood, much more stable. Then I took the remaining length of wood and ripped that in half for the blades. I planed the 7/8" stock down to about 3/4" and then made both edges square to the face and cut this into the lengths I needed for my two stocks; in this case 10" and 6". Next I cut the cheeks of a 1/4"wide bridle joint as I did with the miter square and then planed the blades to thickness to fit in the joint. Then it was a matter of squaring the blade to the stock using the same test board I'd used for the miter square and truing it to the 90* line that was established in the process of finding the 45* angle. If you're square to this line, flip the stock 180* so that the blade is on the other side of the line and if you're still square to the line, your square is actually square. At this point it's time to glue the blade into the bridle joint in the stock and let it set for a few hours. Then come back and drill holes for the dowels and glue those in. Once the glue set on these I pared away the excess with a sharp chisel and cut the decorative ends on the stock and the blade. This was traditional on craftsmen made 18th century squares. Made a few passes with a smooth plane to dress everything up nice and then I just finished with a few coats of danish oil.
I'm happy with the way these turned out and I think I'd like to make one more, maybe about a 4" or 5" version of the try square. The two I've made so far are a 15" and a 9" blade length. These are fun to make and really not that complicated and they'll serve you well for many years. And I always get so much more satisfaction using tools that I've made when I'm working on a project. Now I just need to find time to put them to use on some of these incomplete projects around the shop.