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My father is now retired and has returned to his hobby of being a woodworker. He's been helping me build a standing desk for my office and happened to mention while we was working that he wished he had a better triangle.

I would like to buy one for him as a thank you for helping me build the desk, but I don't know what makes a good or bad triangle. He currently has a very solid metal 6" triangle. The only complaint against that one that he has is that is has a little nook as soon as one of the straight edges starts labeled "pivot point" that he says messes up the markings when he's doing small precise work.

How can I select a good triangle, or what makes one good? It's primary purpose will be to get straight edges or angles for woodworking.

Edit: I just found out that these are called speed squares.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

For marking right angles, a try square is a good choice.

enter image description here

You might also want to consider a Japanese style square.

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+1 for the Japanese-Style Layout Squares, would make a nice & "unique" gift for any woodworker... Browsing through "Marking" category section on the same website (Lee Valley) might also turn up some other good gift options. – Mike Perry Jul 17 '11 at 19:39
I agree with @MikePerry. He probably already has a speed square and combo square. They all do the job if used right, but the Japanese-Style is pretty sweet. – John Smith Aug 15 '13 at 6:09

From the description, it sounds like you're referring to a rafter square (I've always known it as a speed square):

rafter square

If he's just looking for straight lines, a combination square may be better for his purposes:

combination square

In terms of quality, you frequently get what you pay for. When it comes to a square, look for something that won't easily break or bend. We get cheap plastic squares for the volunteers at the job site, and throw away broken ones all the time. And for one with any moving parts, make sure the joint doesn't have any play in it. The larger the square, the more precise the 90 deg angle will be measured, but it also means that it's more difficult to work with in tight spaces.

If it's a larger framing square, realize that they can be adjusted, even though they are solid metal. This also means that they can be easily knocked out of adjustment if they are abused.

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He has several combination squares. That's what we eventually used because. – Malfist Jul 17 '11 at 2:11

The variety of angular layout tools suggests that 'what makes a good one' depends on the task.

A work around for the pivot divot is to use the speed-square to align a straight edge, and then scribe along the straight edge. For a more permanent solution, the divot can be filled with epoxy.

Computer drawing programs can layout special angles with mathematical precision, which can be transferred using a printout.
(no pictures)

One can layout a right angle using a level and a weighted string (as a plumb bob).
(no pictures)

Digital square ...
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Drafting triangles ...
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T-squares ...
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Mitre gauge used upside down ...
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Variations on a the combination square ... enter image description here

A bevel square ...
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Trim square ... enter image description here

Square-nuts, primarily for use with steel squares, but can also be used with combination and bevel squares ...
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Engineer's square ...
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One can always make their own ...
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Or ...
enter image description here enter image description here

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What's the last one called? It's intriguing... – Mark Henderson Aug 15 '13 at 3:50
"Protractor 2374-320" on page 174 in their 288 page catalog: insize.com/products/pdf/2012E.php – mike Aug 15 '13 at 4:17

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