Stumbled upon something I hadn’t seen before when Christmas shopping, but having no real need filed the idea away.
That idea, is mini speed squares. The speed square is without a doubt a handyman or construction workers most used tool. Layout, measurements, angles, checking square, and a great crosscut circular saw guide.
But sometimes, all you need is a 90deg or 45deg marking guide for layout, and dont want to carry a full size square. A lot of guys tend to use a 4″ slip square for that. I have for years. But its still a 3″x4″ chunk in the pocket, and without the angle guide, or saw guide.
Now granted, I’ve never used the angle guide more than twice in my life, and a 3″ square is not going to be a good saw guide. But I was still intrigued by a small light pocket square.
Enter 3D printing (yes, again lol) and I stumbled upon a mini and micro speed square design on Printables. There are actually several there, even metric versions. But these looked promising, with all the measurement and angle hash marks. One at 3″, the other at 2″.
I printed the big one, in red PLA.
Now, I was absolutely amazed. The precision of my printer setup hadn’t been the best, and I knew I had it pretty damn good, but this was still cool. I’d avoided printing anything with exact measurements for this reason(yes, printing parts to fit other parts, but not to a measurement without tweaking the scale for print error.)
Anyway, the measurement scale on it was dead on for a long ways, only walking a 1/64″ or less after the 3″!! yes thats off, and off quite bit in 12″. But when you’re always printing under 8″ and usually under 2″, a few thousands off per 1/16″ isnt too bad!
And also for carpenters tools, in construction not cabinetry, its fine. This isn’t precision machine work.
Now, the angles were something else. The 90 came out at 89, but the 45 was dead on. Which isn’t horrific! But even for a marking tool for construction, I wanted as good as I could get, at least within the tool… some drift 10 feet away is fine lol.
Some could be shift in my printer, again, its not 100% tight, and this process has inherent movement, that (can)causes drift as you go… momentum and sheer force on molten plastic.
Or the guys model could be out of square. I also wondered how accurate the average metal square is anyway. I’m using a digital angle gauge to check with, assuming thats pretty accurate.
All other squares in the shop were within 0.4 to 0.5 degree of 90. A couple were dead on. Thats a full size 1960s era Swanson speed square, a Craftsman or Stanley 4″ slip square, and a 18″ framing square. Good sampling of styles and costs, and sizes, seems half a degree is it.
So, I modeled a simple square myself, and printed it.
Same 1 deg off! 89.0 So. Printer? Maybe.
I basically decided to ignore my OCD on it and accept 1deg out for what its used for. I remodeled, added the features I wanted, and beefed up the structure(test print was fast and light), and re printed it.
And you know what? Thag sucker is dead on 89.9, and 44.8!!
Printed a second one smaller, just the same.
Now, I’m not saying the other guys model is out of square. I will go back and re-slice it finer(although it was at the same resolution as I just printed mine) and see if it comes out any more accurate.
At any rate, I had fun modeling, and testing, and got the features and size I wanted, without things I don’t use. One for the shop, and one for my tool bag, will see how much I actually use them.
Now, my models turned out to be less speed square than where we started. They are 2″, or 2.5″on the thin 90deg leg, 1/4″ overhang on the edge on one side, 1/2″ on the other for marking gauges. No angle or length marks. A simple and fast layout tool. Plus one hole for a caribiner or similar, if I can find a way to use it that doesn’t get in the way, or be too fiddly to remove and replace all of the time.
Any interest in the comments, an I’ll make my model file available. 🙂 Otherwise, there are so many out there, including the other one I started with, I see no reason to release it.
The other guys square is here; https://www.printables.com/model/312095-pico-squares-small-speed-squares Also, PLEASE NOTE There is NOTHING wrong with his model! It is fully within normal parameters, especially for a printed part… 30 seconds with sandpaper on a flat surface would make it dead on square! Heck, you might even print it dead on to start with. Given how many variables there are in this game, 1 degree is a fantastic low variance. I was just being super picky about it, and wanted to see IF I could do better straight off the printer. Not that it really needed to be any better. Hell, the next one I print of my model could be off farther…. 😉