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  • Thrifty Squares

    As some of you know, I give kind of informal classes in beginning scrollsaw. This is something I do without any compensation - I consider it a kind of volunteering. Anyhow, I am rather fiscally challenged, so I get cheap wood, leftovers, etc. to keep the costs down for the class. I've been sharing my 2" square around the class, but I keep reminding them to check their cuts for square (to make sure they're not pushing the blade out of perpendicular) as well as checking the blade to table for the 90 degree angle. That little square was really in demand.
    Last week I was in my friendly hardware store, and spied the metal reinforcing L's. I bought a package of the 2" ones and checked them at home for accuracy. They were right on, as close as I could tell. So... I can now supply each student with a good enough square for about 40 cents (79 cents for a pkg of 2). They get to keep them - for some of these women, it is the first "tool" they've ever owned. (Hard to imagine, I know!)
    These are the ones that are just a flat piece of L-shaped metal with some screw holes in them - not the ones that are bent into an L-shape.
    Of course, I will never give up my good square, but now I get to keep it for me, and still nobody has an excuse for not checking for square.
    Sandy
    I'm thinking some of you might want to use them for the youngsters in your shop, or even to take out where little tools might be - ahem- borrowed like at a fair or other demonstration. Or maybe even when you can't find that dratted square amongst the sawdust.
    Last edited by sheltiecarver; 09-23-2006, 12:09 AM.

  • #2
    That is an awesome idea Sandy!
    they will never wear out either.

    I think it should be forwarded to the Magazine, to be entered into their best tip contest!

    Do you have an Ikea anywhere near you?
    They have free paper tape measures.
    Your students could glue them to a piece of wood and then have 2 tools.

    Carl
    CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
    "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
    Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

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    • #3
      Not sure how you're checking for square for those L brackets. Here's what I do..get a piece of wood with a guaranteed straight edge. hold the bracket on a slight angle downwards and draw trace what you believe is a 90 degree angle off the bracket. now flip the bracket over and do it again in the same spot. if both lines stay on top of one another they are square. If the lines go away from one another, use a center punch and pound the L bracket a couple time on the surface at the outer corner. if the lines go the opposite way, then use the punch on the inside corner. This is the same method to repair a store bought square, which rarely is purchased square. Anytime you drop a square, you need to re-check it.
      Jeff Powell

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      • #4
        I think I'd rather trust a protractor and/or an engineers square. A proper square might cost a few dollars but at least it's guaranteed to be accurate and it'll withstand a few knocks in the workshop. Angled metal can be knocked out of alignment or even twisted quite easily.

        Surely protractors aren't that expensive? I'd have thought you could pick one up for the price of the angled metal.

        Gill
        There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
        (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

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        • #5
          Actually, Gill, the metal L's seem to be quite hardy in a shop situation.
          I do have some cheap school supply protractors there - and they are good for checking the blade angle, especially when we're trying to make the table slightly angled for inlay or relief cutting. But they are useless for checking the cut (wood) for square - something I have them do (and I do, also) often while cutting thicker stuff (like 1/2 " (12mm) or more, usually). If a person is putting any side pressure on the blade - therefore bending or bowing it - the cut wood, when placed in the angle of the square, will show some air. Usually that comes from pushing the blade (trying to hurry), or just inattention to keeping the blade straight up. My students have a hard time being attentive to all the stuff at once (heck, so do I sometimes), and the little square just serves as a wake-up.
          Of course, you are right - proper squares would be preferable, given a decent budget. Right now, I'm concentrating my somewhat meager resources elsewhere.
          They sure wouldn't be the first choice for a well-equipped shop, or for a tool afficianatto (hmmm - where's that spell checker!)
          Sandy

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          • #6
            Well Sandy I am siding with you
            I like the idea.. I think the key here is that you are instructing students to use good practices.

            I understand that if you were referring to the bent metal brackets there would be concerns but since these are flat and stamped or machined from a flat piece, the chances of them being off would be negligible.

            You could almost use a butt hinge for the same effect.
            I love to see homemade tools. Even a simple sanding block could be an heirloom tool if made properly.

            CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
            "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
            Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

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            • #7
              Thanks Carl.
              And thanks to you, too, Gill. I know you have legitimate concerns. "Real" tools really are the best.
              But I have a hunch that some of those little "squares" will see a lot of use. I'm trying to build confidence, not necessarily scrollers. If some of 'em keep with it, that will be - uh - icing on the cake.
              Sandy

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              • #8
                If you're happy using them and they work for you, Sandy, that's fine by me ! You know your students better than I do. It's just that I have this irritating habit of trying to follow best practice whenever I can... .

                Gill
                There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
                (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sandy,

                  That is an excellent idea!

                  One slight cautionary note though - if I was you I would check each one with a known good square before issuing them. The reason for this is that these are produced by punch pressing, and if the tool gets a little worn, it can leave a bur which would throw off the accuracy.

                  It should only take a couple of seconds to check each one, and it's beter to be safe than sorry eh?

                  Regards

                  Gary
                  Gary

                  My saw - Axminster AWSF18

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