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How I Made an Eight Inch English Layout Square

The Joiners Square is a tool used in the production of right angles, either in the drawing of lines or in the planing up of stuff...

George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery, 1902



I've been using a 4 inch drafting square that I bought in a hobby store 20 years ago to do the layout for transverse braces on guitar tops and backs. It's not the squarest square anymore and I use a 12 inch steel ruler to extend the line off the square when I use it and I've noticed that those lines often are truly square to the center line drawn on the top or back. I correct it by pulling a 3-4-5 measurement to check the squareness.

I rarely make tools for my luthier work anymore, making a tool takes away from spent at the bench creating a guitar, but I'm getting a little tired of fighting that little square.

So I made a layout square based upon the old English layout square that seems to be every where on the wood working internet these days.

I hope many of you have made this English layout square, it's awfully pretty and appealing.

The square I made doesn't have the fancy ogees that are on the Schwarz-ian square, just simple ogees and partial circles.

The wood that I used was some California laurel (umbellularia californica), click here to learn more about this gorgeous wood, that I have on hand.

I apologize if some of these photos are a little blurry, I used my iPhone to take several of the shots and didn't pay enough attention on the area where the camera was focusing.


I drew a simple ogee on the legs, roughed that out with a sloyd knife and then refined the shape on small sanding drum chucked into the drill press.




The half lap joints were sawn and then finished with a chisel, the blade on my Stanley No.271 router plane needed sharpening, again I didn't want to take the time, a sharp chisel and a safety edge file cleaned up the joints.





Laying out where the brace cross member goes...





All the pieces ready to be glued...



..and the glue up!






The finished square! I squared it off the edge of a piece of foam board.

Why an eight inch square? The classic guitar models I make are usually no wider than 15 inches.

The area inside the legs and brace reminds me of a gable on the Rouen Cathedral...




The square in use. It should make work a little easier!


Here's Isabelle Selder, enjoy!



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