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Woodpeckers, Inc. has you covered for big and small high-accuracy squares!
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Woodpeckers 12" Precision Aluminum Square

Extending accuracy, Plus – Woodpeckers Mini Square

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   The 90-degree square is one of the most-used alignment tools in woodworking. For checking cabinet cases, drawer bodies, door assemblies and virtually any project with a square corner, woodworkers reach for this trusted tool. Unless you build and cut square, the project will be flawed.
   We also use the 90-degree square for setting up or checking many of our machines and even more often for drawing layout lines.
   Though 90-degree squares are available wherever tools are sold, truly accurate ones are not. Enter Woodpeckers, Inc., has long been a favorite source of woodworkers for ultra precise router lifts, plates and accessories. Now, they apply their extensive in-house, state-of-the-art CNC (computer numerically controlled) machining capabilities to filling the need for larger scale, high-precision 90-degree squares.

Initial Impressions

   The Woodpeckers Precision Aluminum Square (PAS) is impressive in its appearance, including the very trick – and functional – CNC machined MDF storage plaque.
    Produced in Woodpeckers high-tech USA facility, the PAS features precise finished edges, ultra-accurate laser engraved markings and a durable protective anodized finish in Gun Metal or red colors.
   Woodpeckers obviously pulled out all the stops in this effort to produce a highly accurate and long-lasting tool.

Materials & Machining

The machining is extremely precise everywhere, including the notch that prevents the corner of the stock from skewing the square.
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   Woodpeckers carves the ¼"-thick blade and base leg from a single block of high-quality aluminum. While there are much cheaper ways to produce a reasonably accurate square, none afford the absolute precision obtained by using a single piece of stock.
   To insure accuracy, Woodpeckers developed an extremely precise, multi-pass high-RPM milling technique that allows them to guarantee a minimum accuracy of 0.001" over the full length of the blade and base.
   The same machining capabilities were used to fashion the handle pieces that are attached to the base with hardened pins that assure perfect alignment and long-term stability.

Design Features

   Most noticeable is the overall size of the PAS. A full 12"-long blade with an 8"-long base leg allows increased accuracy when used on many projects. As the blade gets longer, checking corners becomes a vastly more accurately procedure. With a guarantee of 0.001" tolerance over the full length, the PAS is the most accurate 12"-square I am aware of. To back that up, Woodpeckers promises it will stay that way or they will replace it free - forever.

The laser-etched lettering and scales are large enough for easy reading.
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   Machined ¼"-thick plates attached to either side of the base leg provide a stable "foot" on which to stand the PAS when your hands are needed elsewhere.
   Recesses machined in the base plates and a through-slot in the long arm make it easy to hold the PAS against objects in virtually any position. These are important features because they make it possible to hold the PAS firmly while being able to read the scales easily in positions that can be very difficult with more traditional designs.
   A notch machined at the inside corner where the long and short legs meet serves two purposes. First, it prevents sharp corners on cut pieces from contacting the PAS and holding it out of line. Because the notch extends to the top of the base doubler plates, lines drawn along the inside edge of the long arm can start at the edge of the wood.

The notch also allows drawing lines from the base of the scale, at the edge of the board.
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   The outside edge of the long arm has a full 12"-long scale, the inside edge 10 ½"-long. Both laser-engraved scales have a 1/16" resolution with numerals sized and colored for easy reading.

Protective Plaque

   A very trick-looking but functional addition is the CNC machined MDF case/plaque included with the PAS. The plaque is drilled and countersunk for screws to secure it to a flat surface. A finger-operated disk secures the PAS in the plaque. While it makes an attractive display piece in the shop, the plaque protects the PAS when not in use, plus keeps it handy.

In the Shop

   Despite wanting a larger precision square for a long time, after getting one in the shop I was surprised at how frequently it was useful. My INCRA 5" Guaranteed Squares remain very useful for machine setup and smaller projects but the Woodpeckers 12" PAS has become my tool of choice when working on boxes, drawers, doors and cabinets.

The recesses in the blade and base leg make it easy to hold the PAS up to a piece firmly and still read the numerals.
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   The additional length the PAS affords makes installing pieces at exactly 90-degrees easier. Checking door and drawers assemblies is also easier and more accurate because of the length.
   The precision inner and outer scales on the long blade are easy to read from either side and in any position. The notch at the base of the inner scale is particularly helpful when marking saw cuts that need to be at, not near the edge of the wood.
   The wide base and weight of the PAS keep it surprisingly stable when stood against a work piece, freeing both hands for other tasks. The slot in the long blade and reliefs in the base make handling the PAS comfortable, secure and more accurate.

Conclusions

   The Woodpeckers 12" PAS brings a new level of accuracy to a surprisingly large number of important wood shop tasks. For squaring larger assemblies, the 12"-long blade on the PAS has a significant impact on how projects turn out.
   With a street price of $79.99, (4-19-2005) the Woodpeckers Precision Aluminum Square is a little pricey. However, if absolute accuracy, the protective storage/display plaque, a lifetime replacement guarantee and Made in America are important factors, the Woodpeckers, Inc. Precision Aluminum Square is a solid, one-time investment.

Click Here to see the Precision Aluminum Squares on the Woodpeckers site.

Woodpeckers Mini Square

(Top) The Mini Square has many uses that also require accuracy.
(Bottom) Checking chisels for a square edge is just one use for this handy little square.
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   With 2 9/16" and 1 5/8" legs, the Mini Square was designed with specific tasks in mind. Checking chisel and plane iron edges for square has never been easier because the Mini Square fits the tool without conflict with the handle. The ½" thickness of the Mini Square make it easy to see any gaps between cutting edges and the square.
   The small dimensions make the Mini Square perfect for other tasks like squaring small drawers, cubby dividers and many other small-scale tasks.
   The Woodpeckers Mini Square is precision machined on their state-of-the-art CNC equipment and carries the same guarantee as its big brother, the 12" Precision Aluminum Square. If the Mini Square is not within 0.001" of perfect along any side, Woodpeckers will replace it.
   The Mini Square has a street price of $22.95 (4-19-2005), is Made in America and carries Woodpeckers lifetime replacement guarantee. The Mini Square also comes with a very trick CNC-routed MDF storage block.

Click Here to see the Mini Square at Woodpeckers site.

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