The Best Framing Squares Reviews 2020 | Buying Guide Included

A framing square is more than just a measurement and layout tool, and in fact, it is one of the most frequently used builder tools. The most essential tool which is used in solving roof framing problems in solving various constructional problems is the framing square. And what more is that this go-to tool for roofing and framing is also considered as one of the most essential woodworking tools.

Often referred to as carpenter’s square, the framing squares are most commonly used in laying out rafters and stairs and basically to layout square lines. Measurement and layouts are the two most important tasks of any framing job. To make the framing job lot easier, professionals use necessary tools and techniques and, most importantly, to layout perpendicular lines for accurate measurement, they use the best framing squares.

Along with some specific features, the lines, numbers and rafter tables of a decent quality framing square should be easy to read. However, finding the perfect framing squares from so many models and varieties available in the market often time might get confusing. But, to make this daunting task of choosing the right framing square for your project becomes more comfortable when you know what features to look for.

And, we are here to introduce you to the best of the bests through 5 of our top picks of the framing squares. What’s more, is that we will also introduce to you top features to look for when buying your framing squares.

Sounds good? But before jumping into our reviews, here goes for you a comprehensive comparative chart making it clear to you what differentiates each of the framing squares.

A Comparative Table for Clarification

Name
IRWIN Tools Framing Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum, 16-Inch by 24-Inch (1794447)
Starrett RS-24 Steel L-Shaped Rafter/Framing Square, 24" x 16" Length
Johnson Level & Tool CS10 Professional Easy-Read Steel Carpenter Square, 8" x 12", Original Version
Empire Level e1190 16-Inch by 24-Inch Professional Framing Square, Blue or Black Anodized Aluminum
VINCA SCLS-2416 Carpenter L Framing Square 16 inch x 24 inch Measuring Layout Tool
Image
IRWIN Tools Framing Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum, 16-Inch by 24-Inch (1794447)
Starrett RS-24 Steel L-Shaped Rafter/Framing Square, 24" x 16" Length
Johnson Level & Tool CS10 Professional Easy-Read Steel Carpenter Square, 8" x 12", Original Version
Empire Level e1190 16-Inch by 24-Inch Professional Framing Square, Blue or Black Anodized Aluminum
VINCA SCLS-2416 Carpenter L Framing Square 16 inch x 24 inch Measuring Layout Tool
Constructional Material
Aluminum
Steel
Steel
Anodized aluminum
1cr13 hardened steel
Graduations & Marking
Hi-Contrast deep stampings
Notched & Painted incremental markings
Thermal bonded etched marking
Laser-etched markings
Stamped marking
Framing Square Body
16-Inch by 24-Inch
24 inch by 16- inch
8- inch by 12- inch
16-Inch by 24-Inch
16-Inch by 24-Inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 10th,12th, 16th
8th, 10th, 12th, 16th
8th, 16th
8th, 10th, 12th, 16th
8th, 16th, 12th
Important Informational Table
Printed rafter and brace table
Rafter information
No  Tables  Included
Rafter information included with Conversion Table
No Tables included
Multiple Scale Features
Brace, Octagon scales and Essex board measure
Octagon measuring scales
No Multiple Scale features
Octagon scales
No Multiple Scale Features
Weight
12.6 ounces
30.24 ounces
8.8 ounces
14.4 ounces
27.2 ounces
Rating
Name
IRWIN Tools Framing Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum, 16-Inch by 24-Inch (1794447)
Image
IRWIN Tools Framing Square, Hi-Contrast Aluminum, 16-Inch by 24-Inch (1794447)
Constructional Material
Aluminum
Graduations & Marking
Hi-Contrast deep stampings
Framing Square Body
16-Inch by 24-Inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 10th,12th, 16th
Important Informational Table
Printed rafter and brace table
Multiple Scale Features
Brace, Octagon scales and Essex board measure
Weight
12.6 ounces
Rating
Name
Starrett RS-24 Steel L-Shaped Rafter/Framing Square, 24" x 16" Length
Image
Starrett RS-24 Steel L-Shaped Rafter/Framing Square, 24" x 16" Length
Constructional Material
Steel
Graduations & Marking
Notched & Painted incremental markings
Framing Square Body
24 inch by 16- inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 10th, 12th, 16th
Important Informational Table
Rafter information
Multiple Scale Features
Octagon measuring scales
Weight
30.24 ounces
Rating
Name
Johnson Level & Tool CS10 Professional Easy-Read Steel Carpenter Square, 8" x 12", Original Version
Image
Johnson Level & Tool CS10 Professional Easy-Read Steel Carpenter Square, 8" x 12", Original Version
Constructional Material
Steel
Graduations & Marking
Thermal bonded etched marking
Framing Square Body
8- inch by 12- inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 16th
Important Informational Table
No  Tables  Included
Multiple Scale Features
No Multiple Scale features
Weight
8.8 ounces
Rating
Name
Empire Level e1190 16-Inch by 24-Inch Professional Framing Square, Blue or Black Anodized Aluminum
Image
Empire Level e1190 16-Inch by 24-Inch Professional Framing Square, Blue or Black Anodized Aluminum
Constructional Material
Anodized aluminum
Graduations & Marking
Laser-etched markings
Framing Square Body
16-Inch by 24-Inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 10th, 12th, 16th
Important Informational Table
Rafter information included with Conversion Table
Multiple Scale Features
Octagon scales
Weight
14.4 ounces
Rating
Name
VINCA SCLS-2416 Carpenter L Framing Square 16 inch x 24 inch Measuring Layout Tool
Image
VINCA SCLS-2416 Carpenter L Framing Square 16 inch x 24 inch Measuring Layout Tool
Constructional Material
1cr13 hardened steel
Graduations & Marking
Stamped marking
Framing Square Body
16-Inch by 24-Inch
Inch Divisions
8th, 16th, 12th
Important Informational Table
No Tables included
Multiple Scale Features
No Multiple Scale Features
Weight
27.2 ounces
Rating

IRWIN Tools Hi-Contrast Aluminum Framing Square

amazon-buy-buttonyThe IRWIN Tools’ 16×24 framing square is made out of high-grade aluminum, and this means the tool is light in weight, and most importantly it won’t get hot when left in direct sunlight. As the square is constructed by aluminum it can be used for squaring or cutting out the metal without the chance of attracting the magnetic properties of the metal.

This handy tool comes with all the crucial scales ranging from 1/8 to 1/16- inches, and what’s more is that it can be used as a protractor, saw guide, and even as a ruler.

What set’s the IRWIN framing square different from other ones is that it comes with a professional’s set of tables, including rafter tables and Essex boar measure.

The vibrant color scheme of the body and the numberings make it thoroughly convenient for the user to read even in tricky circumstances. This feature along with the measurement standards makes this professional square easy-to-use for DIY enthusiasts as well.

Pros   

  • Constructed with Rust-free material
  • Hi-contrast markings which are easy-to-read
  • Useful information tables included for better functionality
  • Good warranty and repair service

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Many scales might make readings confusing

Starrett RS-24 Steel L-Shaped Rafter/Framing Square


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The Starrett RS-24 framing square is made of steel weighing only 1.89 pounds and shaped in L shape. This tool is convenient probably the best one of what Starrett has to offer

This framing square has notched and painted incremental markings, and the scale ranges from 8th, 10th, 12th, and 16th. This Starrett framing square comes with an octagonal measuring scale on the front along with rafter’s information, and indeed using it is worth every single cent.

To add up to your peace of mind, this square also comes with rafter information along with an octagonal measurement system on its front.

Pros

  • Well-made construction and handy tool
  • Rafter information included
  • Painted, Notched graduations
  • Efficient visibility

Cons

  • The graduation marking might appear overwhelming and confusing
  • Painted marking might fade or peel off after a prolonged period of use

Johnson Level & Tool Professional Steel Carpenter Square CS10


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The Johnson CS10 is a premium grade carpenter square made of high-grade steel, weighs only 8.8 ounces, and is exceptionally Lightweight Square to work with. The square is ergonomically designed which makes it easy to carry around and use for daily constructional work needs.

An array of thermal bonded, easy-to-read numbers are etched onto the professional carpentering tool. The simplistic measuring system cuts off any hassles regarding stair-works, roofing, or laying out the patterns.

To ensure precise contact with the working surface, the square comes with a forged tip, which also enables you to get a sturdy hold without stripping off.

The graduation markings in this framing square are thermally etched bonded and have a thickness of 1/8’’. The best part of this square is that it is easy-to-read and also comes with comfortable grips.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Thermal bonded etched numbers
  • Easy-to-read measurements

Cons

  • No metric measurements
  • Markings don’t hold up and might wear off when in contact with chemicals

Empire Level e1190 Anodized Aluminum Professional Framing Square


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This professional framing square is constructed with anodized aluminum, and this means the coating is essentially rust-free.  With highly visible and deeply stamped long-lasting graduations this tool also comes with a unique conversion table to make the task of measurements and layout as easy as possible.

The vibrant white lettering on the icy-blue surface of the aluminum body takes it a level up over the other tools in our list. Not only it makes the reading thoroughly convenient in low-light surroundings, but it also soothes the eyes of an admirer of aesthetics.

Aluminum rather than steel find you another way to adore this unit even more as it hardly heats up when left out in the sun. However, durability may be something to call into question. You may break it easily with simple step-on.

Pros

  • Anodized and rust-free coating
  • Very accurate readings
  • One year warranty and repair service

Cons

  • Easily damaged if too much pressure is applied

VINCA Carpenter L Framing Square SCLS-2416


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The VINCA SCLS-2416 Framing square is made of hardened steel and weighs only 27.2 ounces and is very sturdy and hefty enough to prevent it from getting out of space.

Set on the hardened steel background, the graduations are marked in black and are finished with durable punching press and coated with rust-proof treatment.

When the durability is taken care of with the hardened steel, the visibility is not. The unit has the common black numbering on its bare metal body, which may cause you hardship when reading in low light. It’s a deterring fact for those who prioritize pristine visibility while working.

Another thing is the heating up of the square. Due to the steel construction, it’s more prone to get hot real soon when left out under the sun.

Pros

  • Resilient stamped graduation markings
  • Ideal for trim works and DIY projects
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Prone to get hot if left out in the sun for a prolonged period
  • The shiny coating might reflect off and make it harder to read 

The Complete Buying Guide for the Best Framing Square

Here, we have got you covered with a complete buying guide to assist you in making a uniformed decision on selecting the best framing square suitable for your purpose. To determine the quality of a framing square you need to recognize a few critical factors.

So, what features should you look for in the right framing square? Basically, there are eight things to consider before you buy a framing square. They are as followed.

Purpose

Framing squares are designed to give you greater versatility and functionalities. However, before you finalize your decision on the best model to buy, you need to outline, you’re the intended use of the framing square.

Some models are suited for woodworking, while some other ones are suitable for critical constructional projects. In case you seek a framing square that comes with more excellent functionalities, consider choosing a model that combines all the crucial features that you require for.

Material

The framing squares are usually constructed with either aluminum or steel material. When choosing your framing square, it is essential to know what the square is constructed of. It is because the constructional material plays a significant role in terms of the framing square’s accuracy and sturdiness.

For instance, the carpenter’s squares made of aluminum is lighter and easier to handle compared to the ones made of steel. However, the steel constructed framing squares are known to be more sturdy and accurate than that of the aluminum one. But again they are more prone to get hot when left under the sunlight.

Graduations, Markings & Readability

When it is about picking the right framing square it is essential to determine the graduations and markings of it. After all, without easy-to-read graduations, it is challenging to use the framing squares in low light. Additionally, if the markings start to dissolve and fade away, in the long run, the framing square becomes a tool of no value.

This is why it is important to know in detail how the framing square’s graduations and measurements are marked.

Measurement System & Scale Range

When you are choosing the best models for a framing square, you would often find very little information on the measurement system. And, what makes thing more confusing different carpenter squares will feature different measuring system along with varying types of scale.

The octagon scale or square scale is an important feature of a framing square. The octagonal scale of the framing square comes in use when there is the need to cut an eight-sided figure. The octagon scales of the framing square are most useful for stair newel.

Inch Divisions

Framing squares are measurement tools, and different models of it come with different inch-divisions and sub-divisions.  This is why when choosing the right type of framing square it is essential to identify the inch-divisions and various subdivisions of the inch markings.

Important Informational Tables

Informational tables found on the framing squares helps in providing an arithmetical guide when measuring complex layouts. A decent quality framing square should have useful measurement tables so that it is easier to make accurate measurements.

The tables on the framing squares are sometimes found on the tongue of the square or the front or back. The following tables are usually found on a quality framing square, and these are the ones you would look for-

  • Rafter Tables
  • Conversion tables ( Inches to decimals and vice versa)
  • Essex Board Measure table

Blades

When buying a framing square, you must not ignore the most critical parts of it, which happen to be blades. Framing squares with thinner and soft edges are susceptible to accidental hits and also tend to move out of the place making it difficult to read the graduations.

On the other hand, the framing squares with sturdy blades are not only comfortable to hold but also stays in the place better which makes the squares provide accurate measurements.

Warranty

Measurement, layout and framing tools like framing squares hardly need any warranty, and this factor is the most overlooked one when purchasing a framing square. Despite that, some of the best models of framing squares come with a lifetime warranty while others simply do not. But a framing square having a warranty statement deserves preference because the company replaces or repairs the square against defects that might simply rise all of a sudden.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are framing squares used for?

Answer: Framing Squares are the essential tools used for measuring and layout works. Often referred to as carpenter’s square, the framing squares are also primarily used in construction works.

The tasks that are performed with a framing square is basically checking the squareness, determining the flatness of a surface and also for squaring or angling works. In case of an application need the framing square is used for –

  • The layout works in the roof and constructional projects
  • Drywall applications
  • Roof Construction
  • Trim Carpentry
  1. How accurate are framing squares?

Answer: Framing square is used in some of the most practical builder purposes and solving construction problems in building structures. However, in terms of squareness, the framing squares are not known to be particularly square.

For an accurate reading during woodworking projects, the best fix is to hammer the blades to squares so that it does not move, and you can have an accurate reading.

For an accurate reading from framing squares during extensive squaring work, it is better to tune it up with an additional marking tool.

  1. How to use framing squares?

Answer: Framing squares are handy measurement tools, and the good news is that newer models come with booklets enumerating its application and use.

The most basic use of framing square is to measure a cut. In case you measure a cut with this square more excellent the first thing you need to do is to lace the blade of it parallel against the surface of the material that you are willing to cut.

The next thing to do is to mark out the cut line and read the marking to determine the accuracy. If you are sure of the efficiency, you can move to the final stage of cutting along the mark.

A framing square is also used in laying out rafters, and in this case, you’ll first need to know how to layout rafters and then use the framing square for measurement purposes.

  1. Why are framing squares 16 inches?

Answer: In fact, the most generally used and the typical type of framing squares is the ones with a 16inch tongue and 24inch body. Surprisingly the best framing squares also come with a distinctive feature of 16 inches.

Sixteen inches framing squares are widespread because of their standard proportional length which conveys in making the measurement tool more durable and also more comfortable to read.

  1. Why are old framing squares tapered?

Answer: Old framing squares were constructed of hardened and tapered body. Tapered framing squares had thicker corners, thinner ends, and milled edges, which made it easier to firmly place the square on the surface and get an accurate reading. Large tapered old framing squares are actually becoming a thing of past but is known to top in any test of accuracy.

In fact, the old framing squares which are heavily tapered and comes with a crisp ground edge are now sold as vintage framing squares at a high-end price.

Conclusion

By now, it must be crystal clear to you what sets each of the best framing square different from each other.  Having said that, a decent and good framing square should be easy to read, and working with it must also be comfortable.

While there are many varieties of framing squares available on the market, it is well worth considering the few essential features mentioned above. The IRWIN Tools is always the reputable name in the field of constructional accessories and is often viewed as the best framing square for woodworking. On the other hander for the best value, we suggest Empire Level e1190 which is also considered as the best framing square with perfect reading. And, for more frequent use the Johnson Level cs10 and Sterrett are the ones worthy of your consideration.

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