A framing square is considered an angle gauge and it’s another type of square tool. The most application of framing square is in carpentry and building such as roofing, stairway, and many more.
Not only for checking 90-degree corners (squareness) but also for layout, marking, and scribing. Therefore, it incorporates some tables and scales that are put on its surface such as a rafter table, octagonal scale, Essex board measure, brace table, etc.
In comparison to machinist squares, although both have one body construction, the framing square has thin body thickness and longer dimensions. On the other hand, in comparison to try squares, framing square doesn’t have a junction between blade and tongue.
The blade and the tongue make up the frame square, which continues at the heel to produce a perfect right angle (90 degrees). The tool’s blade is longer than the tongue, and while the tongue is 1 1/2 inch broad, the blade is 1/2 inch wider.
Framing squares on the market are made of steel or aluminum. There are various brands that produce framing squares such as Johnson, Irwin, Stanley, Starrett, Powertec, etc. These brands let you have broader choices but sometimes it can hurt your time. Here we have selected some framing squares on the market that we think are the best ones to share with you.
Top 12 Best Framing Square Reviews in 2023
1. Johnson CS12 Stainless Steel Framing Square [Best Overall]
If you are looking for a stainless steel framing square, then Johnson CS12 is the choice to pick.
Not only the heavy-duty choice but also supported by etched graduations which means permanent. The etched graduations will also increase visibility due to their indentation. So, they will look clear, clean, and luxurious.
The graduations of 1/8″, 1/10″, 1/12″, and 1/16″ are available. The rafter tables, brace tables, board foot tables, and octagon scales are also etched.
All in all, Johnson CS12 is the perfect choice for the best framing square. It’s made of stainless steel which means durable, rust-resistant, and feels solid. Carpenters and builders will be happy with this square because it is suitable for various jobs due to its tables and scales.
- Stainless steel framing square
- durable and solid
- Etched graduations
- More complete tables and scales for carpentry
- Graduations on the tool have low contrast.
2. Irwin 1794447 Framing Square [Stamped Graduations]
This Irwin 179447 is one of our favorite framing squares that comes with stamped graduations, rafter tables, octagonal scales, brace scales, and Essex board measure. The complete table and scales of this square make it a great choice for framing square. It allows you to use it for many applications.
Because the graduations are permanently stamped on the instrument, they would endure a long time. It also has excellent yellow-on-blue contrast for easy visibility.
It comes with a blade length of 24 inches and a tongue length of 16 inches which is a good size for carpentry. For material, it’s made of aluminum which makes it more lightweight than steel square. Plus, it’s better to resist rust, allowing it to survive the harsh working conditions the tool may be subjected to.
- Comes with tables and scales that are very helpful for carpenters
- Made of aluminum; it is lightweight and won’t corrode
- Stamping graduations
- Because it is constructed of aluminum, it is susceptible to wrapping.
3. Powertec 80008 Framing Square [Stamped Graduations]
This Powertec framing square has a 24-inch blade length and 16-inch tongue which means this dimension will be helpful for roofing as well as stair-making jobs. Along with the conversion table, it makes your work faster in figuring out the numbers.
In terms of graduation, it comes with 1/8″ and 1/16″ graduations on one face, meanwhile, with 1/10″, 1/12”, and 1/16” graduations on the second surface.
For visibility, the graduation has a contrasting color (white) over the black surface blade color. Besides, they are stamped which is better than printing.
Nicely, this L square carpenter square is made from steel. This material will maintain the rigidity of the square for a long time. However, it seems no coating for rust prevention which is a drawback side you may want to consider.
All in all, the Powertec 80008 is the choice for a large model with steel material. It’s easy to read due to the contrasting color. Also, it provides some useful carpentry tables for your easy roofing projects.
- It’s a tough tool
- High contrast and visibility
- Covers essential conversion tables and scales
- Stamped graduations are better than the printing ones.
- Potentially corrode due to steel material
4. Stanley 45-300 Framing Square [Embossed Graduations]
To be a great carpenter, you have to invest in a high-quality framing square. With Stanley 45-300, you will get high-quality deep embossed graduations. It’s so easy to feel its differences from the others. You could see yourself through photos uploaded by the buyers so that it’s not biased. This embossed further enhances the visibility and durability of the numbers and markings.
Thus, it’s not weird it comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
In addition to high-quality graduation, the anodized aluminum with the coating generates a square that is lightweight yet durable and corrosion-resistant. Lighter than the steel-made squares also means it is easier to carry.
The conversion of lumber, metric, and decimal equivalent tables are available on the square surface. Squaring foundation formula, area formula, volume formula, the table of wood screw gauge, nail sizes, and even depth scale are also presented on it. Nicely, the markings of 30°, 45°, and 60° markings are also available.
Stanley 45-300 is a USA-made square. It comes with a 24-inch blade and a 16-inch tongue. Poorly, it only provides you 1/8″ graduations. Overall, this is an ideal choice for carpenters, contractors, furniture makers, and handymen.
- High quality embossed graduations
- Lightweight yet corrosion resistant
- Includes many conversion tables and references
- lifetime limited warranty
- Only 1/8″ graduation
5. Starrett FS-24 Framing Square
Starrett is a great brand that producec precision instruments and tools such as caliper, micrometer, dial indicator, etc. In case of square tools, they also produce framing square, double square and combination square. Starrett FS24 is the framing square from Starrett that you shouldn’t miss out to check.
Graduations on this instrument’s front and rear sides are permanently stamped with 1/8-inch graduations. The stamped makes the graduations easy to read, won’t fade out, and last longer.
The Starrett FS24 framing square is made of tempered steel. This model is our option for heavy-duty because of the steel material that it is composed of, which makes it resistant to bending and breaking even when used under high pressure.
Though it’s rigid, steel has a high possible to corrode. Since it comes with anti-rust coating, it will protect from rust and other hazardous conditions.
Its dimension which has a 24″ blade and 16″ tongue is ideal for roofing. But it it lacks the rafter table.
- Face and rear graduations are permanently stamped for easy visibility.
- It’s built of steel, which is sturdy and durable
- It can handle bending and breaking, and because of the transparent coating on the surface,
- Rust-resistant, making it an excellent tool to have in any weather condition.
- There are no conversion tables or other information included.
6. Empire Level E1190 Framing Square
Empire Level E1190 is a lightweight framing square made from anodized aluminum. Not only lightweight, but anodized aluminum is also well-known for its durability against corrosion.
Another advantage of this US-made framing square is its stamped graduations which will be not easily fade out.
This carpenter square lets you work conveniently due to its rafter table consisting of:
- common rafter length per foot
- hip or valley rafter length
- difference in length of jacks 16 inch centers
- difference in length of jacks 24 inch centers
- rise cut of jacks
- side cut hip or valley
In addition to rafter tables, there is also an octagonal scale. The graduations are also complete which means it provides you with 1/8″, 1/10″, 1/12″, and 1/16″ graduations. For dimension, it’s no different from the other models. The blade is 24″ in length, while the tongue is 16″ in length.
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- The graduations are durable against wear and tear due to stamped model
- Includes conversion tables.
7. Vinca SCLS-1208 Framing Square [Small Framing Square with Hardened Steel]
Another simple framing square that comes in 12 inches by 8 inches dimensions is Vinca SCLS-1208. It’s made from hardened steel with rust protection treatment that means rigid and also durable against rusting.
It has a square accuracy of ±0.0573°. For the graduation, it uses punching press technic. You can see the graduations are in 1/8″ and 1/12″.
- Nice squareness for carpentry grade
- Hardened steel
- Punching press markings
- Lacks tables and conversions.
8. Johnson CS10 Framing Square [Small Framing Square made of Steel]
Johnson Level & Tool CS10 is a simple framing square for your layout and pattern jobs. It’s not large in size and has a graduation of 1/8″ only.
But it feels solid due to its steel material. Don’t worry, to overcome the durability issue due to steel material that is easy to corrode, it’s coated with an anti-rust powder coating.
As said, this simple framing square is not a large model. The entire construction consists of a 12-inch blade and 8-inch tonge with 1/8″ thickness. So, you can imagine what it looks like.
This model comes with a thermal-bonded technic for its graduations. The company names it EZ Read™ graduations and claim it easier to read.
The drawback is there is no table chart on the blade surface which is helpful for roofing and stairway projects.
If you are looking for a pretty compact framing square, then this choice may meet your need. It’s robust, not easily bent, and durable. The price is also so friendly.
If you are looking for a framing square of the Johnson Level & Tool brand that comes with a table chart, search for Johnson Level & Tool CS9.
- For layout and pattern jobs
- No auxiliary table chart to help a wide range of carpentry jobs
9. Mr. Pen FR01 Framing Square [Best Metric Framing Square]
Mr. Pen FR01 is a unique model in the market. It’s a dual metric (mm) and imperial (inch) reading of framing square with steel core body construction.
Designed in a standard size, it should suit small projects.
Another advantage that we found from this square is many people use it as a straightedge. Not only does it check squareness, perpendicularity, and layout but also checks straightness.
However, the graduations make use of printing technic which is likely to wear faster.
- Covers both metric and imperial units
- Rigid body
- Can be used as a straightedge
- There are no tables or conversion measurements in it.
- Graduation isn’t permanent, and it will fade with time.
10. Milescraft 8410MC Framing Square [Alternative]
The Milescraft 8410MC is a hybrid framing square. It comes with an L shape like typical framing squares, a quarter protractor on the inside corner, hole guides for 30° & 45° markings, hole guides every 1/4″ graduations on the blade, and a removable fence similar to what the speed square has.
All of these advantages make it useful to use in woodworking projects.
In terms of quality, this square is made from anodized aluminum. This material has many advantages and some of them are resistant to corrosion and abrasion.
However, the stamped graduations are only on the 12-inch blade. No graduations on the shorter blade. The thickness is 3 mm which is slightly thinner than most framing squares which are 1/8″ (.125″).
- Features pencil hole guides for scribing every 1/4″ graduations
- Stamped graduations; indents the numbers and markings
- You cannot check outer squareness with this tool
11. Milescraft 8405 Framing Square
The Milescraft 8405 framing square is quite similar to the Milescraft 8410 framing square, however, there are a few distinctions. It has a 60-degree angle finder in addition to the 30 and 45-degree rapid angle finders on the Milescraft 8410 and it is heavier.
- It has holes for scribing every 1/4″ graduations
- These 3 angles (30°, 45°, and 60°) are easy to determine with this framing square.
- quality issue
12. Swanson Tool Co T001WZ Adjustable Angle Framing Square
The T001WZ by Swanson Co is a multi-purpose framing square due to its angle adjustable blade.
When the appropriate angle on the sliding tab has been reached, the position can be locked and the measurement transmitted repeatedly. In the event that the tool loses its squareness, an Allen wrench has been included to allow the user to modify and, eventually, rectify the tool’s squareness.
That said, not only does it act as a framing square but also it functions like an angle finder, miter square, saw guide, and surely try square. Another advantage due to its adjustable capability allows you to fold and store it in your toolbox.
- A nice tool that is applicable for a variety of purposes
- It is necessary to calibrate the squareness of the instrument on a regular basis.
Things to Consider Buying A Framing Square
Aluminum (Lighter and Durable)
When you pick a framing square that is composed of an aluminum alloy, it will be more lightweight than steel-made squares. Working with a light framing tool is easier, more comfortable, and more convenient.
Another advantage is corrosion resistance. Anodized aluminum, to be specific, is more durable and abrasion-resistant. The square made of this material will endure longer and you save money.
The disadvantage is when you carry it outdoor. It can easily absorb heat and feels hot on the palm of your hand. If this square drops onto the floor by mistake, it may generate a little bend.
Steel (Solid and Heavy)
Steel framing squares, on the other hand, are robust and can endure any form of bending or hard handling. They would keep their squareness for a long time, and you could easily fix them if they become out of the square. They are generally heavy and durable.
However, steel, on the other hand, corrodes quickly and finally renders the tool worthless.
2. Framing Square Size
There are generally 2 sizes of framing squares :
- the large one: the blade and tongue length is 24″ × 12″ respectively
- the smaller one: the blade and length is 12″ × 8″ respectively
Despite the fact that they are commonly used for verifying corner squareness, measuring, checking angles, and a variety of other tasks, their size distinguishes them.
So, if you just need to work on modest size woodworking or carpentry job, the smaller 12 by 8-inch length framing square will suffice. Alternatively, the larger 24-inch by 12-inch framing square will come in helpful for large-scale tasks such as stair and roof building.
In addition to the length and width of the frame square you’ve chosen, the thickness of the square must be considered. Many framing squares give you a thickness of 1/8 inch.
3. The Graduation Quality
Apart from utilizing the framing squares to square edges, they are also used to mark out and measure distance, thus the quality of the graduation is important. You must be able to see the markings clearly and they must be as permanent as possible.
- Stamping: Starrett FS24, Johnson CS5, Irwin 179447, Empire E1190, and Powertec 80008
- Embossing: Stanley 45-300
- Thermal printing: Johnson CS10
- Punch pressing: Vinca SCLS 1208
- Printing: Mr. Pen FR01
This is the most common graduation approach for framing squares. Stamped, embossed, and etched graduations endure longer, while printed graduations may not.
It’s also a good idea to use a framing square with a lot of contrast. This contrast is very useful because it makes graduations visible even in low-light situations.
4. Conversion Tables and Other Information
Some framing squares come with tables, scales, and conversion carts in addition to their graduations.
- brace scale is a series of numbers listed on the backside of the tongue that can be used to determine the length of a knee brace for a beam and post.
- board foot chart can be used to determine the volume in board feet of any plank within the chart’s limit
- rafter tables have commonly used increments for cutting roofs and are ideal for a roof framing carpenter.
All in all, the overall best framing square is Johnson CS12 which is a stainless steel-made tool that means durable and solid. The graduation is etched and therefore, clearly visible. On the blade surface, there are tables and scales for carpentry. The runner-up is Powertec 80008 framing square.