What is a SPEED Square?

wiseGEEK Writer

The SPEED® Square is a triangular-shaped measuring tool that is made of metal. It has many applications and may be used on roofs, to measure angles, mark lumber, create perpendicular lines, or to simply perform a quick measurement. The SPEED® square is a product patented and produced by the Swanson Tool Co., Inc. Other generic forms of the tool are made by other manufacturers as well. These are more appropriately referred to as rafter angle squares or triangle-shaped measuring squares.

Precision crafts, like scrapbooks, may make use of a SPEED® Square.
Precision crafts, like scrapbooks, may make use of a SPEED® Square.

The SPEED® Square is actually the shape of a right triangle — not a square as the name might imply. The term square actually goes to the action it helps perform — to help square measurements so that corners which require 90-degree angles are appropriately measured. The tool is primarily used by pushing the right triangle of the tool against the corners of a measuring area. Appropriate markings are made accordingly.

The long edge of the SPEED® Square, or hypotenuse of the triangle, can be used as a handy ruler or straightedge. Usually the length measures 7 inches (about 17.8 cm) or more. SPEED® Squares include a Diamond Design® which is a diamond marking that easily identifies the middle point of the ruler.

The SPEED® Square was invented by Albert J. Swanson in 1925 and has long been considered as a necessary tool for both amateur and professional carpenters. Those who scrapbook or work in other crafts requiring precision measurement may also use the SPEED® Square to mark corners and figure out the ideal and straight placement of items or measurements.

Most contractors, builders and others in the construction field appreciate the simplicity of the SPEED® Square, its many applications and also its ease of use. It makes a great hand tool and is inexpensive, running about 8-10 US dollars (USD). It also fits conveniently in the pockets of carpenter pants.

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