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By tony_s
Mitutoyo for me. I got it used on ebay after searching for a long time; I was fortunate in that it had led a very sheltered life previously and was still pretty much unmarked and in its original box
I'm definitely NOT qualified to speak from a proper woodworking viewpoint, but having used all of those tools (for metal work - mainly checking stuff, plus owning my own Starrett) I'd guess there's no difference at all in terms of accuracy.

And also as I guess, I'd say that all are so well made that unless a SH any one of those showed obvious signs of serious abuse, any would be a good buy SH.

Again, caveat please, I'm NOT a "custard-type" woodworker!
By Inspector
There are 2 kinds of Starrett, at least in the US there is. One version is of cast steel and the other, the one I have, is forged steel. Forged costs more and is a bit slimmer in cross section but both are just as accurate. I have 12" and 24" rules in both imperial decimal (fractions to 1/64 on one side and decimal to 0.010 on the other) and metric, so 4 rules. There are two kinds of protractor, one that is only on one side of the rule and can rotate uninterrupted 360. The second straddles the rule (the one I bought) and will not freely spin around unless the rule is pulled back past the bridge that joins both sides. Sometimes a PIA but it allows you to set an angle and flip the tool to go the other way. Sometimes I wish I had both. I have used a Mitutoyo at work, they are cast steel and good too. Never had a M&W or any other to compare to.

I have a Vernier bevel protractor made by SPI and it measures angles to 1 minute of a degree where the Mitutoyo mentioned earlier measures to 5 minutes of a degree. One upped you. ;) :) :) There are digital bevel protractors that are a lot easier to read and use but for the limited amount I need one I'm happy with what I have.

In the not to many have one category. I have a Starrett 430-24 Builders Combination Tool. Also comes in an 18" version. Degree protractor on one side and roof pitch on the other. Sometimes the perfect tool but the combination is used more.

Once you get a high quality tool you will find it comes to hand far more often than a blister pack one from the hardware store. Good to have a cheap ones to lend to neighbours.
By johnnyb
In the bargain basement section empire profesional Combi squares are square and cheap. Available from home base.
I like 2 for fitting doors and setting tracks.
By MusicMan
If you buy a new certified tool from the big makers, it will be calibrated to a certain accuracy and will deliver to that. Check on the manufacturers' specs what that accuracy is and how the indicate it on the tool. Secondhand or a cheap maker, you are in the lap of the gods.

But you can always check, calibrate and adjust a square yourself. Crudely by drawing a line on a board which has a real straight edge, flipping the square and checking whether the lines agree. Very accurately (about 0.003 degrees) by building a square setting/checking jig. For example high-accuracy-square-setting-jig-t93871.html

And you can make your own straight edge by making three, and checking in pairs that they contact all the way along.

You rarely need the ultimate accuracy in woodwork of course, but as custard points out, you do sometimes. You are then really into metalwork-type jigs and fixtures. The standard way to set a high precision angle is by a sine bar ( ... -sine-bar/). You could set one up extremely accurately to 45 degrees (or whatever) on a flat surface plate, and then check a mitre by comparison.

The digital protractors are very convenient, but generally only read to 0.1 degree (6 minutes of arc). And accuracy depends on the accuracy of the transducer inside, which you cannot check and may or may not be calibrated.
By johnnyb
For accuracy i find combination square stocks are to short as a datum and there slide mechanism tends to wear. But there general versatility is there saving grace.
The empire heavy duty professional square was to 0.001per inch.i think. And £14 or so.
By g7g7g7g7
I really don't have deep enough pockets for this topic at all, I don't even own a cheap combi square.

This is everything I've gathered that could be considered a measuring or marking tool of some kind, I try to rely on a full size drawing to transfer sizes from or a story stick as much as humanly possible and I think it's liberating, as a hand tool worker whose main objective is finishing stuff I won't fuss over a third of a mm it isn't worth my time. There's an old phrase from back when I played a lot of music that was used by snobbish types to be disparaging "good enough for jazz", as someone who loved jazz I decided to take ownership of the term and use it positively. It's not like a giving up "It's close enough" thing it's more of a "that's gonna work nicely" type thing, working with poplar and softwoods due to budget means an overly tight joint will crush together pretty nicely and be tight as all hell so I can enjoy taking those liberties and not stressing the small stuff if it means getting a job done in half the time.

Will I spend £50+ on a combi square at some point, probably, but I'm eyeing up a £20 japanese saddle square type thing that looks like it'll fit into my work style better, no fiddling and adjusting rules involved in it
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By custard
g7g7g7g7 wrote:rely on a full size drawing to transfer sizes from or a story stick

Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I'm surprised how many people on this forum dive into projects with neither a plan nor a cutting list...but then again, lots of people never actually complete their projects, so maybe it's not that surprising after all!
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By custard
johnnyb wrote:The empire heavy duty professional square was to 0.001per inch.i think. And £14 or so.

I wasn't familiar with that brand so I googled them, here's what some users had to say about Empire Professional squares,

the 45 deg is not accurate at all and not adjustable either, so I will be measuring my 45 degree angles with something else...

If you get one of these thats square out of the box, consider yourself lucky. This is NOT a the same quality as Starret or Mitutoyo.

The casual DIY user or beginning woodworker beware

The first item I got wasn't square

The second one was square out of the box, however it still had a 45.5 degree angle on the other part

Doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement!
By Sideways
Empire used to make a line of carpenters squares in a nice anodized blue,as well as spirit levels, etc. I fancied one of these as it looked like it would be easy to read but my local independent told me they've gone out of business. The word is that they had a high level of returns.
By large red
I have a M&W that my Dad bought me on the day I started my apprenticeship 35 years ago it's still perfect. It's one of those tools that I'm too attached to, and last year I made a box for it and retired to the shelf and only use it for very special jobs. Which I know is completely irrational.
By AJB Temple
Woodworkers tend to assume that near enough is good enough, compared with engineers. In some cases though, for example when making musical instruments, with very expensive woods that are inherently stable, a high degree of precision elevates work from average to superb.

For this reason I became somewhat obsessive about measuring and setting out tools. The price differential is not much, especially if you are a Festool (et al) aficionado.

Buy once: buy good tools. Don't waste your time and energy with compromises.
QUOTE, from large red: " Which I know is completely irrational. " UNQUOTE:

No it's not, or at least not IMO. The Starrett combi that I got cheap (cardboard box) will also get a nice wooden box, "one of these fine wet days"!

And as far as measuring & marking out tools are concerned, +1 for AJB Temple's post (again, IMO).
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By ED65
AJB Temple wrote:...and, crucially, really clear and deep engraving.

Just to emphasise how important this is in the long term, I found a combo square at the car boot on Sunday that wasn't in bad nick at all, few dings and just some grime and light rusting to deal with. Problem was the markings were so lightly done that after cleaning you'd have ended up with a lovely shiny steel bar with no measurements on it at all.

So I'd add to the list of desirable features a stainless steel rule. I actually don't know why every rule isn't stainless these days.

AJB Temple wrote:Buy once: buy good tools. Don't waste your time and energy with compromises.

But this so often gets equated with buy expensive, the implication being that is the only way to ensure quality.
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By Sawdust=manglitter
ED65 wrote:But this so often gets equated with buy expensive, the implication being that is the only way to ensure quality.

You might get lucky with second hand, but more often than not (or atleast I find) you get what you pay for.