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A combination square is a vital tool for performing the most basic shop operations, such as layout, marking, measuring, and machinery setup. Its versatility is unparalleled by any other single tool. The two main components of a combination square are the head and the blade?what manufacturers call a two-piece set?and that’s all you get with most of the lower-priced tools. In the higher price brackets, the major brands offer center heads and protractor heads, resulting in a four-piece set, for about double the cost of the two-piece set. Fortunately, buying a combination square is likely to be a one-time purchase because all of the better models will outlast you.
The Empire was a bottom-of-the-line tool with an inadeqaute locking mechanism. A plastic insert allowed movement and will wear down quickly. Overall, the tool was awkward to use. The stamped steel blade was difficult to read, and the model I used had a burr on the end from the machining process.
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