The Vesper Double Square is a wonderful little square that can be kept in the pocket of your shop apron and have at your fingertips for many uses around the shop. The square's interchangeable blades make it extremely useful for everything from marking dimensions to fitting joinery to tool setup.
Vesper Tools is a small Australian business with a passion for making the highest quality and best value woodworking hand tools. They use precision machined metals to design and produce tools with an extremely high fit and finish. Chris Vesper, owner and tool maker, uses the motto "Sapere aude, fortiter et fediliter", which means "Dare to be wise, boldly and faithfully." You can see Chris's dedication to the craft in this Double Square with its variety of blades.
The Double Square is machined from hardened steel and features a spring loaded locking pin, a 90 degree square on one side and a convenient 45 degree bevel on the other side. The body of the square features an anti-rotation mechanism to maintain the center pin's position while you switch blades. (I really hate those combination squares where the pin rotates around or falls out while trying to insert a rule...sometimes you need three hands!) The square is available with three widths of 3" stainless steel blades, or additionally with a fourth blade that is 6" in length. Shown in the following picture are the 3" long in 1/16" grads (or 75mm x 14mm) blade and the narrow 3" long with 1/16" grads (or 75mm x 4mm) blade.
In addition to the graduated narrow blade shown above there is a plain notched narrow blade that is very useful for measuring square in small areas, like dovetails. More on this later.
You can also purchase a 6" blade that fits in the handle and can be used as a very nice 6" ruler by itself. I keep the square with the shorter blade in my apron pocket and the 6" ruler in the pocket of my apron for quick access. Last month I reviewed the Sturdy Brothers Charles Apron and the Vesper 6" ruler fits easily in the breast pocket.
Obviously you can't see it because it is in the pocket. If you could see it you would realize it does not take up much room. The following (x-ray) picture shows how little room the Double Square would take up in your shop apron.
When you start looking at the variety of uses for the Double Square, I like to compare it to a Swiss Army knife. There is a wide variety of blades and uses for this tool. You can start with the basic 3" blade with the 90 degree edge against the side of the board. I also use this size square to check the edge of a board that I am planing by hand. It is quick and easy to reach into my shop apron pocket and grab the square to run along the edge of the board.
You can also flip it over and use the built-in 45 degree bevel for drawing 45 degree angles.
The same 90 degree and 45 degree measurements are available with the 6" rule as well. The pictures below show the 6" ruler mounted in the Double Square handle. The anti-rotation mechanism makes changing the blade quick and easy.
It may seem trivial that you can use the 6" rule either in the handle or freehand but having both these flexible capabilities close at hand, if you carry both in your apron, is very important. I am always looking to measure things square or laying a rule on the board to draw a line.
I think one of the best uses for these small combination squares is for measuring squareness of an edge while cutting dovetails. Tool makers like Vesper realized there is a need for narrow metal straight edges to check the various surfaces of joints, especially dovetails. You can use the narrow blade to check the accuracy of your dovetail pins as you cut them. The narrow blade lets you get into the small cuts with ease.
The 6" ruler being used freehand to draw a line across a board
These small blades can go where the wider blades can not!! Here I'm inspecting both the bottom surface and the side of the tail. Having a square tail cut is critical to laying out the pin board and eliminating gaps in the dovetail. If the tail is not square to the surface of the board then you will end up with a gap in your joint.
As you can imagine, these are just a few of the many uses for the Double Square. When kept in your shop apron pocket it is there to grab for checking squareness of the edge and or end of a board, setting your table saw blade to 90 or 45 degrees, and checking/adjusting the fence or table on the bandsaw and belt sander. Remember when I said it's like a Swiss Army knife?
I have a T-shirt with the saying "Layout is Everything" printed on the front. I really believe that accurate layout and tool setup is critical to optimum woodworking. That means having the capability to draw lines accurately, making sure tool blades and fences are square and having the ability to check resulting cuts for squareness.
The Vesper Double Square
by Vesper Tools 'fits the bill' for doing all of this and more. It is a wonderful compliment to larger combination squares and rulers that you might already have in your shop. I highly recommend the Vesper Double Square!
Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.