Bottom line: The Swanson Combination Square has a great build quality and is highly accurate, and it does both without breaking the bank.
- Imperial and metric
- Up to 1/32" scale
- Etched blade markings
- Scratch awl can be finicky to remove
Tested size and model: Swanson TC130 6-Inch Combination Square
Other models available: Swanson 12-Inch Combination Square, Swanson 16-Inch Combination Square, Swanson 12-Inch Plastic Combination Square
Alternative to consider
If you want a combination square with a blade that goes down to 1/64″: iGaging offers both a 6-inch and a 12-inch combination square with blades that have down to 1/64″ graduations.
Swanson’s Metal Combination Squares have all the woodworking essentials you may be familiar with if you’ve worked with this type of hand tool before.
The 3/4-inch-wide blade is made of stainless steel with etched markings. Etched markings bring a high level of durability because they won’t wear away with use.
On one side of the blade, there is an inch scale on the bottom edge that goes down to 1/32″ and a metric scale on the other edge with millimeter and centimeter graduations.
Flip over the blade, and you’ll find a 1/16″ scale on one edge and a 1/8″ scale on the other edge.
The Swanson Combination Square also includes a single bubble level, a spring-loaded brass knob to adjust the blade, and a scratch awl for marking lines.
The one gripe we have with this woodworking square is that the scratch awl can be difficult to remove rapidly, at least compared to some of the best combination squares.
The base of the scratch awl is laid out too close to the anvil’s 90-degree edge, making it difficult to unscrew the awl more than half a turn at a time.
Let’s be clear, we’re nitpicking here. But it’s worth mentioning because other combination squares do have more easily removable scratch awls.
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Durability and accuracy are the most important features of a combination square’s build quality, and the Swanson Combination Square shines in both areas.
The cast zinc anvil is machined on the 45-degree edge, the 90-degree edge, and the top edge where the blade sits, which creates a highly accurate combination square.
This shined through in our tests for 45-degree and 90-degree angle accuracy. We found that the accuracy was well above our desired testing tolerance of less than plus or minus 1/32″ deviation over a foot-long span.
Beyond accuracy, the Swanson Combination Square has a good weight in hand and nicely designed, grippy knobs to adjust the blade and remove the scratch awl.
While the Swanson 12-Inch Plastic Combination Square is also likely a quality option – we didn’t test it to know for sure – we generally recommend sticking with the metal models for accuracy and durability. Consider that this recommendation isn’t a knock on Swanson’s quality. The same recommendation holds true for any plastic combination square from any brand.
The 6-Inch Swanson Combination Square is available online for less than $10, whereas the lengthier 12-inch and 16-inch versions are available for under $16. No matter your size, all are of great value due to their build quality and accuracy. Best yet, you won’t feel guilty picking up a few for your shop or losing one around the home.
Swanson squares are made in the USA at Swanson’s manufacturing facility in Frankfort, Illinois.
Yes, Swanson offers a one-year warranty against defects in workmanship. You can submit a Swanson tool for warranty via the company’s contact form or by calling (815)469-9453.