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Author Topic: The Framing Square Story  (Read 12851 times)

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Offline Jim_Rogers

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The Framing Square Story
« on: November 27, 2004, 04:24:06 pm »
The Framing Square

Another one of the most commonly used layout tools for Timber Framing is, of course, the Framing Square.

Some of you probably use it every day in one way or another.

Did you know that there are names to the parts of the framing square?

The wider of the two parts, which is 2” wide, is called the body. Sometimes this part is also called the blade.

The narrower of the two parts, which is 1 ½” wide, is called the tongue.

Did you know that the framing square has a front and a back?

When you hold your framing square like this:



This side is called the face or the front.

When you hold your framing square like this:



This side is the back.

The point where the two parts of the square meet, at either the inside corner or the outside corner is called the Heel.

Near the corner of the Heel on the back side of my framing square in the middle of the tongue you see a row of numbers like this:



And further towards the end of the tongue are more:



Let’s look at some of these numbers.

The first set in the corner is 18 over 24 beside a larger number 30. If you didn’t know what this is, it’s a 3-4-5 triangle layout. Three times six is 18, four times six is 24, and five times six is 30.  These can be inches or feet. You can use this to prove your layout has a true 90° corner.

Now let’s look at some of the other numbers.

Look down the tongue and find the numbers 36 over 36 with 50 and 91 beside it.

These are the layout lengths for a timber frame brace. If you measure over from the corner 36” and make a mark on your horizontal timber and down from the same corner 36” on your post and make a mark, the distance from mark to mark is 50.91 inches, diagonally.

Now if you’re out on the job and you don’t have a pocket calculator with you to convert your dimension of 50.91 into 16ths, how are you going to lay it out?

Well if you have these numbers on your framing square then one of the scales on your framing square should be in 10ths of an inch.
If you look at the picture above, the one that shows the 18 over 24, you should be able to see the bottom scale on the back side of my framing square’s tongue a scale where the inches are divided by 10ths.
If you ever wondered why they put that scale on your framing square, this is why.

You have to be careful when using the framing square and laying out 16ths of an inch that you are using the correct scale on the face or front of the framing square and not one of the other scales on the back.

If you do have your pocket calculator with you, and you want to convert .91 into 16ths of an inch you multiply .91 by 16 and get 14.56. That is 14 and .56 sixteenths. We round up the 6 to make it .6 and then round up the .6 again to make it 15. So that’s 50 and 15/16” for the length of the brace in sixteenths.

I hope you’ve found this story interesting, and informative.

Jim Rogers
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Woodmizer 1994 LT30HDG24 with 6' Bed Extension

Offline DonE911

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2004, 04:38:27 pm »
Geat information...

should I be hiding my head?  I didn't know any of that.  

I do now 8) If I was home I'd go out and grab one of my grandfathers old squares and check it out alot closer.  I had never bought anything other than a speedy square.. and until a got all these old tools when gramp's passed on, I'd never even thought about using one.

Offline Tom

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2004, 05:04:13 pm »
Good story, Jim.  Got a Chapter two? :)
extinct

Offline Furby

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2004, 05:37:09 pm »
Thanks for the info Jim, it's great info to have.
Myself, I've been useing the framing square a lot lately, and noticed that the cheaper, newer ones don't have any of that on them. Had to go get one of the older ones.  :-/

Offline etat

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2004, 10:50:08 pm »
Not sure about the newer ones. Some things about an older steel square with scales and numbers on front and back, many of which have already been mentioned by Jim who probably understands em better than me, I have to consult a book. .

1.  Framing Table.  On face of blade of square includes length of main rafters per foot of run, difference in length of jacks 16 inch centers, side cut of jacks, hip and valley cuts

octagon scale on face of tongue of square

board measure on back of blade of square


brace measure on back of tongue of square,

_____________________________________________--

There are seven parallel lines along the body or blade forming 6 spaces and and in these spaces are given the lengths and cuts for 17 different pitches from 2 to 18 inches rise. the first space gives the length of main rafters per fut. second gives the length of hip and valleys, third gives the length of first jack rafter, fourth  gives length of first jack and their differences spaces 2 ft centers, the fifth gives the figures to be used with 12 for the cheek or side cut of jack against hips and valleys, sixth gives the figures to be used with 1as for cheek or side cuts, etc, etc etc.

the octagon scale is known by mechanics as the octagon or eight-square scale is along the center of the face of the tongue and consists of two parallel lines, etc, etc etc

another way to get an octagon is to take half the diagonal distance of the square of timber and measure out one side from corner, etc. etc. etc.

on the back of the square is what is called the essex board measure giving the correct amount of square feet in boards.  this board measure consists of several parallel lines drawn along the blade 22 inches long with perpendicular lines across them, etc. etc. etc.

the brace measure rule is on the back of the tongue of the steel square which consists of groups of figures along the center of the tongue, etc etc etc.

some squares have a scale to get the hundredth part of an inch.  It is located on the back of the square near the junction of the tongue and blade

My information comes from a framing book which I got from my grandpa in the mid seventy's, it's ragged now as I've used it for the rafter and concrete tables many many times. .  The name of the book is'A FRAMING GUIDE AND STEEL SQUARE.  'a practical treatise giving shortest methods on roof framing and how to use the steel square, rafter tables, square root tables, sash tables, shingle tables and various tables, brick, tile, and concrete work.......by Dallas Sigmon.  It is a small pocket type book, 311 pages of information, tables, and illustrations  and was invaluable to me in the framing of my house. The first printing of the book was 1908 consisting of 171 pages.  My grandfather ordered a reprint of the book for me in the mid 70's, mine states it is a fifth edition.

A couple of chapters included among the many. ball, surface and volume of,.......... barrels, shape and contents of, .........beam tables, wood safe loads,....... braces, how to get length of, ..........braces, rise per foot, .........bridging and trestle work,......... height of a tree with a steel square, .......weight of building materials, weight of dry woods,  and probably a hundred more.

Quote by the author of the book " I have often been told by carpenters when seeing the square, that they did not know the meaning off all the figures placed on the square.  Therefore, I have placed the drawings of this square in this volume, as I want to show to those kind of mechanics that all the figures are very simple, and that they all can be thoroughly understood by most carpenters,"



My Quote, Yeah, Right? ???

Old Age and Treachery will outperform Youth and Inexperence. The thing is, getting older is starting to be painful.

Offline etat

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2004, 11:30:44 pm »
From the book:






Height of a tree

The height of a tree can by measured by the same way by using the steel square taking A,C,D for the square.  Now we will call AB a tree, and AC the blade of square, and CD the tongue 16 inches long. We place the end of the blade against the tree with the blade level or the tongue parallel with the tree and using inches on the square for feet; now place a straight edge at end of tongue D, letting it cross the blade at E and in line with top of tree. Suppose the straight edge crosses the blade at the 6 inch mark, then there would be 18 inches from that point to the tree and the height of the tree would be A E 18 multiplied by C D 16 divided by E C 6.  Thus: 18 times 16 divided by 6 equals 48 feet, which is the distance from where the blade hits the tree to top.  The distance from where the blade is placed against tree to the ground must always be added to this measurement. Now, if the tree is not plumb, put the tongue parallel with the tree, and it will always work right even if the tree leans at a angle of 45 degrees.

Old Age and Treachery will outperform Youth and Inexperence. The thing is, getting older is starting to be painful.

Offline etat

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2004, 11:43:32 pm »
You can also muliple, divide, and do many many other calculations with a steel square substituting it  for a crude type of slide rule, (which I don't know anything about either) :)  As I said, this is all from the book. :)

Example of division with a steel square:(from the book)

Divide 22 1/2 by 4 1/2.   Take the divisor for 4 1/2 on the blade and 1 inch on the tongue, mark along blade and slide blade to the divided 22 1/2, and the tongue will register the quotient which is 5.  With this example it would be better to increase the first two numbers, say 4 times.  Then 18 (4 times 4 1/2) on blade, 4 (4 times 1) on the tongue, mark at blade and slide blade to 22 1/2 will also give 5 on the tongue.



According to my grandpa he always kept his copy of his book hid in his truck.  When it came time to cut rafters or figure something he'd slip off ahead of time and knowing the width of the building, and the pitch it was calling for, etc. he'd get the exact figures for the length and cuts on the rafters from the tables in the book.  Then when it came time to cut the rafters or figure the concrete, or figure the bricks he'd appear to come up with the figures off the top of his head.  He used to laugh as he was telling me all this.  I reckon he was a sneaky old codger!!!!!!!! :)  

Jim, hope you don't mind me jumping on your thread like this.  If it weren't for this little book, in hand,  I wouldnt' a been able to have know or tell none of this.  

Old Age and Treachery will outperform Youth and Inexperence. The thing is, getting older is starting to be painful.

Offline Timber_Framer

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2004, 09:19:28 am »
Ok where's the 1001 uses for a framing square book? ;)
Good info guys, thanks
"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2004, 06:43:24 am »
Tom:
Part two later today....... stay tuned......
Jim Rogers

PS. none of which has already been mentioned. Which was all good stuff........
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
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Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2004, 09:38:27 am »
Story about the Framing Square
Part 2


Ok, let’s say you show up on your job site, and the boss says to you: “layout a six inch hole over there for the plumber.”

Now you don’t have a pencil holding compass or set of dividers with you. What are you going to do?
You could walk around the job site looking for something that is six inches in diameter, or you could just grab your framing square and lay it out.

How can a framing square layout a six inch diameter hole?

First locate the spot where the hole is to be drawn:



Next draw the diameter line, six inches long:



And at the ends of this six inch long line, pound in two nails as shown above.

Next place your framing square against these two nails like this:



Put your pencil tip in the corner created by the inside of the heel. Holding the framing square so that each inside edge stays touching both the nails slide the square towards one of the nails like this:



Then towards the other nail. When you are finished the square will have drawn a half circle like this:



And when you've done this to both sides of the nails you’ll have a perfect six inch diameter circle, like this:



I hope this story has shown you something new you didn't know about the framing square.

Try it, it's fun.

Jim Rogers

Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Woodmizer 1994 LT30HDG24 with 6' Bed Extension

Offline ScottAR

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2004, 10:14:23 am »
Slick.
Scott
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Offline TN_man

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2004, 02:41:16 am »
Thanks guys for the education! :P
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Offline Timber_Framer

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2004, 09:56:18 am »
That's slick!
"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."

Offline DonE911

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2004, 12:58:59 pm »
Did this book that has been mentioned come with the square?  I may need to buy a new one just to get the book

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2004, 01:47:21 pm »
You can get a book about the "Steel Square" from a specialty book store called Summer Beam books without having to buy a new square.
The book is called "How to Use The Steel Square", and I think it's around $3.95 for the small paperback pocket version, plus shipping of course.
Their phone number is on their web-page at Click here for link to Summer Beam books website
Charlotte who runs the book store works full time as a Librarian and does the book store part time.
She knows me personally, if you mention my name.
Unfortunately her website hasn't been update recently and I don't believe she has a printed catalog but you can ask for any book about timber framing that you're interested in and she may be able to find it for you.
She also has lots of books on forestry and woodworking.
Jim Rogers

PS. the square pictured above isn't an old one, I got it at Home Cheapo only a little while ago.

When buying a new square look for the brace layout lengths on the back side of the tongue and if it's there then you've got a good one. But always check the square before buying it, to make sure it's truly square, by doing the 3-4-5 method in inches with a tape measure.
A fellow student at a workshop told us that he checked 5 squares at a hardware store before he found one that he considered square.
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Woodmizer 1994 LT30HDG24 with 6' Bed Extension

Offline DonE911

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2004, 02:03:13 pm »
Home Depot tools are about the same as the lumber... gotta search for a straight one.

I got a new handsaw there not long ago and of the six they had of the type I wanted, only one was not bent out of shape ( kinked).  I now own the straight one, so I feel sorry for the next guy/gal that comes looking.  I think it was only $15 so I guess you get what you pay for or have to search the stack for a deal.

Thanks for the info on the book.  I'll have to check it out after we finish moving.  I tried to look at one of gramps old squares and remembered I already packed them in the trailer ( way up front ) so that will have to wait also.

Offline Silverback

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2004, 02:09:14 pm »
Not to hijack the thread, but if you get a pre WWII disson handsaw (sharpened and properly set) you will throw the new one away and possibly even your circular saw.
Live Life.  And to borrow NEW HAMPSHIRE's motto: live free or die.

Offline DonE911

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2004, 03:31:46 pm »
If you'll go ahead and send me that pre WW II saw I'll try it out and if your right I'll send you my home depot special in trade...   :D

Just kidding, I'm sure your right, but I have not yet run accross one. yet!!

Offline ohsoloco

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2004, 05:41:59 pm »
Talking about out of square squares  ???  If you find your square is in fact out of square, you can "adjust" it by tapping either the inside or outside of the heel with a nail, depending on which way it needs to go

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: The Framing Square Story
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2010, 08:06:48 am »
bump to the top
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Woodmizer 1994 LT30HDG24 with 6' Bed Extension