Combination Square Vs. Speed Square

Different types of tools are used to mark lines and measure the dimensions in wood and metalworking. The square tool is one of the common, durable, straightforward, and easy-to-use tools for those purposes.

Basically, all square tools have two sides of their body perpendicular and it functions to check the right angles. However, the square tool comes in several models with added features. These multiple types of squares are present to serve specific purposes and have different advantages and disadvantages. Some of them have overlapping functions and some can perform different functions.

This page covers how the combination square and speed square are different. We will review how their body compares along with their functions. What are the best applications for them?

10 Points to Compare

1. Checking Inside 90-degree Angle Corner

Both these handheld tools are able to check inside 90-degree angle of an object. But, in this case, speed square is quicker to use. It’s indeed designed with 90-degree corner and you can immediately use it. The combination square is a little hassle. You have to slide the head if the head is at the center of the blade. Simply put, you have to make the head and blade form an L-shape with outer edge is aligned with each other.

2. Checking the Outside 90-degree Angle Corner

Speed square is totally not able to do this for you, while combination square is easy to do that.

3. Shape

In terms of shape, combination square and speed square look so contrast. The combination square looks similar to a fishing boat, especially when you adjust the head to the center of the ruler.

On the other hand, speed square is a triangle shape tool. It is an isosceles right triangle that has a ruler on one side and a guide/fence on the other. A speed square is a simple triangle with cut-out notches and holes/squares.

4. Body Parts

The body ports between both are also different and easy to spot. The combination square consists of ruler, head, protractor, and center finder; the standard model or the simplest configuration is only the ruler and head. The head, protractor head, and center finder are attachable. In contrast, speed square only has a single triangle shape body with a T-shaped fence at one of its edge.

5. How They are Working to Help You

Adjust the head along the blade as you need. Use the adjustable head for measuring height, length, width, and depth. To measure 90-degree angle, use the perpendicular side between the head and blade. To confirm the 45-degree angle, use the inclined edge of the head. Don’t forget to tighten the head after adjusting.

The protractor head offers a range of angles that can be measured between edges, markings, and surfaces. As compared to the standard head which only ensure two angles, protractor head can be set to any desired angle.

Using the speed square is straightforward. Take your pencil and then mark or scribe. Use the guide holes to make accurate and quick lines. Don’t forget to put the T-shaped part at the edge of object being marked. This tool has no moving parts and needs no adjustments before using it. Just place the square on the component and press the fence against the edge.

6. Protractor

The protractor in the combination square lets you measure the angle of an object’s corner easily with good resolution, while speed square only provides several angle markings (not complete). In terms of protractors, surely a combination square is far superior for angle measurement. But, marking the angles can be so much faster with speed square.

7. Material

We never see the blade (ruler) of combination square made from aluminum. Mostly it’s made of steel (hardened steel, stainless steel, etc). This blade can be your straightedge because it’s made with good straightness.

The speed square, on the other hand, is made from aluminum. It’s possible to manufacture speed square with stainless steel but the price will increase.

8. Functions

Combination square allows you to check 90-and-45-degree angles as the main function. Also, it lets you measure depth, length, and width. You can easily find the center point of a circular object. The feature of spirit level is generally found in combination square, making it great to check the surface level with ease.

Speed square checks inside 90-degree corner. In addition, it is very helpful in marking and layout. The features such as markings and scribing guides in its body fast up your work. The T-shape fence stops it from sliding for accurate marking. In addition, this tool has pivot marking. Along with plumb bob, it can be used to establish vertical reference or simply to check plumb.

9. Applications

Due to its protractor, center finder, spirit level, 90-and-45-degree angle checker, combination square is popular in woodworking and metalworking area. In comparison, speed square provides some quick scribing guides, lets you easily mark lines, and then quickly cut. Even it can be used as a saw guide. Applications of speed square spread over carpentry, woodworking, and metalworking.

10. Price

There is no doubt that combination square is relatively more expensive than speed square. You can check their price ranges in our reviews of speed squares and combination squares.


As the name suggests, combination square truly combines different functions. But there is no single robust design that can be used in all situations. You may have to change heads for different tasks. Even, it requires additional two heads apart from the standard if you want to fully utilize its features. Its accuracy may decrease over time as the groove in which the head slides wears out.

Speed square also called triangular square is a tool that has a simple yet handy and robust design. It is also a multipurpose tool that is used for marking, scribing, and determining angles. This cheap multi-functional tool is lightweight, straightforward, portable, and easy to work with, although it can only mark several angles between 0 to 90 degrees. One of its applications is also as a guide for the saw to cut 90- and 45-degree angles. In woodworking, if the parts are not complex speed square has an advantage over a combination square. If the type of work is versatile and complex combination square is preferred rather than a speed square.