Engineer Square Vs. Try Square

The degree of how an object is exactly like a square shape is squareness. It has a correlation with straightness, perpendicularity, parallelism, and 90-degree angle. And we express squareness in a tolerance value.

One of the prevalent shapes used as a reference for geometric conformity of squareness is a square tool. However, there are many models of square tools available. Some of them are made with higher accuracy while some are made with relatively low accuracy. Surely, the higher one is very important for high accuracy engineering operations like in the machine shop.

The focus of this article is to compare and contrast two similar (yet distinct) squareness measuring instruments: engineers square and try square. We will compare them in terms of shape, material, accuracy, usage, and application.

Engineer’s Square

Also known as the machinist square, the engineer’s square is used to accurately measure the squareness (particularly the straightness and perpendicularity properties of squareness).


Some engineer squares on the market are square-shaped and L-shaped. But the most ones for sale on the market are the L-shaped ones.

Further, the L-shaped ones have differences in terms of thickness. Some of them have the same thickness of their entire body (blade and stock). On the other, you will also find them have thin blade while the stock is fat as the thickest part. The thickness part also forms the shorter part of this L-shaped model of engineer square.


Surely, engineer squares are made of metal (usually alloy steel). The blade and stock are made from the same material and wholly one body.


Engineering squares are used in situations where exact readings are not required. However, the stock and blade of engineers square are calibrated outside and inside. It is portable and comes in varying standard sizes (50-1000mm).

Although the engineers square is significantly accurate, it is not perfectly square.

How to Use

Using an engineer square is simple. However, it relies on you aligning the engineers square correctly and positioning your eyes well to determine how square the two lines are in comparison with each other.


From the time of the industrial revolution to now, the engineer’s square continues to be an important measuring instrument for engineers and artisans around the world.

Try Square


It’s no doubt that a try square has an L shape. You can easily find this square on the market and find it L-shaped.


The stock and blade (or beam) of try squares are made out of different materials. The stock is made out of either wood or plastic while the blade is metallic.


Surely, no try square is perfectly square. They come with a grade that shows their accuracy in tolerance value. Although the deviation of carpenters’ squares according to British Standard 3322 should not be more than 0.01 mm off per 1 cm, most of the try squares on the market don’t tell what accuracy or grade they are having.

Compared to engineer square, try square is less accurate. Therefore, try square is prone to be a working tool rather than inspection or calibration equipment.

How to Use

Because try squares are mainly used in carpentry, basically it functions to layout lines on a surface (commonly wood) before making a cut. Simply, lay down the try square on the surface, along with the stock are holding the position by hooking on the wood edge, then you can scribe a line.


Try squares are often used in carpentry works although it is also used in other engineering settings.

In addition to checking the squareness of an object, you can use try squares (and engineers squares) to make perpendicular lines for a crosscut. You can also use try squares (engineers square) to check the accuracy of your crosscuts.

Modern-day try squares have one significant advantage over earlier models of try squares. The advantage is that they are calibrated. Therefore, they can also be used for scribing and marking points. In fact, some try square models aid your marking and scribbling by providing ergonomic holes.

Engineer’s Square Try Square
Appearance and Materials
Blade and stock are made from the same metallic material which is usually steel. Blade and stock are usually made from different materials. Blade is usually metallic while the stock is usually made out of wood or plastic or metal.
Little or no variance in color. Blade and stock usually have two distinct colors.
Has a notch cut in the stock in line with the inside edge of the blade Usually does not has a notch cut into any part
Usually one body contruction Blade and stock are not one body
Accuracy and Applications
Both outer and inner edges are accurate Only inner edges are accurate
More accurate Less accurate
Less prone to loss of accuracy (no wobble) More prone to loss of accuracy due to not one body (wobble)
Used in metalworking, machine shops, and carpentry Used predominantly in carpentry

Engineer’s square and try squares are among the common tools used to measure squareness and perpendicularity. The properties of squareness that they measure are straightness, perpendicularity, and parallelism. To get a more accurate and wholesome measurement of squareness, you can use other measuring instruments such as autocollimator and dial indicator.