Review of the Swanson Speed Square

Back to reviews main page

Swanson Speed Square Review

Rough Cut Heaven

In my experience, the Swanson Speed Square is an outstanding tool for what it's meant to do - laying out coarse cuts for construction projects. Several years back I picked up a Swanson Speed Square at a local lumber yard. I was immediately impressed with the simplicity and ruggedness of this device.

The Swanson Speed Square is elegantly simple for what it is. It's a tool with no moving parts. The square appears to be stamped from a single piece of aluminum alloy.

Measurements - the square has different measurements and graduations stamped into it.

Unlike more common types of squares, the Swanson Speed Square doesn't appear to be easily prone to being knocked out of whack from being dropped, squashed in a toolbox, thrown in the back of a pickup truck or otherwise abused. This is a real plus when one is working in a non-shop environment such as on the job site or when up on a roof or other place where tools don't always get the benefit of being treated like fine china. I have personally dropped my speed square a number of times and due to its simple, rugged construction, I've not been the least bit worried that it's lost its ability to mark ~90 degree cuts. Unless you somehow manage to bend this square over by crushing it in your tailgate or running it over with a backhoe, your children may end up using this to mark fence boards and gates in their backyards.

For me, the Swanson Speed Square is a tool I use solely for marking rough cuts on lumber. Despite the fact that it has a number of stamped markings for measurement and layout, I've never used these "features", opting instead to use this tool solely for marking 90 degree cuts or use as a mini-straight edge to transfer angled cuts or markings from one edge of a board to another. It does this job quite nicely. In addition to very simple layout, this square is ideal for checking the rough squareness of pieces being assembled. It is by no means a replacement for a framing square, as it just doesn't have the lengths to do this function properly for long or critical measurement pieces - but it's more than adequate for checking the squareness of such things as gates, raised garden beds or a workbench.

The Swanson Speed Square is a great little tool that I never fail to bring with me when I'm doing such work as building fences, constructing gates or building things that don't require extreme precision. In cases like those, I will pull out the Bridge City Toolworks or Starett devices. If you are piecing together a jewelry box, the Swanson Speed Square will have little or no utility for you, but for rough construction, in my experience, the Swanson Speed Square has no peer.

Click to view the Swanson Tool SO101 7-inch Speed Square on

Chamber MemberRotary MemberNikon ProfessionalWe are a Christian Company