Blue Spruce Toolworks is known mostly for tools that cut – knives and chisels – and not tools that lay out. That’s a shame because the Blue Spruce bevel gauge and try square are excellent tools with some special features.
We’ve had the try square in our shop for more than two years now, and it is the tool we all use in the machine room to check things for square. I chose the Blue Spruce for this difficult task for a couple reasons. One, if it gets dropped on the concrete floor and is knocked out of square (this has happened twice) it is easily returned to perfection in moments thanks to its internal mechanism.
And two, the ceramic coating on the tool stops rust. Our machine room is climate controlled, but it is a much harsher environment than the bench room.
In use, I quite like the ceramic coating on the tool. I wasn’t sure I would. I have an aversion to anodized aluminum for some reason. The ceramic doesn’t look like fancy aluminum foil around a Christmas package. It’s matte and smooth.
You can customize the look of the square – there are currently nine color options (including an anodized finish). You can choose the finish on the blade, the wood infilled into the handle and the hardware. Chances are that no one you know will choose the same combination as you do, making your square easy to spot in a class or bench room. At $150, this square is a steal. The quality and engineering are outstanding.
The bevel gauge is the latest addition to my tool kit. As I delve into teaching chairmaking and other staked pieces, I have students asking for my recommendations for bevel gauges (also called sliding bevels and siding T-bevels).
Of course, I love the bevels from Chris Vesper. Always have. But the waiting list for those can be months at times. Lately, I’ve been recommending vintage Stanley No. 18s, which are great but can be difficult to find, depending on the weather.
The Blue Spruce bevel is as outstanding as its fixed-blade brother discussed above. You get to pick all your colors and stuff (it’s like your wedding!). The bevel locks crazy well. Better than the Stanley No. 18. I haven’t compared it to the Vesper bevel, but it’s fair to say both lock plenty hard for tough workshop use.
The bevel is $175. That might seem steep compared to the cheap bevels at the home center or the woodworking store, but those don’t lock for crap. And they have several fundamental design flaws that make them suitable for melting or burning. The Blue Spruce is one of those tools that you’ll fall in love with the first time you use it.
Both tools are highly recommended.
— Christopher Schwarz
Standard disclaimer. I buy all my tools at full retail with my own money. I’ve never been sponsored or accept free tools for review. I’m not an affiliate of any website. I hate that stuff.