Making a Metal Saddle Square

Topics Covered
1) Special Case
2) Making It
3) Time for Plan “B”
4) Final Thoughts

Special Case
The “Making a Metal Saddle Square” is  actually a special case of an earlier Post I did on making a “Metal Dovetail Marking Gauge”.  For this special case, the angle is zero degrees.

A picture of the finished product is shown in the following Photo.



The Saddle Square used to draw Penciled lines on two adjacent sides of a board as shown, in the following Photo.


Making It
The following explains how I went about making this gauge for marking lines on two adjacent faces.

 Step 1 — For starters, I went to Home Depot and bought an aluminum angle.  The aluminum angle was 36” long and dimensions were 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 1/8”.  Cost for the aluminum angle was approximately $15.  In my case, I already had aluminum angle left over from making two Dovetail Marking Gauges.

Step 2 — I changed the blade on my Chop Saw to a 10” dia. Metal cut-off blade.  That’s it in the photo below.



Step 3 — Set your Chop Saw cut angle to zero degrees, as shown in the following Photo.

10_Chop Saw Set to Zero Deg


Step 4 — The following Photo shows the setup for cutting the aluminum angle.



Notes Regarding the Above Photo
1) The wood member shown is a 2X member.  The dimensions of the 2X wood member shown are 17-3/4” x 2” x 1-1/2”.  This wood members’ role in life is to securely hold the aluminum angle stationary, while being cut.

2) Obviously you should wear goggles while cutting the aluminum angle.  Plus, you need to provide ventilation that is able to remove the smoke generated while cutting thru the wood with a metal cut-off blade.  I used a box fan to remove the smoke, which worked nicely.

3) I used the clamp shown to hold the aluminum angle stationary.  Warning — The aluminum angle will get hot during the cutting process.

Step 5 — I wanted the width of my Gauge to be approx. 2” as shown in the photo below.  The penciled line shown was used for positioning the aluminum angle and Chop Saw blade relative to one another.



Step 6 — The cut “Saddle Square” is shown in the following Photo.  It’s the cut-off aluminum angle on the right side in the Photo.



Step 7 — The Photo below also shows the “Saddle Square” after being cut by the Chop Saw.  As you can see, the Gauge is burred where cut by the Chop Saw.



To remove the burrs, I used a fine file, Gerber pocket knife (For the corners), and 240 & 360 grit sandpaper.

I used the file to remove the bulk of the burrs.  Next I used the 240 & 360 grit sandpaper to fine-tune all cut edges.  However, I didn’t use a file in the corners.  I didn’t want to risk rounding the inside corners.

For the corners, I used my Gerber knife to whittle away the burrs.  I know, I know.  That’s no way to treat a knife blade.  But it’s a razor blade and can be easily replaced with a new razor blade.

The file, Gerber knife, 240 & 360 grit sandpaper (And sanding block), plus the “Saddle Square” are shown in the Photo below.



To hopefully clarify how I went about removing the burrs, click on the YouTube movie link shown below.

Burr Removal from Saddle Square – YouTube

Time for Plan “B”
Sometimes things just do not go as planned.  This was one of those times.  When I tested my Saddle Square, the drawn lines were not coplanar.  And, therefore time for Plan “B”.  I should add that I used a machinist square to check that my Chop Saw blade and fence were perpendicular to one another.  And, they were.  See the following Photo.



Step 1 — I decided to use my 6” Disk Sander.  Plan being to grind both marking ends of the Saddle Square until the two legs of the aluminum angle were coplanar with one another (for both ends of the aluminum angle).

My 6” Disk Sander (actually a combination Belt & Disk Sander) is shown below.

50_Combination Belt & Disk Sander


Step 2 — For starters, I used the miter gauge that came with my Disk Sander.  But there was just too much play in the miter slot.  The play, in the miter slot, is shown in the following Photo.  The play is the gap shown between the miter bar and the miter slot.



So due to the play between the miter bar & the miter slot, I decided to build a fence, to take the place of the Miter Gauge.  The fence I built is shown below.



The two pieces of wood (shown above) making up the fence were fastened together with eight 1-1/2” brad nails.  The Speed Square shown was used to ensure that the fence was perpendicular to the face of the sand paper (fastened to the Disk Sander).

Next the fence was clamped to the Disk Sander table, as shown.

Step 3 —  In this next Photo, the aluminum angle is shown being positioned for grinding.  As you can see the two legs of the aluminum angle are not coplanar with one another.  Not yet anyway.



In the above Photo, the aluminum angle was kept against the fence and gently pressed against the Disk Sander sandpaper.  This was done until the two legs of the aluminum angle were coplanar with one another.

The above procedure was also repeated for the other end of the aluminum angle.

Step 4 — Getting the legs on the aluminum angle coplanar was a fussy process.  But with a little patience, getting the legs coplanar was accomplished.

I would grind, check for coplanar, and grind again.

I repeated the above process until lines drawn using the Saddle Square were coplanar.  Successfully drawn coplanar lines and the Saddle Square are shown in the following Photo.



The next two Photos show the lines drawn with the Saddle Square being checked with a Double Square.  Besides the lines having to intersect at the edge (Edge “A”) shown, each line also needs to be perpendicular to Edge “A”.  The Double Square checks to ensure that both drawn lines are perpendicular to Edge “A”.

If the two lines noted above are not perpendicular to Edge “A”, then its back to the Disk Sander for more grinding.  And, this grinding & checking drawn lines with a Double Square is repeated until the drawn lines are coplanar and perpendicular to Edge “A”.  The following two Photos show the drawn pencil lines being checked with a Double Square.  These two Photos show the results after multiple iterations of grinding (at the Disk Sander) and checking drawn lines with my Double Square.

In this 1st Photo, the line drawn on the side of the board is being checked.


In this 2nd Photo, the line drawn on the top of the board is being checked.



Final Thoughts
Building the “Saddle Square” was somewhat fussy and required some patience.  But I feel the effort was worthwhile.  I like the way it turned out.

But if the above process described is just not your cup of tea, you do have options.  You can buy a Saddle Square (Bridge City and Veritas make them) or you can try using a Butt Hinge.

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Until Next Time, Take Care