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  • Cast iron squares

    I notice doing the rounds of the makers/influencers at the moment are cast iron machinist squares from Windy Hill Foundary - https://windyhillfoundry.com/

    Not that I need such a square, I was interested in the cost just as an indicator of "what things cost". Now I'm sure they aren't making a fortune out of these, and I have nothing against them making a fair price on them, but the price of $157 for a raw casting took me back a little.

    So I got thinking and being a cheapskate I looked up the price of a 160x160x25mm chunk of GR17 cast iron from my local metal supplier - £24 ($30) - from which I could get the square and a baby brother square.

    So my question to you learned folks is what benefit is there to using a casting vs raw stock? Stability?

    Is it just the "cool" factor that the makers love - although making a square from raw stock would be much more interesting to me.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ATW View Post
    So I got thinking and being a cheapskate I looked up the price of a 160x160x25mm chunk of GR17 cast iron from my local metal supplier - £24 ($30) - from which I could get the square and a baby brother square.

    So my question to you learned folks is what benefit is there to using a casting vs raw stock? Stability?

    Is it just the "cool" factor that the makers love - although making a square from raw stock would be much more interesting to me.
    I think the answer is probably a bit of both. That is one good deal you have on the iron. Best I can find here in the states is about $100 for a piece 150mm X 300mm plus shipping....
    EDIT: just found another supplier, a bit more reasonable ($30) but shipping will be the killer.
    Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 07-08-2020, 06:57 AM.
    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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    • #3
      I don't see any advantage to the cast square. Indeed, if I think of all the squares I've seen, I can't recall a cast iron square so I'd say the rest of the tool making world thinks the same. I may be missing something, but useful is a hardened and ground square for checking squareness, and a cast iron angle plate for fixturing....but a cast iron square? maybe the worst of both worlds
      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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      • #4
        Isn't the raw stock a casting? It's got to come out of the furnace in some form and poured into some form. Or is CI rolled now days?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
          Isn't the raw stock a casting? It's got to come out of the furnace in some form and poured into some form. Or is CI rolled now days?
          its continuous cast, much that same way as steel is done...squirted out through die. While "cast" is in the name, its not a casting as in poured into a mold
          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ATW View Post
            I notice doing the rounds of the makers/influencers at the moment are cast iron machinist squares from Windy Hill Foundary - https://windyhillfoundry.com/

            Not that I need such a square, I was interested in the cost just as an indicator of "what things cost". Now I'm sure they aren't making a fortune out of these, and I have nothing against them making a fair price on them, but the price of $157 for a raw casting took me back a little.



            Is it just the "cool" factor that the makers love - although making a square from raw stock would be much more interesting to me.
            Stability is the main one and I guess personal satisfaction is another.

            I've been wanting a 12 or 18" Camelback straight edge casting for awhile now and finally found some at Martin Model http://www.martinmodel.com/MMPmiscellaneous.html they have some square castings available as well with the prices a bit more reasonable.
            I just need one more tool,just one!

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            • #7
              As Mcgyver says I hadn't even thought of the harness of the material - I was thinking it would have perhaps been in the toolboxes of the machine rebuilders together with their Camelback straight edges - Just checked in Connelly and yes he references cast iron squares.

              Interesting to learn about the cast iron bar production though.

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              • #8
                Yes those prices at Martin Model seem much more inline with buying something as an interesting project to complete.

                And you get three sides of the square.

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                • #9
                  I've got about an 8 x 8 x 2" square that's actually the byproduct of something else. I bought one of the cheap squares from China or India for a project. I sawed it up for the project and this was left. It has one of the webs from the original and is scraped to be square and flat on those two surfaces. I do use it occasionally for setup, checking, or light fixturing. I recently saw a photo of a square about 18" used by a machine tool rebuilder and can understand the utility there.
                  .
                  "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ATW View Post
                    I was thinking it would have perhaps been in the toolboxes of the machine rebuilders together with their Camelback straight edges - Just checked in Connelly and yes he references cast iron squares.
                    .
                    Not that I by any means know it all, but I've done a fair bit of scraping and don't see it as useful. Perhaps its main usefulness would be you could make it yourself. The surface you print from on the reference flat (straight edge, but I think SE is a poor descriptor) is the only surface of the reference you care about - true for square, flat, dovetails etc. You don't create squareness by printing with a square. You print from something flat, scrap the surface flat, than you use a square (or whatever) to check it relative to some other surface you'd scraped in the previous step. Which brings me back to what would be the advantage of CI square, as it has disadvantages over a hardened square - its going wear, subject to bruising, etc.
                    Last edited by Mcgyver; 07-08-2020, 11:24 AM.
                    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                    • #11
                      Why do you want another square?

                      Is it for general purpose use? Is it for scraping?

                      The usage makes a lot of difference.

                      Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post
                      I don't see any advantage to the cast square. Indeed, if I think of all the squares I've seen, I can't recall a cast iron square so I'd say the rest of the tool making world thinks the same. I may be missing something, but useful is a hardened and ground square for checking squareness, and a cast iron angle plate for fixturing....but a cast iron square? maybe the worst of both worlds
                      Why would you make a general "catch-all" statement that it is the worst of both worlds?

                      I can see suggesting that the regular base-and-blade type is more typical for general use, but not that CI would be the "worst thing in the world" as you seem to suggest.

                      We do not know why the OP wants one, so we don't know what he will do with it.

                      To me, the type of square implies use for scraping type purposes, where a regular hardened steel square is the usual general purpose one. But there could be non-scraping uses for a square with the wider surfaces typical of a CI scraping type square.

                      As for having seen one, I suggest you have seen many. The 4 sided alignment squares, as well as the regular Starrett-type adjustable blade combination squares.
                      Last edited by J Tiers; 07-08-2020, 11:44 AM.
                      CNC machines only go through the motions.

                      Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                      Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                      Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                      I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                      Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

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                      • #12
                        You can get a 10" x 6" x 1" granite square from Shars for $145, accurate to .0001" Seems a much better value to me if you need such a tool

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                        • #13
                          What would you guys rather scrape in, when the time comes..?
                          steel....cast iron.....granite...? I never have seen a Camelback straightedge made of steel.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 754 View Post
                            What would you guys rather scrape in, when the time comes..?
                            steel....cast iron.....granite...? I never have seen a Camelback straightedge made of steel.
                            Steel is generally a bear to work with. Cast iron is , if it is decent stuff (not nasty white iron), easy and reliable to scrape.

                            It is not, however, clear what the OP is wanting. As a general use square, the cast ones are not much if any better than a standard one, and they fit in many fewer places, but that is based on SIZE, and NOT material.

                            As a scraping tool, it is the reverse. I'd rather use a scraped CI square than a ground steel one, just because they seem to mark the work differently, and I prefer the CI.
                            CNC machines only go through the motions.

                            Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                            Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                            Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                            I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                            Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              J Tiers - I don't want one - ok I didn't actually state that exactly "Not that I need such a square.." it was trying to understand if you did need one why start with a relatively expensive casting over bar stock.

                              dixdance - yup I've seen similar from Zoro uk

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