Swanson Aluminum Speed Square Review
The first thing you need to know about Swanson aluminum speed square is that it’s not cheap. It costs $199.99 (or $219.95 with a 3 year warranty).
You get a small box that includes:
A metal stand for your aluminum sheeting, which holds the aluminum sheeting up so it doesn’t slide around when you’re using the speed square.
An aluminum ruler with a sharp edge, which helps you keep track of the length of each side.
A plastic guide that goes along the outside edge of the aluminum ruler to make sure it’s centered on one side.
If you don’t want to buy all these things separately, then you could just use a regular old piece of paper or even cardboard as your measuring stick. But if you want something that will hold up over time, then you’ll probably like the extra protection provided by the aluminum ruler and guide.
You can use any size ruler or pencil, but I recommend getting a large enough ruler so that it fits snugly against the aluminum ruler guide. Also, make sure that the tip of your pencil isn’t too sharp because it might scratch off some of the aluminum on your sheeting.
You can fold up the aluminum ruler and keep it in your pocket or tape it to your side of your tool belt so that it’s always handy. When you need to use it, just take it out and lay it out on your roof.
The bright yellow color makes it easy to find. You can also get a larger one if you’re working with a crew of more than one person at a time.
You can pick which side you want to be your 2″ mark. I usually use the right side because it’s more natural for me to think of the right side as “even.
Personally, I don’t find the swanson aluminum speed square to be all that useful. For one thing, I’d rather use a chalk line because it’s faster, easier, and more accurate.
However, if you hate carrying around a can of chalk and a string line, then the swanson aluminum speed square might be just what you need.
The swanson aluminum speed square has several uses. You can use it as a straight-edge for marking something, you can get the length of various sides, and you can use it to make sure that two sides are at a 90 degree angle to each other.
You can also use it as a protractor of sorts to help you measure the angles of various roofs. This might be more useful for carpenters, but some roofers might find it useful too.
The swanson aluminum speed square is also helpful when marking something because it helps eliminate “wobble” in your measurements. This is especially true if your straight-edge has some “give” to it.
For instance, if you’re using a large plank of wood as a straight-edge, then the wood is going to bend a little bit and this can throw off your measurements. The aluminum ruler on the speed square doesn’t bend or give at all so your measurements are always going to be accurate.
Of course, you could solve this problem by using a steel measuring tape as your straight-edge instead of a wooden board.
This is why I don’t use a speed square myself, but a lot of roofers do and they seem to like it just fine.
If you do want to give it a try, make sure that you get the larger 16″x24″ model because it’s more versatile than the smaller one.
You can get an aluminum speed square online or at your local hardware store.
Just make sure that you always buy a new one because it would be very easy to cut yourself on an old rusty one.
If there’s one tool that you really need for roofing, it’s a chalk line.
A chalk line allows you to easily and accurately draw a straight line across longer distances. This comes in very handy when you need to cut a piece of sheet metal, tile, shingle, or slate for your roof.
You also want to use a chalk line when you’re installing fiberglass insulation. If you don’t get the rows straight, then it’s not going to matter how much insulation you have because it won’t do you any good!
A chalk line isn’t used for marking off straight horizontal lines such as when you’re starting a cut. You use a combination square for that because it’s more accurate.
Instead, a chalk line is mainly used for marking vertical lines such as the sides of a roof. It is also used for marking straight downward angles such as when you’re installing gutters or downspouts.
If you’re going to buy just one chalk line, make it a 25′ model. You can cut smaller sections of line with it and for the most part, the larger ones are more durable.
There are a few different types of chalk lines. The first type is just a piece of string with chalk dust in it. You clamp the string to your start point, pull it tight, and then release.
The string flips over the clamp and the chalk dust leaves a nice straight line.
The second type uses rope instead of string. I don’t know why, it just does. These seem to be a little less popular than the string types.
Both types are usually plastic and can be carried in your pocket if you don’t want to lug around a nail bag or tool pouch all day.
The third type is for pros only. This type uses metal coil to create the line and it gives a much straighter line than either of the other two types. This is especially true when you’re drawing vertical lines.
The coil is actually housed in a small metal can that has a handle on it. You set the can at the beginning of the line, crank it around to wrap the line out of the can, and then pull it.
These are very accurate, but due to their metal parts they aren’t recommended for the casual do-it-yourselfer. They’re more expensive than the other types too.
This is a very handy tool to have when working on your home. You never know when you’re going to need to draw a straight line somewhere.
Sources & references used in this article:
- A comprehensive review on recent progress in aluminum–air batteries (Y Liu, Q Sun, W Li, KR Adair, J Li, X Sun – Green Energy & Environment, 2017 – Elsevier)
- Laminar-turbulent transition research in the Boeing/AFOSR Mach-6 quiet tunnel (S Schneider, C Skoch, S Rufer, E Swanson… – 43rd AIAA Aerospace …, 2005 – arc.aiaa.org)
- The ChemCam instrument suite on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover: Body unit and combined system tests (…, R Whitaker, J Witt, B Wong-Swanson – … science reviews, 2012 – Springer)
- Testing the equivalence principle in the field of the Earth: Particle physics at masses below 1 μeV? (…, CW Stubbs, BR Heckel, Y Su, HE Swanson… – Physical Review D, 1990 – APS)
- Influence of out‐of‐plane fiber orientation on reaction‐to‐fire properties of carbon fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites (S Eibl, D Swanson – Fire and Materials, 2018 – Wiley Online Library)