About six years ago, I was building some outdoor furniture with lots of angles to them, and the closest thing I had to an angle-setting device was my speed square. No offense to you hard-core carpenters out there, but frankly, a speed square seems better suited to rafter tails than woodworking.
I always felt like I was plus or minus a few degrees on my cuts, which just wasn’t cutting it, so to speak. I needed something more accurate that I could really trust.
Then I ran across a simple solution for measuring angles called the Bevel Boss. It was developed by Mac Sutherland, a boat builder, who’s been using bevel boards more or less like this since 1970. Bevel Boss couldn’t be simpler: it’s just a plate of 430 stainless steel with a nice, big bevel scale on one side. Flip it over, and there’s a left-to-right reading rule. On one end, he also includes a second scale that’s super helpful for adjusting blade and bit heights.
I bought one for those projects and never regretted the purchase. Although simple in design, this is a finely made tool. The matte chrome finish doesn’t glare under bright light, and the bevel scale’s long demarcation lines are simple to set your T-bevel against. If you’re checking an unknown angle with your bevel gauge already locked, just slide it along the edge of the Bevel Boss until the blade lines up with one of the scale lines to find the degree.
The scales are crisp, and since the markings are etched into the metal, they won’t wear off. The scale is accurate to 1/4 degree, so you can be darn sure that a 3° angle on this gauge is really 3°. Over the years, I’ve come to use the end scale almost as much as the bevel scale for machine setups. Sometimes, I just grab it for use as a quick straightedge or square. It’s got a “use-it-for-everything” quality.
When I purchased my Bevel Boss, there was only the 3 x 12-in. size, but since that time, Sutherland Tool has expanded the line to include a smaller steel Pocket Bevel Boss that measures 2 x 8 in., as well as green see-through acrylic versions in four different sizes. Prices range from around $40 for the one I have down to about $15 for the smallest acrylic size.
Click this link to learn more:
Here’s a tool that will take every bit of guesswork out of your angle set-ups. I wouldn’t be without it. If you have one and like it, too, post a comment and tell us about it.
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor