Repairing a Loose Combination Square Scriber
The combination square is one of the most popular types of squares used by woodworkers, and for good reason. A quality combination square is precisely milled and very accurate. It’s a convenient size for laying out woodworking joiner. It can be used to lay out 90-degree joinery and 45-degree miters. It can be used as a marking gauge and as a depth gauge. And though not a common need for most woodworking, it can be used as a horizontal or plumb level.
Most quality combination squares also come with a hardened steel scriber that is conveniently stored in the handle. However, sometimes the bushing that’s supposed to hold the scriber in the handle, doesn’t do so. This can happen because the square was dropped, or because the scriber was not inserted straight into the handle. Fortunately, this can usually be fixed easily with something as simple as a sturdy paper clip.
First straighten the paper clip. Then bend it into a small hook that will fit snugly inside the bushing, but spring open slightly. Insert the hook all the way into the hole for the scriber. Withdraw the hook until you feel it catch on the edge of the bushing. You may have to make a few attempts and experiment with the size of the hook until you get it. Using pliers to hold onto the hook, carefully pull the bushing out of the square.
These small bushings are usually made of malleable brass. The fingers on the end of the bushing are bent inward to create spring tension to hold the scriber. If these fingers straighten out or break, the bushing will no longer do its job.
If your bushing is undamaged, simply pinch the fingers closed. Once closed, the fingers will grip the shaft of the scriber. Carefully insert the bushing back into the handle of the square. Your scriber should now once again stay where it’s supposed to.
If any of the fingers of the bushing have broken off completely, the bushing will need to be replaced. These can sometimes be purchased from the manufacturer. However, some brands may require you to send the square to them for repair. Either way, the fix is usually not expensive, and it’s worth it to keep from losing that darn scriber again.
Watch the video below to see the entire process in real time.
I just had one of those retainers go inside the square body recently. I can’t wait to try this fix.