Buy cheap, buy twice (or 5 times over)
With cheap tools from the far east flooding the market, we manufacturers have to up our game with innovative designs, and more importantly, taking the time to build quality tools that work! Here I want to explain what we think makes our new T-square so desirable.
Prior to the launch of TrigJig's first ever tools (the awesome adjustable miter tools for crown and baseboard), I spent 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year working on construction sites and home renovations across the country.
In the early days tools were bought as and when required. I adopted an 'it will do for now' attitude towards everything I purchased. They would often be thrown in the back of the van with the rest of the clutter I carried around. They'd be dropped from the top rung of a step ladder or get covered in paint and cement. They really took a beating, so I never saw the point in spending much on them, especially if they were soon to be broken. I used to replace my drills every 6 months or so, but by drill number 5 I realized I was actually replacing them because of the diminished battery life. Nothing to do with cement dust or dropping from ladders.
That's when I made my first purchase of a tool that cost more than I could earn in a single day. The concept was alien to me. Working for 9 hours to buy a single tool. But boy am I glad I did! It was a small 18v DeWalt drill and it would run all day long on a single charge, saving a good deal of time.
Next on my list was to upgrade my compound miter saw. Again I spent more than I had previously and the improvement in my work was obvious. Cuts were tighter, and the benefit of the double bevel saved a lot of head scratching and errors.
"I had a coming together with a utility knife and a slippery old drywall square, followed by a trip to the hospital"
Fast forward 10 years and I find myself in charge of developing new tools for the same industry I used to work in. The lessons I learned on acquiring good quality tools still remain, and so they were put into practice with the design of the latest addition to the TrigJig brand; the ViperBite T-square.
I had a particularly keen interest in this as a few years ago my thumb and I had a coming together with a utility knife and a slippery old drywall square, followed by a trip to the hospital for stitches!
What's different to regular T-squares?
Firstly we looked at what was wrong with current T-squares on the market. Most notably users found them to be generally thin and flimsy. So we decided to make ours from CNC-milled 1/4" thick aircraft grade aluminum. This meant the manufacturing time was significantly more than standard squares you get from the big box stores, but they look and perform 10 times better.
Next on the list was the obsession manufacturers have with fixing the headstock and rules together using weak rivets. This is a cost saving that really backfired with many customers complaining that their squares are not actually square. So we ditched the trend and opted for stainless steel nuts and bolts that allow the squares to be calibrated and tightened throughout their life.
Finally, my own experience with the T-square lead us to look for a safer way to hold the square in place than using a hand or knee. For this we designed the ViperBite blocks. These are CNC-machined aluminum blocks that attach to the ruler of the square. They have two nylon 66 cores that hold two self-tapping screws. These can be used to press into drywall and plywood, or screw into harder surfaces, leaving only two small pricks that are hardly visible. This makes it possible to run a blade down the length of the ruler with just one hand on the headstock, safe and out of harm's way.
The combination of a thick ruler and ViperBite blocks brought extra unintended benefits. We had inadvertently designed a top of the range, CNC-milled T-square that would also act as a cutting guide rail for jigsaws and small circular saws!
We're super proud of this one, and we think for the few extra dollars, you will be too!