How to Use a Framing Square

If you’re going to make stairs or similar objects, using a framing square will be necessary. Use the following as a guide to help you get started.

Making Stairs

Make sure you have the stairs materials ready. Get a framing square. It has a blade arm 2 inches wide and a 1 ½” narrow arm (called the tongue). Start by getting the height and length of the object you’re making. Suppose you’re making stairs; determine the height of the steps.

Take the framing square and place it on the 2 x 12. Put a mark on the left side of the rise. Use a pencil or chalk. Put a similar mark on the right (on the run). To start using a framing square, follow these steps.

Mark the L shape with the square’s top. Move the board on the square until you get to another L shape. Keep doing this until you get L shapes around the 2 x 12’s length. This is the stair stringer. This is also how you chop roof rafters.

To create the roof pitch, place the square diagonal on the board. Outline the square end on the diagonal at the number of the rise to run. This is done where the points where the squares intersect. The numbers are the ones on the square. This is also the rafter peak.

Make Measurements

You’ll continue using a framing square for the measurements. The top of the square will be used for this task. When making the stairs, assess the span and the layout.

How to Make an Ellipse

You’ll need the following:

Required Tools and Materials

Framing square


Decide how tall the ellipse will be (in this sample the height is the narrow section). Cut wood six inches longer than the ellipse height. Mark the ellipse height on the wood. Put a brad on the mark. Make another mark about 3 inches from the ellipse’s height. Place a brad there.

Before you start using a framing square, tape the pencil at the wood’s end. Make lines at the ellipse’s height and width. The result will be an X in the middle.

Place the framing square on the ellipse’s wide section. Make certain the inside corner is at the X. The long leg should be on the left, and the short leg running downwards.

Set the stick on the framing square. The brad at the midpoint is on the X in the square. The brad will be on the short leg. Now you can use the stick to start illustrating. Turn the framing square over so the long leg fronts the right.

Put the wood on the square and repeat the process. Flip the square so the long leg faces left and the short leg is up. Repeat the drawing process.


Use the charts on the framing square to compute angles and rafters. Note that stairs are subject to building codes. Follow them.

A quick browse of how to guides and you’ll see a lot of people are using a framing square. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll understand why it’s such a valuable tool.

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