Best Straight Edge: Reviews and Buying Guide in 2020

For many industries, pinpoint precision is required for success. If you deal in woodwork, metalwork, or machine work, you know firsthand the acute importance of accuracy and precision in your work.

Everyone knows that accuracy in the workshop begins with a good straight edge so we cannot overemphasize how important it is for you to purchase the right one for your project or job.

If you’re going to buy a straight edge, you better do it properly by carefully selecting the right fit for you or that tool might be a waste of your money.

Because there are simply too many options available to pick from, we’ve gone ahead and created a list of trustworthy straight edges that can be used in different projects. You are sure to find a befitting straight edge in this list so start comparing.

Need a short-list? Here you go!

Top 10 Best Straight Edge For Woodworking

1. OEM Tools 25355 24” Straight Edge

If you need a super precise straight edge for any kind of project from DIY to professional execution, this 24" straight edge from OEM Tools is very appropriate.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on some other high-end straight edge if you're on a budget, this tool is high quality and perfect for checking cylinder head warpage.

It is versatile and can be used to check for distortion on a host of engine work projects including cylinder heads, main bearing saddles, cam covers, cam bearing saddles, flywheels, bell housing, and engine blocks. The drilled hole makes for easy and convenient storage too.

This precision straight edge is constructed with cold roll steel that is 1/4" thick. It is finished off with a powder coat to lock in durability. This 24" straight edge from OEM Tools is not only made to be super sturdy and durable, but it also has extra protection to maintain its strong build.

It is shipped in a chunky cardboard tube inside a box to offer maximum protection during transportation. There is also a complimentary plastic protective sleeve to ensure the machine ground edge has a covering to maintain precision while in storage.

This thick, heavy, well-coated straight edge is great value for money especially when well cared for. In this light, you should make sure to store this tool in a clean room with zero moisture.

If you aren’t sure your storage space has zero moisture, oil the straight edge often before covering with the protective sleeve.

Highlighted features

  • Comes with a reusable protective edge
  • Hang hole makes storage convenient
  • Offers up to 0.0001” precision
  • Powder coat finish enhances durability

2. Powertec 71313 18” Aluminum Straight Edge

The Powertec brand has built a stellar reputation over the years which is duly reflected in the phenomenal price and unbelievably accurate readings of this 18” straight edge.

The 71313 Aluminum Straight Edge works perfectly and will help you to easily find up and down points for engine and woodwork projects alike.

This ruler also serves as a perfect cutting guide as it is thick and durable. It will be an extremely valuable addition to your desk so don’t hesitate to purchase it.

This straight edge is made with heavy-duty aluminum constructed from thin anodized metal. The design and sturdy materials used in construction make it strong and durable with everyday protection against abrasion and wear.

The dual-sided measurement system provides standard and metric measurements for easy quantification in varied projects. This 18" straight edge is ergonomic. Although it has a thick profile it is ribbed to make gripping easier. It also has a hanging hole in the end for easy storage.

Whether you need to check cylinder head distortion or straighten your workshop machines, the possibilities are endless with Powertec’s 71313 18" Aluminum Straight Edge.it is a cost-effective alternative that will help with accurate tune-ups, engine block flatness and surface flatness.

This 18” straight edge is not long enough to cover every type of project but is suitable for most professional and DIY projects.

If you need to measure longer distances than 18”, make sure to go for a 24” or 36” straight edge. Powertec has other tools up to 50” to cover special projects.

Highlighted features

  • Heavy-duty aluminum construction
  • Versatile tool
  • Dual-sided standard and metric ruler measurement system
  • Machined flat to 0.0001” precision
  • 5/6” wide and 18” long
  • Cost-effective

3. Starrett 380 36” Steel Straight Edge

This is an excellent tool for checking surface straightness and scribing straight lines. It has a regular steel finish and the rigid assurance of high-quality Starrett standards.

The design of this straight edge helps retain shape and its thickness maintains accuracy while you work. It is not too wide or heavy, making it easy to use and portable to carry around.

If you need a long enough straight edge with near-perfect straightness, you won't go wrong with Starrett's 380 36" Steel Straight Edge.

It is long enough to measure across most inline blocks and six-cylinder heads with ground precision of up to 0.0002". If you mostly work with four-cylinder head lengths, you should probably get a shorter straight edge as this will be too long.

The 380 series 36" straight edge from Starrett is marked at two suspension points with arrows. Suspend your straight edge at these two points to help to reduce deflection while you work.

This tool is not graduated or beveled. If you are having a hard time getting true cuts from your jointer, table saw, or other work tools, we highly recommend this straight edge to correct everything.

Starrett has spared no luxuries to deliver on this straight, flat, and very precise straight edge. The straight edge comes wrapped in corrosion-resistant paper and is well padded so it is not damaged before delivery.

This tool might be on the pricey side but it will outlast cheaper alternatives and can even be passed down generations when properly cared for.

Highlighted features

  • 7/32” thick and 13/32” wide
  • Up to 0.0002” accuracy per foot
  • Easy to handle and portable
  • Not graduated or beveled
  • Two suspension points marked with arrows

4. Taytools SES24 24” Steel Straight Edge

If you’ve been scouring the market for a steel straight edge but all the prices are above your budget, go for the SES24 24” Steel Straight edge from Taytools. It is perfect for measuring machine flatness as well as setting up planers, jointers, and other machines.

This cheap but reliable straight edge might not be as perfect as the high end offers but has a very smooth edge that is precise and polished down. The other edges might come a little rough but that problem can easily be sorted out with a little sandpaper and some wax.

You can check a 4 cylinder and 6-cylinder inline gas head with this simple straight edge and always get perfect flatness with every try.

Because steel is the construction material for this straight edge, you must be particularly careful to keep rust from forming. This means storing in a room with no moisture or oiling your straight edge often and storing it in a protective case for longevity.

You don't have to be a professional to use this straight edge, it is as straightforward as they come. The thick edge of this 24" straight edge means it can stand on its own, allowing you to go hands-free while you work.

 At 2.51 pounds, the ruler is also not unusually heavy and is portable enough to handle with ease during work. You may be able to find better quality straight edges out there, but none will be as cheap and yet as accurate like the Taytools SES24 24” Steel Straight Edge. The value for money is simply unbeatable.

Highlighted features

  • Smooth reference edge
  • Convenient hanging hole for storage
  • Up to 0.0002” precise
  • 7/6” thick

5. Starrett 380 24” Steel Straight Edge

Very similar to the Starrett 360 36” Straight Edge is the 24” Straight Edge in the same series. Much like the longer ruler, this straight edge is very rigid and produced to the high Starrett quality standards the market has been used to for years.

The precision ground straight edge has a nice steel finish with no bevel or graduation. The design and thickness of this tool allow it to maintain accuracy and shape while being super easy to handle and also very portable.

Whether you want to check cylinder heads for straightness or draw super straight lines, you might have some difficulty finding a better 24” straight edge that delivers style and correctness so precisely.

Most users don’t mind that the Starrett 380 24” Straight Edge is generally slimmer than most 24” straight edges. You are sure to get good value for your money as this ruler outperforms even bigger designs.

The straight edge comes properly packaged so your tool is not damaged in transit. Watch out for the corners as the ruler is precision ground but might be a little rough around the edges. Simply running some grit along the corners should file it out so you are protected from cutting yourself during use.

Other 24” straight edges are only straight on one side but this tool is straight in each direction. We would have loved this tool to come with a reusable pouch for storage but it doesn’t hurt to purchase a separate pouch for this purpose.

Highlighted features

  • 11/64” thick and 13/32” wide
  • Up to 0.0002” accuracy per foot
  • Easy to handle and portable
  • Not graduated or beveled
  • Quick reading

6. Powertec 71227 24” Aluminum Straight Edge

You don't have to break the bank to buy a long straight edge with guaranteed accuracy for your machine work. Just like the 71313 18" straight edge from Powertec, this 71227 24" straight edge is a top-quality machine precision tool for easy alignment and adjustment of tools.

It is graduated in both inches and millimeters for correct measurements. It doesn't matter how big or small your project is, this straight edge will always deliver a flat surface.

Made from anodized aluminum, this tool has a long-lasting ability unlike other straight edges made from steel. The construction material offers superior protection against rust and warping.

The thick ergonomic design means the straight edge can stand on its own giving you the flexibility to work with both of your hands. The extra thickness also ensures that your straight edge doesn't bend during a project and leave you stranded.

Whether you're using this tool in the construction, automotive, or woodworking industry, there are many practical applications for it.

When this straight edge is not in use, you can easily hang it up for storage with your other tools using the convenient hanging hole.

The durability and protection you get from the thick and sturdy construction material will not increase the weight as anodized aluminum is lightweight. Amateurs won’t have any difficulty using this straight edge as the material is not blindingly reflective and is easy to read.

Highlighted features

  • Heavy-duty aluminum construction
  • Versatile tool
  • Dual-sided standard and metric ruler measurement system
  • Machined flat to 0.0001” precision
  • 5/6” wide and 24” long
  • Easy to read
  • Cost-effective

7. Central Tools 6429 24” Straight Edge

Not everyone can afford this 24" straight edge from Central Tools but this tool was made for professionals. If you are trying out straight edges or embarking on a small DIY project, you should go for something more affordable.

Although on the pricey side, the 6429 24" Straight Edge from Central Tools is the dream straight edge tool of every professional. It is not just a ruler, it is a real thick, sturdy, durable and almost pinpoint precise straight edge for very professional projects.

Its specifications make it an excellent choice to add to your garage shop if you frequently use a straight edge. You will never regret the choice as this straight edge practically lasts forever.

the 6429 24" straight edge is nicely coated in tough epoxy that serves as a strong protector so you can get all your money's worth before the life of this tool is over.

The packaging it comes in is not very special but the straight edge has a plastic protective cover you can slip off when in use and slip back on when in storage.

Apart from its super durable build, this also enhances the shelf life of the straight edge. The convenient hang-up hole is not necessary but makes storage much more convenient.

If you are a professional mechanic looking for a lifetime straight edge, you must purchase Central Tools’ 6429 24” Straight Edge. You will never waste money on another inferior product again.

Highlighted features

  • Hang-up hole for storage
  • Durable epoxy coating
  • Constructed with heat-treated steel
  • 1/4” thick
  • Comes with protective cover

8. Johnson Level & Tool J4900 98” Cutting Guide

If every straight edge mentioned so far has not met your specifications because you need a long cutting guide, this one from Johnson Level & Tool is the right fit for you.

This tool is specially designed for use by woodwork professionals and other big projects. You won't be cutting any huge pieces of sheetrock, wood, or metal on a small project so go for an 18” to 36” straight edge instead.

This cutting guide is very affordable but not built to be a flimsy one time tool. It is made from sturdy metal that is scratch resistant to maintain aesthetics.

Your cutting guide will not fade, peel, or chip after you have bought it. The high gloss finish gives this tool the perfect finishing touch.

The J4900 98" Cutting Guide is a durable general carpentry tool perfect for making precise cuts in long distance. Assembling the parts is easy and using this cutting guide is even more straightforward.

Take note, however, that the complementary clamps might not hold well when you're cutting tough materials. You should have stronger clamps handy that will do the job.

Because this tool is an assembly of two railings to make one, the joined center tends to be loose. This will not be a problem as you can easily screw it down to hold it in place while you freely work on your perfect cuts.

Highlighted features

  • Made with scratch-resistant metal
  • Comes with matching screws
  • High gloss finish
  • Features two 49" aluminum rails with connector
  • Quick to assembly

9. Ludwig Precision Non-Slip 24” Straight Edge

You need measurement tools you can trust for your small and big projects alike. That is why companies like Ludwig Precision take pride in delivering quality, dependable measurement tools.

This 24" non-slip straight edge ruler is made with high-quality aluminum cut to precise specifications with exact imprinting techniques for accuracy.

Measuring 24” long, 1.5” wide and 0.8” thick, this ruler is super lightweight yet strong and reliable for fast measurement. It can be used for various kinds of projects as English and metric calibrations are provided for versatility.

Even the tiniest objects can be measured to precision with this flat straight edge. You can trust the calibration on this tool as the clear and large numbers have been carefully imprinted with precise techniques.

You don’t have to strain your eyes or round off the numbers as you measure. Every measurement can be done quickly and easily because of the special end to end calibrations.

The most attractive feature of this straight edge has to be the non-slip back. Whether you're using this straight edge as a drafting or measurement tool, the non-slip backing stabilizes grip as you work to make the process more convenient and less time-wasting.

This lightweight ruler is very portable. It doesn't come with a protective sleeve but you can easily get a plastic sleeve that fits perfectly. Everyone in the family can get good use out of this straight edge and the super cheap price is unbelievable.

Highlighted features

  • Durable aluminum construction
  • Non-slip backing for grip
  • End to end imprinted calibration
  • Metric and English calibrations

10. Ludwig Precision 81244 24” Center Finding Straight Edge

Ludwig Precisions 81244 24" Center Finding Straight Edge Ruler is an inexpensive but high-quality measurement tool you can trust for years to come. Whether you need to cut, frame, draw straight lines in school, or make precise measurements in your profession, you can rely on this straight edge ruler.

The 24” ruler is 1.75” wide and 0.1” thick making for a lightweight yet sturdy measurement tool. It has a hang hole on one end for convenient storage with your other tools.

This straight edge does not come with a storage pouch but you can find a suitable plastic sleeve for proper storage. We would have liked to see a hole in the center to make for easier marking but it works just fine as is.

The large size makes it easier to find the center when working on bigger projects. It is also suitable for precisely marking out the measurements of very small objects.

This center finding ruler from Ludwig Precision is a special measuring and drafting tool that can also be used for center finding as the name implies. It is made from high quality extruded aluminum to ensure long-lasting durability.

The ruler is calibrated in inches and a precision imprinting technique is used to imprint bold numbers and edge to edge calibration. Although the printing is not engraved, the numbers will not rub off even after repeated use.

The large printing makes it easy to read measurements quickly and saves time as you work.

Highlighted features

  • High-quality aluminum construction
  • Center finding drafting tool
  • Inch calibrations
  • Precise imprinting technology
  • Hang hole for convenient storage

Things To Consider Before Buying Straight Edges

There are so many options for straight edges in the market. A simple Google search for ‘straight edge’ will produce so many results it will be impossible to choose.

How can you select the perfect straight edge to suit your needs and last for as long as you require? You will buy the right straight edge if you consider the following points before purchase.

One or two edges

As you may have noticed, not all straight edges are made equal and one size doesn't fit all. This applies to the straightness of the edges too. A standard straight edge only has one edge machine ground and certified for flatness checks.

If your project requires a straight edge with two smooth edges, you have to consciously pick out a product that is described as such.

Note that straight edges with two smooth edges are generally more expensive than standard one side straight edges. This is because the time and effort invested in machine grinding both sides of a double smooth edge will be factored in to hike the cost.

If you are on a budget and your project truly doesn’t need more than one straight edge, you should go for the standard straight edge. Amateur and DIY projects certainly don’t require complicated tools and so the standard straight edge should do just fine.

Construction material

Many straight edges are made from steel while others are made from aluminum. You should consider which material is more suitable for your needs before purchasing a straight edge so you don’t end up spending your money on the wrong tool.

  • Steel straight edges: if you are looking for durability and pinpoint accuracy, choose a straight edge made from steel. Straight edges made from hot rolled steel result in more stable tools than cold-worked materials. They shape better and can handle more stress than other materials but be careful not to drop steel straight edges as they will still nick.
  • Aluminum straight edges: if you are looking for a lightweight and less expensive straight edges, you should go for aluminum made tools. Because they are lightweight, they can be thicker and so more stable to work with. However, aluminum straight edges are usually not as precise as their steel counterparts. An aluminum straight edge can have up to 0.003" accuracy while a good steel straight edge can boast of up to 0.001" accuracy. Aluminum straight edges are also more susceptible to damage by bending.

If you can afford it or you’re planning to buy a straight edge that will last a lifetime, we recommend you go for steel straight edges.

If you are a novice, don’t use your straight edge that often or only need it for a one time project, the accuracy of aluminum straight edges is sufficient enough for you.

There are still some straight edges made from or coated with other special materials but you shouldn’t need those for a normal project.

Professionals in search of highly specialized straight edges will go a step further for these special materials but steel or aluminum straight edges will usually do the trick for any project.

Corrosion protection

Because straight edges are susceptible to rust, they require a coat of protection from the manufacturers.

This is very important to consider and will affect the overall maintenance costs of your straight edge. Straight edges are usually painted on five sides; the front, back, and three edges save for the machine ground edge. 

If you choose a standard straight edge that has been protected on all five sides, you will focus on the maintenance of the single exposed side. That smooth edge will require consistent oiling to prevent rust.

If for some reason, you buy a straight edge that has no coat of corrosion protection at all, you will have to spend more time, energy, and resources in consistently oiling the whole straight edge or it will rust.

You also have to consider that a completely oiled straight edge will be more difficult to maneuver, handle, and work with because it will be so slippery from the oil.

All things in consideration, we recommend going for the standard corrosion protected or painted straight edge. If you are particular about style, aesthetics, and design, you can go for a straight edge painted in the kind of color you fancy.

We hope you pay more attention to the quality of protection than aesthetics as the brands of paint used for coating always vary. The dull grey colors are usually more rust resistant than vibrant colors.

You can take charge of your corrosion protection by yourself by purchasing an unpainted straight edge with a strong protection paint in a color you like and doing the job by yourself.

This is certainly more complicated than simply buying an already painted straight edge but the satisfaction of getting the color and level of protection you desire should be worth it.

Chamfered or non-chamfered edges

Because of the precision cutting of straight edge materials, the edges naturally turn out to be sharp.

This can be dangerous if not filed down. Some straight edges have lightly chamfered edges while others are properly chamfered and some are not chamfered at all. For safety purposes, we recommend you consider and go for a straight edge with chamfered edges.

If you have some training or are confident in your skills, you can buy a non-chamfered straight edge and handle the chamfering process by yourself at home. Make sure you do not use a non-chamfered straight edge in any project to avoid accidents.

Storage and packaging

Effective packaging is the key to having a precision straight edge that lasts for a long time. This packaging includes manufacturers packaging as the product is shipped to you and the storage packaging you use.

Before purchasing a straight edge online, read a lot of customer reviews, and evaluate the security of the manufacturer's packaging. A manufacturer or shipping company that consistently uses flimsy packaging will result in many complaints and reports of damaged products.

Also, you should consider buying a straight edge that comes with a protective plastic package. This makes it very easy and convenient to confidently store away your straight edge after each use.

If your straight edge does not come with protective packaging, you can purchase one yourself at an additional cost.

For garage and shop owners, straight edges with hang-up holes are also very convenient as the holes make for easy storage with other workshop tools.

This means you don't have to create a special extra space just to store your straight edge and it will be safely hung up with the other tools until its next use.

As you look for storage solutions for your straight edge, make sure to avoid spaces with extreme temperature change, high moisture levels, and hard objects that can bend or nick your straight edge on contact.

What Are The Different Purposes Of A Straight Edge

Whether they are long or short precision straight edges can be used for anything from drawing straight lines to leveling machine tools and checking surface flatness.

Straight edges are also cutting guides used to check the straightness of drawn lines or copy straight lines from one place to another. Many straight edges with precision calibrated markings are often referred to as rulers.

You will normally find straight edges from 6” long up to 98” long. The length you choose will depend on your needs and the kind of project you want to execute.

Straight edges are very useful because they help to point out potential areas of error in a project and to confirm straightness.

If you purchase a good straight edge, you can use it in endless applications because the tool is so versatile. Here are a few fun applications of straight edges:

For straightness inspection of:

  • Engine blocks
  • Engine flywheels
  • Engine heads
  • Engine crankshafts
  • Ceramic pump seal faces
  • Granite counters
  • Aluminum coil rolls
  • Concrete levees
  • Refractory brick
  • Paving and roadbeds
  • Runways
  • Truck masts
  • Snowmobile components
  • Windmill turbine blades

For alignment of equipment like:

  • Switch frogs
  • Railroad tracks
  • Glass display case
  • Reactor cooling pumps
  • Natural gas pipeline machines
  • Oil refining machines
  • Printing presses
  • Blanking press
  • Nuclear reactor piping
  • Cement plant equipment
  • Plywood manufacturing machines
  • Carpet trimming machines
  • Tunnel boring machines
  • Wood flooring mills
  • Jointers
  • Table saws
  • Assembly fixtures
  • Router fence
  • Laminate flooring trimming
  • Pool tables
  • Fan blades
  • Rubber rollers
  • Sheet metal perforating machines

Conclusion

There is so much you can do with a simple straight edge. The different applications of this simple tool make it a must-have for every workshop and DIY project.

You don't want to put hours into constructing a backyard table only to notice it is slopping to one side when you sit on it. You've learned so much from this article about the different kinds of straight edges available and how to pick the right one for your needs.

Put this extensive information to good use today and reward yourself with the ultimate straight edge to give accuracy and precision to all your projects.

Have a friend or a neighbor that could benefit from this information? Help them to stop struggling and wasting money on all the wrong stuff by sharing this article to ease their decision making. They will thank you later and maybe make a few sturdy chairs for you as a gift.

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