When Swanson sent us their newest 7-inch Swanson TOSB01 Speed Bevel, we didn’t realize the new inexpensive orange ABS plastic composite square would quickly become our all-around go-to tool for odd jobs and miscellaneous angle measurements. Swanson, who brought us the aluminum Swanson speed square , built some new innovation into the Speed Bevel. While it doesn’t excel in build quality, it does have a really good function as a low-cost multi-purpose solution for finding angles, making quick cut measurements, and serving as a stop-gap protractor.
Swanson TOSB01 Speed Bevel Build Quality
In the course of using the 7-inch Swanson TOSB01 Speed Bevel, we were able to take corner readings and use it to mark cuts in smaller pieces of drywall and cement board. When used as a speed square it excelled. It’s small and light and has a nice 1/8-inch lip to hold it fast against material when marking off cuts. The markings on the Speed Bevel are almost identical to that of a standard Swanson Speed Square, including the degree marks, common rafter marks, and hip and valley marks. It lacks the Speed Bevel’s diamond cut-out and the 1/4″ spaced notches for scribing lines. Presumably, the cut-out was removed for stability, and the notches were kept off for a more compact folding size. Speaking of folding size, if you loosen up the oversized thumb screw, and unsnap it, you can collapse the tool down to just 10-1/4” x 2-1/4”.
We were able to whip out the Swanson Speed Bevel for a recent bathroom remodel. This renovation project was geared towards transforming a 1920’s bathroom back into a more authentic-looking room. For the job we used period specific subway tile and chair rail that we got from Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. Since we opted to cut all of the small tile in the bathroom’s tub using a 7-inch tile saw, the Swanson 7″ Speed Bevel gave us many opportunities to score, size, and otherwise bevel and miter tile quickly and with precision.
One thing that occurred during the use of the Swanson Speed Bevel with a tile saw was that the indents for the numerical markings quickly filled up with thinset residue. This actually made the tool easier to read, since before the indents retained the same orange color as the 7″ Speed Bevel. With the thinset, the result was much akin to rubbing crayon over an old die – it filled it in and made the impressions more visible to the naked eye.
Since this Speed Bevel costs only $6.99 and we had some rather complex bevel and miter cuts to make, we didn’t mind using the tool in close proximity to the 7″ diamond blade. Of all the things about this tool, that struck us as the most significant. You can use this tool with a saw whereas a typical metal Speed Square would be a dangerous tool to have in proximity to a rapidly spinning blade. Granted, that’s not its intended use, but we just want to head off any comments about “Why not just get the better speed square?” Our answer is simply: Get both.
We also liked how the Speed Bevel could be readjusted, with just the turn of a thumbscrew, to quickly become a T-bevel or angle-finder. Paired with a standard protractor, this tool becomes very powerful for measuring and cutting crown molding or complex chair rail. To get a 90 degree angle, use the “12” marking when setting the Speed Bevel and tighten down the adjustment knob.
Swanson has a really great, easy-to-afford solution for cut measurement and angle-finding in its 7-inch Swanson Speed Bevel. It’s a tool you can toss in your bag and really use and abuse without worrying about the replacement cost. In that respect we sort of treat it like our tape measures. Rest assured that once you get your hands on a tool like this, you’ll find uses for it soon enough. For now, we give the tool a decent Performance rating of 5/10 and a Value rating of an above-average 7/10 for its low cost and flexible usage.