Mitre boxes are an essential tool for using hand tools – they’re a cheap way to cut straight angles with accuracy. Depending on the kind you have they can be incredibly versatile way to speed up your accuracy and work-rate.
Older ones made with metal and adjustment knobs show up in flea markets and thrift stores all the time – they aren’t very recognizable to most and can usually be picked up on the cheap. I have a few; here’s my collection!
1. Husky and Home Depot
My first real woodworking purchase was this Husky backsaw from Canadian Tire and a cheapo mitre box from Home Depot. I didn’t like any of the saws included in the box + saw packages, and I’m glad I bought them separately because I still use the saw for all kinds of things. Both box and saw have really thin kerfs, and I still pull the box out every now and then for certain cuts.
The next one I got was this Draper monstrosity that I picked up at a flea market. In concept it’s an amazing saw, and with a few repairs it could be again, but it’s not aged well. It’s a size that really doesn’t exist anymore, so finding a new blade either means overpaying for a new one or cutting down a longer one. There’s also the plastic they used to direct the saw: no level of lube can replace how poorly they work, and it gets stuck way too much during cut. I hope to repair it eventually, because it is really solid and I can adjust the angle by single degrees.
Next one was this cheapo Stanley set I found in an ex’s lobby. The handle’s awful, but the saw cuts like a dream. It has a thicker and faster kerf than my other backsaw, so I use this saw a lot when doing multiple cuts. The box is… fine I guess?
4. Stanley Handyman
This is probably the last mitre box I’ll ever buy. I picked it up at The Sunshine Coast Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Shore, for the absurd price of $2.50. On top of that, it came screwed down to a massive slab of reclaimed cedar. I’ve removed it and made some holes in my work bench to lock it down, and it’s the one I use most.
It’s adjustable at 15 degree increments and fits any type of saw. The red flap can be loosened and tightened to accommodate different saw widths. On top of that, it has the easiest stop block system I’ve ever used. The same knob that control the angle controls the height, and the blade holder will stop mitre saws as soon as it hits the top of the saw.