Miter Boxes

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Handsaw Sharpening & Traditional Tools with Mike Hagemyer

  The last of the good old Miter Boxes by Mike Hagemyer 1 of 3  


Make it cheap, make it fast, make it loud and make it blow dust all over the place.




That seems to be the trend that started some years ago and has spiraled out of control. It is refreshing to see some folks reverting back to good old ways. This story is about another of my favorite good old tools, the Miter Box with matched saw.

My first exposure to one of these things was way back in high school when they actually taught woodworking. Some years later I was remodeling a room for one of my kids. I had it done to the point of trimming out the wood work when I realized I had a lot of mitering to do.

I didn’t feel like dragging a table saw inside to do this or running back and forth to the garage every 5 minutes. I remembered back to my high school days and the cool tool we had in the wood shop. So of course I went shopping to try and find a miter box.

The choices were a cheap plastic box with a small crude saw that had induction hardened teeth or a more expensive unit that looked a little like the old setup we had in high school except it had a lot of plastic parts. The saw was guided though it but looked more like a hack saw then a back saw. I went for the more expensive one thinking it would be more accurate. It looked something like the photo above.

I got this thing home and of course it had to be put together. That done I mounted it to a saw horse and went to work. On the very first 45 degree cut I tried to make, the plastic saw guide bearing broke which of course allowed the saw to wander off line. I went ballistic; fortunately the kids weren’t around. Anyway this was the event that started my infatuation with good old miter boxes.

The one in the first picture above is one of the many I have restored in more recent times. It is a Millers Falls matched with a Disston saw. The saw is actually a bit older than the Miter box but it functions perfectly with it. In my opinion these Millers Falls cast iron miter boxes are the best there is. There are others that also have merit but those similar to the ones shown here are my favorite. Here is another example with its original saw.

They are both the smallest of this Millers Falls series, model # 1124. I think the 24 in the model number stands for the saw size which is 24” long and has 4” of plate height. I believe the saw on this one is original to the box and I think they date to the fifties. I could be wrong. I believe actually has a downloadable PDF of the manual for this.

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