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
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 WKfinetools.com actually
has a downloadable PDF of the manual for this.