Cool Tools: Miter Box

The Miter Box and Saw

Some of you may wonder why the first tool in the Cool Tools Series is NOT a power tool!

Don't get me wrong - I love power tools, but most of my tools are simple "hand-powered" or manual tools.  They have their place in the complete workshop and often provide something you can't get in a power tool...  the miter box is a good example of this.

What It Is

The Miter Box is a tray that helps hold wood in place for making angled cuts.  The Miter Saw is a short, fine-toothed saw ideal for making clean straight cuts in millwork (crown molding, quarter-round, etc).

When is a miter box better than an electric miter saw?

  • Miter boxes are cheap.  Because of this, they are ideal if you don't often need to make angled cuts in molding.
  • They also take up very little space - I'm eyeing this storage miter box to replace my old box - looks like it would store nicely in my itsy bitsy one-car garage/laundry/pantry/workshop. :)
  • Fast and easy to use.  For a quick cut on a small project, nothing beats the miter box for quick single uses.  If I was doing a lot of cuts for a project, I'd want to use the table saw, but for a single cut on a piece of dowel or lattice, it doesn't make sense to set up a table saw - unless you have the space already set up, of course.  I'm surprised how often I use my miter box for making cleaner straight (90°) cuts too.
  • Fear-free (relatively) cuts on very short pieces of wood.  I would not want to use a table saw on a short piece of wood  - I just don't like my fingers that close to a blade moving at 3800 rpm!

Price Range

Stanley 20-800 Contractor Grade Clamping Mitre BoxMiter boxes range from the perfectly usable and super cheap plastic variety ($5) to the adjustable, aluminum frame, clamping box ( $50). Faaanceee!

Having used a miter box for a while now, I can definitely say that a clamping box (which allows you to clamp the wood in place for more accurate cuts) is a very good idea.

Projects for a Miter Box

I used my (super cheap, plastic, non-clamping) box for the cove molding in my wainscoted nursery.  These were all inside corners.

outside corner

inside corner

I also recommend making your own picture frames.  Besides buying frames at the thrift store, making your own is an easy fast way to get a custom size or look for a lot less! You have to check out this idea!

Also a good tool for scarf joints in molding.

Other Projects I've Done With a Miter Box

Medicine Cabinet
Recessed Wall Niches

Build Your Own

Build a Miter Box Tutorial

That's all folks!  Let me know if you liked the post - I love comments!  Hopefully commentLuv will work...?

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