A miter box is an essential piece of equipment to keep in your garage or storage area when working with any type of small molding, dowels, framing, or small woodworking projects. You’ll be required to cut 45 degree angles and they need to be very close to perfect, otherwise your cuts won’t line up and the molding won’t look right when installed.
The best miter box is versatile, helps you make straight cuts, and won’t empty your wallet.
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How to Use a Miter Box
While it’s easy to make a perpendicular cut, try to freehand cut a perfect 45 degree angle on a board and you’ll quickly realize you need a tool to help you do the job. Without a miter box, it’s near impossible to hold the saw exactly on a 45 degree angle without it moving and you messing up the cut.
Miter boxes come in both plastic and metal versions. It closely resembles a trough but each end is open to allow your work piece to extend through either end depending on which side you’ll be cutting. You’ll also notice a number of slots which serve as a guide for your saw. These guides force the saw blade in to the groove at the specified angle so your resulting cut is the exact angle that you need.
Most plastic boxes have a few grooves in them at 45, 90, and 135 degrees. See the picture below for a top down view of the angles. Higher end and more expensive boxes are adjustable allowing you to cut a wide variety of angles. Some even have a grip for the saw blade and grips to hold the wood in place. Just place the wood, choose your angle, and saw away to make your cut!
With power tools taking most of the attention lately, miter boxes seem to have been left behind. However, the old time, traditional woodworkers continue to use miter boxes because of the feel, tighter control, and genuine appreciation for the art. There’s something to be said for traditional arts not being lost and continuing on through future generations.
What Attributes to Look for
First, do you need a metal or plastic miter box? Plastic will be lighter, cheaper, and will serve most hobby needs. Look for a metal box if you need something sturdier, you are cutting heavier wood, or you like the feel of it better. The metal box will tend to catch and dull the teeth of your blade if you accidentally cut into it.
Do you need the ability to make compound cuts? Compound cuts are when you need to make an inside cut for crown molding. You may need to make a 45 degree cut on the vertical axis and a 45 degree cut on the horizontal access. A simple plastic miter box won’t make compound cuts so you’ll need to step up to a compound miter saw.
Features and Benefits of the GreatNeck Miter Box
- 12″ in length
- Lightweight, plastic design
- Can cut up to just over 4″ – enough for a 2×4
- About 6″ in cutting depth
- Lifetime warranty
This miter box does come with a saw which is not of great quality. Some people have remarked how difficult it is to cut angles using this saw, so you’ll want to find your own backsaw for use with this box. When you’re purchasing this product, you’re buying it for the miter box, not the saw.
Another piece of advice to avoid trouble is to make sure you use the set screw holes. Secure the box to a work table using the screw holes so your work won’t be moving around keeping you from making a perfect cut.
Video on How to Use a Miter Box
Samuel Jacoff and his wife Sarah started making hacksaw blades in 1919 in Pittsfield, MA. They unfortunately ran into some trouble when a fire stopped them from manufacturing and had to evacuate their building. The couple ended up moving manufacturing and joining with Great Neck Manufacturing in 1929. Great Neck continues today, still in the family after combining and adding other brands.
The GreatNeck Story on Fox News 5
What Customers Say
One user completed their project of cutting door trim and was impressed given the price. He suggested to use the quick grip for stabilization and to make small strokes when starting.
Another reviewer was impressed with its use for his hobby of cutting wood frames. He does advise to secure the miter box using set screws or C clamps to eliminate movement.
If you’re looking for a low cost miter box with high utility, this is one of the best options. You’re not buying it for the included saw, use a higher quality backsaw if you have one. However, it will be very difficult to find a better value! You’ll also be supporting a US based company with a long heritage in the United States.