Best Mitre Box – A Buying Guide
The good old fashioned mitre box has been used for many years in woodworking shops up and down the country. If you did any type of woodworking classes at school, then no doubt, you will have seen one of these in action. Back in the day, they were made from wood, but today they are also available in hard plastic. Here we will look at the best mitre box to use.
The big issue with using these has simply never changed though. If these are going to be used on a regular basis, then over time they will get damaged, as the saw being used will come into contact with the mitre box itself and damage it. That said, if all you ever need to do is make a couple of basic mitre joints, then for just a little money, one of these will certainly do the job.
Avoid buying one of these if you plan on working a lot with wood as they simply do not last. We read constantly about people complaining about how these get damaged. The reality is that will happen.
Top Tip – One simple way of reducing the amount of damage is to line the bottom of the box with an old piece of plywood.
Doing just that one thing will greatly reduce the amount of damage that can be caused.
As a general rule though these boxes are far from ideal to work with when compared to using a powered up mitre saw. Firstly you have to do all the sawing yourself, find some way of keeping the mitre box in place, and trying really hard to keep the saw in place without it falling out of the slots.
If you only have to do a few joints then you can live with the hassle. If you plan on doing some serious work then don’t buy one of these.
What Saw To Use With A Mitre Box
In the perfect woodworking world, you would use a tenon saw. This is a short saw with very fine teeth and is great for precision cutting. This is also often referred to as a back saw. It leaves a very nice smooth edge. These types of saws cost around £10.
If you don’t have one, you can just use an ordinary hand saw, but just don’t expect a really smooth edge when finished. You can of course use a bit of sandpaper to help make it smoother. The main purpose of using a tenon saw is that it cuts on the back movement, and that is perfect when using with a mitre box.
Here is a video that explains how to actually use a mitre box.
We have also done a few useful articles for using a mitre box.
Size of the Box
These boxes are available in different sizes. You need to be careful when buying one as the size you buy will need to be able to fit the width of the piece of wood that you are trying to cut. Some typical sizes are:
- 200 x 35 x 50 mm
- 290 x 58 x 56 mm
- 320 x 102 x 102 mm
- 325 x 180 x 60 mm
- 360 x 165 x 90 mm
The length of the box is not that terribly important. The depth and width are the two most important sizes. The wood fits inside the box, and using the slots, you can then either make a basic cross cut, or your angled cut. Our best advice is always to buy the biggest and that way, you can be sure it will allow you to cut most common sizes of wood.
You will find that these will have a straight cross cut 90 degree angle slot. They will also have a 45 degree angle slot to the left and also one to the right. You can also buy some of these with 22.5 degree slots but these can be hard to find.
They can be attached to a work bench or clamped to a table or a bench.
Some of the boxes will come with clamps for holding the piece of wood you are sawing. We have yet to find a really good version of these as typically the clamps are really flimsy. It is much better to buy some wood clamps and do the job properly.
Securing Your Box
If you have a “Workmate” or something similar, then these boxes can be attached to these so as you have a solid foundation to work on. Some of the boxes also come with pre-drilled holes so as they can be screwed down to a bench. The problem with that though is that they take up room, and you may not want to have that in a permanent position.
Some people screw the mitre box to an old piece of wood, and then use a grip pad on their bench to hold it in place. We don’t think that this works that well, but if you are only doing a few cuts, it will help in the short term.
Different Types of Mitre Boxes
So far we have looked at what are called general purpose boxes. There are however a couple of types that have been designed for specific purposes, so let’s have a look at those.
Best Mitre Box for Coving
As the name would suggest this one has been designed to help make the cutting of both 4″ and 5″ coving a pretty simple task. If you have ever tried to fit coving, then you know how utterly frustrating this task can be.
You will also know that a misplaced cut can cost you a lot of money. This box we are describing here is known as the “Coveasy.” Please note this is NOT suitable for cutting skirting boards.
This makes getting both internal and external joints really very simple. Read More Reviews Here at Amazon
Another alternative is to use a coving jig, and you can read about those here.
Best Mitre Box for Skirting
This one works well for getting accurate cuts when doing skirtings. This is a cheap and cheerful product but please note this will not last forever. If you need to fit skirting boards on one or two rooms then buying something like this will get the job done. It makes accurate enough cuts and will help you through the task of having really nice looking corners.
This particular one can handle up to 6″ mitres. It comes with clamping screws which are handy. Don’t over tighten these though or the threads will strip. All you need to do is make the clamp firm rather than over tightening it.
You will also need to find some way of securing this such as a workmate. Trying to use it on its own is virtually impossible.
Mitre Box Sets
Last but not least you can also buy the box and the proper saw as a set. That way you are getting a couple of products, and most importantly you are getting the right saw for the job. You will also be able to use the saw for other jobs that you may have to do around the house.
This one from Stanley is a perfect example. The box itself is made from plastic and it comes with a sharp Tenon saw, that has been designed to perfectly fit the slots. You Can Read More Reviews Over at Amazon
The Advantages of Using A Mitre Box
- They are cheap at around £5-10 and do the job
- Ideal if you just need to do a few jobs now and then
- Easy to store
- Easy to carry around
- Easy to use
These type of boxes do get damaged. The reason is pretty simple. If you are placing wood inside a box, and then using a saw to cut through the provided slots, the saw will slip now and then, and you do have to saw right through the wood so the base of the box will be in contact with the teeth of the saw.
- They are not 100% accurate but to be honest, they are accurate enough for most uses.
- They do need to be secured to something so as you have a stable platform on which to work.
Another alternative to using a hand saw and a mitre box is to use what is termed a hand saw. These are also referred to as a precision saw, or a manual saw. These can be quite useful if you plan on doing a fair amount of work.
They are slightly more expensive than the standard mitre box. The benefit of using one of these, is that the saw is designed with nice fine teeth. That gives you a very precise and neat cut, which does make a great finish.
The disadvantage of these is that they are a pain in the rear to store, as they take up quit a bit of room. You can read more about these by clicking here.
Again, if you are only doing a few cuts, then the mitre box will do.
Electric Mitre Saw
The ultimate solution is to buy an electric mitre saw. That said these do cost around £50-100 so only buy one if you really need it. Say for example you had planned to work in many rooms in your home, then a power mitre saw is worth considering.