How to Make a Miter Box
Story & Pictures by Janek Szymanowski ©
A miter box will help you with the fundamental woodworking principles of keeping work level and square and are vital irrespective of the timber materials you are working with.
When it comes to woodwork, you can make a simple tool at home that will help you to keep all your timber elements square. It’s called a miter box, and you can make it with off-cuts of wood.
Of course you could also buy a ready-made miter box from your local hardware or building supplies store. They are available in wood as well as plastic.
How a Miter Box Helps you Keep Wooden Elements Square
Unless you are joining wood diagonally, or you are constructing a pitch (a roof frame for example), many wooden elements are joined at 90 degrees. If you are connecting the corners of a frame, however, wood will frequently need to be mitered at 45 degrees, to ensure that the ends fit together snugly and neatly.
While you can use a carpenter’s square, or even a combination square (which incorporates a small spirit vial), to mark a 45 degree angle, it is surprisingly difficult to cut this angle accurately, particularly if you are using a hand saw.
A simple miter box, designed to cut wood no more than 50 mm wide, will enable you to control the cut and produce ends that are perfectly square or angled. To use the miter box, all you do is to clamp the wood to the inside of the box, and then cut it with a tenon saw, using the slots as a guide.
Just one word of warning, once the slots in a miter box become worn – which they eventually will if you use it a lot – it won’t enable you to produce an accurate cut any more. At this point you will need to discard it and make a new one. So keep those scraps of wood on one side; you never know when you’ll need them.
If You Do Not Want The DIY Route Here Is A Selection For You
Make a Miter Box Step-by-Step
To make a miter box from three pieces of 96 mm x 22 mm (3¾ in x 1 in, which is 25 mm) scraps of wood, 300 mm (about a foot) long, you will need:
• a portable workbench that allows you to clamp wood; or a wooden workbench and clamps,
• an electric drill with a wooden drill bit that matches the screws you choose to use,
• a tenon saw,
• a combination square,
• a screwdriver with a head that matches the screws you are using.
1 – Clamp and Drill
Clamp the three pieces of wood together on your workbench. Drill three holes through the two sides, one at each end and one in the center, so that the outer pieces overlap the inner piece of wood that forms the base of the box.
2 – Screw Together
Screw the wood together.
3 – Mark Angles
Mark 90 degree and 45 degree angles on the upper surface of the box, using your combination square.
4 – Cut Slots
Use your tenon saw to cut along the lines you have marked. Aim for a depth of 50 mm (2 in).
To use your new miter box, slot a piece of scrap wood under the wood you are cutting to ensure that you don’t damage the base of your miter box.