Need a professional finish for a special project or a job around the house?
Mitre boxes provide near machine accuracy for a very reasonable price.
Additionally they are portable and quick to set up and use.
These 5 hand selections provide a neat solution for almost every type of job, from trim to beading, boxes to frames, fine hobby projects to working with a circular saw.
Consider them an investment in minimising frustration
1. Stanley 1-20-112 Saw Storage Miter Box
Best all round choice and for wider lengths
In distinctive yellow, the Stanley mitre box is your standard issue mitre box.
It’s portable and easy to set up anywhere there is a bench. Being plastic it feels a little flimsy, and you do need to take some care when using it. However, if you need mitres for a particular job, it’s a great value choice.
To use it, clamp it to your workbench, or screw it down to something. Then secure the work with the bench dogs (which is the reason for all the holes) and start cutting.
You can buy with or without a mitre saw, but any tenon saw that’s 80mm (3 ¼”) deep will work here. (Our tenon saws work with it so I just have the mitre box)
This is a good buy if you have a job in mind. Treat it well and it will last longer.
|Stanley 1-20-112 Saw Storage Miter Box|
|Largest Timber Size (90° & 45°):||120mm x 80mm (4 ¾ x 3 ¼”)|
|Angles:||90°, 45° and 22.5°|
|Pros:||Universal, Portable, Easy to use, Inexpensive, and it works|
|Cons:||Feels flimsy, being plastic means care needed with cuts,|
* The one on Amazon is a newer model than mine (pictured). It cuts a 45° mitre on the flat (bevel) and also for wider lengths of timber. Mine did not include a saw
2. CRAFTSMAN Mitre Saw, Adjustable Angle
Most Accurate Mitre Saw
If a more precise cut is what you are after, the CRAFTSMAN Mitre Saw is a good option. Although more expensive than a standard mitre box, the benefit is more precise cuts.
The base is cast aluminium, and provides a sturdy platform when screwed down to a bench.
The saw runs along guides so it keeps the saw inline with the cut angle. This removes (almost all) of the slop out of the saw compared with a standard mitre box. The saw locks into common angles, although it seems cutting outside of these angles isn’t as straightforward.
A good choice for cutting angles that need to be accurate and cut over and over again.
|CRAFTSMAN Mitre Saw, Adjustable Angle|
|Largest Timber Size @ 90°:||112mm x 150mm (4 ½” x 6”)|
|Largest Timber Size @ 45°:||100mm x 106mm (4” x 4 1/4”)|
|Angles:||45°, 54°, 60°, 67 ½°, 75° and 90°|
|Material:||Metal (including base) and some plastic|
|Pros:||Easy to setup and use, Hard to muck up, Sturdier than plastic, Durability of metal|
|Cons:||Wood only, Restricted angles,|
3. Kreg Portable Crosscut
Best for accurate circular saw mitres
Although it’s not a mitre box, the Kreg Portable Crosscut is an ‘out of the box’ idea to tackle mitres that can work better in some situations (sorry couldn’t help myself).
Excellent for larger and less detailed work, it works like a square that guides your circular saw while it cuts, making it great for cutting quick mitres. The rubber (called grip max) keeps it in place when cutting and not moving around everywhere.
The retractable cut line indicators help speed up the process by aligning your saw blade with your mark quickly.
Because it’s Kreg, it’s made easy which is why their products seem a little more expensive. It’s straight, precise and an easily repeatable way to cut mitres.
The video explains it better than I can so if you’re still reading this then watch and see if it’s right for you and your job.
|Kreg Portable Crosscut|
|Largest Timber Size @ 90°:||200mm (8”)|
|Largest Timber Size @ 45°:||200mm (8”)|
|Angles:||45° and 90°|
|Pros:||Easy to setup and use, Fast, Circular Saw Only|
|Cons:||90° or 45° only, Circular Saw Only|
4. CRAFTSMAN Clamping Box with Mitre Saw
Top value pick for mitres
If price is a factor then consider the CRAFTSMAN Clamping Box with Mitre Saw. It’s cheap, it does the job, and it even includes a saw so you can get straight to cutting your mitres!
The downside is that the plastic is not designed to last. At some stage the saw will affect the angles by cutting some of the plastic away, which will have an effect on your project.
If you really need good joins I would advise to spend more money on another option but for small hobby projects, it will see you through.
|CRAFTSMAN Clamping Box with Mitre Saw|
|Largest Timber Size (90° & 45°):||112mm x 87mm (4 ½” x 3 ½”)|
|Angles:||90°, 45° and 22.5°|
|Pros:||Universal, Portable, Easy to use, Inexpensive, comes with Saw|
|Cons:||Feels flimsy, Not made to last|
5. Olson Aluminum Thin Slot Miter Box (with Fine Kerf Saw – 42 tpi)
Best for fine work
Designed primarily for hobby workers, this aluminium mitre box produces excellent quality fine mitres on a small scale.
The saw has 42 teeth per inch which provides a very fine and good quality join.
It’s important to know that you will need to flip your piece over to do mitres in different directions (like a picture frame) and this may not work for some jobs.
Many will also find the size of the mitre box limiting, but if you need fine detail and are working with small stock then this is an excellent solution.
|Olson Aluminum Thin Slot Miter Box (with Fine Kerf Saw – 42 tpi)|
|Largest Timber Size @ 90°:||50mm x 19mm (2” x 3/4”)|
|Largest Timber Size @ 45°:||50mm x 19mm (2” x 3/4”)|
|Angles:||45°, 60° (one way) and 90°|
|Pros:||Fine quality finish, Easy to setup and use, Fast,|
|Cons:||Small, 45° and 60° cuts are only one way,|
How do I use a Mitre Box?
Clamp or fix it to a bench then secure the wood inside the mitre box using either clamps or the palm of your hand. Then put the saw in the slot for the angle you want and start cutting.
Are Mitre Boxes any good?
Mitre Boxes are the best choice for mitres in particular situations. Fine work, working in small areas or areas where mess needs to be avoided, when safety is a concern (children and students). They work best when new and aren’t designed to last (no matter what they are made of) due to the pressure put on them from cutting.
Can you use any saw with a Mitre Box?
You can use any hand saw that fits but for the best result use a saw with a backing (like a tenon saw). As always the more teeth, the finer the cut and the better the result. The larger the teeth the more likely you are to damage the mitre box and a saw without a backing is more likely to move around and cut up the mitre box.
How do the tradespeople and contractors cut mitres?
Because time is money, experience tradespeople will typically use compound (aka mitre) saws to cut mitres. Once setup it’s a lot faster while still providing a good amount of control. You can find more information about compound saws here.
When is a DIY mitre box a good idea?
There’s primarily two reasons to DIY a mitre box I can think of. Firstly, if you have a CNC you can get perfect angles and make your mitre box out of scrap that’s lying around. Secondly if you are doing hundreds of the same cut you may want to purposely make one to fit the size timber you are cutting.
Otherwise it’s cheaper and easier to buy one.
How durable are mitre boxes?
Depending on which one you purchase they can last. But by nature, mitre boxes don’t last forever. The are effectively measuring devices that have a saw moving back and forward on them. This will eventually affect the slots which will throw the angles out, making the joins out of square.
If you are having a hard time choosing between two mitre boxes, I recommend going for quality.
It might cost a few more dollars but it’s 10x better than having to wait to do a job because you don’t have the right tool.
And if you use it for a future job you have just saved money!