I’ve been wanting a vintage mitre box since forever, but I could never find one that was in good nick and reasonably priced. I have found a couple on eBay that were beautifully restored, but was horrifically priced. One chap was selling one for $700, but it was beautifully restored. Eventually one came across on a woodworking forum for a very low price of $40, so I snapped it up. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was as accurate as the day it was made. I left it on the shelf for about a year before I had time to restore it. In fact, I was going to write the article on how to restore for the magazine. So here I am writing now, probably not as in depth as I would have liked it to be but enough to give you some idea of what the parts do. The restoration itself is basic enough that an article need not be written on it. However, I feel that giving you an insight into what some of the parts do would be better time spent in writing.
First thing I did was take lots of photographs before stripping it down. I didn’t strip it entirely down, but enough to make it visually appealing. There was no need to pull every part off.
After I was satisfied I had enough pictures, I soaked all the parts including the mitre box in a bath of vinegar and bicarbonate soda. I bought double extra strength vinegar thinking it would do an even better job of de-rusting but normal vinegar is more than enough. Vinegar is a very friendly de-rusting agent, and it’s perfect for tools that are antique.
First runner up are the saw guides.
The saw guides have roller bearings. They help eliminate wear on the saw and guides.
Next is the Tie-bar. This gives rigidity to the upright which are the two metal rods the saw guides slide through. The Tie-bar was installed wrongly by the previous owner. Fortunately for me I was informed by one of my readers on how to install correctly which I will divulge this bit of information later down the track or you can simply search through my previous posts and find out immediately.
That cover holds the automatic catches from falling off.
The automatic catches face towards you. When I received the saw they were facing inwards towards each other which is incorrect. The automatic catches hold the saw above the work so that both hands can be used to place the work. They release the saw when the tip engages the front catch.
This one here I paid the price. As I didn’t know at the time what it does and ended up sawing deeply into my new base board. No big deal other than aesthetics flying out the window. Fixed stops threaded on the uprights prevent sawing below the baseboard. Adjustable stops are provided to aid in sawing to a given depth. A heavy spring on the uprights lifts the saw out of any kerf cut in the board and permits the swivel to be moved without lifting the saw.
This is what they call a steel base and this is what holds the uprights. The instruction manual says that they can be turned to fit a saw of any thickness. I’m not entirely sure as to what they mean. To remove the uprights you simply unscrew them. Being as old as they are this may not be an easy task.
To remove the steel base you need to flip the mitre box upside down and remove the large middle nut.
Then unscrew and carefully remove the two springs you see on either side. These two screws locks the swivel to every degree not just the main ones.
Lower down you will see the pin. This is what locks in the holes under the swivel to 90°, 22.5°, 45° etc. There is no need to remove this unless you really, really, want to.
This nut holds the whole swivel arm. You can remove this if you so wish, but caution if the thread is damaged then you will have to rethread it and use a larger bolt.
This is self explanatory. Once you screw it back it is self centring so no need for any adjustments.
This was part of the length stop to make repeatable cuts. Mine never came with it and that screw is all that’s left of it.. There a guy on eBay that sell accessories for mitre boxes.
They hold the work or stop it from slipping
I missed this picture previously. Don’t lose those springs and remember the position it’s supposed to be in. When I got this mitre box these screws were screwed in from above and when I tried to set to an n th degree it would not lock in place, so again set it like this and don’t lose those springs.
Luckily for me the feet are Malleable iron making them practically unbreakable. The earlier mitre boxes are from cast iron and if dropped will break.
This is the end of Part I. In the next part the mitre box is restored and I will show every detail of the part going back together again.