Some Answers and Final Touches (Stanley 358 Miter Box)

Almost two years ago I finished up an extensive rehab on a old Stanley 358 Miter Box. By far this was the biggest tool rehab job I've ever done, but it was well worth it. Though I dare say I could live without, its a welcome luxury for dependable and repeatable cuts.

By far and away I get more email questions and comments on this series of posts than I do about anything else I've written or built. I believe that's because there are thousands of documented "how to cut a dovetail" posts out there, but not a whole lot of documentation on restoring one of these babies.

As I finished up writing about the rehab ( I still had a few questions myself that I was unsure about. Mostly it had to do with this piece set up to make cuts at a repeatable length.

I had the metal threaded disk that I knew inset into the wooden bed of the saw bed (see part 109 below) But I didn't understand how the other pieces related to it.

In my mind I envisioned something much more complicated. I'm not even sure it's worth the time to describe it. I had it wrong.

Then I got an email from Jeff, He'd picked up a Stanley Miter Box himself and the threaded disk was still imbedded in the bed. He went back over the part list and had one of those light bulb moments. The parts for the arm are other pieces repurposed.

You have these guide arms, and the thumb screw and arm clamp from the back. It never occured to me this thumb screw would thread into the disk, but it does!

This morning I finally got around to installing the disk and completing the rehab.

A 1" forstner bit made a shallow recessed for the disk. I followed up this by drilling out the center with a 1/4" bit to make clearance for the thumb screw.  I located the spot by eye and by running my fingers underneath to make sure I didn't drill the post into a metal support. By eye it's very close to the original placement shown.

Without any steel flat head screws, I decided brass would be ok. #6 size screws were the right fir for the bevel and holes in the disk.

Then it was try the thumb screw, clamp, and stock guide. works perfect and again much simpler and straight forward from what I thought. Isn't that nearly always the way.

Along the way, Jeff also turned me on to a great little book available through Project Gutenberg. Because I get a lot of questions about the project I thought I'd include the text and pics related to the miter box below, but you should go check out the book for yourself. The section on mouldings is worth a read by itself.

"The "How To Do It" Books: Carpentry For Boys
By J.S. Zerbe (1914)
from Project Gutenberg

Miter Boxes.—The advantages of metal miter boxes is apparent, when accurate work is required.

The illustration, Fig. 267, shows a metal tool of this kind, in which the entire frame is in one solid casting. The saw guide uprights are clamped in tapered sockets in the swivel arm and can be adjusted to hold the saw without play, and this will also counteract a saw that runs out of true, due to improper setting or filing.

Fig. 267

A second socket in the swivel arm permits the use of a short saw or allows a much longer stroke with a standard or regular saw.

The swivel arm is provided with a tapering index pin which engages in holes placed on the under side of the base. The edge of the base is graduated in degrees, as plainly shown, and the swivel arm can be set and automatically fastened at any degree desired.

Fig. 268

The uprights, front and back are graduated in sixteenths of inches, and movable stops can be set, by means of thumb-screw to the depth of the cut desired.

Figure 268 shows the parts of the miter box, in which the numbers designate the various parts: 101 is the frame; 102 the frame board; 104 frame leg; 106 guide stock; 107 stock guide clamp; 109 stock guide plate; 110 swivel arm; 111 swivel arm bushing; 112 swivel bushing screw; 113 index clamping lever; 115 index clamping lever catch; 116 index clamping lever spring; 122 swivel complete; 123 T-base; 124½ uprights; 126 saw guide cap; 127 saw guide cap plate; 132 saw guide tie bar; 133 left saw guide stop and screw; 134 right side guide stop and screw; 135 saw guide stop spring; 136 saw guide cylinder; 137 saw guide cylinder plate; 138 trip lever (back); 139 trip lever (front); 141 leveling screw; 142 trip clamp and screw; 146 T-base clamp screw.

That's all for the miter saw box except a couple quick notes.

First, I did a lot of my own research on this miter box in old tool catalogues scanned in by Rose Tools. Unfortunately that site is no longer in existence, but Isaac Blackburn has done a good turn by taking over the hosting on his website. See a ton of old tool catalogues at his site: 

Second, if you're interested in revisiting (or discovering for the first time) my rehab of this miter box you can find all the articles collated here:  It's a quirk of the blog software to post the most recent post first, keep scrollling to see older posts.

Third, and most important. Jeff, buddy, I owe you a beer (or whatever's your pleasure) when I get a chance. Thanks for figuring out the answers!

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Thanks. I see I missed a couple of items on my rehab of my unit.

    My saw is grabbing. Although I resharpened, perhaps my set is too much. Any thoughts on what I can look for?

    1. I'm not the expert in saw tooth geometry. I usually go to Mark Harrell over at Bad Axe Tool Works if I have questions, you might consider dropping him an email and asking his opinion too. He's usually happy to help.

      I didn't put much set into my miter saw, I don't think they need much set at all (if any) I have seen Mark adjust the set of a saw by running a fine sharpening stone across the side of a toothline until he can feel and see it's even.

      The other thing that occurs to me that with a miter saw your cuts are all crosscut and so you can set a very aggressive fleam angle. twenty degrees or even a hair more. A little more fleam can relax the bite of the cut and make it easier.

      I'd still check the set first and don'e be afraid to drop Mark an email.


  2. Beer sounds good, either your state or mine.

  3. Derek,
    We were at Sawpalooza together you might recall. I wondered if you have a thought on the Stanley Mitre Box and the comparable Miller Falls Mitre Box. I have both (to restore). What would be the relative pros and cons of each? My Stanley does not have the circular item you mentioned. Your mention and discussion is helpful on this obscure piece.

    Wm. D. Elliott
    Dallas, TX

    1. I remember you sir. :).

      I really wish I could offer something insightful and intelligent. Unfortunately I can't. This miter box is the only one I've ever owned - ever used. I've never heard bad things about either and imagine as long as they're tuned up and the saw is sharpened they will both do the job.

      Wish I had more for you.



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