A miter box is used for cutting wood and moldings. It guides handsaws to make precise angled cuts on a board. Its purpose is to create miters which are ninety-degree joints. When you cut two same sized woods at 45 degree angles and join them, they will form a ninety-degree corner. Imagine the corner of a picture frame. That is a sample of a miter.
For those who do not know what a miter box looks like, it is a box open at the top and sides used to hold wood to be cut. It looks more like a tray with three slots on the walls. These slots are most often positioned at 45 and 90 degree angles for the saw to slip through when cutting. You can make your own miter box or just buy one. The simple ones are quite inexpensive.
The best way to learn how to use a miter box would be to ask someone experienced to teach you. Nothing beats a live demonstration. Aside from that, he or she will able to answer your questions on the spot and offer you some tips. Another way would be to watch videos. There are many videos available on YouTube demonstrating how to cut with miter boxes.
Before cutting anything, make the appropriate measurements. Mark the wood, where it is to be cut.
Place the wood on the box. Secure it with a clamp so that it would not move around while you're cutting. If it is too long, just hold it steadily in place. Make sure that when you cut, it follows the marking on the wood. If it does not, either adjust your measurements or change the position of the wood.
Refrain from applying too much speed when cutting, this will make the blade blunt and hard to use. Instead, apply steady strokes. Hurrying will only result in poor, rough cuts.
If this is your first time to use a miter box, it would help to practice first with scrap wood to gain a little familiarity with the process. To create miters, you need to be precise with the way you cut. A simple mistake can cause a gap to form in your miters. A little practice could go a long way.
For simple projects, the usual miter box is enough. However, it can only cut wood at 45 and 90 degree angles. For best results, it is highly recommended to use a miter box with adjustable miter saw. It usually comes with a brace to hold the saw in place. You can manually adjust the angles of the cuts, for more precise cutting.
You can also use electric miter saws instead of handsaws. Handsaws are used for cutting smaller wood. For large projects, better use high-powered electric saws. They deliver tapered cuts, thus more perfect miter joints. Take note that you need to wear eye protection whenever you use power tools. If you have little experience in using power tools, read the manual for proper handling and safety precautions.
Since the miter box and saw wear out after prolonged usage, you need to take care of them. Here's a tip. Before cutting, lay a piece of wood under the molding to protect the bottom of your miter box. For the saw, oil it after every use and if there is a blade guard, replace it every time.
Following these tips would ensure that you maximize the use of your miter box. With enough practice, you can start creating the perfect miter joint.