Miter Box Extra Numbers

This week we were up at Ron Herman’s ( new shop near New Holland, Ohio. We went  to record a couple of videos and to grab a podcast or two. With Ron there is never a dull minute, and always something to learn, such as with the miter box. My guess is that by now, if you’re member of 360 Woodworking, that you already know Ron. If you’re a regular listener to our podcast you know him, too.

Along with a way-too-nice store display for folding rules, which I’ll share in a later post, Ron tossed out a quick fact about miter boxes that caught my attention. In the photo below you can see the degree markings on a Stanley #244. We’re all familiar with those numbers marked both to the left and right. But what’s with the miter box extra numbers – the ones inside the painted designs? (Click the image to get a closer look and you’ll discover a subtle hint. Plus, click a second time to make the numbers real big!)

Here’s Your Answer

Those numbers were included for woodworkers who were less educated in higher math. Each number corresponds to the number of sides for a given project. If you were building a square frame, you set the saw at the number four, which is tucked in at the 45° mark. If your frame was six-sided, you dialed in the saw at the number six, which is at the 30° mark.

Additionally, if you look close, especially at the number six, you can make out the design of the completed frame. As you look at the eight and 12, the design is less noticeable.

That’s a fact that I did not know, and I began my woodworking days using one of these when doing inside trim on houses.

— Glen D. Huey

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2 thoughts on “Miter Box Extra Numbers

  1. Evening Gentleman,

    I have a turn of the twentieth century Stanley 50 1/2 miter box with similar markings. Fact is, it only has those numbers cast into its base, with the matching detents to lock into. Numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, and 24, left and right. It took some browsing of old tool websites to figure out what I was looking at. I haven’t tried to make a 24 sided box with it yet!


  2. Learn something new every day.

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