Poor Man’s Mitre Box

Poor Man's Mitre Box

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The best way to get hold of a mitre box that suits your needs is to make your own. In this video, Paul shows how he makes one in a matter of minutes that guarantees accuracy, especially when used in combination with a shooting board (link to shooting board video). They can be used for many things such as trim for tool chests, boxes and drawers as well as picture frames and the like.


  1. Eddy Flynn on 12 September 2014 at 3:27 pm

    great tip thanks for sharing your skill and knowledge

  2. Alexander Schifter on 12 September 2014 at 5:15 pm

    life can be so easy, isn’t it?

  3. harpman on 12 September 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks so much. I’ve enjoyed many of your videos on this site and on you-tube. I’m very excited right now as I received your Artisan Course Series 1 and 2 this week and I’m anxious to get started. Happy to have found you. Bruce

  4. Daniel Zollo on 12 September 2014 at 6:20 pm

    I was installing some 5″ floor molding a few years ago. I couldn’t even find a miter box that it would fit in, so I ended up tilting my compound miter saw and using that. It didn’t look very good. To think that I could have built my own miter box in less time than I spent setting the saw up.

  5. JORGE BAQUERO on 12 September 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Paul, thanks for this great short video. Could you please comment about the saw that you used?

  6. Carlos J. Collazo on 12 September 2014 at 6:39 pm

    This is great for me, I’m just thrilled you decided to create this video on this topic of the mitre box as I am this very time looking to install one piece of interior door casing that I need to have with a 45 deg. mitre. I do not have an electric mitre saw and wanted to do this bit of trim carpentry by hand. I was going to just do the rough cut by hand and then build the shooting board as you have shown us to do, but now with the mitre box, my doubts and questions on how to do the door trim by hand have been removed and I feel I’ve grown. I so appreciate you removing all the muddle and confusing information out there by doing this and all the other videos. They remove the mystification. I can do fair bit of moulding/trim work confidently now. Problem solved. Thank you, Paul Sellers.

    • terrence on 14 September 2014 at 2:45 pm

      The miter box in this video is 2 sided, fine for small trim work. Consider building your miter box 3 sided (like the commercial ones) or 4 sided (like a tunnel) to give more guidance through the cut.
      Many door/window openings are not square so be sure to measure the angles at the head jamb before you make your cut. Compensate for out of square jambs by using shims to adjust the angle of the casing as it sits in the miter box not by making an out of square miter box. Another trick for perfect joints is to assemble the casing on a workbench and install it fully assembled, I mean miter it, glue it, clamp it, nail it, spackle the nail holes and prep for stain/paint. This may seem crazy at first but getting a miter joint perfect while working on a bench is a piece of cake compared to working in place on the wall. Lastly but most important be sure to have fun while you work.

    • D.J. King on 3 October 2014 at 3:05 pm

      I would suggest that you still build the shooting board as they are essential to other work and even a well constructed mitre box can be off a hair which is enough to leave a gappy joint. The best results in my experience are achieved with a combination of a good mitre box and a shooting board being used in tandem. Neither one is hard to build. Best of luck.

  7. Ben Fisher on 12 September 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Sweet! Now, when can I get my Paul Sellers bow saw? 😀

  8. Dave Parks on 12 September 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Asked a question last week about your Christmas shop schedule. Had computer trouble and didn’t get your answer. Paul would you please reply here as well so that I might get it this time?

  9. smfield on 13 September 2014 at 12:00 am

    Is this the same poor-mans mitre-box short video as the one shown prior, I think a year ago?

    • Carlos J. Collazo on 13 September 2014 at 12:07 am

      there was another one?

    • John Poutier on 13 September 2014 at 1:50 am

      I seem to remember Paul making one as part of another project. I’m not sure it was as complete as this one.

      • Philip Adams on 24 September 2014 at 10:30 pm

        Hi John,
        There was one in the tool chest video, but we filmed this separately as we wanted a stand alone reference video which covered all the aspects you might come across.
        Kind Regards,

        • Craig on 3 October 2014 at 3:39 pm

          At this rate you’re going to have to hire an indexer pretty soon.

  10. Greg Merritt on 13 September 2014 at 3:25 am

    Thanks for this. These short method and technique videos are building up a great, quick reference resource.

    • Michael van Zadelhoff on 13 September 2014 at 2:31 pm

      You are right. I think we saw this technique in 2 other series, but after so many projects it hard to remember where it was. Now it’s very easy to find.

  11. ballinger on 13 September 2014 at 1:15 pm

    That’s so cool. I have a few saws that need new handles. I love the older more ornate styles, does anyone have a template or sketches handy that you would be willing to share?

    • Frank Joseph on 13 September 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Go to ..TGIAG . Com. There is a listing on the left .
      About 30 or so are in pdf.

      • STEVE MASSIE on 13 September 2014 at 4:31 pm

        + 1 go to Dominic’s site as he has a bunch and he will gladly sell you a saw plate , nuts and folded back if needed as well. Dom’s a great Guy to do business with.


  12. STEVE MASSIE on 13 September 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Paul thanks for this, so simple I love it. I do have a couple miter boxes but obviously this is much more user friendly for smaller piece’s.


  13. terrence on 14 September 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I used to drag a power miter saw with me to every job because I didn’t know there was a better way. As I learn more and more from Paul I find that I need power tools less and less. I still use power tools when it makes sense but having a miter box I can carry to the work instead of running back and forth to a miter saw station is frequently a better way to work.
    Other trades will stop at my bench and watch because they have never seen a carpenter work without electricity. Other carpenters are dumbfounded that my joints are better than theirs and I don’t use a power cord.
    Thanks Paul. I mean really THANKS! You’ve made my work faster, quieter, safer, cleaner and funner.

  14. rich strickland on 18 September 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Great video as always, but I think I spotted you using a new knife on this for your knifewall, not your usual one. Thanks.

    • Eddy Flynn on 18 September 2014 at 4:54 pm

      i seen that knife too looks like we’re gonna see a new “poormans knife” but looking at it, it could be made from brass .

  15. mike melendrez on 20 October 2014 at 7:45 am

    Thank you Paul I will be getting some good use out of my miter box

  16. Magnus on 6 March 2015 at 11:15 pm

    So very Paul Sellers. Simple and effective – elegant even. I love this. So refreshing in a world where woodworking journals seem to offer solutions that are complicated and even convoluted by comparison – and often involving some expensive contraption or gadget.

  17. Steve layson on 3 September 2015 at 12:09 am

    Thanks so much, from a novice seeing the end to end result, with your simple and expert instructions is an inspiration. Been working from a book on joinery which is often confusing and leads me to mistakes – your videos are refreshing and appreciated.

  18. Ray Capararo on 4 September 2015 at 11:37 am

    Thank you, I am learning from this site everyday

  19. Jeff Novak on 23 January 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I have begun using this method on site for customers with better success than the power saw. Consider….1. Quieter working this way in an occupied space, 2. Exact accuracy without recutting pieces. 3. Zero waste because of accuracy and no mistakes. High quality of workmanship with gorgeous miters and easy adjustment using a low angle block plane literally hand held midair. This helps trimming doors and windows that are not good 90’s. 4. Greatly reduced cleanup time with less dust and no airborne dust. And comparatively less set up time. Lastly this is inherently safer than a power tool inches away from my fingers. The real time expenditure in trim work is not the actual time sawing wood, it’s the ancillary tasks of set up, measuring, installation and rebutting, and cleanup.

    • Ed on 23 January 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Jeff- How do you adjust when the angle isn’t 90? You don’t want to make a separate miter box each time. Do you shim and, if so, is it a matter of guessing and trying? In furniture work, we take care to make sure the carcase is square, but in house trim, who knows what you’ll find corner to corner. I just assumed the adjustable chop saw would win for house trim, so I’m really interested to hear how you cope with this.

  20. bytesplice on 28 April 2019 at 4:02 pm

    This stand-alone is 5 years old, and still very useful. I appreciate these episodes because they are concise, and I can head into my shop with the information I need after just 8 minutes.

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