I haven’t had a lot of time to work on projects in the shop in the last couple of weeks, but I have gotten in there for a few minutes at a time here and there. I also have sharpened a bunch of customer saws in the last couple weeks, and that has kept me busy during the evenings. I did run across something on Craigslist a few weeks ago though. While I certainly didn’t need it, at the asking price, I couldn’t pass it up, and I do have an intended use for it.
The miter box is a Stanley No. 2358A. This is the biggest model Stanley made at the time this one was manufactured. The saw is, in a word, HUGE! It’s 26″ long at the tooth line and a full 5″ under the back. Amazingly, it looks like it has never been resharpened. The box has definitely been used, as it was full of sawdust when I got it, but I don’t think anyone ever bothered to sharpen the saw. This is pretty common among saws from this time period. People used them until they got dull, then hung them up. Their loss, my gain.
The other amazing thing about this saw and box is that it is 99% complete. The only one missing part is one guide bearing in one of the uprights. That is incredible in itself considering how many parts these things have. The saw works fine without it and is otherwise complete. It was, however, very cruddy. Lots of surface rust, grease, and caked on sawdust, as is so common with these tools. So I spent a few evenings doing some heavy cleaning. Once the box was cleaned up, I turned my attention to the saw.
While I have not sharpened it yet (this thing has a ton of teeth), I did clean the saw plate, back and bolts. I also did some serious work on the handle. These things are so uncomfortable and ugly as found. However, underneath the thick layer of cheap lacquer, is usually some very nice beech. With a little imagination, a rasp and some scrapers, and a little time, they can actually be made usable. Still ugly (though somewhat less now), but usable. Here’s what I started with.
What we have is a very blocky, very squarish, very blister inducing machine made handle. You can see the guide lines I drew on it to attempt to give it some flair during the reshaping. So I scraped the lacquer off, attacked it with chisel, rasp, files and scrapers, and put on an oil and wax finish, which is my favorite finish for tool handles. I still need to sharpen the saw, but after adding a new wooden table, here’s what I have now.
The handle is much more comfortable now, and while it is still somewhat ugly, at least it is less so, and won’t cause blisters now. The plate cleaned up really well too. I replaced the worn out wooden table with one made from pine. The original was soft maple I think. The pine will be easier on the teeth of the saw. I think I still want to screw on a wooden base, but that can be done later.
As I said before, I really didn’t need this tool. I have a shop made miter block, and in all honesty, I don’t see myself using this in the shop for furniture making all that often, if at all. However, where I do see myself using it is for household projects. I admittedly do own a powered 12″ compound miter saw that I use for carpentry projects around the house and yard. But I really don’t like it. It spews dust all over, it’s loud, it requires me to dig out and run extension cords, and it requires that I take my work outside, bring it in to check the fit, then bring it back outside if it needs trimming. Having this miter box now I think I’ll sell the miter saw as I can pop this baby up on a couple saw horses right in the room I’m working in and not have to take the work somewhere else. It will definitely see plenty of use for those types of projects, and I think it will excel at them.
Plus, for $15, how could I pass it up ;).