Q: Can you explain the purpose of the numbers cast into the top of an old miter box? Obviously these have some relationship to the angle produced if you align the saw to one of these detents, but for the life of me I can’t figure out how the numbers are supposed to be read and used.
A: Those correspond to the angle required to cut a frame with that number of sides. So with the detent at 24 is the setting for a icosikaitetragon, at 12 for a dodecagon, at 8 for an octagon, at 6 for a hexagon, at 5 for a pentagon and at 4 for a tetragon. (And yes, I had to look up the proper name for a 24-agon.)
22 thoughts on “What’s with the Numbers on a Miter Box?”
I bought one recently and I don’t know what year it is. It’s identical to the one you’ve shown in the picture.
You’re acute obtuse carpenter Fitz.
I have an old Miller Falls mitre box that has angles marked for the detents. Apparently, this is the first time I have seen a Stanley 50 1/2. Thanks for posting this.
Those numbers are an indication of the miter box’s age. They were put on there to help people figure out how to make the correct sided miter when they did not have a high school education.
I love getting little bits of esoteric knowledge when I awaken at 6:00 AM. Thanks!
I have 2 of them in my woodworking school. and if you look at the front edge of the Radis you will find the degree’s.
How do these compare for accuracy of the cut . I have another manufacturers miter box, and it’s kind of wobbly. I have considered buying one of these stanleys but I”m not sure if I want to spend any more money just to get a ” vintage” miter box.
0 being an exception to the rule? 😉
Thank you Fitz I restore old Woodworking hand tools and have two with this numbering and one not. Now I can be intelligent when asked.
You get a gold star 🌟 today.
Does anyone know why some -gons seem to get their first name from Latin and others get theirs from Greek?
From the top of my head I can’t recall any polygon shape with a Latin name. The ending -gon comes from the Greek word gonia (γωνία – angle) and the first part is the Greek number of the shape’s angles. There are shape’s with two names like triangle (trigon), square (tetragon), rectangle (parallelogram), but in this case the English name is way more commonly used. By the way the correct word for the 24gon is icositetragon, icosi-kai-tetragon in Greek reads twenty-and-square which doesn’t make sense. That being said credit is due to Megan for searching in order to find the word.
Well I admit I just checked on two sites, both of which had that word…that I can’t pronounce.
I don’t seek out the etymology of words all that often, but I take a perverse pleasure in reading stuff like this. I guess that makes me a real tetragon.
I admittedly know little Greek. I was thinking of ones like Octagon, Decagon, and Dodecagon as well as non-gons like triangle and square. But, I suppose Octa, Deca, and Dodeca are derivatives of the Greek?
I have a Stanley 358 with the numbers and degrees as mentioned by woodworkerme above. I have plans to restore it once I finally have a shop large enough to leave it set up.
What a lovely arcane bit of knowledge I just gained with this thread!
Alright, I’ll ask the obvious question. 24 sided ?frame? Any thoughts on that?
It’s a default circle in Sketchup.
It’s the default circle in Sketchup.
I think I saw the movie where icosikaitetragon fought Godzilla…..
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