What are mitre boxes and mitre blocks made of?
A mitre box or mitre block can be made from wood, plastic or various types of metal.
Plastic mitre boxes come with more additional features than wood or metal mitre boxes because they can be incorporated into the manufacturing process at little or no extra cost.
Beechwood mitre boxes and blocks
Beechwood is an excellent wood for a mitre box as it is very hard and tough. These properties ensure the saw guides will not wear excessively and will stay accurate for longer.
Beechwood mitre boxes should not be subject to excessive damp as beech can swell or warp, resulting in a less accurate cut.
The better quality beech mitre blocks are made from solid beech. There are some cheaper versions available made from two sections which are glued and screwed together. These types are inherently weaker than a solid beech mitre block.
Cheaper beechwood mitre blocks, unlike the better quality versions, do not come with a dust recess on the internal corner and the guide slots are not cut as cleanly and precisely.
For more information see
The side walls on the cheap beechwood mitre boxes are typically narrower and therefore less robust than the thicker-walled, better quality mitre boxes.
Laminate wood mitre boxes and blocks
Not all wooden mitre boxes and mitre blocks are made from beechwood - there are some now available made from laminated wood.
Laminated wood has to be protected from damp as the wood can delaminate and swell if it gets wet.
The saw guides on mitre boxes made out of laminate wood are not as hard-wearing as those made of beech and the glue bonding the laminate together can cause the saw blade to stick in the saw guide.
The side walls of a laminate wood mitre box are screwed and glued to the base of the mitre box; this method of construction is inherently weaker than a mitre box made from a solid piece of wood such as beech.
Laminate wood is used to make mitre boxes and blocks primarily because it offers a cost effective option for the typical DIYer.
ABS plastic mitre box
ABS plastic has all the qualities of beechwood in that it is strong and the saw guides are resistant to wear but, unlike wood, ABS plastic is not damaged by getting wet.
ABS plastic mitre boxes tend to have added features such as workpiece clamps and bench end stops. See
These additional features can easily be incorporated when manufacturing a plastic mitre box, but cost would make it prohibitive to include them in a wooden or metal mitre box.
Aluminium mitre box
Aluminium mitre boxes are generally used in small precision work such as craft work and intricate mitre work performed by hobbyists.
Aluminium allows a mitre box to be made small, but still remain rigid and strong and stay competitively priced, making them ideal for craft work.
Zinc coated steel mitre box
Zinc coated steel mitre boxes are designed for cutting metal and plastic trim used on the edges of wall tiles and the zinc coating helps protect the mitre box from corrosion.
Steel makes for a very robust and hardwearing mitre box as the steel guide slots are not prone to excessive wear when using metal cutting saws such as a junior hacksaw.
Nickel-plated mitre box
Nickel-plated steel side walls and saw guides are extremely hard wearing and will not be distorted by the saw blade.
The hardwood base of the mitre box allows clean cuts through the workpiece without dulling the hacksaw blade and can be replaced as and when it becomes worn or damaged.
The nickel-plated mitre box has a V shaped cut-out to help the user hold the workpiece steady during cutting with either the left or right hand.
This mitre box is often described as a carpet fitter's mitre box due to it being predominately sold by flooring suppliers. However, it is generally used for cutting the edging trim on wood or laminate flooring and metal door thresholds.