I see many reviews of contemporary tools by modern manufacturers. However, given that many woodworkers purchase vintage tools for their own use, I thought it would be valuable to write a review about one of them.
My goal here is to answer the question, “Is a Stanley #60 miterbox worth buying?”
Spoiler alert. Answer. Yes, it is.
My sample came from an estate sale. It was so minty that I couldn’t resist handing over $15.00 to take it home.
Based on the crappy saw handle, I would guess that this model was manufactured in the 1970s. At first blush, the saw guide posts look flimsy compared to vintage boxes.
However, after cinching down the screws, they hold the saw firmly with little play to either side.
You can get a manual for the No. 60 here. It details a number of features.
The Stanley No. 60 Miterbox’ Features With Amaze and Astound You
The catches located at the top of each post work well to keep the saw secure while stock is placed on the bed below.
One user-friendly feature is that when you release the front catch by hand, the back-side catch releases automatically by angling the saw downward—thus allowing a one-handed release. Compare that to the usual, but awkward method of holding the top front of the saw while releasing the back catch on other models.
One feature I’ve never seen before are the “spur screws” for keeping stock in place while sawing.
They are like set screws but have a sharp pointed end that the stock seats against. It works surprising well at preventing lateral movement and makes me wonder why more models don’t have this feature. Other than marring the edge with a small puncture mark they apply a lot of holding power for such small hardware. That’s an ingenious solution in my book.
Easy-peezy adjustable depth stops
Another feature I like is the adjustable depth stops. Rather than clips with serrated sides affixed by a screw, they are circular hardware that resemble bearing casings.
I’ve never gotten the knack of adjusting the serrated stops, they’re just too finicky for me. The #60’s bearing stops, by contrast, are easy to set. There are two per post, one atop the other. You set the lower stops so that the saw completes the cut no more than 1/16” into the sacrificial board. For cuts of a specific depth, simply adjust the upper stops.
Panel saws welcome
Another interesting feature is the ability to use a panel saw with this model. There’s a hole to place a nail in to prevent the saw from riding up into the saw guides and damaging the teeth.
Decent-quality saw comes standard
The miterbox came with a 24” x 4” “Warranted Superior” saw. It sports a nice Stanley etching reminiscent of the “Made Expressly for” Disston saws of yesteryear.
The quality is “decent” compared to the mitersaws of the early 20th century, and downright “fantastic” compared to what you can buy today.
Still, I have two beefs with the saw. For one, the hardware is made of nickle, or possibly even aluminum-gasp! Secondly, the stock handle is clunky and uncomfortable.
So I made a new handle out of walnut.
And now it fits comfortably in my hand.
Configuring for use
The saw I use with my Goodell Manufacturing Co miterbox is sharpened at 30 degrees rake and 25 degrees fleam. And boy does it make beautiful cuts, leaving a smooth surface. But it cuts relatively slowly. So to give myself a fast-cutting option, I sharpened the #60’s saw with 15 degrees rake and 20 degrees fleam.
That setup suits my taste, cutting fast while leaving OK-smooth surfaces that can easily be cleaned up on the shooting board.
And that brings us to THE most important feature of the #60 miterbox. And the reason why I would recommend that you consider buying it.
Dead-on 90- and 45-degree cuts
I was pleasantly surprised with how well this puppy performs. The sawing action is smooth and comfortable. Most importantly, however, is the fact that it produces cuts that are flawlessly accurate.
The Stanley #60 miterbox and saw deliver accurate cuts along with a lot of user-friendly features. It performs as well as my Millers Falls #1124, my Goodell Manufacturing, All-Steel Miterbox and my Millers Falls #74C 5-inch monster of a miterbox. It’s lighter than the 74C and because it’s a later model, I wouldn’t mind traveling with it. No worries about losing or breaking a classic with this one.
While the saw’s steel is of good quality, the handle is of poor quality and demands replacement. Creating a new one to fit my hand made a significant improvement in the feel of the saw.
© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.