Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rust Redux Research

It's been a busy day and I'm pooped.  Seems like a good time to relax and do some research for the restoration of my new Stanley Mitre Box Frame No. 50 1/2.  Notice the wording and the spelling?  It comes directly from the label on the saw frame.  That's important if you are doing a patent search, which I did.  Google patents comes in handy for these things.  First I just searched on "Stanley miter box saw model 50 1/2" and I wasn't doing well.  Marched out to the garage and brought the frame inside and used the exact wording from the label.  Bingo!

  1. Frame For Miter-Boxes, Patent No 766,794, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards, Assignor to the Stanley Rule & Level Co.
  2. Saw-Detaching Mechanism, Patent No 766,384, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards
  3. Gage And Gage-Clamp, Patent No 766,790, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards
  4. Precisionizer For Index-Pins, Patent No 766,792, Aug 2 1904, Francis H. Richards

It seems there are at least four patents describing this saw, all approved on August 2, 1904.  There are likely others, I think patents 766,791 - 799 all describe miter boxes.  That particular date is easy for me to remember, it being my wedding anniversary.  No, of course not in 1904!  It's interesting to note that there is no model number listed on any of the patents.  I believe the tool was manufactured from 1909 to 1967, roughly.

Now that the technical stuff is safely saved on the hard drive for future reference, it's time for more practical research - just a plain old Google search.  This should yield some forum discussions, pictures, and hopefully some write-ups by some experts in miter boxes.  Here are partial results of "Stanley Miter Box 50 1/2" google search:


  1. WoodCentral, 50 1/2 Miter Box Troubles, Dec 2003
  2. Old Tools Archive, Stanley 50-1/2 mitre box, Aug 2010
  3. Old Tool Archives, Stanley Miter Boxes, Feb 2007
  4. Old Tool Archives, Miter Box Info, Apr 2000
  5. Sawmill Creek, Miter Box Help, Feb 2007

Got lots of hits on forum discussions, the list above is partial.

Catalogs & Instruction Sheets
Stanley 1914 Catalog

I was looking for a reference to the original paint color, but I have not found anything yet.  The frame of the one I have appears to be light gray, with black legs, saw guide cylinders, etc.  Unfortunately, it does not seem that anyone maintains a website specifically for old miter boxes.  Would have been nice to find an expert out there.

Oh, and a little progress has been made; the box has been dis-assembled, soaked in a citric acid bath, rinsed in fresh water, and dried with a heat gun (my better half doesn't like it when I put parts in the oven to dry).  Next is wire brushing, then painting.


  1. Hi,
    Nice post on your 50 1/2 miter box. I have one as well and the rear guide post 'T' base and guide posts are broken. Do you have any suggestions where I could find replacement parts?

    1. Hi fir
      Thanks for the kind words. As far as replacement parts, the only thing I can suggest is to keep your eyes open for another 50 1/2, buy it, and use it for parts. I don't know of anyone that stocks old parts. Would be nice if someone ran a "Mitre Box Graveyard" and recycled old parts.

      If I see one available somewhere, I'll let you know.