When using Japanese saws like a ryoba, I tend to saw to a pencil or knife line rather than rely on a saw guide. But there are instances when a guide is useful:
- making a series of repetitive, identical cuts
- cutting cylindrical pieces of wood
- mitre cuts – usually 45 degrees
The Stanley 116 mitre box, unlike most others, guides the saw plate directly making it a good match for a Japanese saw. Of course, regular western back-saws work great in it, too! It’s not as robust as the bigger mitre boxes (like the Stanley 2358A), but it is great for occasional use in a shop with limited shelf space.
One thing to remember is that a western saw will push the work into the fence, but a Japanese saw will try to pull it away. So you have to hold or clamp the work securely to keep the cut where you want it.
The 116 has two main adjustments: the angle of the saw and the height of the guide. There are no stops for common angles like 90 and 45. You have to lock the saw angle in by eye using the reference gauge, but I tend to double check with some practice cuts when the angle is a critical one.
As the saw descends in the cut, the teeth on the back of the saw (as a ryoba is two sided) can rub against the box’s guides. But for occasional use on small pieces, I’ve not found it to be a problem.
A vintage Stanley 116 in almost pristine condition can usually be had for less than $15 through a popular online auction site.