Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The NOBEX Champion Model 180 Miter Box

A recent find at a local auction house, at a steal price really, but how does it work??

My first initial reaction at seeing what I got, sight unseen, was, Oh wow.
Then looking at it more closely, I'm thinking, hum, I would had expect maybe a tad better blade tensioning system, and the lack of ability to park the saw up was I thought a bit of a dissapointement.
Redeeming features are the use of a cast metal (Zamak or aluminum?) for the saw carriage. I have seen too many cheap ones with plastic components, it is impossible to tension properly a plastic frame...
Similarly, the MB bed is made of cast aluminum with machined surfaces were it count.

The only plastic is on the saw guides themselves, making for a smooth action.

But was I missing parts, is it complete? And then I had this part which I have no idea if it even belong to this MB??

Strange looking part found at the bottom of box lot

Looking it up on line I saw a video which explain the features on this model.
Lo and behold it is able to park the saw up, using that strange left over part I found in the box :-)

Still from above video. 
Recognize it?

Well, well, lets see...

It was easy to figured out how the part fit, there was still a distinct outline on the dusty plastic slider :-)

Works as advertized, how about that!
When pulling up the saw (and of course its captive carriage), the flat part of the bracket flips up unto the top of the post, holding the saw carriage up.
Pushing the saw forward in its carriage sort of work, but it is easier and faster to just push it in to release it. Notice it is only being supported at the rear on top of the post.

And there is also a provision to make stop cuts by using a small depth stop on one of the straight guide rods, one in front, one in back .

Still from above video.
The small red depth stop with a black knob is seen.
It does not seems to appears on earlier models?

Front posts, no depth stop

Rear posts, no depth stop

This saw does not have one. Looking thru my older LV catalogs, I can see that this model never had this feature since sporting this style handle.
An easy thing to retrofit, or maybe I can get spare parts at LV? Will see.

In the video, they also claimed that the saw cannot hit and cut into the bed. Well I will beg to differ, maybe only if you have the depth stops??

You can see that the saw is resting too low and 
cutting into the miter pivot bolt in the rear.

I wrote about Miter boxes before see here
The saw on the video is the same model, but a newer version. Lets have a quick look at this model history.

Not much on line to be found. 
So I resorted to my LV catalogs collection 
and fixed my scanner, has been U/S for a while :-)

Quote. Nobex is based in the north of Sweden producing some of the best tools for the carpenter, tradesperson or cabinet maker. Since the 1980's Nobex have fully refined the mitre saw, for example, whereby the accuracy can be guaranteed to a startling 0.08 of a degree. No other mitre saw on the market offers this level of accuracy. This is a clear testimony to their attention to detail and Swedish quality. Unquote

They manufactured a small range of Miter Boxes (MB), the largest being what they call their Professional Champion model, the No 180
But it was NOT always build as the model we know today...

From my earliest LV catalog 1984-85
Earliest model had a totally different carriage and machined aluminum bed.
It used 22 in blades and the capacity is stated at 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 4-1/2 in vertical capacity.

From 1992-93 LV catalog
Part of bed painted green (was blue).
Has high extension for the back of bed (screw in)
Still 22 in blade, capacity stated is 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 6 in vertical capacity. Notice the newer smaller model on the right, called their Standard box, it would become their next professional model in a larger incarnation.

From 1993-94 LV catalog
New model introduced, it is based on last year Standard model, but on Steroids.
Saw carriage redesigned for better tension, used the grooves in bed indentations to hold trim pieces at the correct angle vertically for true compound cuts.
Now using a 25 in blade, the capacity has increased to 7-1/ 4 high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. Also featured clip on high pieces in the back to support tall pieces. This is like my model

The cast bed of these new models, have indentation molded in the bed to prop up the molding pieces, for example, at different degrees (sprung angles)
The smaller Standard model has grooves for 20 to 55 degrees in 5 degrees increment, while the bigger Professional model has grooves for 20 to 60 degrees in 10 degrees increment. This enable true compound cuts. That is why the rear fence extensions are removable, they are not always needed and could get in the way in other operations (?)

From 1999-2000 LV catalog
The new handle shape, slight changes to the tensioner.
Tensioner screw now in front on handle side and fitted with a wing nut.
Used to be a round knurled nut. So you get more torque out of it

 Two small adj lock screws appears on the top of the post, front and rear.
Uses unknown, probably some sort of parking mechanism??

From  2002-03 LV catalog
The new quick acting clamps make their apparition.
Notice that the adj lock screws on top of post are gone.
The current parking metal clip is visible on rear post.
The cutoff stop now has some sort of attachment to it,
 used to be a simple 90 bend in the rod. 
Used to have a 36 in capacity for the stop, now 33 in

Mine used the older screw format.
New quick action clamps were introduced in LV catalog in 2002

Based on information listed in my LV catalogs collection, my model falls between 1993 and 1998. Those were during my power tools days, ironic :-)

The Nobex Champion Model No 180 is touted as having the biggest capacity of any MB made: 7-1/ 4 in high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. . .

Catalog copy, notice depth stop is present

For example Stanley biggest one, Model No 2358, has a capacity of 5 in high, 9-1/2 wide at 90 degrees and 6-1/2 in at 45 degrees
The difference in width are mainly due to the construction details of both MB design. Note also that the Nobex used a 25 in blades were as the Stanley used a 28 in blade. In both case they loose 3 inch in width at 45 degrees

Accuracy is stated to be to .08 of a degree. Claim is based on the accurate milling on the bed and the pivoting, locking, mechanism that pivot the saw carriage.

It also come equipped with two clamps to secure the work piece to the bed.
On my older model, it used a simple screw mecanism, the newer ones have a quick acting clamp that can be secured two ways to the bed to better hold various shapes.

There is of course a pull out length stop, whose capacity varied from 26, 36 and now 33 in long. A newer model, the Pro-Man also has an available bed extension.

The provision of adjustable depth stops would be a great addition to an otherwise great saw, and sure enough, it came about at a later date. Should be easily retrofittable to my model. As long as the diameter of the post have not changed, new parts should fit If not, I'll make my own.

One feature I really like, is the ability to park the saw side ways on the bed, latch it with a supplied clip (dont have it) and you can transport the MB by the saw frame... Not sure I would trust that, but it does make for a smaller, secure package for travelling. That I like, and being aluminum, it is a lot lighter than my older cast iron behemoths (Stanley's and Millers-Falls)

Saw carriage in park position.
Brilliant idea!

Of course no tool review would be complete without actually putting it to use.

Unfortunately, I still dont have much room in my shop right now, more of a storage area...
And for some strange reasons, I am not allowed to used the dinning room table as a work bench anymore (don't ask why :-)

So it would have to wait for later. I did sneak in a quick cut on the floor and it work pretty good, smooth cuts! (yes dear I cleaned up after :-)
The resulting cut is pretty smooth, smoother than any of my Stanley's MBs.
The combination of a thinner blade, with more PPIs and less set makes this difference. It is however a bit slower than my Stanley's, no surprise there for the above reasons. Curious to try the Japanese Ikeda teeth blade in it, that may make it as fast or faster than the Stanley's ??

Special blade with Japanese Ikeda teeth pattern

I whish I could tension the blade a smidgen more, will investigate later. I heard of people using washers to change the adjuster range, maybe that is what I need.

Bob, tool enabled, work space challenged


  1. My offer to double your money on the MB still stands...

  2. Hi Bob.
    Great find.
    I remember using a MB saw in sloyd in the school. It was always around for as long as I can remember.
    I have no idea regarding the brand or model, those things didn't really interest me when I was 7 or 8.

    I think that the possibility of making compound miters is a really cool feature, it didn't quite understand that system before looking a the last picture from the catalog.


  3. LOL Steve, Nah, Its OK, I'll keep it.
    I think this will make a fine rig for on the road, lot less heavy than my small MF No 24 cast iron...

    Bob, have tools will travel

  4. HI Jonas
    Thanks, I think in Galoot parlance the saying would be: "I suck" :-)
    Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
    Guessing when you went to Sloyd the MBs you had were probably Nobex??


    Bob and Rudy who is exhausted from the grandpeanuts visit