Weekend Project: Build a Shooting Board
Once you try this method of squaring the ends of a workpiece, you may think differently about power tools
When you think about speed, accuracy, and repeatability, hand tools may not come to mind. But if you put a well tuned handplane and a simple device called a shooting-board to work, that mind-set may alter forever. Together, the plane and shooting board produce dead-on accuracy for squaring, mitering at any angle, or trimming parts to exact lengths – and do those jobs quickly. The shooting board registers the stock and the plane for repeatable cuts, stroke after stroke.
This article focuses on a so-called end-grain shooting board, but the same general know-how also applies to shooting side-grain (think edge jointing).
I admit, I probably let maintenance of my tablesaw and crosscut saw slip a bit. But even when those machines are in top shape, my plane and shooting board combo easily surpasses the machines’ quality of cut and accuracy. A few quick strokes and board ends are dead square, trimmed to exact length, and with polished end-grain to boot.
You must get two things right when making a shooting board. The stop block that supports the piece being planed must be square and flush to the edge that’s guiding the plane. That keeps the board being planed in perfect alignment and fully supported to prevent tearing out end-grain fibers when the plane exits the cut.
When the plane is set for a heavier-than-normal cut, the end of the stop block gets planed away and gives less support to the stock. The shooting board shown here addresses this problem with an adjustable stop block that can be slid and fixed at its proper position multiple times, while also making it simple to precisely square the stop block.
Shooting boards can be sized to the job at hand, but…