Shooting has no equal for producing an accurately square (or angled) end on a board while incrementally removing minute thicknesses of wood to make a component fit just right. This shooting board has seen many years of use in my shop while meeting my preferences for jigs to be simple and adjustable for tolerance.
It is easily constructed using a 9″ x 26″ x 3/4″ piece of MDF for the base. Plane the working side of a dressed quartersawn mahogany board, 6″ x 3/4″, straight and square. Attach it to the MDF with screws, leaving a 3″ track on which the side of the plane will ride.
The track is covered with adhesive-backed 1/32″ thick UHMW slick plastic which makes the plane ride like a sled on ice. Screw a short grain fence, about 7/8″ thick, a few inches in from the end. To attach the fence, use slightly oversize clearance holes, adjust the squareness until you’re satisfied, then tighten the screws.
Break in the new jig by taking a few shavings off the side of the mahogany to create a minuscule rabbet. The outermost part of the plane’s sole will ride on the uncut straight edge while the tiny blade projection will nest in the rabbet.
In use, don’t worry if the woodworking gremlins confound your attempts to produce a square end on a board even though the fence is “perfectly” set. Just use a piece of tape or a shaving judiciously placed on the face of the fence to produce the squareness you seek. The same goes for squareness across the end of the board – use shims logically placed on the shooting board surface to get the desired result. This is micro adjustability under your control!
A thicker fence can be attached for thicker workpieces or to stack workpieces to distribute blade wear. I seem never to use miters in my work but a fence could easily be attached at any angle in similar fashion as the square fence. The scale of this shooting board is more for drawer making but I have used it to shoot carcase boards by using an adjustable support alongside the workbench. Still, if I were to make a new one I would probably make the support piece about 2″ wider (8″).
The shooting board also works well for long grain edges on small, thin pieces which can be difficult to joint by the usual method in which the board is clamped in the front vise while the top edge is worked.
A low angle, bevel up plane is ideal for shooting. I like the compact mass of the Lie-Nielsen #9 “iron miter plane.” Don’t even think about shooting without a very sharp blade.
Shooting has no equal for producing an accurate edge on a board.
The shooting board in place on the workbench. The UHMW plastic on the track gives a smooth ride for the plane.
The fence is attached with screws which allow minor adjustments for square.
The Lie-Nielsen #9, with its low angle, bevel-up, thick blade is ideal for shooting.