Hand Tools – A Shooting Board at Last

Making a shooting board; for accuracy each piece must not move while it is being set in place

Even though I have been woodworking for more than four years now and have read about the importance of a shooting board, I never got around to making a good one till today.

It is not that I didn’t try in the past. Only that the ones I made were inaccurate and therefore quite useless for the purpose of shooting which after all is all about precision.

A shooting board might look like a rudimentary jig made up of just three of four pieces of wood but in reality I have found it is not at all as simple as it looks.

Accuracy is key

The problem lies in achieving a fair degree of accuracy; how to get a piece of wood perfectly square on four or six sides or even two sides is not easy especially for a beginner without power tools.

A power mitre saw cuts pretty accurately but not if the saw is not well tuned. Getting a perfect right angle cross cut with a hand saw is perhaps even more difficult except for the skilled. In fact, the shooting board was designed to perfect cross cuts made by a hand saw.

At any rate, I could make a decent shooting board only now because I am gradually becoming more aware of accuracy in general and how to achieve it.

Essentially the shooting board is nothing but two pieces of wood (or MDF) attached to each other at a perfect 90-degree angle. 

Shooting with a Jack Plane

A piece of wood butted against the lateral piece can then be shorn off at its end by a plane riding the edge of the other piece.

I think I have got it pretty right this time as a test cut came out as it should, at a right angle on both planes.

The other problem with a shooting board is the need for a hand plane whose sides are exactly perpendicular to its sole; else the cut will not be accurate.

I found that most of my Indian planes are not accurately machined. The only exceptions are my Shobha #4 ½ planes which are dead accurate. The longer Shobha planes unfortunately were just not up to the mark for shooting.

If all goes well, the ends will be perfectly square

The #4 ½ being a short plane is not ideal for shooting which prompted me to use my Lie-Nielsen Jack plane for the work.

A most satisfying finish on end grain

The results were spectacularly satisfying. Not only was the test piece dead square at the test end but also the finish left by the shooting was most satisfying. In all a splendid result.

Indranil Banerjie
24 February 2016

Comments

  1. Perhaps you already know, but the lateral adjustment can be used to advantage if the body of the plane used in the shooting board is not exactly square.

    Good job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I didn't think of that. A good tip indeed.

      Delete
  2. As always an excellent guide for anyone building a shooting board. You have a gift with words.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Sir: Where can we get absolutely hand-operated tools (without electricity) online?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11 May, 2016

    Nice job indranil. Good to see an Indian blog for wood working. Where was wandering over net for these info. Thank you sir... Venkat

    ReplyDelete
  5. I should think of making one. This is a perfect instruction manual. Thank you

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Add your comment here...