A Gigantic Shooting Board!


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Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

Established Member
2 Mar 2005
Reaction score
Perth, Australia
The hall table for my niece was completed and delivered, but the wedding was postponed owing to Covid-19. Australia locked down early, and we have suffered less than other countries.

I realised early on that I would have to change the way I ran my psychology practice, and began to research and gear up for Telehealth using video. I found this quite stressful as I intensely dislike using the telephone (and cannot avoid doing so through the day), fearing that video may have the same impersonal feel. It has been reassuring that it has turned out quite a decent experience, and it will usher in changes in the future for consultations. Distance and mobility may become barriers of the past.

Still, the past 6 weeks have been exhausting. Working in front of a screen is intense. I've probably put in 15 hour days owing to the extra admin needed.

What has this got to do with woodworking? Well, I really haven't made it into the workshop until about two weekends ago. It is a refuge from the stresses of the world, and I can chill out just tinkering. I managed to tune up all my machines. Do you know that bicycle lights are the best lights for drill presses and bandsaws? Got a couple of them. Attached a spare Wixey to the bandsaw. Love it! Made a rack for router bits. This is sounding desperate. My energy levels are too low to tackle the painting Lynndy wants me to do. I really just want to push a plane around.

Blame Rod Cosman. He has a daily video on building drawers. If you can ignore the constant sales pitches, Rob is one of the good guys, and there is always something to pick up. I would watch one episode after the last patient was done, with a coffee and my feet up. <sigh>

Well, Rob was using this large shooting board. He likes to shoot with a #5 1/2. The board was nothing special, but it reminded me of a project I had thought about some time back - a shooting board for tuning the long edges of drawer sides. Keep in mind that the drawers I build tend to have sides 6-8mm thick. You cannot plane this accurately in a vise (well, only Warren can). I must say that Rob demonstrated wonderfully precise work, and this rubbed off on me. Hence the interest in creating a shooting board for long edges.

Numbers: the runway to the fence is 750mm. The total length is about 880mm. The total width is 450mm. This is a large shooting board. Yet I can reach down it. It is not cumbersome to use. Its principal use is long side edges, but it can shoot ends as well (not to forget that I have a shooting board and plane dedicated to shooting ends).


Solid wood? Well, sort of. The choices are MDF and ply. MDF is really not a great choice as it had a hard exterior (good) but soft interior which does its best to imitate a sponge when water is nearby (very bad). It is also very heavy. The plywood in Oz is .. well .. cr@p. There really is no other word to describe it. It is light, since full of voids, and generally looks like a pretzel. It is possible to purchase marine ply, but it is very expensive. My local Bunnings had these laminated panels on special, and they were cheaper than the unspeakable ply. The thicker panels are Merbau, which is heavy and hard. The lighter stuff is unknown and softer. The laminations will minimise movement.

The panels were all 300mm wide (12" for those who have not yet entered the modern era). One-and-a half panels made up the base. These were planed down on the jointer and thicknesser, and then joined level with the aid of biscuits (yes, I have one .. damn useful they remain, when most traded theirs in for a Domino. So silly of you .... I have a Domino as well. These machines do different things). I digress. Glued up ...


I use mild steel section (covered in tape) for cauls.

As good as the results may be out of the thickness/planer, the surface is not going to be flat. I have not used this Marcou in yonks. Traversing to flatten across the grain ...


Winding sticks are used to check for twist ...


The high spots are marked and planed off ...


For fun, I decided to enter the 21st century. Behold, the new winding sticks ...



Then it was the turn of the runway. What are the chances that it runs parallel to the platform?

Here are two squares on the platform. There is no gap between them as the panel is flat and level ...


Now when I take them over to the runway, it can be seen that this is not parallel ...


The next task is to plane the runway, checking along its length ... until you get this ...


Next step: remove the fence from a Small Plow (plough!) and run a 1/4" groove along the side of the runway/base of the platform ...



This is for dust, to keep the corner of the runway clear.

Next step: shoot the rebate for the blade. I use a Veritas LA Jack. It does not matter much as I have three planes I could use, and the other two (seen shortly) have similar dimensions (the blade is about 6mm above the sole) ...



This electrified router plane was used to create mortices for T-slots ..


Now the fence could be attached. It is aligned with the blade rebate, and squared to a plane. I use a little glue to set it, then screw it on from above and below ...


Here is the side fence being morticed ...


Finally ... ! Here is the shooting board ...


Shooting the sides of a drawer with a Veritas Custom #7 (the advantage of this plane is that it has a 40 degree frog, so can shoot end grain, plus with the chipbreaker it will plane sides very cleanly) ...


Remove the side fence, close up the outer runner, and use the LN #51 to shoot ends ...


I decided against the T-track style clamps here (as some may know, I have used them elsewhere) as they are too directional, which limits their range of cover.

The side fence does not just travel parallel to the runway, but can be angled so, for example, one can hold an out-of-square board or deliberately plane a taper. As the end of the board will not sit flush against the far fence, clamps are helpful to prevent movement (this is unnecessary when the side fence is parallel).

The clamps can be moved along the side fence, as needed. That is the reason for the many holes you see ...


The underside of the board is covered in rubber underlay ...


This is as the long shooting board with live under the table saw and be used on the outboard ...


I am not sure if this build was just a way of having some fun, or whether it will get serious use. Either way, it was time well spent.

Stay safe.

Regards from Perth

Lovely Derek, you put more effort into jigs than some do into the furniture they make. Always a pleasure to see your work

As normal, you've gone to the nth degree! Nice work. I've been watching Cosman at lunch break too. Good chewing gum for the brain.

Here's another approach for a long grain shooting board.

Shooting Board.jpg

Short Joints in thin stuff are prepared in a shooting board. The boards are numbered as they are intended to be placed. The first board is laid face down and its edge shot with the trying plane, as shown in the photo. The corresponding edge of the second board is shot with its face upwards, and the opposite face down, and so on, the edges of each joint being planed in the reversed positions. This is to counteract any want of truth in the shooting board or side of the plane, and to ensure that when the boards are placed together they shall be straight across the face. The plane iron should be set square for this operation. The wood is held down firmly with the left hand, whist the plane is worked with the right grasping the stock, just behind the wedge

This shooting board is quick and easy to make and would likely serve perfectly adequate. Unless you're Derek ;).

Oh, and if needed, most metal planes have a lateral adjustment lever if you needed adjust the squareness of the cut.


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Hi Graham

My board is waay OTT. :D I have accomplished the task of shooting edges in very basic ways in the past. One is to simply raise the workpiece off the top of the bench top (place it on 6mm thick MDF), and shoot using the bench as a board.

There is no doubt that this shooting board is going to do a better job, and there is space to keep it (an important factor).

Regards from Perth