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As requested: Making a shooting board...

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Alf

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... Or Alf teaches a class on sucking eggs.

<Warning> Poor use of MSPaint alert! If anyone with Sketch-up or whatever wants to make me some nicer versions, I won’t say no. :D

Before we go any further, naming of parts:



The first crucial step is to stop worrying about the details. Making a shooting board is not rocket science. Only one thing is really important at the planning stage - the thickness of the upper board that the sole of the plane runs against must be greater than the thickness of the sides of the plane you intend to use.


Left: you can see the blade extends right down to, and beyond, the surface of the upper board. Right: the dark area is where the blade doesn’t reach right to the side of the mouth, and thus the blade isn’t planing into the guiding edge at all. So it's not exactly "side thickness", but you know what I mean

Huh? I hear you say. Well, if it’s thinner then you’ll just plane a step in the work piece. With luck this terrible graphic might explain that:



And here’s what it looks like in practice using the thick-sided Veritas bevel-up panel plane on a board designed for the thinner-sided Lie-Nielsen bevel-up smoother. Notice how the whole of the end has yet to be planed because the plane has been stopped by the step that’s been formed? That’s exactly the same thing that happens to the guiding edge of the shooting board itself, and what stops it being planed away.



Still don’t get it? Well try making a board with the upper board thinner than the sides of you plane and see what happens. Or you could just take my word for it. :p

I tend to like to make shooting boards in pairs; it’s not much additional work to make two at once, and having bench appliances in pairs occasionally has some advantages. More on that later. So the first task was to gather my materials; basically whatever I happened to have handy that might be suitable. I came up with a couple of pieces of 18mm Far Eastern ply about 29” x 8 1/8” for the base boards, a sheet of 9mm ply that would lend itself to being cut into three for the upper boards (two, plus a spare), and the remains of the almost-famous Board From H*** to make the stops. I tend to use pretty thin stuff for the upper board if I can get way with it, but if you go for 9mm and above you should be fine. 12mm is popular I think, but I didn’t have any… Sheet goods don’t look lovely, but they’re stable. Dimensions aren’t critical and I just chose the thickest bit of scrap from the off cuts box that was ready squared up. Yeah, so ideally you want it taller than the width of the plane, or at least taller than the thickest stuff you’re liable to want to shoot, but if it’s too tall then it’s harder to hold thinner stuff firmly, and you want the whole board long enough for every eventuality, but not so long it‘ll be unwieldy, and… Believe me, it’s really easy to spend so much time trying to decide the perfect dimensions that you never make the board at all - I know, ’cos I did just that for years. :oops: Don’t make your board too heavy, or you’ll never use it because it’s just too much of a pain to get out of it’s storage place, but other than that try what you like. It doesn’t take long to make another. The end product will go together something like this:



The base board pretty much dictated the overall size I’d end up with; a 2 ¼“ ledge for the plane to run on it’s side looked about right, so I cut the upper boards to width accordingly - 5 7/8“ as it turned out. With the length turning out at about 27” it’d work out just about right for shooting the edges of smaller stuff and the ends of practically anything. The second board would take care of mitres. By now the bizarre dimensions I’m using should have hammered home the fact that exact measurements simply aren’t important. A lot of these were based on the well-known rule of “that looks about right”. Rocket science it is not. I straightened up one edge of the upper boards which would end up as the guiding edge for the sole of the plane, then bevelled off the bottom edge. This is to give somewhere for the dust and debris of shooting to go to, rather than muck up the smooth flow of plane against straight edge. Needless to say I wasn’t going to foul up a good plane on the rather nasty pre-used ply:



Just as an experiment I decided not to glue my boards together, but just use screws from the back. Dunno why, just fancied to. It’s not rocket science, remember? :wink:



Starting to look like the real deal. Now we need the stops.



Well making the stops is simply a case of finding a bit of squared off stock and fixing it to the board. In the case of the 90° board it worked out at 2 ¼” wide and 1 1/8” thick. Don’t forget to chisel off the far corner of the 90° stop so it won’t break out untidily.



Length was left oversize to be trimmed back when finally fixed in place. I screwed it on from the back, but it’d be easier to screw down from the top really. Maybe I was feeling posh that day? Bolt it; screw it; glue it; bolt, screw and glue it, whatever takes your fancy. :wink: Traditionally a housing with one tapered side was used, but that’s only really worth doing if you’re making your board in solid wood. In ply and other sheet goods it’s not really feasible. All that’s important is the face side of the stop is 90° to that guiding edge. Using a larger square to judge this is advisable...



The mitre stop is another “that looks about right” job in size. If it helps the straight edge that the plane runs against worked out at around 2” long. The mitres were cut on the SCMS, but use your method of choice. Try to get spot on 45° ‘cos it makes life easier, but as long as they’re not too far off and the two angles add up to 90° you’ve got a workable situation.



To fix the mitre one, assuming your stop angles are correct, you need to make sure you fix your stop with the angled faces at 45° to the guiding edge.



Leave the guiding faces of the stops, the ones in line with that guiding edge of the upper board, a little oversize. The plane will trim them flush when you take your first few “bedding in” passes. Inspired by a certain make of shoulder plane, I thought I’d try a 1¼” forstner bit hole in the mitre stop, to make gripping the work against the stop a bit easier. Maybe. Well I won’t know ‘til I’ve tried, will I?



Remember that bevel on the guiding edge of the upper board? The one for the dust and such to go in so as not to foul the straightness of the guiding edge? Here it is:



The first couple of shavings will remove just a little of the guiding edge ply, and hopefully all the face of your stop. That is until the stop is flush with the guiding edge, and the blade can’t cut any further because it’s stopped by the sole of the plane running against the same guiding edge. Just like happens if your upper board is too thin for the thickness of your plane sides.



You want to try to push the plane like you’re wanting to plane right into the bottom corner; you won’t be able to, but it’ll help you avoid tilting the top half of the plane into the work and thus ruining your careful 90° set up. Sort of angling the pressure in the direction the green arrow is pointing



The last step is to decide how you’re going to hold the completed shooting board on the bench. That’s pretty important; holding the work piece on the board is going to take all your attention, you don’t want to have to worry about the whole shooting board skating about too. At the moment I’m trying them held between bench dogs, simply ‘cos I haven’t tried that way before. A ledge screwed on underneath could just hook over the edge of the bench like a bench hook, or be held in a vice. Maybe at a comfortable angle? Again, try anything that takes your fancy. If it doesn’t work just change it. Here they are, completed:



I slapped on a bit of old Patina I was wanting to use up for a finish, but again it's not important. A scribble of wax candle or similar on the side of the plane will help it run slickly, and some fine abrasive stuck to the face/s of the stops will give some extra grip if you find things slip a little. As long as you don't put abrasive on the plane's runway and wax on the stop you'll be fine... :wink:

So why a pair? Well I got the idea when I made my bench hook/mini shooting board combo. When making them I ensured the combined thickness of the base and upper boards of the shooting board were equal to the thickness of the bench hook‘s base board. Now when sawing longer stuff the mini shooting board acts as a support for the end that isn‘t on the bench hook, and vice versa when the shooting board’s in use. They make a very handy duo, and well worth making IMO.



In time I’ll probably set up the new boards to be held on the bench in a similar way, and so the same useful additional support feature will be available for them too. Will it work? Dunno until I’ve tried it, do I? :D All together now; it’s not the science of rocketry :wink:



Hope that helps a bit, or if not at the very least it might get the not-sures to take a shot at it if only to say "hey, that's all wrong". :D This is easily the most basic, simple slab-type of board, but you could get all fancy with sloping boards, adjustable stops, donkey's ear varieties etc etc. The shooting board world is the mollusc of your choice. I now open the floor to anyone who wants to tell me all the important points I've missed. Once you've done that maybe eventually we'll end up with a useful article! :lol:

Cheers, Alf

All written out for the time-being. :shock:
 

Adam

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Lovely. cheers ALF - just what I wanted!!!

Adam
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,

Excellent stuff as usual!

One thing that can be irritatingly difficult is to fix two bits of wood at an exact right angle as in the fence for this shooting board. I have found it helpful to use the following method if not using the housing method.

Get the fence in approximately the correct right angled position and fix one end with a screw. Then using your square, swivel the fence so that it is exactly a right angles. If you have a nail gun, use it to shoot a couple of nails into the base board at this point. Otherwise, clamp the fence and board together and check again for square. Use a hammer to tap it square if it has shifted. Then screw the free (but clamped end to the base board. Remove screws, glue and rescrew, checking for square again.

Do remember to drill clearance holes for the screws in the fence (by all means make them a snug fit but you don't want the screws bridging the fence and baseboard if you use full threaded screws.

When the glue has dried and the fence is still not square you can get out your shoulder plane and take small amounts off the appropriate spot or use Post-It notes to compensate!
 
A

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Very nice LAf and the drawings convey the info very nicely thankyou :wink:

I have made ahem, a few 90 degree shooting boards pretty much as you posted here, just need to finally get around to copying your 45 degree idea.

Thanks for the excellent guide
 

Alf

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D'you know, I actually did the whole one screw swivel thing and never even thought to mention it. :oops: Kind of assumed that might be an egg to far maybe...

waterhead37":2u0kfyc3 said:
Do remember to drill clearance holes for the screws in the fence (by all means make them a snug fit but you don't want the screws bridging the fence and baseboard if you use full threaded screws.
Yep, another good one. I also put a wee countersink on the reverse side of the holes in the ply, just to take up any "blow out" of the ply caused by the entry of the screw. Otherwise it can prevent the two layers being pulled tightly together. If that makes any sense. Anyway, it's proved to be worth doing so I tend to do it all the time now.

Cheers, Alf

P.S. Tony, you 'aving a Laf? :wink:
 

J.A.S

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Alf,

many thanks for going to such trouble. Yours is the best description of making shooting boards that I've ever seen .

However, my brain is rather fogged today. Thus, I shall be puzzling over "the thickness of the upper board that the sole of the plane runs against must be greater than the thickness of the sides of the plane" for a few moments :oops: .

Thanks again: it really is very kind of you to do all that for the rest of us.

Jeremy
 

J.A.S

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Got it, now. :oops: :oops:

All that expensive education, and yet it takes me 10 minutes, a cigarette and a slurp of coffee to work out something so simple. :oops:

Thanks again, Alf.

JS
 

Waka

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Alf

Very good description,knew I was going wrong somewhere.
 

Alf

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jas":20zatqij said:
All that expensive education, and yet it takes me 10 minutes, a cigarette and a slurp of coffee to work out something so simple. :oops:
Took me longer than that to work out how to try to explain it. :roll: :lol: You'd have a good laugh watching me trying to get a reasonably understandable picture to illustrate the step problem. Thank goodness for British Hardwood's lovely orange board ends, 'cos nothing else worked. :D

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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When the glue has dried and the fence is still not square you can get out your shoulder plane and take small amounts off the appropriate spot
Yep - I used a #78 to re-tune a woefully inaccurate vintage mitre shooting board (and a lot of care ;-)

Any plane who's blade goes all the way to the edge could be used.

Or shims :)

The accuracy of a shooting board comes from:

* stop at 90 degrees
* reference face of stop and plane-sole-running surface straight
* plane-side-running surface parallel to workpiece support surface.

The latter (in Alf's illustrated design) is achieved by the base plywood being flat, and the upper piece of plywood being parallel in thickness.

BugBear
 

rich1

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Hi all newbie here from the other side of the pond San Diego CA to be exact. I guess it's time to stop lurking and crawl out of the wood shed. I found this board while researching the Woodrat. I will be adding one to the family soon.
I have been a neander for a while and I guess it's time to branch out. Nuff said there.
I don't know if it has been posted here before but I have had this link around for a while and would like to share it. zpretty much every thing you want to know about chute boards but were afraid to ask.

Ric
[/url]http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/shuteingboards/shuteingindex.htm
:D
 

Midnight

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Nice lookin boards Alf.. but.. I canna shake the feeling that leaning over the stock to work isn't right for me...

<shrugs..

different strokes for different folks I guess.....
 

Alf

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Welcome to the forum, rich. Yep, I agree, Jeff's site is an excellent resource. More than enough info there to make a shooting board from really, but deary me, these folks seem to like lots of pretty pictures. What can you do? :roll: :wink: :lol:

Mike, so are you using the shooting board parallel with the front edge of the bench, but with the plane's runway nearest to you then? Essentially using a mirror image board? It would explain why you have to clamp the work, at least I think so. I've never tried it. You're not picture enabled I think? If I do a pic of what I think you're doing you can point out where I've gone wrong maybe. :D

Cheers, Alf
 

Midnight

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you can point out where I've gone wrong maybe.
woahhhhhhhhh now, stop the bus... I didn't say you're doing anything wrong.. just that your method winna work for me..

you're right re the plane orientation to the bench; business end's nearest to me.. ummmm... might be best if I back up a piece...

You have Robert Wearing's Woodworking Aids book...right..?? That's what I based 2 of my boards on; the third was an "inspired" guess... bear in mind that I built these before I "discovered" this forum and any links acquired since...

I built the Improved Shooting board and Improved Mitre shooting board...(pages 76 & 78) but made em like they're on steroids.. they're both around 3ft wide and 2ft deep... huge things... There was method in the madness however; both were made to suit the size of stock I was working at the time, panels in the case of the ISB and long grain mitres with the IMSB. The need for the long grain mitre arose when trying both the table saw and bench jointer failed to produce satisfactory results...

The reason for the ass backwards bench hook was simple ergonomics; my back winna last 30 secs leaning over a large panel to shoot its far edge.. having the auld knicker elastic let go while bent over like that is something I dinna want to repeat anytime soon...

The last board is for edge jointing rough stock and shooting it to final width; basically the same arrangement as the ISP without the square fences at either end, having an adjustable fence parallel to the front edge instead... this one's 4ft long and can handle stock up to 7ft if you take it in stages...

All 3 boards were built with the intension of using the #9 (held in both hands just to be awkward :p ), and used both left and right handed...
 

Alf

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Midnight":1zt93qwz said:
you can point out where I've gone wrong maybe.
woahhhhhhhhh now, stop the bus... I didn't say you're doing anything wrong.. just that your method winna work for me..
Ha hum. I meant if I did a pic of what I think you do you could point out where I'd misunderstood... I, er, well, I know I'm not doing anything wrong... :wink: :oops:

Okay, MWA&D has clarified what you're doing very nicely, ta. Soooo, can I also deduce that either you a) Have the bench away from the wall, or b) Only shoot the ends of pieces shorter than your bench is deep? And can I also assume you use the "clamp the piece down to the line you want to shoot to and plane along 'til you can go no further and have - all being well - hit said line" technique too? Now I can see how that works with the adjustable fence for width doodah, but how d'you line up your mark perfectly with the guiding edge when shooting an end? Not just being bloody minded, it's genuinely a puzzlement to me. We obviously use shooting boards in such different ways. :D

BTW, have you tried a bench hook orientation of shooting board, or is that another no-no for the back?

Cheers, Alf
 

Midnight

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Soooo, can I also deduce that either you a) Have the bench away from the wall,
I could be wrong saying this, but to date I don't think I've ever needed to back the bench away from the wall to execute this, however, the bench is on castors so if the need arose it wouldn't be a prob... limiting factor being the width of the shop..

all being well - hit said line" technique too?
zactly...

Now I can see how that works with the adjustable fence for width doodah, but how d'you line up your mark perfectly with the guiding edge when shooting an end?
I kinda cheat.. smart ass'd answer is to say I use a marking knife.. but I'll elaborate...

Shooting a panel (for instance) starts out with the rough cut panel straight off the large panel cutter. I generally aim to have 1.5mm tolerance all round to allow for slop in the mitre track in the saw.. First task in the jig is to shoot a reference corner to measure from. I'll mark the desired size with the knife, the mark being exactly 100mm shy of the end of the board to align with a corresponding mark on the board. Trial fit to see how far out I am; too far and I'll creep up on the mark by shooting in stages, if I'm pretty close I'll clamp on the mark and shoot to it, switching to both left and right handed stops to ensure consistency. Flip the board through 90deg and repeat.

The edge jointing board uses pretty much the same technique with the exception of the knife marks; the fence rendering them unnecessary; shoot a reference edge, flip the stock, shift the fence to final width and have at it.

There's a wee bit more to it than that, but how do you explain that it hinges on really being comfortable with the plane you're using, relying on a known consistent shaving thickness to creep up in gnats whisker stages?? That's why I use the #9; the low angle + adjustable mouth mean I can either hog off stock quickly, or adjust to take off a whisper as needed without fear of tear out.

BTW, have you tried a bench hook orientation of shooting board, or is that another no-no for the back?
To be honest, I haven't needed to yet, but the tool cabinet in progress is gonna need this. I'm assuming you mean the plane runs across the bench, away from me..??

Putting this lot into context, I've needed to do things this way due to the limitations of the bench; it was built primarily as a table saw / assembly table.. as techniques grew more and more handraulic, it's been pressed into tasks that it was never really intended for. That said, its days are numbered. Once I get through the stack of ply construction jobs ahead of me, the next big project is to scrap it (the table saw too for that matter) and build a proper twin vice bench with all the bells and whistles.
 

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