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how to build a shooting board and what plane to use?

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badger99

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Hi everyone,

I am starting to build picture frames, mostly small ones 30x40cm but some larger ones also. I have received lots of great advice from this forum so far. One-piece I would like to act upon is to build a shooting board to finish/refine the miters.

  • Does anyone have links to tutorials (worksheets or videos) to build a shooting board?
  • And can anyone recommend a plane? Would a general plane be ok to use, as I’m making no more than 15 frames a year, or is it best to get a dedicated shooting plane?

Thanks in advance.
 

custard

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I'm a shooting-board-a-holic, with at least four different shooting boards in my workshop including one for a Lie Nielsen specialist shooting plane.

But I'll let you into woodworking's dirty little secret, in the 21st century shooting boards aren't actually all that useful.

Heresy I know, because they're one of the great hobbyist fascinations. But the tasks where a shooting board is still the best/only option has been whittled down to a very short list. You've got shooting the edges of veneers, shooting tiny components and inlays, and you could argue they're pretty good for shooting the edges of the kind of thin stock that you might use for drawer bottoms.

But there's a reason why Stanley's shooting board and plane was consigned to the dustbin of history. The best method for cutting picture frame mitres, and by a country mile, is a guillotine. The cut is flawless and most importantly a guillotine such as a Morso guarantees precise component lengths, which is the often overlooked essential for perfect mitre joints.

Failing a guillotine here's how professional furniture makers set about mitres. Very few use shooting boards. The favourite options are a disc sander (and for the small sections like you need even a titchy, cheap disc sander with 240 grit is all you need), or a compound mitre saw where the negative hook angle delivers a superb, glue ready finish.

Consequently the shooting boards that see most use are the two metre behemoths you need for veneer edging and the small, impromptu things you might use with a block plane or a number four bench plane. Spending a king's ransom on a dedicated shooting board plane (and hey, I'm guilty of falling into that rabbit hole) is unlikely to be the best use of your tool budget.

Good luck!
 

Jacob

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I'm a shooting-board-a-holic, with at least four different shooting boards in my workshop including one for a Lie Nielsen specialist shooting plane.

But I'll let you into woodworking's dirty little secret, in the 21st century shooting boards aren't actually all that useful.

Heresy I know, because they're one of the great hobbyist fascinations. But the tasks where a shooting board is still the best/only option has been whittled down to a very short list. You've got shooting the edges of veneers, shooting tiny components and inlays, and you could argue they're pretty good for shooting the edges of the kind of thin stock that you might use for drawer bottoms.

But there's a reason why Stanley's shooting board and plane was consigned to the dustbin of history. The best method for cutting picture frame mitres, and by a country mile, is a guillotine. The cut is flawless and most importantly a guillotine such as a Morso guarantees precise component lengths, which is the often overlooked essential for perfect mitre joints.

Failing a guillotine here's how professional furniture makers set about mitres. Very few use shooting boards. The favourite options are a disc sander (and for the small sections like you need even a titchy, cheap disc sander with 240 grit is all you need), or a compound mitre saw where the negative hook angle delivers a superb, glue ready finish.

Consequently the shooting boards that see most use are the two metre behemoths you need for veneer edging and the small, impromptu things you might use with a block plane or a number four bench plane. Spending a king's ransom on a dedicated shooting board plane (and hey, I'm guilty of falling into that rabbit hole) is unlikely to be the best use of your tool budget.

Good luck!
Agree. They aren't all that useful. I tend to knock one up from a few scraps if I feel the need.
Agree about disc sander too. They've gone out of fashion but I got a 12" disc and an adjustable table with my long bed Arundel J4 Senior lathe (£100 ebay!!!) and you can buy velcro mounted sanding discs. Really useful. Also for sharpening. In fact found my Sorby Pro-edge a bit redundant and sold it. A very nice but very extravagant machine!
 
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msparker

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@custard if working hand tools only(ish) is there an alternative to a shooting board? I've made one recently and I love it. Its also just great as a planing stop and bench hook in a pinch
 

thetyreman

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I made the paul sellers one out of pine and use it quite a bit, especially when making boxes when I need a dead square edge for dovetailing, as well as mitres, when making picture frames even one shaving too many can make it out of square, getting perfect mitres is not easy. p.s I use my vintage stanley no 5 1/2 plane with its original blade and cap iron.
 

mAtKINItice

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I went down this rabbit hole a few years back.

Ended up making a few and since then this has been my go to. Simple to make, easy to adapt and always accurate each time.

My use for mitres is limited so I use the clamp/combination square method in the video.

I haven't the time or need for these fancy youtube bolts/adjustment ones.

 

paulrbarnard

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I'm a shooting-board-a-holic, with at least four different shooting boards in my workshop including one for a Lie Nielsen specialist shooting plane.

But I'll let you into woodworking's dirty little secret, in the 21st century shooting boards aren't actually all that useful.

Heresy I know, because they're one of the great hobbyist fascinations. But the tasks where a shooting board is still the best/only option has been whittled down to a very short list. You've got shooting the edges of veneers, shooting tiny components and inlays, and you could argue they're pretty good for shooting the edges of the kind of thin stock that you might use for drawer bottoms.

But there's a reason why Stanley's shooting board and plane was consigned to the dustbin of history. The best method for cutting picture frame mitres, and by a country mile, is a guillotine. The cut is flawless and most importantly a guillotine such as a Morso guarantees precise component lengths, which is the often overlooked essential for perfect mitre joints.

Failing a guillotine here's how professional furniture makers set about mitres. Very few use shooting boards. The favourite options are a disc sander (and for the small sections like you need even a titchy, cheap disc sander with 240 grit is all you need), or a compound mitre saw where the negative hook angle delivers a superb, glue ready finish.

Consequently the shooting boards that see most use are the two metre behemoths you need for veneer edging and the small, impromptu things you might use with a block plane or a number four bench plane. Spending a king's ransom on a dedicated shooting board plane (and hey, I'm guilty of falling into that rabbit hole) is unlikely to be the best use of your tool budget.

Good luck!
Quite a few woodworkers are still working in the 19th century through choice.

I love my LN shooting plane. I’ve got a very nice shooting board with swappable stops.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I've been using shooting boards for a couple of decades. No project happens without one being used.

I agree with Custard that a guillotine is better for mitres. However the shooting board excels and is the choice for trimming drawer fronts to fit, and for creating square edges and trim drawer sides. It is an instrument for precision planing ... like no other.

Here, a Veritas Shooting plane on the Stanley #52. This is probably the best combination available ...



Ramped board with strike block plane ...



Gigantic shooting board with Veritas Custom #7 for jointing edges ...




Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Jacob

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I've been using shooting boards for a couple of decades. No project happens without one being used.

I agree with Custard that a guillotine is better for mitres. However the shooting board excels and is the choice for trimming drawer fronts to fit, and for creating square edges and trim drawer sides.

Derek
I've trimmed loads of drawer fronts and sides but it's never occurred to me to use a shooting board and I can't see why you'd need one, except as a bench stop, which is a very useful bit of kit. I tend to mark up a lot and once the marks are there I use them, usually with pieces held in the vice. You still need to mark up for a shooting board otherwise you can easily over shoot (no pun intended:rolleyes:)
I guess a shooting board is something you'd use if you had one, but wouldn't miss if you hadn't.
 
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weekend_woodworker

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Well now I am in a quandary! I built my first shooting board this year and had limited success in getting good shavings with my planes. I was building up to the idea of investing in a veritas shooting plane when they come back in stock in the UK. However after Custard’s post I wonder whether that is a good plan. I could invest in a sander, but I don’t know if I have the space to store it.
I did see a Veritas shooting plane on eBay recently, but it sold for £420! Someone must have been desperate for one when there is no new stock available to pay that price.
 

Jacob

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Well now I am in a quandary! I built my first shooting board this year and had limited success in getting good shavings with my planes. I was building up to the idea of investing in a veritas shooting plane when they come back in stock in the UK. However after Custard’s post I wonder whether that is a good plan. I could invest in a sander, but I don’t know if I have the space to store it.
I did see a Veritas shooting plane on eBay recently, but it sold for £420! Someone must have been desperate for one when there is no new stock available to pay that price.
Sounds like you need to practice your planing technique without shooting board, first.
Sanding disc: buy an old lathe, even just the headstock, but with double ended spindle so you could put two face plates on. Attach ply discs with velcro mounted sand paper. This is brilliant for wood shaping and also for sharpening grinding, but not honing.
PS nobody needs a "shooting" plane.
 
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billw

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I found my shooting board really useful for a number of reasons: -
1. it helps hold work steady whilst you plane at the right angle
2. it helps you learn to check the lateral adjustment on a plane before using it
3. the effort put into getting a 45 degree jig will repay itself over and over, and also it's fixed whereas everything else that I own with 45 degrees needs setting all the time
4. they're also good as throwaway surfaces to protect workbench tops
 

TRITON

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The morso, and other miter trimmers are great, but only in small section as trying the adjust the mitered edge of a big bit of hardwood is nigh on impossible. You'd need to clamp it on tight, then get a stepladder in the case of the morso so you can jump down onto the pedal and hope it shaves off the few thou'. My trimmer really can't handle anything but the finest shaving of stock under 60mmx60mm of hardwood, as I found out trying to do a mirror in hard maple.

As above, a sanding disc or direct off the saw. As long as the saw has an 80t plus and like most things you've set distances.
Chap I worked with was always constructing them, but took him ages for 45d and he was always fiddling with it, complaining it 'just wasn't right'. As such i stuck to sanding them.

Quite a few woodworkers are still working in the 19th century through choice.
After running their stock through the £3K thicknesser :LOL:
9'x200mm board thicknessed by hand ?. Few would even want to attempt that when the job requires 2 or 3 boards minimum.

It is fun doing it all by hand, but its also a real drag and theres buckets of sweat involved, and unless its hobby you're not really going to be able to charge what it costs in time.
 

Just4Fun

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3. the effort put into getting a 45 degree jig will repay itself over and over
Oh yes, don't underestimate the effort needed to get a 45 degree shooting board spot on. At least it took me a long time. I would be embarassed if anyone knew exactly how long but luckily even I don't know that.
 

Droogs

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I have to agree with Custard, the only shooting board usage I have had over the last few years (not counting 2020) is for veneer work. disk or belt linisher is preferred tool for cleaning up and truing mitres and bevels. I would love a nice big guillotine but cost and space prohibit it.
 

Benchwayze

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Rob Cosman describes a good shooting board on the Tube. Quite posh with dovetails and everything. It's also useful! Check it out.

John
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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I wonder why many here yammer on about mitres? These are a tiny percentage of the use for a shooting board. I cannot see how one would use a guillotine to trim drawer fronts or sides to a piston fit. I cannot imagine using a disk or belt sander to do the same without rounding over edges and creating a wavy surface.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

badger99

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Thanks for all the opinions, suggestions, and advice so far. It seems like a disk or belt sander is the prefered option. I imagine once I have one, other jobs will present themselves where I can make use of a sander compared to a shooting board. My main constraint is the budget, can't really afford to spend hundreds on a specialist piece of kit at the moment. Does anyone have recommendations on models or manufacturers?
 
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