New Shooting Board Notes

Earlier, I’d spewed some psychobabble about making a new shooting board, and I finally followed through on it. After reading through all of the relevant articles in “The Woodworker Volume IV” book and thinking through the inadequacies of the board I made a long time ago, I got to work and came up with this:

[Edit: Here’s one of those articles.]

The articles all generally said to build it out of a “hard wood.” This makes sense for the stop, and the attachment to the top, because you can easily flex it out of true. However, most of the hard woods that I have on hand are flatsawn and I am worried about seasonal movement. So I made a base out of quarter(ish)sawn yellow pine, and laminated a thinner piece of maple to the top. I don’t know if the base will be durable enough for all the metal that will be sliding on top of it, but we’ll see.

The bottom has a stop for butting up against the bench, and I made that bench stop just a bit smaller than the gap that my tail vise can open, so that I can lock it in place with the vise. I attached this with threaded inserts, with the thought that I could easily change the location if it didn’t work out:

Here’s the shooting board in the vise position on the bench:

So far, so good. Here it is in use:

Yeah, I’m still using a low-angle block plane for shooting. Maybe I’d like to get a specialized chute board plane or miter plane sometime. For now, this works.

The “eagle-eyed” may have noticed the small chamfer that I’d planed to the bench stop’s interior face:

This allows for hanging the shooting board on a french cleat:

I retrofitted that modification to my bench hook on the right.

I made another shooting board, this as described in “The Woodworker” for (basically) jointing smaller work. Having no experience with that kind of board, I decided to make a quickie prototype in “hem-fir” to see what I could learn from it. I have nothing to share about this at the moment; I’m planning out improvements for the next version.

7 thoughts on “New Shooting Board Notes

  1. “I don’t know if the base will be durable enough for all the metal that will be sliding on top of it, but we’ll see.”
    Wax the board and the plane side.
    For the base, I have used the kind of plywood with a phenolic layer on top. It is quite slippery but oiling the side of my #4 makes a difference. The energy goes into the cut, not into the friction.


    • I already waxed the board. It seems OK. I guess I could varnish it if I really felt like it. Waxing the plane side isn’t effective; it rubs off too quickly (this from experience in other situations).

      The phenolic plywood is quite possibly the stuff that I’ll make the other shooting board from; I’ve been pondering it for a while. I’ve never used it, but it does seem like it has a lot of uses for hand tool work besides the jig-making stuff that it’s often touted for.


    • I think there were even multiple versions of it! I seem to recall that I also have a smooth round-bodied one with different graphics, but don’t know where it is offhand. Someone could do a type study!


  2. I made three shooting boards in a twenty year period. One was a flat version, then a ramped one with a 5 degree inclination and finally my current one returning back to the flat. They were all made from mdf with a hardwood fence that is dadoed in. Mdf stays flat, wood doesn’t. Prior to buying a dedicated shooting plane I used a 5 1/2. In order to utilise the entire blade I made a ramp like some used too back in the 18th century and the cuts were cleaner. What made me buy a dedicated shooting plane was the inability to grip and push the plane when facing difficult end grain. Don’t wax your boards. They just gum up your board and plane, a little bit of oil is ok.


      • I think you’ll come to that decision after you use it a while. You’ll quickly begin to see and feel its positive and negative aspects. For me it was mostly the issue I was having with difficult grain. I think it also comes down to the type of work that you do and the thickness you work with that will really help you to make an informed decision. If I was only working with 1/2” thick small box sized panels I would never have bought myself a shooting plane.


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