Shooting Boards


Small work is safer – and easier – to size with a handplane and shooting board.
By Michael Dunbar
Pages: 62-65

From the December 2009 issue #180
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I have been a woodworker for 38 years and I still have all my fingers on both hands. My fingers all run out to the very ends, just like when I was born. I don’t even have any big scars on my fingertips. Why? I am really wary about getting my precious appendages too close to spinning blades. When the work gets too small for me to be comfortable, I switch to hand tools.

So, when I need to joint small pieces or square them up, I use a shooting board rather than a jointer or table saw. The term “shooting” is archaic. It means to trim and true an edge with a plane. So, a shooting board is a device that allows for controlled trimming of the edges and ends of small pieces of wood with a handplane.

The good news about shooting boards is that you will get perfect results with no noise. Wait. There’s more. I’ll bet you’re like me. After all these years I still get a kick watching a shaving coming out of a plane. My jointer and table saw do not give me any such enjoyment. Finally, there is almost no risk. If your fingers get too close to the plane, you will lose at most a layer of skin.

A shooting board gives you so much control it is possible to trim almost to the microscopic level. If necessary, you can close up a joint by removing no more than a layer of dust with each pass of the plane. Shooting boards permit a level of adjustment, precision and control beyond the reasonable use of any machine.

There are a number of different shooting boards. Each type is used for a different type of joint. I’ll talk about the various shooting boards later.


From the December 2009 issue #180
Buy this issue now