Shooting Boards: Must-have Appliances

shooting board

A shooting board can be fancy…or not. Here, a jack plane and shop-made shooting board are used to shave off a thou at a time.

Last night while drinking some wine with Christopher Schwarz (I’d stopped by to return a chair we’d borrowed for a photo shoot), we got in a semantics discussion (do we know how to have fun or what?!)*. Is a shooting board a “jig?” Not really; it’s an appliance – yet most magazines (us included from time to time) call hand-tool appliances a “jig” or “fixture,” because those are better-known terms for a similar thing. But not exactly the same thing. By the definitions I was taught, an appliance is an aid to hand-tool work (sawbench, bench hook, etc.); a jig guides a power tool (think a dado jig for a router); a fixture holds/guides a workpiece on/across a power tool (think a crosscut sled for a table saw). And sometimes these functions are combined (what we call that combo jig/fixture/appliance thingy I do not know – but “jig/fixture/appliance thingy” is sub-par nomenclature).

Enough about semantics for now. What matters most is that you have in your shop the appliances, jigs and fixtures you need to do good and safe work. Shooting boards are among those appliances. Tico Vogt, owner of Vogt Toolworks, gives you a short introduction to these essential appliances in the video below.

*Another few sips of wine, and I noted that for the last several years, Chris has been referring to “metallic planes” in his articles and posts rather than “metal planes” or “metal-bodied planes,” and that it was a new naming convention for him (he used to used “metal planes’).

To me, the connotation of “metallic” is “metal like,” not metal. Chris posited that’s due to products such as “metallic paints,” which aren’t metal. So my understanding of the word is, possibly, based on Krylon’s marketing. But Charles Hayward used “metallic plane,” and Chris has been immersed in Hayward for some time now. So he picked up that term and liked it. He argues that “metal plane” could be read as a plane that is used on metal and is thus inaccurate, and that “metal-bodied plane,” while accurate, is longer and thus a waste of ink and finger touches on the keyboard. Fair enough – though “metallic” still sounds off to my ear. And on that note, for more hand-tool appliances, check out “Jigs & Fixtures for the Hand Tool Woodworker” by Graham Blackburn…and yes, that really should have been “Appliances for the Hand Tool Woodworker” – but a bookstore buyer might think the book is about a specialized washing machine.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

7 thoughts on “Shooting Boards: Must-have Appliances

  1. captainjack1024

    Crystalline intermetal infused alloy planes. Why use one syllable when you can use twelve?

  2. T Kan

    Given the rarity of planes that work on metal ( never actually seen one personally), and this is a forum and space for woodworking, there is almost zero chance someone could mistake a metal plane description as anything other than a plane made of metal.
    I would agree that metallic sounds wrong, and indeed if you were to offer me a metallic plane, I’d be double checking that it wasn’t another material made to look like metal.

  3. 7-Thumbs

    Using “metallic plane” could also mislead someone into thinking you are talking about the old Metallic Plane Company.

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