Apr 21 2015

Shooting Boards and thinking outside the box.

Published by at 4:00 pm under Hand Tools,Jigs,Shooting boards,Woodworks Store

Woodworking is a lot of different things to many people. Collectively, we use woods in many artistic and engineered ways when we apply it to our projects and the things we make.

Want diversity from materials? Ok, we can use hardwoods, or softwoods, exotics or domestics. We can vary colors, shapes and textures, while building period furniture or puzzles, jewelry boxes or tool chests. We can veneer and make parquetry, we can make instruments, and kitchen gadgets. Curves and tangents in three dimensions. We may focus on some part of this or dabble in a lot of it from simple and necessary to extravagant and ornate.

Want more diversity? Ok. Woodworkers are also varied in their tastes, design eye, and their use of tools as well, and so what they shoot and shoot with on their shooting boards is as varied as they are. With so many materials and projects, we likely only describe the half of it.

Where many things come together in nearly any project, is where the need for base line precision has to be laid out of boards, and then the cuts that have to be worked to those lines. This can mean measuring with rulers or stepping out with dividers using ratios, but fitment is important, and line and angle accuracy can become important, because this is still geometric work and often in three dimensions. Layout from any inaccurate baseline can be a disaster. This is the essence of making anything, and the need for high precision for continued good fitment as you build depends on a lot of things, but the closer you take the work to fine, the greater becomes that need.

Kanna Shooter Ultra Plus Left Hand

It isn’t about defying tradition as much as it is about accommodation.

Here’s a Kanna Shooter Ultra Plus in Left Hand configuration.

This was ordered with an Any Angle Fence. Creative times ahead!

Kanna Shooter Ultra Plus Left Hand

Traditionally, the shooting board was a jig made from boards that allowed us to fixture our workpieces at 90 degrees most usually, and sometimes we made another to shoot 45 degrees, but the type of wood was usually low quality scrap, and made to last just long enough to work for a project before seasonal movement renders the appliance inaccurate. Most of us who ever made a shooting board using screws, nails and glue found it to be inaccurate soon after the time it was made.

Our shooting boards are designed to help you true your work with a lot of control over accuracy. At first glance they look simple, and to a degree this is right. High accuracy isn’t as easy to see at first glance as you might think, and surprisingly, it isn’t as easy to make either, but extra effort is made during the making process to confirm it is there. They help you accurize your work in the most direct and basic way.

High accuracy is easiest to achieve when a tool avoids becoming a gizmo. Think of the most direct method to get there and leave the final calibrations to the craftsman. It stands to reason. If plane makers are pushing the envelope on quality and accuracy, the shooting boards is as much or more meaningful to a lot of woodworking accuracy. It depends, but if any hand plane regardless of price is shooting from an inaccurate, uncalibratable jig made from scrap… Thin shavings mean little when accuracy is off.

There is a lot of accuracy and integrity built into our design. This means if you calibrate our boards using Starrett accuracy for instance, then your cutting tools should help you make with that same accuracy. That’s pretty nice accuracy for woodwork and makes your finish product that much nicer.

I choose Baltic Birch Plywood as the primary material for our shooting boards because of it’s stability and durability. I have a number of different tools I’ve made from this material that see daily shop use, and they have remained highly accurate in any season over many years of heavy use.

I see the shooting board as a tool with two working halves, and both are important to the tool’s process.

First, the Chute.
The chute on our boards is designed to be precise and durable. We offer them in either Right Or Left hand models. The chute is cut straight for the running of the plane to 0.001 inch straightness tolerances, and a dust groove is added so sawdust and wood waste will not foul the squareness needed for accurate shooting. We correct the chute for coplanarity with the top of the board so there is always a square registration. Some planes are not made square however, but this can usually be corrected with lateral adjustment to the blade.

The chutes are all bored and tapped with mounting holes so that different Chute Adapters can be fitted if desired. This is what converts our shooting boards into a chute board, and all our boards are convertible. Without the adapter installed there is no enclosed chute, but a block plane can trim 4/4 stock and all standard bench planes up to the Number 8 jointer will fit as well. Even wooden planes and infills fit our chute configuration.

Chute Adapter Rails are available for the LN 9 Iron Miter and LN 51 Chute Board Plane, the Veritas LA Jack, Veritas LA Smoother and Veritas Shooting Plane, the Veritas Shooting Sander and any makers brand of 62 LA Jack. These Chute Adapters are all interchangeable and mount to the same mounting points on the Chute. This keeps all planes running straight and true.

We also offer a full line of our board configurations for use with Kanna. These are set up for shooting on the pull rather than push, From two to Eight angles and all the different lengths. The cleat fixtures the board in a face or end vise.

Earlier I mentioned that all our boards are convertible to Chute Style boards. All Single and Double Chute Models, in Standard and Wide Board are bored for chute adapter mounting, and the Long Grain Shooter comes only in single chute, and is bored and tapped for mounting chute adapters as well.

The other working side of a shooting board is the base where the fence is mounted. Traditionally , there are a number of different approaches to fence fixturing here. We choose to use a pivotable fence, that has a pivot hole on the chute end and a small slot that allows for +/- 4-5 degrees of adjustment of high accuracy calibration. It can be calibrated while mounting for full angular accuracy in any season. It is made to be flippable side for side and both sides are flattened and squared to 0.001 tolerances on certified granite. It has dual use capability on two different angles. This allows two angles to be fixtured with one fence – accurately, and without interference at the fence/chute intersection. It is also designed to be a close fit to the chute and not be planed away in use after initial run in.

This wasn’t versatile enough, so we added further versatility to the base. We offer from two up to eight mountable fence angles on the base. 90 and 45 degrees are standard angles on all models. Standard size single chute models can also have mounting points for 15, 22.5, 30, 60, 67.5, and 75 degree angles, and we offer a dual angle fence which fits 90 and one each of those specific anges. Each of these mounting points are counter-bored and steel threads are installed for long lasting durability.

Our Boards are offered in three different length ranges to help fit you to the scope of work you wish to achieve. The Standard Size shoots to 11-1/2 inches, the Wide Board Models reach 18 inches, and the Long Grain Shooter will shoot to 26 inches in length. This will accomodate squaring most anything from small sticks and jewelry box work to most full size case work .

The Wide Board Shooter in single Chute can fixture all the angles between 45 and 90. The Long Grain Shooter shoots 90 degrees only fence due to it’s main purpose of jointing and squaring. It is able to work other angles by utilizing the accessory caul that can be mounted to fixture large stock at any arbitrary angle desired

We also offer our Standard size and Wide Board size shooting boards in dual chute models. These are dedicated to 90, 45 and 135 degree work. They come in three versions with up to 4 mountable precision two piece fences that will backstop work to 1-23/32 thick. All our Double Chute Boards are convertible to Enclosed Chute Board style, and any of the planes mentioned earlier will fit. A special note here; the LA Jacks and LN 9 have the ability to be flipped to the opposite side for running either left or right chutes ambidextrously. This makes most mitering work a breeze.

There are a few additional accessories that can make our shooting boards even more versatile, while retaining all the accuracy you can set them with.

For shooting thicker stock, and yes, sometimes the need arises, we offer the Double High Fence, which is twice the thickness of our Standard Fences. This allows shooting to 1-7/16th thickness and we recommend this fence particularly if you shoot a lot of thick stock. It is available for ordering in all the angles we offer.

We offer a fence that allows you to shoot nearly any arbitrary angle; we call it the Any Angle Fence. It can be fixtured at any mounting point your boards model may have, or at nearly any shootable angle in between. This is great for when you need to shoot a few odd angles or compensate for angles that are off commonly used angles due to any reason. Need a 27, 38 or 65 degree angle? Do you need to match an existing angle of whatever degrees, and want to directly transfer it to the shooting board with an adjustable bevel? Ok, set it precisely and fixture the fence base with a clamp. The fence is a set of three, the base and two faces, one 1″ high and the other 1-23/32nds high so you can shoot most anything a 2 inch wide iron will reach. Again, we have flattened the fence base, and both fence faces on certified granite to 0.001 inch for accuracy.

For thicknessing, we offer a Planing Stop that will fit most any of our boards by mounting where the fence does. It will enable you to plane stock to 1/4 inch thick. If you like, you can lay a piece of 1/8th inch hardboard or MDF on the base of the board in front of the planing stop and thickness your work to nearly 1/8 inch thick. That’s pretty thin stock made at low risk to you or the workpiece.

I’ve been asked, why work wood to 0.001 tolerances, since wood moves? I have an easy answer.

Wood Movement in nearly every species is a known element. It is fully understood. There are many free references available to help us work with this. With proper selection, we can build in woods with very high precision to close tolerances. This is not as much about measuring as it is about fitment. Built objects can be designed and are built with this in mind. This is the essence of why lay out can be repeatable and why joinery works. Objects fitted together move together while retaining their close tolerances.

Our shooting boards have to exceed these common woodworking tolerances in order to allow you the fullness of your personal craftsmanship. It would not be fair to quality craftsmanship for a tool to color that craftsmanship.

How does that help you think outside the box? Easy. We have taken the shooting board beyond the traditional way of thinking of it, added a lot more versatility and calibratable high accuracy, enabling you to make about any thing you like as accurately as you can with about any sharp hand plane you might have handy. Accuracy from the first shot, any season, any project. Thanks to imagination, there is a lot of making that goes on outside the box, and with a versatile shooting board, there is nothing stopping us from just going for it, no matter how many or few tools we may currently have.

A good and versatile shooting board is a key tool in your shop that can help you avoid making (costly) mistakes. Some of what it can help you do is Inlay, Parquetry, Kumiko, Lutherie, Jointing, accurate joinery and so forth. Feel free to think outside the box and use the tool. You can begin doing all this with a shooting board, accurate angle setting tools, and nearly any hand plane as long as the plane iron is sharp. It helps put the craftsman in control of the art and the work. How cool is that? What would you like to make? Out of all the tools in your kit, few bring precision to your work faster than the shooting board.

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