Aug 25 2015

Shooting Boards for Makers

Published by at 2:05 pm under Hand Tools,Jigs,Miter Work,Sanding,Shooting boards

Recently we have received a few e-mails asking if shooting boards are a good tool for makers. Absolutely! Our shooting boards can help you make nearly anything – material appropriate – that you want!

Woodworking is making with wood as the making media or material. Making anything usually means parts are part of any ensemble and parts need to fit together. Fortunately, You don’t have to have a full woodworking shop for making a lot of things. You can tool up just to handle specific tasks.

Crafters and makers often use materials that do not require a lot of extra processing. This means that the materials are pre-prepped as a part of the manufacturing process, much like S4S lumber is often prepped, so that the material often only needs cut to length or shape.

Once you have made the rough cuts, you have to finish removing the saw marks and bring the rest of the material to a finished smoothness right at the layout lines. Files will work in woods, plastics and metals, and sanding can get it done too. You can wrap sandpaper around various shapes to help you sand flat, straight or inside and outside contours. Curves are often faired by eye, but the straights are not as easy, and this is where the shooting board is essential for this work.

For basic making, it’s still the same as woodworking. Lay out the lines on your work based on the measurements you’ve taken from your plan. Fixture the work, cut the work, choosing any number of cutting tools. You can use handsaws, hack saws, jigsaws, circular saws, but the trick is to make the initial cut close to the waste side of your line.

But what about the shooting board how does it help a maker? Anybody who needs some precision in their work can use a shooting board to help them achieve it in the appropriate materials. The shooting board is all about making extremely straight edges, and combining edges if desired in to very specific angles. It does this while leaving a very fine surface quality when used with a handplane, and if working up through grits, it can do it with abrasives as well. As far as materials that can be trued with a shooting board, can you cut it with a knife edge? Woods, cardboards and leathers can be trued, and if you are sanding, many plastics can be accurized on a shooting board as well.

Simply put, a shooting board is both a jig and a fixture. Why both? Because it guides a plane or sander and holds a board at a specific angle simultaneously. It holds the hand plane or shooting sander in a particular alignment and allows it to be able to move in a controlled linear motion for high accuracy. This is what a jig does. The fence side of the shooting board allows you to Fixture pieces of material that can be made from wood, plastics such as acrylics and polycarbonates, and even in some cases some nonferrous metals to help you put precision straightness and particular angles onto the workpiece. The jig is the moving cutter part, the fixture is the material workholding part.

Commonly the shooting board is used with a sharp handplane, but if handplanes are not your preferred tool, the Veritas Shooting Sander from Lee Valley Tools is a great way to use a shooting board on a number of different materials. In the same way we would use a shooting board with a hand plane, replace the plane with the shooting sander and instead of thinking of a cutting-edge which cuts in one direction, sand in two directions like you’re using a sanding block that happens to be up on edge. We are just exchanging a cutting edge for abrasives is all, and this allows us to true a wider range of materials.

Veritas Sander Shooter Shooting Board.jpg

The Veritas Shooting Sander is a movable fixture for sandpaper. It comes supplied with some self-adhesive sandpaper, but any sandpaper can be used – The sky is the limit.
It’s made the same width as the Veritas Shooting Plane, so the two tools can directly interchange and can use a chute adapter on our shooting boards. The width of the sandpaper strip is 1-3/8 inch, and on our shooting boards, this comes out to approximately 1-1/4 inches usable sanding thickness. You can use nearly any abrasive papers that you can obtain from anywhere. Cut it to length and width, spray the back of it with spray adhesive. All that’s required is a light coat of adhesive, apply your sandpaper to the sander, and you can sand on nearly anything you want. There is a very large assortment of sandpaper abrasives available to fit nearly any need.

Consider your materials, how you want to shape them, and your finish quality goals and expectations. Based on your design choices, many of these questions can be answered by the use of a shooting board. Our shooting boards have accuracy and capabilities beyond what the tool was traditionally capable of. Many of our clients have shared with us that once they came to understand their shooting board and it’s capabilities better, the more applications they found for using it. It enabled their ability to make many things they never thought safe or possible, because the shooting board can help make many tasks safer and much more easily doable.

With multi angle capability like our shooting boards offer, even “Any Angle” capability if you like, there is pretty much not any shape or combination of shapes that you can’t work with. For example, our Ultra Plus Shooter has eight calibratable fence positions help allowing perfect miters for up to 12 sided objects, and with an Any Angle Fence installed, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. You can work as exactly, or un-exactly as you like, even both at the same time. Design whatever, as you like, and have the ability to make the parts that fit it with precision. This is either art, or without it, a limitation.

Imagine what you could do, if you had tools that would allow more possibilities…

In summary, a shooting board is an excellent tool for makers and crafters. It’s there to do exactly what it’s made to do, helping you create precision shapes. Make parts perfectly straight, or specifically angled to your desire. There are so many different paths to take and things to make in tradecraft work, ranging from traditional to avant gaarde. We all find our own styles emerge with what and how we make eventually, and this becomes a hallmark of our work. A Shooting board can help remove a lot of barriers that prevent making small and intricate parts safely and easily. The only real limitations are lack of imagination and creativity. Shooting boards don’t come with those, it just helps you unlock your imagination and creativity!

We invite you to have a look at all the shooting board options in our Online Store. These are sturdy, accurate tools, built to be used. All our shooting boards can be used with chute adapters. All our shooting boards can be used with nearly any plane or shooting sander. You can interchange planes for sanders anytime depending on your need. All our shooting boards can be accessorized to help them provide greater capability, and all our shooting boards provide high accuracy that can be calibrated to very high levels of accuracy, anywhere, any day of the year. We offer many options that will help you create anything you imagine.

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