Introduction: Scrap Wood Shooting Board - Hand Tool Woodworking for Beginners

About: I'm a Japanese tool enthusiast, hobbyist furniture maker and carpenter. Connect with me as I dive deeper into Japanese inspired craft.

A common question I get asked is "why?". Why a shooting board? Why hand tools? Why is your hair so perfect? Why do you drink so much?

It tastes good. A touch of hairspray on top of the pomade. Hand tool woodworking is not only therapeutic but actually functional in a modern shop. And a shooting board allows you to sneak up on a square cut in a grossly precise way, allowing a piece to fit perfectly down to the 1000th of an inch. All answered in reverse order.

Have you ever needed a perpendicular piece to fit exactly between two parallel sides? Have you had that maddening moment when you brought it over to the chop saw or the table saw and nibbled away 1/16-1/8 of material in repeated motions and then cussed and thrown your dog off the workbench because you just cut your piece too short by what appears to be 1/64 and then you're fiddling around with gap filler or god forbid having to just cut a whole different piece and then you're pissed because you have this stupid almost full length piece of scrap just chilling in your pile for months on end? Me neither... I don't mistakes. Just kidding. This happens more than I care to admit and hopefully having something that can take slight micro-fractions off until perfect can help make my and your woodworking just a touch better.

What do you need as far as hand tools are concerned to use a shooting board? A sharp hand plane. A no. 3 or 4 is fine. A low angle plane of some kind is preferable. You just need something where the sides are square to the base. That's it! Let's get to work.



1/2 inch mdf sheet

3/4 inch plywood

some hardwood for the fence

(2) bolts (I went with I believe 3 inch socket cap screws, this is flexible)

(4) large fender washers

(2) wingnuts

a chisel (preferably sharp)

drill and driver (or just one or the other whatever)

countersink bit

(4) 1 5/8 screws

wood glue, all the glue

Step 1: Making the Bed

So for starters I’ve got some scrap 3x4 ply and half inch mdf and I’m going to measure on the plywood the approximate depth of my jack plane.

Then I’m going to do a glue up with some titebond quick and thick and some titebond 2, setting the mdf to the line. Starting with two like sized pieces takes a lot of the math out of this and makes it so you don't have to be perfectly accurate with your glue up, because you'll trim the excess off.

I clamp it with band clamps. You can use a heavy weight or whatever suits you. After the glue dries, I rip the side with the overhanging mdf off on the table saw so that I only have one rabbet that will be the track for my plane and the work surface of my bed is the mdf. I'm right handed, so that track is going to be on my right side.

I’m measuring the distance to the plane mouth because I’m going to do a slight rabbet that’s going to leave that amount remaining and this is going to keep the plane from eating away at the board over time.

As far as measurements are concerned, I think that a bed that is the width of your workbench should be sufficient. If you don't have a woodworking bench, something that's about 18-20 inches long should be sufficient. Width is good between 14 and 16 inches.

Step 2: Crafting the Fence

The fence is just a piece of scrap I had laying in the bin. In this case it's white oak. You can use whatever hardwood you care to use.

I'm just using a punch to have some reference points for my brad point bit, which is going to be used to mark out some elongated holes. I want to have the ability to adjust this laterally and front to back as over time two things can happen: I might drop this sucker and something might come out of square. And the fence will be butted up to my plane sole so over time, the plane will take the fence down and then I'm risking blowout on the back side.

The nice part is that I drill and cut these oversized so accuracy isn't super key here. The fender washer will apply the appropriate pressure to make sure this stays locked in once tightened. The idea is to have two holes drilled in semi-close proximity and then to knock out the waste with a chisel. If I wanted to be a bit fancy and about a thousand times faster, I'd take my festool domino and drill a slot mortise in one go, but I wanted to demonstrate that this is a simple, low cost build for you all.

If you watch the video you'll notice that I talk about a mistake here. So when drilling holes that are going to have smaller holes nesting in them, ie. bore holes, you want to work from largest to small, as the drill won't have a point surface to reference. If you're using a drill press it's a little less necessary. However with a hand drill, you'll be flinging all over the place, and tear out will be a mess. Since on my initial go I made this too long on accident, you'll see that I was afforded the opportunity to go back and fix the problem and demonstrate the correct way to handle.

Step 3: Bench Hook and Mounting the Fence

Since you're going to be using this and a forward motion, you need something that's going to keep your shooting board from flying across your bench when you use it. This is where a bench hook comes in handy.

Now there's a couple different schools of thought on bench hooks. Some people think they need to be glued and mounted from the bottom and that is their right and they are certainly not wrong. I find that it's faster, equally as effective, and much less annoying, to just glue and screw it in into the end of your board opposite your fence. It's fine. I know it's an end grain to edge grain connection. That's why there's mechanical fasteners there. Have a drink. Relax. Woodworking is fun. ::whispers woodworking is fun while rocking back and forth::

Here you can see the photos of how to properly drill the holes in the underside of the board, start with your forstner, use the brad point bit in the same brad mark inside the forstner, have a piece of scrap on the underside to prevent blowout on the top and voila. The washer on the underside is nice when using a cap screw because it'll prevent the screw from blowing through the board when you're tightening it down with an impact driver or something that's going to bring a lot of force to the game.

To mount the fence, I'm aligning everything for square from the plane track, finger tightening everything, and then using a wingnut driver to lock it down once I'm satisfied with the alignment. I don't know how available wingnut drivers are in the rest of the country. However, here in south Florida we can get them at about every hardware store because they're primarily used for hurricane shutters. It's totally normal to wiggle it afterward and then loudly exclaim, "That's not going anywhere."

Step 4: You're Finished. Use. Rejoice.

Using a shooting board is quite simple. Line your board up parallel to the fence and push it just a smidge past and then start taking passes. I like to slowly slide the board across the fence into the plane as I'm taking passes until I reach the line. End grain shavings are dope too. They look like actual shavings and then they become dust when you actually touch them.

You can also use this for edge jointing smaller boards by running the board perpendicular to the fence. For that I would personally use a smoother instead of a low angle jack. But to each their own.

Anyway, hope you all make these. There's a million fence jigs to build for this as well such as a miter attachment for corners as well as a carcass miter attachment. The possibilities are endless and the accuracy is undeniable.

Check out the YouTube video and have fun! Hand tools are cool.

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