A shooting board is an indispensable aid for squaring up ends of wooden pieces. A bench hook, although not indispensable, is a handy jig for cross cutting with a back saw without the need for clamping. Both of these make woodworking so much easier, as I'll demonstrate.
I came up with this idea a while back, when I was starting into woodworking with hand tools, and needed both. So I combined them into one jig. The design is pretty straightforward, as you can see in pic 2. One side is a bench hook, and when you flip it end for end it acts as a shooting board. Mine is made from 18 mm plywood, some wood glue and a couple of screws. Refer to pic 2 for dimensions, although non of those measurements are critical, really.
Read on to discover both uses.
Step 1: Bench Hook
Western style saws cut on the push stroke, so they work very well with a bench hook. The stop (see pic) prevents the wood from shifting forward, and your non-sawing hand (left in my case) prevents it from sliding sideways. The stop at the bottom of your bench hook (not shown) butts up against your workbench, keeping everything securely in place. Pretty simple jig, but it allows you to work quickly as you don't need clamps anymore. I do recommend drawing a square line first before you saw, because it makes the next step easier if you're already close to square.
Step 2: Shooting Board
Flip your bench hook end for end, and you have a shooting board. Your hand plane is put on its side, and slides along a step-down (see pic 1). When you plane end grain, it sometimes happens that the wood fibers tear at the far side. To prevent that, you can purposely hold your piece of wood at an angle to create a small chamfer first. Then flip your piece so the chamfer is furthest away from you and start planing. The result is a crisp, square end (see pic 2).
If you make one, be sure the stop is perfectly square to the track where the plane rides in. This will guarantee square edges all the time.
If you liked this pro tip, please give me a vote! Let me know if you made one yourself. Even if you're not a hand tool enthusiast, this jig can be pretty handy when your chop saw or table saw left a not so square end.