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Thread: Explain shooting board to me like I'm 5 years old!

  1. #1

    Explain shooting board to me like I'm 5 years old!

    I'm recovering from a hernia op, which has me somewhat limited to what I can do in the shop, and to prevent further injury, DR (also a WW) has approved "plane tuning" as an activity. On my list of skills to acquire is a shooting board. I understand the basic concept: Make the end of a piece "square". But as usual, I over think things before I do them.

    1. The making square part seems to be a no brainer, assuming your fence is square, blade is sharp, and plane body is square, etc. If it's not coming out square, there are well-documented solutions and videos
    2. The dimension part is what trips me up. So let's say I have 4 pieces of cherry, all 12" long, 3" wide, 3/4" thick that came off the table saw. I now want to square up the ends because let's say my x-cut sled isn't square (or what ever reason my milling process isn't producing square ends). So to the shooting board they go, but now, after shaving down the ends of these 4 pieces, which is removing material, I now have 4 pieces that are 12-x long, where for each piece, x is a different # depending on how many passes it took to square it


    Do you see my dilemma? So what's the trick? Mill them all to 12 1/8" inches and sneak up on a perfect 12 on the shooting board? Shoot each piece and dry fit "till it fits"?

  2. #2
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    You are thinking like a machinist and not a hand-tool woodworker.

    I don't have a clue exactly how long any of the pieces I use are most of the time. I don't measure, beyond initially cutting to rough length. I don't rely on measuring to get any sequential pieces to the correct length.

    All you need is for them to be the same length.

    I crosscut using a handsaw and leave a few millimeters extra in length, or if I have a knife wall, I cut just shy of that knife wall. I then shoot one piece, until its square. Then I shoot the other pieces to match the length of the first piece. If one turns out shorter, I trim the longer ones to match the shortest piece. If I need a specific length for it to fit somewhere, I use a knife wall all the way around the board and cut carefully almost right up to that wall with a hand saw, and there's almost no shooting necessary.

    This is the same principle no matter what you do. What do you do when you cut dovetails? Leave a little extra on the saw and then trim it down until it fits. Same thing with basically every process.

    Take your measurements from the pieces themselves. Leave a little extra on the saw -- not too much, but just enough, because you don't want to be shooting endgrain forever. Then, trim it down to where it needs to be, until it "fits."
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 05-04-2022 at 10:16 AM.

  3. #3
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    Hi Thomas, if exact dimensioning is important, then yes you have to cut long and then trim (shoot) to your exact dimension.

    Your status is "Member" which means you can not view images posted through SMC unless they are linked from a site off of SMC. All the images of my projects showing how a shooting board is used to make pieces exactly the same length are not available to you with out paying $6 to upgrade your status to "Contributor."

    To simplify it into words all the pieces that are to be the same length are compared to find the shortest piece. This one after the ends are perfected on the shooting board is the "master," for comparison. Then all the rest of the pieces have their ends cleaned up on the shooting board to match the "master." If one of the pieces for some reason ends up shorter than the master, it then becomes the master as long as it isn't so short as to require a new piece to be cut.

    If both ends are being cut on the errant cross cut sled, then the extra length only needs to be a hair or two more than two times the error for perfect length cutting.

    Comparing lengths is easy by standing the pieces on end on a flat level surface. This comparison method can also be used to evaluate how well the shooting board squared up the ends.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
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    It appears Luke answered while my answer was being typed.

    Our answers are pretty much the same, though he did mention not depending on a tape measure.

    My wood working had its greatest improvement by setting the tape measure aside.

    A story stick works much better for me when making multiple pieces of the same size.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 05-04-2022 at 10:24 AM. Reason: spelling & wording
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    I use the term broadly and perhaps incorrectly for using a known straight edge to obtain a straight edge on the work piece.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  6. #6
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    I try not to depend on a shooting board for sizing. I try to saw to the line carefully. If using a pencil line I try to stay right on the edge and not go into the line. If my sawing is good I donít go to the board at all. If Iím a little off it should be long so then the board is used. Standing the pieces on end to check works great. I do use a shooting board for angles more than straight work or when i know that the end grain will be exposed. As Jim mentioned I like story poles (sticks) and not tapes or rules. As Luke said I donít get machinist about woodworking. I do some of that also but donít mix the tools or the tolerances for the work.
    Jim

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    My wood working had its greatest improvement by setting the tape measure aside.
    Yes, Jim is correct. Measuring induces error.
    ~mike

    life in a mud hut

  8. #8
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    Think of a shooting board as a way to true up the end of stock by thousands of an inch. The overall length shouldn't change much unless you are way off in the first place. Shooting is not a real easy task if you are trying to remove bulk, it can be a lot of work then. All the comments above about the exact measurement is not critical just that they are the same is spot on. Paul sellers has a nice scrap wood shooting board that is nice and you will want a nice plane to ride on it. Be careful in you recovery, shooting with a plane is much more work than tuning a plane if I read your post correctly. Best of luck!

  9. #9
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    I watched Rob Cossman fit a box lid with a shooting board, starting at about 39:58 That little 5 minute section explains the benefits of a shooting board more than words can.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87vbqCQUigE
    Regards,

    Tom

  10. #10
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    What I do to precisely measure parts I want the same length is lay them next to each other and use my finger tips. I can feel when they are the same length.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  11. #11
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    If'n I wanted a stack of parts to be all the same length....I gang them up, and cut them all at once...

    There IS Chuting Board in the shop.....somewhere....haven't used it in a few years...don't even remember when that was...

    Maybe about the time I learned how to actually saw a part....I no longer needed that thing.

    I either saw to the line, or I might even split the line....miter cuts are done as they should be....on the Stanley No. 356 Mitre Box....at whatever angle is needed, at that.....otherwise, it will give me 100% square, 90 degree cuts.....
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  12. #12
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    Ends to be shot, in a vice or on a board doesn't matter, are chamfered on the exit side to prevent blowout on the exit cut. The board is then ripped to final width which takes out the chamfers and any damage that might have occurred during shooting. If for some reason you don't have enough width to work with, a screw-up basically, you clamp on a waste piece of wood to take the exit damage and shoot it in the vice. You can plane in from each corner. This is tedious and slow and shouldn't be your regular approach. When shooting (vice or board) only the second end is knifed - the one that brings the board to final length. Again, this saves time. The knifing is not so much to produce a clean arris as it definitively marks the EXACT length the board needs to be. If your plane is not producing clean end grain work, the plane needs attention. This is not the same as knifing tenon shoulders. We're shooting to length, remember. Narrow workpieces, for one hopes are obviousl reasons, are best shot on a board, if they need shooting at all - whatever miter saw facility is available (manual or power) should be able to produce a dead square end on a narrow workpiece. A narrow workpiece, say for a cabinet door stile, is typically not shot at all but inevitably cleaned up when the door is fitted to the case.

    If you're producing workpieces that will go up without being fitted elsewhere (like a picture frame), a guillotine trimmer is a welcome addition.

    One has to understand order of work, where the component will be in the project, etc. in order to work efficiently and save time.

    This is apprenticeship week 2 sort of stuff. Basic in the extreme.
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 05-06-2022 at 4:34 AM.

  13. #13
    Lukeís statement to think like a hand tool worker is rich.

    The shooting board helps you sneak up on the length. Itís not for the guy using a table saw to make 30 pieces of identical length. In this case you should tune your sled to cut true.

    But when building some things by hand, thicknesses and lengths can vary, so it is sometimes easy to cut the piece proud, and shoot it to fit.

    The shooting board is at the end of the day a crutch. Like the cross cut sled, if your hand sawing is tuned, you may not need an shooting board often.

    The shooting board however can also be used with an angled or beveled fence, so sneaking up on miters is possible. So itís not just for making things square; itís for making things fit.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post
    Ends to be shot, in a vice or on a board doesn't matter, are chamfered on the exit side to prevent blowout on the exit cut. The board is then ripped to final width which takes out the chamfers and any damage that might have occurred during shooting. If for some reason you don't have enough width to work with, a screw-up basically, you clamp on a waste piece of wood to take the exit damage and shoot it in the vice. You can plane in from each corner. This is tedious and slow and shouldn't be your regular approach. When shooting (vice or board) only the second end is knifed - the one that brings the board to final length. Again, this saves time. The knifing is not so much to produce a clean arris as it definitively marks the EXACT length the board needs to be. If your plane is not producing clean end grain work, the plane needs attention. This is not the same as knifing tenon shoulders. We're shooting to length, remember. Narrow workpieces, for one hopes are obviousl reasons, are best shot on a board, if they need shooting at all - whatever miter saw facility is available (manual or power) should be able to produce a dead square end on a narrow workpiece. A narrow workpiece, say for a cabinet door stile, is typically not shot at all but inevitably cleaned up when the door is fitted to the case.

    If you're producing workpieces that will go up without being fitted elsewhere (like a picture frame), a guillotine trimmer is a welcome addition.

    One has to understand order of work, where the component will be in the project, etc. in order to work efficiently and save time.

    This is apprenticeship week 2 sort of stuff. Basic in the extreme.
    Well said Charles. Whether shooting board, miter jack or trimmer all are an extra step to make correction to the first task.
    Jim

  15. #15
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    I would second the advise to fix the table saw, and/or also practice crosscutting with a handsaw!

    If your table saw is off 1/8" in a 12" wide piece, I think you can pretty quickly learn to achieve better results by hand.

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