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Shooting for Perfection

This article is intended to serve a double purpose. Firstly, it takes the reader through the post-build testing of a ramped shooting board – it is an illustration of the types of cuts that can be made. The second purpose is that this shooting board is the most recent one I have made for a client, and it contains a few new features that I have not included in previous boards.

The instruction I received was to build a shooting board that would have a complete set of accessories – mitre fence and donkey’s ear – and that it would be tuned to use with his HNT Gordon Trying Plane.

The Shooting Board

This was constructed from Jarrah (all working surfaces) and Tasmanian Oak (secondary wood).

The dimensions are: 450mm long x 290mm wide (includes a runway of 75mm). The ramp is 4°.

As a measure of reference, the only other ramped shooting board for sale is that of Michael Connor. Michael makes an excellent ramped shooting board. It was my inspiration some years ago. My design builds on his. It is wider, is adjustable rather than fixed, and makes place for accessories.

Michael Connor left.

The heart of the shooting board is the fence. This is designed to offer micro-adjustability for angle and for extension …

The bolt on the right acts as pivot point. The bolt on the left adjusts the fence fore-and-aft with a range of about 6mm.

The fence can also slide toward the runway to take up wear as it occurs. As before, the rear ends are rounded to prevent breakout (all details in link above).

What is new? Firstly, the use of bolts that require a wrench. This is to ensure that the fence is tightened down more easily and resist any unwanted change in alignment. Secondly, the front of the fence now has a non-slip coating. This consists of a non-slip powder added to polyurethane varnish. In practice I find that this does have excellent holding ability and yet feels smooth to the touch. It has not scratched any surfaces so far.

The shooting board with my HNT Gordon Trying Plane …

I decided that, since I was making practice cuts, I might as well use the shooting board to build a small keepsake box. This demonstrates just how easy it is to make such items when you have a tool like this at hand.

I had a scrap length of Tasmanian Oak approximately 50mm (2”) wide. I flattened and thicknessed this by eye using a Blum Fore Plane, one of my favourite planes at this time. It is just so easy to use it as a jack, then reset it in a few moments to take a fine cut. It ended approximately 12mm (1/2”) thick.

One edge was rebated, and the length was then cut into 2 x 300mm (12”) and 2 x 150mm (6”).

Testing the Main Fence

Above: planing one end square prior to cutting to approximate length, and then shooting the end to exact length.

Below: the boards have been cut and shot. This is the surface quality from a sharp blade and 60° cutting angle ..

Below: checking for square ..

First test passed!

The Accessory fences

There are two accessories, a mitre fence and a donkey’s ear.

Mitre fence

Donkey’s Ear

Rear of Donkeys Ear – dovetailed reinforcement. You can also see the rear of the connection to the man fence.

The underside has four leveling feet (similar to these). The feet were not used/required in this test.

Both fences connect via a bolt through the main fence. This provides both a solid connection plus micro-adjustability for squareness.

Testing the Mitre Fence

Since the box did not require a mitred end, I grabbed a scrap of pine, cut a 45 degree corner, and shot it to clean it up.

… and checked it with a mitre square …

This also passes the test.

Testing the Donkeys Ear

I had originally planned to connect the Donkeys Ear with a clamp since my own works this way and I switch it between a ramped board and a Stanley #51/52. However, in this test, I found that the Donkeys Ear moved fractionally, and this would affect accuracy. Consequently I added a connector to the main fence.

I would rate the joins about 98%, with the balance down to error as a result of movement.

The ends were glued together. Later I added pieces at both ends, the upper panel (in Karri Pine) raised with a block plane. This was the result. I hope my wife likes it ..

.. and Kevin, I hope you enjoy your shooting board.

Oh, yes, this passes the final test!

Regards from Perth


October 2008