Experiments with a Shooting Board
For a long time I’ve wanted to build and experiment with a traditional shooting board for use with my hand planes. A recent article in Popular Woodworking magazine has prompted me to take the plunge and make one so that I can use it on my current desk project. An expanded version of the article can be found a the Popular Woodworking website by clicking here.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading all that I can on the Internet and elsewhere about building and using shooting boards, and I’ve gained a fair amount of "paper" knowledge about them. Now its time to build one and see how they work in practice.
Below are a variety of links with good information on shooting boards:
- Great overview and including a variety of planing techniques: http://www.amgron.clara.net/planingpoints/shuteingboards/shuteingindex.htm
- Nice photos of construction of a shooting board: http://www.whitemountdesign.com/ShootingBoard.htm
- Wikipedia’s general definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_board
- Michael Connor makes and sells a nice ramped shooting board through HNT Gordon: http://www.hntgordon.com.au/shootingboards.htm
- Lie-Nielson has David Charlesworth’s shooting board plan here: http://www.lie-nielsen.com/pdf/shootingboard.pdf
Of course, all this reading got me thinking about ways to add a bit of modern technology to this excellent piece of old engineering, After all, I’m trying to do "blended" woodworking, right?
My first thought is that the sliding surface of a shooting board has a lot of metal to wood contact (or wood to wood if you are using a wooden plane), and therefore a lot of friction in use. So, how about if I build a shooting board using UHMW (Ultra-High Molecular Weight) plastic as the base for the sliding surface? I just happened to have a piece of UHMW laying around the shop from making bearings for the CNC project. After I’m done, I might use a spring-scale attached to a plane to see how much resistance there is on the UHMW, verses wood, verses plastic laminate. That should tell me if the UHMW is worth the trouble.
I’ve begun to build a shooting board that is in most respects very traditional, but it will have a few "tweaks" to see if I can improve on it a bit…UHMW, for one, and maybe a couple of other ideas. The first shooting board that I build will be a quick-and-dirty prototype with which to experiment. After I have a design that I like, I will build a hardwood version for long-term use.
I’m also considering experimenting with the "ramped" version that Michael Conner uses in his design. I don’t see where this design improves performance, but it does distribute wear across more of the plane blade’s surface, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately it also reduced the width of the piece that you can trim with the shooting board, so maybe its not worth it…I need to think about that. The first prototype will have a "flat" surface.