What is a Shooting Board?
Issue: Issue 340
Posted Date: 12/3/2013
I am retired and have been an active, almost every day woodworker since retirement (nearly 10 years). Mostly, I am self-taught. One thing I am embarrassed to say that I have never understood is the term shooting boards. I’ve seen the term used in reference to, I think, ensuring straight lines and flat boards, and I have also seen it used in reference to planing end grain. Are there several types of shooting boards? What are they and what are they used for? - Dale M Crawford
Rob Johnstone: The term "shooting board" is a very general one. Our glossary on Woodworking.com defines it as: “A perfectly straight piece of wood used as a guide for planing or cutting.” So there are purpose-made shooting boards for planing the end grain of a piece of wood square, but there are also shooting boards for doing the same for long grain. I don’t know how old the term is, but my guess it is one of the earlier terms developed by our trade.
Tim Inman: Hooray for asking questions! Never be embarrassed to learn new things or clear up understandings of old things. My reference to shooting boards most often is in relation to veneer work. In that setting, a shooting board is a jig or fancy clamping setup which allows me to hold down the veneer in the jig, and "shoot" a straight edge on veneer using a plane -- and requiring very little other skill on my part. The jig makes repeated accuracy simple and repeatable. The "straight" is built into the jig. So I can "shoot" a straight edge in my sleep. There are other ways to get a straight edge, of course, but making a shooting board just keeps life easy and fun. The more fun we can have doing woodworking, the more woodworking we will want to do. Shoot! There are any number of good books you might find that have shooting board jig plans. The best ones involve veneer work. You can find video segments on the Internet showing them in use, too. I'd check them out. It is much easier to see how one works than to try telling about it in words. If you do veneer, you'll wonder why you didn't make yourself a shooter a long time ago.
Chris Marshall: You can also straighten the long-grain edges of veneer using a router and piloted flush-trim or straight bit fed along a shooting board. These days, I'd call that sort of a setup a straightedge jig instead of a shooting board, but the end result is the same -- straight, square edges for butting two pieces together. Just thought I'd chime in on this discussion from the power tools side of things.