As much as we work towards getting the perfectly square joint, it is
often difficult to achieve with the tools and
machinery we have available to us. One or a few bad adjustments can multiply and instead provide us with a
close but not perfectly square joint or miter. The time- proven method to ensure that corners and miters on
smaller boards are square is to use a shooting board. The shooting board was developed over a century ago
to address this very issue. The shooting board is especially suited to thinner work which cannot be hand planed
easily due to the narrow bearing surface. A good example of narrower stock is the components of a small drawer
for a jewelry box or a drawer for a small cabinet. Another example is the face frame of a small cabinet with thin,
narrow rails and stiles.
Shooting boards can be assembled to be as simple as possible or assembled with a few extra features which
make it a greater pleasure to use. In the photo below there are two attached levels of baltic birch plywood, with
the top level (baseboard) being narrower than the bottom. This creates a lower runway at the right which enables
the side of the hand plane to have a surface to glide on and be guided along from the front to the back of the
shooting board as in the second photo below.
A fence is installed
onto the baseboard of the shooting board. This fence provides both a
stop and bearing surface
for the small piece we wish to square or miter. The fence must be perpendicular to the path of the hand plane sole,
as this is what determines how square the end of the board is in relation to its' long edge. The fence is attached with
screws and can be adjusted in the future for wear. This set up allows the adjustment of the dark hardwood face
enabling the fence to be perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the shooting board runway, without needing to remove
the fixed portion. A few reduced size sample photos and illustrations are shown below.