Functionality of shooting boards

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 01-30-2015 07:00 PM 1574 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1317 posts in 1932 days

01-30-2015 07:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shooting board

Hey guys,

Like everyone, I’m always looking for that 90.00000 degree crosscut. I am pretty much a half power tool, half hand tool guy. I’ve tried and tried to make dead on crosscut sleds to no avail. I have often thought about making a shooting board, but I struggle with how well one would actually serve its purpose. See below

Let’s say you crosscut a couple of matching pieces to the exact same length using a stop block on the table saw and you want to true up the cuts to exactly 90. You go to the shooting board and square them up, but then, the boards aren’t the same length anymore, right? What gives? I know many would say, “well 1/32” difference in lengths isn’t going to make a difference”. If I thought that, I wouldn’t be using a shooting board in the first place. I have come to realize that sometimes 1/32” doesn’t matter, but sometimes it matters a lot and can multiply to really screw up joinery and an entire project.

What’s the answer here?

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

15 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


9454 posts in 1483 days

#1 posted 01-30-2015 07:04 PM

Concerning sleds. I had the same problems until I watched William Ng’s video on how he makes his. Made on the same and it is a beast. His video in box joints is cool too.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1932 days

#2 posted 01-30-2015 07:06 PM

I’ve watched em all. I think I’m just going to end up buying an incra

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1677 days

#3 posted 01-30-2015 07:16 PM

The answer is take the same number of passes on each piece and they will end up the same. If they are even a little off you can make them the same a 1/1000 of a inch at a time with a well tuned plane. When I cut miters by saw they are usually almost dead on and it only takes a couple passes on a shooting board to make them perfect. Than for a picture frame for instance I’ll line all 4 pieces up and trim the long ones down a few passes at a time until all four pieces are exactly the same. The table saw gets me close, the shooting board makes it perfect.

Even with stops I find a shooting board is much more precise than any power tool with a little practice.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4985 posts in 2490 days

#4 posted 01-30-2015 07:25 PM

I think what I would do is as Chris Scwartz suggested, you cut them just a tad past the line and then use the shooting board to plane to the line. Interesting you asked this, because I’ve been thinking about building a shooting board myself. I’m getting increasing interested in hand planes but only use them sometimes.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4727 posts in 2348 days

#5 posted 01-30-2015 07:26 PM

A thirty second of an inch is a lot, .03126” to be exact, most planer shavings are far less than that, in the thousands of an inch range. If you take an equal number of passes on the shooting board for each piece on each end you should be well w/ in tolerances for just about any wood working. That is not to say that you shouldn’t want your cuts off the table saw to be dead accurate as well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3475 days

#6 posted 01-30-2015 07:29 PM

Fred has the answer. IMHO

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View DocSavage45's profile


8552 posts in 2839 days

#7 posted 01-30-2015 07:32 PM

For me,

Precision and accuracy is something I work at. Patience too. A shooting board is a tool that handtool woodwrkers use to improve on the first two? If I’m not patient, I will probably loose my accuracy.

Any tool that works well in the users hands is the one that improves the build.

Wood is organic and the beauty of it is also it’s challenge? Some woods are more willful than others, requiring me to adjust and adapt. Also think about the future of the piece?

I too am a hybrid woodworker, partially because of impatience, and mostly because of life’s learning.

Even with all that we do to make the piece, we can still screw it up? LOL!

Do what works for you.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View jacquesr's profile


342 posts in 1420 days

#8 posted 01-30-2015 07:43 PM

+1 on William NG

I have been through the very same process, and I bought myself a Miter Express Sled (I already had a Miter Gauge 100HD).

The Miter Express introduces many more reasons for your cut not to be at 90 degree….
I almost lost my mind trying to calibrate it. One day I will write about all this…

Tonight I will build my own 90 degree sled…. enough time wasted.

PM me if you want more info

View newwoodbutcher's profile


740 posts in 2847 days

#9 posted 01-30-2015 07:52 PM

I highly recommend the Dubby cut off jig. It’s my go to tool for cross cutting and miters. I have an Incra miter gauge that I only use when the Dubby won’t work (not often.

-- Ken

View jmartel's profile


7885 posts in 2147 days

#10 posted 01-30-2015 08:49 PM

I ve watched em all. I think I m just going to end up buying an incra

- TheWoodenOyster

You will still have to set up the incra to get perfect 90 deg cuts. It won’t be perfect out of the box.

Make a shooting board that has a stop or cut a hair in front of the line and use a shooting board to get right on the line.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3314 days

#11 posted 01-30-2015 09:21 PM

I’m not sure why it would be easier to build a dead-on 90-degree shooting board than a dead-on 90-degree crosscut sled.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1932 days

#12 posted 01-31-2015 12:49 AM

Thanks for the input guys. I suppose taking the same amount of passes on both ends would work in theory, but I could see that theory falling apart in practice, though maybe it wouldn’t.

I guess you could shave to a knife line on both ends as well.

As far as sled woes go, it is always something. Fence is a hair warped or the rails are a little loose in the winter or you put so many holes in the fence to calibrate that you can’t even use it anymore. I get pretty frustrated when I try to make super accurate sleds.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View iminmyshop's profile


284 posts in 1991 days

#13 posted 01-31-2015 01:04 AM

Here’s another vote for a shooting board. BUT, you need a really well tuned plane with a very sharp blade to make it all work right. I never used planes until about 2 years ago. Now I can’t imagine life without them.


View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3314 days

#14 posted 01-31-2015 02:56 AM

Oyster, I share your frustration with calibrating a sled. But I don’t find it to be any easier calibrating a shooting board. If you make a board and find it less frustrating to get one right, please share your process here so we can all benefit.

I get the sense from your posts that you’re hoping for a very fine degree of accuracy. To achieve that, you’ll need, as iminmyshop said, a really well-tuned plane with a very sharp blade.

Bridge City Toolworks makes a saw you might want to consider. Expensive, but so would be a nice

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View rwe2156's profile


2925 posts in 1478 days

#15 posted 03-05-2015 02:15 PM

Scribe line with a knife, crosscut ~ a 32nd long.

Take to shooting board and shoot to till scribe line flakes off.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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