So I took some time to think about how to get better results from my drawers (well…that sure sounded better in my head then on the screen) and came up with the idea to make a shooting board. If I start with pieces that are milled properly, perhaps my drawer will look better than the first one…
I mulled this over today as I hit the freshly clear-coated legs and base with a piece of a brown paper bag. I discovered this trick on one of The Schwartz’s blogs from a few years ago when working with shellac. Sure enough, it worked for the clear coat too, to knock off the faint fuzz somehow pulled up through the painted surface—perhaps it was dust? Either way, after rubbing (lightly) withe scrap of paper bag, the base and legs are now glossy and smooth. Like, silky even. I impressed myself with this one.
With the base and legs now 100% complete, I was ready to devote today’s shop time to making a shooting board. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. If I had a table saw, I’d just make my cuts on that and be assured of nice and true surfaces. But I have a handsaw. So my cuts are never 100% accurate. The first drawer was proof of that.
I came across this website by an extremely talented woodworker named Derek from Perth, Australia, where he details how to make a shooting board and even goes into the principals of its design and use. Fascinated read. To sum up, you cut your stock and place it on the shooting board. Then you lay your plane (in my case, a beefy jack plane) on its side and snug it up to a bed and run it down (chute) the length of your stock. If everything is built nice and true, the plane will shave your stock into perfection. It works lengthwise and on endgrain (my bane!). In theory.
The shooting board
Here it is, in all its glory—my shooting board, made from cutoffs from the very project it will be created and used to complete.
I’m making the base out of 1/4” plywood, and the bed will be two 4” wide, 18” long planks of poplar. I first drew a pleasing shape for a handle/hanger and cut it out on the band saw (starting to have fun with this thing now!):
Once everything had been smoothed over with some sandpaper, I glued and screwed the two poplar planks in place.
And here’s what it looks like from the business end. Still rough, but getting there. You may notice that the running board (where the plane will slide) is on the wrong side—that’s not because I reversed the picture, it’s because I’m left handed. Most of the shooting board examples I found (okay, all) were set up for righties, so I had to reverse my plans. I ain’t playing their game.
I flipped it over and found a nice scrap piece of poplar the exact length of my board in the scrap bin from some other project last year—it was fate. I glued and screwed that bad boy in place to make a cleat so I can push this thing against the workbench.
The next step, according to Derek is to break in the board. I put my jack plane on its side and adjusted the blade to a depth I felt would be typically used to trim the edges of a piece of wood and started running it down the length of the bed, taking tiny little shavings of the poplar plank. I couldn’t get a close enough picture, but the wood looks just like the diagram on Derek’s page, with a tiny little ledge toward the base, mirroring the profile of the plane iron as it exits the sole of the plane. Very cool.
Now that the board was broken in, I was ready to attach a fence. I cut a piece of scrap 3” by 3/4” maple to a length about 7” or so. To place it on the board, I left the plane iron extended as if I was going to use it and put the maple up against the blade, taking pains to make sure it was square to the plane, not the shooting board (just in case the board was off—it wasn’t but I didn’t care).
Once it was lined up where I wanted it (at least, where I guessed it was supposed to be—I’ve never done this before), I glued and screwed it in place. As a finishing touch I drilled a 1” hole through the handle part (so I can hang it somewhere out of the way in my shop until needed) and sanded the edges smooth.
Now…for a test. I took one of the offcuts of the Aspen and examined my cut. I thought it was good, but on closer inspection, I somehow rounded it…
I quickly ran it through the shooting board and…hot sliced damn on rye, look at that!
I tested the end with my square and…lookie here, we are in business!
I’m really looking forward to the next drawer now! Too bad I’ll have to wait until tomorrow, because this side project took up all the time I had today…