Choosing The Right Plane for Shooting Boards

Choosing The Right Plane for Shooting Boards

Shooting boards are workbench accessories that a woodworker uses in combination with a hand plane for trimming and squaring board ends and edges. Shooting board is also a term used to refer to a shooting target, such as those sold at, which are used for training purposes. The focus of this article will be on the workbench accessory and the best type of plane to use.

Why Choosing the Right Plane is Important 

A common problem among beginning woodworkers is that their planes do not consistently cut into the shooting board. When that happens, you have very little control over the wood removal, and you’ll wear away the shooting boards at a faster than desirable pace. This happens because they did not choose the appropriate plane.

The Four Most Important Factors 

When choosing a plane, the most important factor is sharpness. With a sharp plane, a skilled woodworker can compensate for any other deficiencies that the plane may have. Ideally, however, the plane is also comfortable, well angled and hefty.

1. Sharpness 

Choose a block plane or a bench plane with a sharp blade. Avoid a plane where the blade runs the entire length of the body, such as a shoulder plane. If you’re new and unsure, choose a large, sharp number seven, which is a plane preferred for shooting by many woodworkers. As you gain experience, you’ll also gain an appreciation for your preferences.

2. Comfort 

Comfort is the next important factor. If a number four plane feels better in your hands, then use that to start with rather than the number seven. Ideally, you should be able to shoot without bruising and pain the next day, but it may take some trial and error to find the right fit.

3. Angle 

Choose the right angle for the type of wood. Most shooting occurs on end grain, which means you want an angle of around 99 percent. That angle allows you to come in low and break the fibers rather then cut them clean. Make sure you turn the plane bevel up, which is required to reach the 99 degrees.

4. Heft 

As the beginner is trying to determine the right fit, their instinct is often to go for lightness. Heft, however, gives you the power needed to break through the fibers, which means that you have to put much less effort into each pass.


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