Monday, March 28, 2011

Shooting End Grain

Shooting is the act of planing end grain with a bench hook and a handplane on it's side. It cleans up and corrects crooked sawcuts and allows the board to be trimmed with great precision.

There are many descriptions of shooting boards online, they run the gamut from simple hooks to complicated affairs with inclined plane ramps and angled guides for shooting mitres. These can be helpful for making picture frames, it's a fairly simple matter to shoot the stock until the miters are perfect and the sides are equal length rather than trying to get final results off the saw.

While at the Lie-Nielsen Event I had the opportunity to play with their #51, a nine pound, skew bladed shooting plane that runs like a locomotive. Duncan Robertson gave me a couple of tips I'd never heard before, without question improving my success rate.

The first was that end grain has direction. Run your fingers across the end of a board, you'll find that one way is smooth, while the other catches. The smooth way is with the grain.

The next tip is that no matter how precise your shooting board fence, you'll have grain blowout as the blade exits the board. To beat it, knock the corner off with a few strokes against the grain.

Then flip the board over, register it against the fence, and shoot with the end grain.

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I'm a woodworker on the Canadian prairie.