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This answer regarding preventing tearout when planing end-grain suggests using a shooting board. What is it, and how does it prevent tearout?

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    The best answer to this probably requires images or sketches to illustrate how to construct and use one... Briefly, a shooting board is a simple benchtop jig that (1) guides the plane so it cuts in a straight line at a specific angle, and (2) provides a backing board which supports the stock being cut right up to the blade (and thus prevents tear-out). A backing board is to planes what a miter box is to saws, in some sense; it makes your existing tool that much more accurate and more useful. – keshlam May 5 '15 at 23:33
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"Shooting board" refers to a family of jigs that are used for squaring the butts or end-grain of boards with hand planes. They are also used for joinery by planing multiple boards at once in an effort to match joint angles.

The basic premise is the same on most of the jigs: two flat boards, one on top of another. The wider of the two boards is placed on the bottom creating a fence for the hand plane to follow. On top of the boards is where you would create stops to prevent the piece you are planing from moving.

The hand plane typically will move at a right angle along the fence. Simple shooting boards cut at 90 degree angles but the stops or other fences can be positioned to allow other angles.

Basic Shooting Board

Image comes from InTheWoodShop

The picture above shows the fence that the hand plane would follow. The top piece of wood is the stop where the wood piece is located.

Variations of that design will allow for different results. As mentioned earlier, it could be used in joinery.

Double Mitre Shooting Board Image comes from InTheWoodShop

In the above Double Mitre Shooting Board you see that the basic design is still there: a fence for the plane, and stops. Planing two pieces at once, when properly mounted, will give both ends perfect angles. This particular jig could be used for framing and cabinetry.

Preventing Tear-out

I have not personally used a shooting board but at first glance it does not seem designed to prevent tear-out. That first impression was in error of course. When used properly the shooting board will shave a small controlled portion with each pass. Also, the fence is designed so that the plane will follow along at a 90 degree angle. Normally freehand planing could allow for slight changes in angles based on pressure and your work piece - the theory being that the controlled movement stops tear-out.

More importantly: As long as your plane is sharp and not protruding too far, the pass on the shooting board will slice and not push the wood. This should prevent tear-out as well.

Aside

If you are having issues visualizing how this works, without constantly damaging the fences, this picture gives some context and detail that cannot be seen from general pictures of shooting boards.

Close up of Shooting Board Image comes from InTheWoodShop

For more reading I recommend InTheWoodShop which has some details on making your first shooting board (And from which I found some good pictures).

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    Nice and thorough, the pics help a lot. – Daniel B. May 6 '15 at 4:20
  • @DanielB. I was going to ask this question since I had never heard of them either. They are really cool. I need a shop the size of my house to keep everything I have read about on WW. – Matt May 6 '15 at 4:22
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    It's particularly interesting to me to see the hand tool questions. I've only worked with power tools, so seeing how people do things without those is interesting. – Daniel B. May 6 '15 at 4:35
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    The fence should be taller than the workpiece. It's purpose is to support the end grain, to prevent tear out, as well as keep the work secure and square. Often it is sacrificial, and will get planed with the work, so is replaciple and slides on a rail or groove. – Craig Celeste May 6 '15 at 11:40
  • Note that the higher back fence, as well as the guide step for the plane, distinguishes the shooting board from a bench hook (another very basic jig for planing) – keshlam May 6 '15 at 12:05
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A shooting board combines two primitive fences attached to a board. One fence is used to hold the work piece while the second fence is used to guide a plane so as to shave the edge of the work piece parallel to the second fence. See this website:

http://norsewoodsmith.com/content/shooting-boards-evenfall-woodworks

  • That works, though it misses the fact that one fence also acts as a backing board and it might help to copy in an illustration. – keshlam May 6 '15 at 3:32

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