Using a left and right shooting board to square the ends of a board

I'm a beginner hand-tool only woodworker and am trying to square the two ends of a 3ft long, 2.5" thick board of cherry for a floating shelf.

I've succeeded in squaring one edge, one face, and one end. Now, I need to square the opposite end.

Normally I would score a line across the grain, saw off the waste, then fine tune the end with a block plane until it's square to the reference face and edge. This take a lot longer than the first end, which can be done efficiently on a shooting board.

Then it dawned on me, what if I just got a second shooting board?

This would allow me to quickly and accurately square both ends. How hard is it really to shoot both ways with a sharp plane blade?

The other option I can see is to flip the board end-for-end on a single shooting board. However, this means the reference face won't be against the shooting board. I can do my best to make the opposite face co-planer to alleviate this, but that's a lot of work for non-showing faces.

• "How hard is it really to shoot both ways with a sharp plane blade?" Depends on the person and how much facility they have with the opposite hand. Plus, to a lesser degree, how well suited their shooting plane is to working tipped over to the other side. Here's the take-home point though: nobody does this. I have never seen a rightie use a left-handed shooting board, and similarly I have never seen or heard of a leftie making a right-handed shooting board (using one yes, because often they have to work in a right-hand-dominant workshop). Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 5:26
• "The other option I can see is to flip the board end-for-end on a single shooting board. However, this means the reference face won't be against the shooting board." Not to bury the lead but ding ding ding ding, we have a winner; this is how everyone does it. Yes the reference face is no longer down, but shooting isn't predicated on how flat the board is to the workbench (after all, some shooting boards have inclined beds). The key thing is the reference edge that was used to create the first end is still against the stop, meaning both ends end up square to it and hopefully parallel. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 5:32
• You must be careful learning from Chris Schwarz b/c he changes his opinion so many times! :) Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 8:01
• The Essential Woodworker by Robert Wearing is a classic, considered by many to be a cornerstone book on how to woodwork by hand. It is an excellent starting point for learning the old-school way — i.e. the way — to manually prepare stock for use. The section on sharpening and the instructions on the prep and use of the cap iron are too brief and superficial but there's no limit to other refs on those subjects so I have zero hesitation in recommending it. You'll learn a lot from it and may find you'll refer back to it for years to come. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 8:30
• A more modern book that you can use to train yourself up is Steve Branham's excellent Hand Tool Basics. The title is a little misleading as it goes way beyond the basics, or at least the basics as most other books define it! I literally cannot recommend this book enough, I think every aspiring hand-tool woodworker should have a copy..... and some more experienced woodworkers could learn a thing or two from it as well! Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 8:35

It is normal to flip board end for end to shoot last end. But because you are making a floating shelf squareness of this end does not matter, you can turn board over.

• @Graphus comment on the question explains this as well Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 19:11
• @EricAnderson, when I put info like that in a Comment people are free to use it in (or even as) their own Answer, that's why I do it. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 8:10

How hard is it really to shoot both ways with a sharp plane blade?

I think that depends mostly on you. Most baseball players bat on one side or the other, but a talented few can switch hit. I think most people would have a very hard time shooting on the side that they're not accustomed to, but it also seems like something you could get better at with practice.

I've succeeded in squaring one edge, one face, and one end. Now, I need to square the opposite end.

I don't square up stock by hand, but I'd think that planing the second face parallel to the first would be a higher priority than squaring up the second end. Cutting a board to final length is about the last thing you normally do. Once the two faces are parallel, you can use the shooting board with the reference edge against the fence and you'll end up with a square end.

• +1. Although I think shooting with the opposite hand is something nobody actually needs to do real-world I do imagine almost anyone who is already facile could get used to it if they set their mind to it. It isn't exactly a challenging coordinational feat, not like shaving the opposite side of the face with the off hand. Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 13:42