With my recent acquisition of a Veritas Shooting Plane, my logical next project is a shooting board.
This post is not about that shooting board. This post is about the fiasco that was my first attempt. It didn’t get very far, and was not one of my prouder moments (I kind of lost my cool). In any case, on my last post, Ethan (the kilted woodworker) mentioned that he appreciated me showing my failures. So, here’s a pretty good one.
Several years ago, I responded to a Craigslist ad for a grizzly wet grinder. It turned out the seller was a cabinet-maker who was closing up shop. I ended up buying the grinder, but also went home with a tablesaw, a spiral cutter head jointer, and a load of lumber. The lumber was a mixed bag of all sorts of things and filled the bed of an F-250. I got it all home and did my best to sort it and stack it in my lumber storage racks. I have also acquired various bits and pieces of lumber at garage/estate sales and have added them to the pile. There’s quite a lot there now, but over the intervening years, it has gotten a little disorganized. It’s an odd mix of small-ish pieces and single boards.
Enough background. I decided that I wanted to build a ramped shooting board and so I did a google image search using that term to find some inspiration. I started to form an image in my mind of what I wanted to build. Plywood would have been fine except I didn’t have any nice stable baltic birch ply. I did have some box store cabinet grade ply, but the cores aren’t very good and you get these weird voids. I also had some ½-inch MDF, but I figured that wouldn’t look very good. And then I said to myself, “you’ve got this rack full of lumber, why not use some of that?” I don’t know if it is all woodworkers, or perhaps its just me, but for the past couple of years I have, from time to time gone to the lumber rack in search of a piece for some project or other, only to think, “That wood is too nice for this project.” This time I resolved to change that tone. I mean the wood is only just sitting there waiting to be turned into something. If I keep putting it back waiting for that perfect project, I’ll never use it. Why go buy baltic birch ply when I have so much other wood available to use? So, I started pulling boards out of the rack to see what I have.
I pulled two boards that I think are maple. They measured a full 1″ thick. After rotating them around, I realized that they were sequentially milled boards and could be arranged to create a book match pattern. Ignoring my previous resolution, I put them back, with the thought that they would make a nice set of doors for a cabinet some day. See how quickly I crumbled?
Then I found these two boards. They looked terrible. In the photo below, they don’t look too bad, much better than they did in person. They were a little over ¾-inch rough milled, but not a full 4/4. That’s ok, as I don’t need really thick material for this project anyway (that will only make it heavier).
I laid one board on my bench top to check for flatness and discovered that it was a little cupped on one side. The board is too wide for my jointer, but no problem, jack plane to the rescue. I traversed across the board to remove the cup and then diagonally. I checked for wind and once happy that the face was flat, I fed the board through the planer.
It cleaned up nicely.
The shooting board is going to need a wider base board to hold the ramp and the Veritas track. The top board (the ramp) can be narrower. Since I needed a wider board that what I had, I decided to cut the board in half and glue it into a wider panel.
A this point I was thinking to my self that I was making some progress. In the morning I removed the panel from the clamps and found that it had completely potato chipped on me.
I live in a cold climate, and really don’t like the heat. I know what high heat is like, as I lived in South Texas for about 10 years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. That heat turned me into a hermit and meant that I only did any woodworking for about six weeks each year in January and February. I only mention this as it was the hottest day of the year so far (about 85°) here, and that was probably making me a little cranky.
I thought that perhaps I screwed up the jointed edges. I figured that I would cut the board in half again (right down the glue line), re-joint the edges, and re-glue the panel. I ripped the board back into two but discovered that each board was quite badly cupped. So, I started the flattening process all over again. Cup side up on the bench… jack plane across… check for wind… check with a straightedge… flat… perfect. Of course now that one side was flat [and I was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage (thanks Gerhard)], the other side had a pronounced dome. No problem there, that’s what the planer is for. I fed the board through the planer taking light cuts and removed the dome and leaving the board a consistent thickness.
I picked up the board and sighted down the edge and…. The $#%@-ing thing was completely cupped again. W T F ?????
The board was already down to about ⅝-inch thickness, and I, rather shamefully I must admit, was rapidly loosing my patience.
I suppose sometimes a man needs to know when it is time to retreat, and I put all the boards back in my lumber rack and retired from the field of battle.
I later picked though the lumber pile once more and found this:
I believe that it is walnut. It measures a full 1-inch thick, 10-inches wide, and 6-feet long. It rocks terribly on the benchtop (both cup and twist) and it would be a nightmare to flatten if kept full length. I’ll cut it into three pieces first and then flatten them. The project is already well underway, but I’ll have to post more about that later. Stay tuned.
– Jonathan White