A Ramped Shooting Board in Walnut and Maple – Part 1

I have long wanted a Veritas Shooting Plane and on a recent trip to Canada, took advantage of the exchange rate and purchased one.  I also purchased the 24-inch aluminum track to use as the basis for a shooting board.

I think I’ll add a quick disclaimer here:  This post is going to be a long one.  I usually caption all my images and also have text in-between.  In this post, I think that I will let the captions tell most of the story as there are plenty of them.  I’ll fill in when needed.  I’ve just looked and I pushing 120 images, so I think I will have to break this into two posts.

The objects of my desire.

New toys.

In my last post, I wrote about my aborted attempt to build a shooting board.  The wood cupped like crazy and was not stable enough for use in a precision jig.  I would have liked to use Baltic Birch plywood, but I didn’t have any on hand and my woodworking budget has been spent.  I have plenty of lumber in the rack, the trouble was finding something suitable.

I found a board that I believe is Walnut.  It is 10″ x 6′ x 4/4″.  It was cupped and twisted and would probably be quite difficult to flatten if left whole.  However, smaller boards are always easier to flatten than large ones, so my first step was to cut it into three 2-foot sections.

Some further poking around in the lumber rack turned up this.

I think I can use this to make a decent shooting board.

Cutting the board into three 24-inch pieces.

Cutting the board into three 24-inch pieces.

Testing the boards on the benchtop.

Testing the boards on the benchtop.

Traversing across with the jack plane to remove the cup.

Traversing across with the jack plane to remove the cup.

I checked for wind and took diagonal passes with the jack plane.

I checked for wind and took diagonal passes with the jack plane.

I processed two of the boards to this stage, but the third was seriously twisted.  Board one will be the base of the jig, board two will be the ramp.  The base board needs to hold both the track and the ramp, so it will obviously need to be wider than the ramp board.  To accomplish this, I cut a 4-inch strip from board three.  By rip cutting first, the parts now fit on the jointer, so board three gets dealt with that way.  Once all the boards were flattened (either by hand plane or jointer), they all got sent through the planer.

This piece is small enough for the jointer.

This piece is small enough for the jointer.

A then though the planer.

A then though the planer.

Arranging the two milled boards for best grain match.

Arranging the two milled boards for best grain match.

I can live with that.

I can live with that.

Glued and clamped overnight.

Glued and clamped overnight.

With the base board glued up, I turned my attention to determining the best angle for pitching my ramp.  I wanted to make maximum use of the available blade height, so the ramp needs to taper away to less than the height of the track in the front.  At the back of the ramp, the surface needs to leave some of the blade exposed or the tool won’t function.  I ended up choosing an angle of 4.5°.

I tested various ramp angles using scraps of oak.

I tested various ramp angles using scraps of oak.

The blade tilted to 4.5° and raised to its maximum height.

The blade tilted to 4.5° and raised to its maximum height.

Even at maximum height, it still wasn't enough to complete the cut.

Even at maximum height, it still wasn’t enough to complete the cut.

I finished the cut at the band saw.

I finished the cut at the band saw.

I used my low angle block plane to make sure the bandsaw cut portion matched the flatness of the tablesaw cut bevel.

I used my low angle block plane to make sure the bandsaw cut portion matched the flatness of the tablesaw cut bevel.

I saved the cut off bevel as it will come in handy later.

I saved the cut off bevel as it will come in handy later.

The massive bevel cut at the front of the ramp will provide a large glueing surface, but I didn’t want to rely on that alone.  Using my tapering jig at the table saw I cut some scraps to make test wedges.

I experimented with a scrap of fir and my tapering jig until I could cut a wedge to match the angle of the ramp.

I experimented with a scrap of fir and my tapering jig until I could cut a wedge to match the angle of the ramp.

Once I was satisfied that the jig was set up correctly, I cut two wedges from a piece of maple I found in the lumber racks.

Once I was satisfied that the jig was set up correctly, I cut two wedges from a piece of maple I found in the lumber racks.

One cut in the jig and a second straight along the rip fence.

One cut in the jig and a second straight along the rip fence.

Testing the fit.

Testing the fit.

This isn’t going to be all glued up in one go.  I want to glue the wedges to the underside of the ramp first.  To make sure that I glued them in the right place, I needed some alignment marks.

I added some pencil alignment marks to aid in glue up.

I added some pencil alignment marks to aid in glue up.

I glued the wedges to the underside of the ramp, being careful to align my marks.

I glued the wedges to the underside of the ramp, being careful to align my marks.

I used hold downs to secure the track to the bottom board, while I drilled pilot holes and installed the screws.

I used hold downs to secure the track to the bottom board, while I drilled pilot holes and installed the screws.

The track is attached.

The track is attached.

This was the remainder of the third board. It will be used to make the hook and fence.

This was the remainder of the third board. It will be used to make the hook and fence.

I ripped two 1 ½ - inch pieces from the board.

I ripped two 1 ½ – inch pieces from the board.

I applied glue to the faces and clamped them in my twin tail vises to dry.

I applied glue to the faces and clamped them in my twin tail vises to dry.

I removed the ramp assembly from the clamps.

I removed the ramp assembly from the clamps.

Squaring up the edge that goes against the track at the jointer.

Squaring up the edge that goes against the track at the jointer.

This left the two pieces flush but with a little light tear-out in the maple.

This left the two pieces flush but with a little light tear-out in the maple.

My trusty 5 ½ left the wood glass smooth.

My trusty 5 ½ left the wood glass smooth.

Using the Veritas track system with a ramp would cause a gap between the plane and the edge of the ramp.  Some gap is needed or the plane would be cutting the ramp.  However, I wanted less of a gap and a little more support for the workpiece.  This means rabbeting the bottom edge of the ramp to “let-in” the track slightly.

Next, I measured the height of the track where it will butt up against the ramp.

Next, I measured the height of the track where it will butt up against the ramp.

I setup my tablesaw to take a cut just slightly deeper than the measurement.

I setup my tablesaw to take a cut just slightly deeper than the measurement.

I buried the blade in a sacrificial fence.

I buried the blade in a sacrificial fence.

I did some test cuts in scrap oak until I was happy with the alignment.

I did some test cuts in scrap oak until I was happy with the alignment.

You can see above that the rabbet does not completely overlay the edge of the track.

Then I made the rabbet cut on the edge of the ramp.

Then I made the rabbet cut on the edge of the ramp.

I cleaned up the cut with my shoulder plane.

I cleaned up the cut with my shoulder plane.

Before glueing the ramp to the base board, I need to address the hook.

The two strips that were glued earlier, were cut to length. One for the hook and the other for the fence.

The two strips that were glued earlier, were cut to length. One for the hook and the other for the fence.

 

I still have a fair bit of work to do to these.

I still have a fair bit of work to do to these.

I laid out a ⅜ x ⅜ inch tongue on the top of the hook strip.

I laid out a ⅜ x ⅜ inch tongue on the top of the hook strip.

I made the cuts with a stacked dado head at the tablesaw.

I made the cuts with a stacked dado head at the tablesaw.

That went well.

That went well.

I lowered the blade to make the corresponding dado in the bottom board.

I lowered the blade to make the corresponding dado in the bottom board.

The resulting dado.

The resulting dado.

Just a hair too tight. The shoulder plane will fix that.

Just a hair too tight. The shoulder plane will fix that.

Once again, clean up was done with a shoulder plane.

Once again, clean up was done with a shoulder plane.

And that's how the hook will work.

And that’s how the hook will work.

I’m setting up a cross-grain joint here and need to allow for expansion of the base board.  One screw in the center of the hook will do.

I drilled from the reverse side (in the center if the dado) and then from the top side with a countersink bit.

I drilled from the reverse side (in the center of the dado) and then from the top side with a countersink bit.

Making sure that I can still get the screw in once the ramp is glued on.

Making sure that I can still get the screw in once the ramp is glued on.

This is the bevel cut off that I saved earlier.

This is the bevel cut-off that I saved earlier.  The three small bits will be used as clamping blocks.

A liberal application of glue to all the mating surfaces.

A liberal application of glue to all the mating surfaces.

The important part of the glue-up is making sure that the rabbet in the bottom of the ramp is pressed up tight against the track.

Glued and clamped overnight.

Glued and clamped overnight.

I realized that I still had this piece that I used for setting up the tapering jig. Why not glue it in for added support?

I realized that I still had this piece that I used for setting up the tapering jig. Why not glue it in for added support?

So, I applied some glue.

So, I applied some glue.

And glued it into the assembly.

And glued it into the assembly.

 

Well, with the ramp in clamps, I think that this is a good place to leave things for this post. There’s still a lot more to do, so I’ll continue this as soon as I can get it typed up.

 

– Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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9 Responses to A Ramped Shooting Board in Walnut and Maple – Part 1

  1. auswimkc says:

    I’m curious as to why you’re going through the trouble of making a ramped board? From the images it appears that the ramp is reducing the blade skew to a more perpendicular angle of attack, thus reducing the advantage of the skewed blade v a straight blade on the low angle jack

    • Jonathan says:

      auswimkc,

      You are right, I am slightly reducing the skew angle of the blade (by 4.5° to be precise) by having a ramp. However, the big advantage is that you use more of the blade. For example, if you were shooting the ends of some drawer sides, lets say ½-inch thick by 3-inch high. On a normal shooting board you would only use the bottom ½-inch of the blade. With a ramp, you use more of the blade since the relative action of the plane to the wood is moving both up and down as well as front to back. The point of this, is to attempt to distribute wear over a greater portion of the cutting edge and (hopefully) reduce the need to sharpen. After all, you have to sharpen the whole blade, even if you have only dulled the bottom ½-inch. I hope I am describing this clearly. Sometimes it is hard to get 3 dimensional thoughts out in texts. I see it clearly, but I’m not sure I have adequately described it.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  2. Jonathan where did you get the offset screwdriver? Are they available in flat head drive too?
    I have the 16″ track and the space between edge of the track and the plane leaves tear out. The small rabbet you did should go a long ways to minimize that. I’m going to see if I can retro fit that to mine.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Ralph,

      I can’t remember where I got the offset screwdrivers. I have two, one small, one medium (#1 on one & #2 on the other). Each has a philips head on one end and a slotted on the other. They might have come as part of a set. I just searched amazon for “Right Angle Screwdriver” and there is all kinds of stuff available. Even a ratcheting one… that might have to go in my cart.

      Did you get my email? I responded to the question you sent me, but I’m not sure if you got it.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. Matt McGrane says:

    A comment about something roughly midway through this post: Twin tail vises?! Holy mackerel. I’ll bet they come in handy once in a while.

  4. Jim B says:

    Great, detailed post. And that’s the best looking cross cut sled I’ve ever seen.

  5. Pingback: A Ramped Shooting Board in Walnut and Maple - Part 2 | The Bench Blog

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.