In my last post, I started the construction of a ramped shooting board for my newly acquired Veritas Shooting Plane. The board is designed to work with the Veritas 24-inch shooting track that I purchased at the same time. As this post grew to be rather lengthy, I decided to break it into two. I really must learn to be more discerning with my photographs as this project has ended up with over 130. As in the previous post, I am going to let the image captions tell most of the story and fill in where needed.
You can read the first installment here: A Ramped Shooting Board in Walnut and Maple – Part 1
The last post ended with the shooting board glued up and in clamps. I removed the clamps and then went to the table saw to flush cut the off side of the board.
I couldn’t use the cross-cut sled to flush cut the back edge, as the blade would not lift up high enough. I made this cut against the fence making sure to keep constant pressure against the fence and prevent kickback. I would not make this cut without a riving knife.
It was at this point that I noticed my first mistake. In the front of the shooting board, the track was tight against the ramp (and sitting nicely in its intended rabbet). However, at the back of the board, there was a gap between the ramp and the track. I had paid special attention to getting this right at the time of glue-up, or at least I thought I had. The ramp must have shifted as I tightened the clamps. Damn!
I knew that I would not be satisfied with the end project if I left things as they were, and resolved to try to fix it. I removed the screws from the track and then pushed it up tight against the ramp. This showed that the screw holes were only half-a-hole misaligned and so close that I couldn’t just move the track over and re-install the screws. The screws would have only gone back into the original holes and pulled the track back out. The holes would have to be filled and new pilot holes drilled.
With the board ramp and track more or less done, I turned my attention to the fence. In the previous post, I glued up a length of walnut to use for both the fence and the hook. A shooting board will work better (and reduce back edge blow out) if it has a fence that fits very close to the cutting edge of the plane. As the end of the fence might get cut by the plane and slowly eroded, it make sense to have an adjustable and replaceable zero clearance face on the fence. Since I used maple for the wedges of the board, I went back to my lumber rack to see if I had any small pieces of maple that I could use to make the zero clearance fence face. I found this:
Here’s where I made my second mistake. I have a router table that I picked up on Craigslist a couple of years ago. It is a Grizzly G0528. I must confess, I have actually never used it. However, it has seen plenty of use as a table; it’s covered in protective paper and stacked with all assortment of objects. It came with a very old router that I have also never used. The table has a cast iron top and because of this can’t make use of a router lift. My plan has always been to build a router table with a plate insert and put a Triton router in it. My current table would take so long to set up that I have never bothered. If I had a large routing job to do, I would take the time, but for the past two years the need has not arisen as I’ve only needed a router for small odd jobs.
I wanted to route two slots in the maple fence to accept the washer and head of the brass screws that will use to secure it. I put a ⅝-inch straight bit in my laminate trim router and clamped it in my vise. I set up the fence on the router and tried to make the first slot. The fence shifted and the workpiece was chewed up. Perhaps, on second thought, this was not the safest way to proceed, so I scrapped the idea.
I had to go back to the lumber pile and rip and mill another fence from the piece of maple. I figured that a series of stopped holes on the drill press cleaned up with a chisel would work.
I’m going to use brass threaded inserts to attach the fence to the board and the sacrificial fence to the main fence. These require a ⅜-inch pilot hole and so I set up my drill press accordingly.
Brass threaded inserts can be tricky to install with a screwdriver, but using your drill press is a great way to put them in straight with no fuss. I should point out here, DO NOT TURN ON YOUR DRILL PRESS. In fact, unplug it in case of a brain fart! The chuck gets turned manually.
The ramp of the shooting board is at approximately a 5° angle relative to the base. This meant that I needed to tilt my drill press table to the same angle. The ⅜-inch holes for the threaded inserts in the board had to be drilled at a 5° angle relative to the base board. This was so that they would be perpendicular to the ramp.
I did a quick dry assembly to test that it all fit together as intended.
Now that the board does not have to be put onto any more power tools, I can finally install the hook that I made in Part 1. This is a cross grain joint and I need to allow for wood movement. The hook will be glued and screwed in the center only. This way the ends can float, expanding and contracting as needed.
At this point my earlier screw-up with the router paid big dividends. The piece of maple that was going to be my 1st fence was still sitting on my bench. I picked it up, and as dumb luck would have it, it was a near perfect fit for the gap at the back of the shooting board. If I install it with the chewed up slot facing inwards, no-one will ever know (other than you of course).
At this point, I was done…. But…. I had these two off-cuts left on the bench from when I trimmed the wedges. I noticed one of them really had some fantastic grain. I thought I might try my hand at a little basic inlay.
I experimented with where to place them on the board and decided on this:
Again, I could have stopped at this point, but I thought that a coat or two of shellac would protect the board and also enhance the grain a little.
Using a foam brush, I put on about three light coats about 20-30 minutes apart. This left the surface uneven and rough. I was decidedly not happy with the results. I’ve never used shellac on a large surface before, only on plane totes and knobs. I wasn’t expecting the glass smooth sheen of french polish, but I suppose I was expecting better results than I achieved. I sanded back the finish with 320 grit paper hoping to remove the high spots and flatten things out.
Sanding shellac proved to be difficult even after allowing it to dry for 24 hours. Little balls of finish form on the surface of the sandpaper and either mark the surface of the work piece or prohibit the sandpaper from cutting. I persevered, cleaning the sandpaper with a brass bristled brush every minute or so. I flattened the finish as best I could and then brushed on two more light coats. This improved things, but I still felt that it could have been better.
Next time, I think that I will keep the Danish Oil first to bring out the color and grain, follow it with a coat or two of shellac (to seal off the oil finish), sand, but finish up with a few coats of water based poly. I’d be interested to see how different this looks.
I now need to attach the fence, but don’t want it to slip while in use. Sandpaper on the bottom of the fence should work.
That’s it. It’s all done. Time for some glamour shots.
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this one. I know that it has been a long post.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments.
Also, am I using too many images? These two posts felt strained (perhaps that’s not the best choice of word) to write. Editing and captioning 130+ images made it a bit of a chore. I think that writing such long posts is certainly reducing the frequency of my posts. I’m down to about 1 or two a month. I don’t mind this if the quality of the post is good. I’d rather publish two good things than eight that were mediocre. However, my other concern is that people may see how long the post is and decide it’s too much effort to read.
The next one will not be an epic. Stay tuned for my take on end grain cutting boards.
– Jonathan White
The more pics the better especially so the ones that show how you fix brain farts.
I have the 16″ track and I use it with the LN 51. I have the chewed up the low friction tape so many times that I don’t bother with putting it on the outboard ‘u’ shaped keeper track. The inboard one lasts a lot longer for whatever reason.
How old is the shellac you used? It not drying is usually because it is beyond the expiration date. And as for sanding it I never use sandpaper. I only use 4-0 steel wool. You get lots of fuzzies but I think it leaves behind a better surface than sandpaper.
I’m curious as to how your wooden sled will hold up over time with expansion/contraction and it’s effect on the fence etc.
Thanks for the tip about the low friction tape. I’ll have to keep an eye on that. The shellac is admittedly a few years old, but I didn’t notice any problems with it drying. In fact, that’s the one thing that it seemed to do well. I had just hoped that the surface tension of the finish (while still wet), was going to be enough to help it flatten out.
But then again, you might be spot on. I’ll have to try experimenting with shellac again with a new can.
Thanks for the pointers. I really appreciate it.
I think the images tell the story very well. The shooting board looks great and should last you a long time. Will you add 45 degree accessories?
I have given some thought to adding a 45° attachment. I’m not sure yet if I want to sink more threaded inserts into the ramp, or devise something that will clamp/attach onto the fence. Still thinking about this one.
Really nice Jonathan- looking forward to seeing this in show & tell.
Thanks Jeff, I’ll be sure to bring it to our next meeting.
Over the fence, nice !!!
As shooting board goes, that one is a beauty for sure 🙂 Mine is simply MDF and plywood. Only the batten and fence are hard wood.
Like every thing you do, you do it well my friend, bravo!
Bob and Rudy
Bob and Rudy (I think I am going to start calling you “Brudy” for brevity),
Thanks! I hope that it proves as useful as I intend. I’d never used walnut before and it was very easy to work. I might have to do more with it in the future.
I hope you are well,
Superb work my friend, as always. I like the inlay work and it really is beautiful grain you used for it.
I am not sure if you discussed it previously, so excuse me if you did. How does the angle of your plane blade’s cutting edge relate to the angle of the ramp. It seems to me that one should aim for something below 90 degrees to ensure that the force exerted on the work would tend to jam the work down into the 90 degree corner formed by the ramp and the fence, rather than wanting to lift it upwards. I cannot judge from the pics, whether this is the case although it does seem that way. Also, I would imagine that the lower the mentioned angle the more the slice effect of the blade on the end grain of the work. To me that sounds like an advantage. What do you think and did you consider these factors.
I hope that makes sense. Thank you for an excellent post. Maybe you should just break the text into more posts, but keep everything else the same. That way the posts are shorter, you publish more often, with the same quality and amount of elbow grease.
Have a wonderful day.
I don’t think I wrote about it in the post itself, but I did touch on it briefly in response to a comment on part one. I angled the ramp somewhere between 4.5° and 5°. The Veritas Shooting Plane has a bedding that is skewed at 20° relative to the sole. The iron is sharpened straight across (90°), but the way it sits in the plane body creates a 20° skew angle.
By having a ramp (at about 4.5°), I am effectively reducing the skew angle of the blade from 20° down to 15.5°. This is the downside of 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.
When you pull the plane to its rearmost position (as though you were about to shoot the edge of an 18″ long board) the top of the blade would engage the work piece. As the plane pushes forward, the plane stays in its track, but the workplace gets closer to the track as the ramp decreases. This distributes wear over more of the cutting edge.
You mentioned the downward force of the cut and you are right. The blade is skewed forward, so as the blade slices through the fibers, the workpiece is pushed down onto the ramp. If the blade were skewed backwards, the workpiece would lift up.
Thanks as always for your kind comments.
All the best,