I've been using my Veritas Low Angle Jack Plane for shooting. It's fine for stock less than 1/2" thick, but it's a real pain (literally) trying to shoot end grain on 3/4" thick stock. On this project so far I've shot 102 ends with O1 steel.
Last year I strained some of the tendons in my right shoulder and had to go through 3 months of physical therapy to get things back to normal. Shooting and sharpening were the main causes. I solved the sharpening problem by buying a coarser grit stone for faster grinding, and a bench grinder so that I can hollow-grind all of my blades. The combination of these two things has sped up sharpening tremendously and removed a lot of the repetitive motion. I haven't had any aches from sharpening since I added these tools to the shop. Money well spent.
Shooting end grain, on the other hand, continues to bother my shoulder. With my Low Angle Jack Plane I have to provide forward, inward and downward force with my right arm to keep the plane cutting squarely against the end grain of the wood, and forward, inward and downward force with my left hand to keep the stock resting squarely against the bed of the plane. It's proven to be too difficult for my shoulder. I have to take breaks. Taking breaks slows things down. I get frustrated.
Typically, a dedicated shooting board plane is a luxury item. It's only really good for one thing. So I didn't buy it 2 years ago when my shoulder ached so much I couldn't sleep on it. And I didn't buy it last year when I was struggling with my jack plane, frustrating at having to take breaks because I didn't want to re-injure my shoulder.
Then a few things happened.
- I managed to save up some fun money. All of this time not buying things tends to allow money to pile up in a savings account. Imagine that.
- Veritas came out with PM-V11 tool steel. It's as easy to sharpen as O1 steel and has the edge retention of A2 steel or better. Derek Cohen did a steel comparison of O1, A2 and PM-V11, as did several other woodworkers and found PM-V11 to be superior to O1 for shooting end grain by a very wide margin. With a goal of shooting 60 passes with each steel, O1 only managed about 22 passes before needing to be sharpened again. No wonder I was having such a hard time! PM-V11, on the other hand, shot 60 passes with ease and seemed like it was asking for more.
- Veritas came out with their own shooting board plane. Before this, I had almost purchased the Lie-Nielsen #51, but decided against it even when my wife and mother offered to buy it for me as a gift. The $500 price tag was steep enough that I had more than one second thought and decided I could make do without it for awhile longer. The Veritas plane came onto market at $345, a nice discount over the Lie-Nielsen, but I wanted to wait to see some reviews before diving in. Sure enough, the reviews are stellar. This plane has a few advantages over the Lie-Nielsen, in my opinion.
- An adjustable mouth gives you more control over the cut
- The blade set screws speed up replacing the blade after sharpening
- The adjustable tote angle allows for customized comfort
- If you're sharpening, you're not woodworking. PM-V11 steel means less sharpening. Sign me up.
- And most importantly, it uses the same 2-1/4" wide blade that all of my other Veritas planes use, effectively allowing me to swap blades of varying angles across my entire system of planes. This is a huge advantage.
So I bought the plane along with 2 replacement PM-V11 blades. My two O1 and two A2 steel blades are now for sale.
A New Shooting Board
A shooting board plane has parallel sides. This allows you to add a guide rail to your shooting board, thus removing the need for you to provide inward force. Shooting board planes tend to be heavy. This plane comes in at 7-3/4 lbs, thus removing the need for you to provide downward force. All you need to do is provide forward momentum and the plane and shooting board do the rest. It's so much nicer than what I was doing before. :-) Luxury indeed.
My old shooting board was crap so I made a newer, bigger, stronger one.
|Veritas Shooting Board Plane & my new shooting board|
|Perfectly square, no shoulder pain.|