Unique Shoot Board Plane...Sharpest Tool in the Shed
I came across this unusual plane at an antique store. It weighs over 10 pounds and appears to have been made of solid cast iron and steel. I assumed this was some sort of shoot board plane. There are no identifying marks on the plane or the cutters. There are two cutters that cut from the side of the plane. There is a straight cutter on one side and a 20° beveled cutter on the other side, the latter I thought was used somehow to make sliding dovetails. I thought this plane could work better than my existing planes for a shoot board, so I went ahead and bought it. If it did not work, it would make a nice replacement paperweight for my Stanley 55.
A knowledgeable contributor on the Sawmill Creek woodworking forum informed me that this plane, based on its massive weight, was used in the printing industry to trim the edges of the lead type and to also trim the sides of the wooden blocks that the type was set on.
|The shooting board plane removes material on the sides of the type blocks so that all the blocks can fit together in the galley|
|The beveled cutter trims the lead type that rest on the wooden blocks|
|An example of a type high plane. From the collection of Frank Flynn|
|The type high plane removes a sliver of wood from the top surface of the type so that the printing blocks are all level.|
- Type High Plane: Remove material from the bottom or top of the block if the block was too high ("a cut above the rest")
- Shoot Board Plane:
- Remove wood and trim the metal plate from the sides of the block to even up the block with the plate (occassionaly needing "to go against the grain" for this)
- Even up the blocks around the perimeter so that they can be placed in the furniture/frame ("are we square on this?")
- Bevel the edges of the metal plates of book plate images ("get the lead out")
More information about stereotyping can found in Hatch and Stewart's Electrotyping and Stereotyping (1918).The mass, the orientation of the handle, and the ability to place it in between two boards to make a chute makes shooting an edge so much easier than using a traditional plane. A skewed blade is all that's missing. I have used this plane for a straight shooting board, a mitered shooting board and for a "donkey's ear" board (to create bevels along the length or width of the board), all of which are a "piece of cake".
|Shoot board plane with Stanley No. 6 in background|
Sorry for the clichés. If I can figure out a use for the beveled side, I will post. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.