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Workshop Appliances

Workshop Appliances

I think anyone who uses hand tools on a regular basis would benefit from some simple work bench appliances. Whether you build your own or purchase them, they really make a difference in the wood shop.

A shooting board. The most effective way to trim the ends of stock, 1-in. and under. You can sneak up on a fit that is almost unachievable for any power tool. 1/1000th of an inch if that is what’s required. A simple jig that will elevate the precision of your work.

A shop made miter box. In recent years there has been a lot of wood workers seeking out antique miter boxes on the inter-webs. Reclaiming and refurbishing vintage models when really, a basic miter box can be made with three pieces of wood. Another invaluable tool for the wood shop.

A bench hook in all its simplicity is probably the first appliance you should have. For holding work or again for small miters, the bench hook is never far from my bench top.

A miter-shooting board. A luxury? Not at all. Again, an accurate way of trimming cabinet parts and fine tuning moldings.

I spent the last few days making the four mentioned appliances for a gentleman in the Ottawa area and thought I’d share the results. Nothing fancy, no special attachments or Space age materials. Just some cabinet grade cherry plywood for the bases with some quarter sawn cherry for all of the hardwood parts. A shooting board with miter attachment, a miter-shooting board, a miter box and finally a bench hook.

I’m packaging them up this afternoon and they’ll be en route to their new home where I hope they’ll assist a hand tool wood worker in his journey through working wood. Cheers!


  1. Posted by jon on May 16th, 2012

    Though mine aren’t nearly as pretty as yours, I couldn’t work without my shooting board and bench hook. I tried making a miter box once, but found I needed a miter box to make the miter box cuts properly.

  2. Posted by Workshop Dave on Aug 24th, 2012

    Excellent. Brings back some memories of my training days. By this I mean seeing them in such good condition. Although I don’t have a miter-shooting board in the shed, I’m thinking its a nice little project for tomorrow morning…

  3. Posted by tom on Aug 31st, 2012

    Workshop Dave,
    thanks for the comments. The miter-shooting board is a nice little project and extremely handy for small box applications. I’ve been using it quite often since I made it.
    all the best.

  4. Posted by JimC on Sep 8th, 2012

    I’ve been using a shooting board for years and I still get amazed at the results. My soon to be next one will be a “ramped” version so as to utilize the full width of the plane blade. If you keep one at arms reach you’ll be grabbing for it more than you might think.

  5. Posted by tom on Sep 8th, 2012

    couldn’t agree more- thanks for the comment Jim.

  6. Posted by Brian Bates on Jun 5th, 2013

    I continue to love watching your youtube videos and reading your blogs. I enjoyed your tour of your tool cabinet. Did you design this yourself or work from a prior plan? I’m designing one now and am a bit torn about trying it all by hand without any plywood (especially for the back). Any tips? Also, when you made your beautiful appliances, ie shooting board, etc… and used the cherry ply, did you make those utilizing machine tools i.e. table saw?

    Thanks again


  7. Posted by tom on Jun 5th, 2013

    thanks for the comments and questions. The tool cabinet was built in my boat shop using power tools and plywood- nothing fancy at all. I used an article from Fine Woodworking magazine as reference and sized the cabinet to fit my tools and then some.
    I’d like to make another one day using solid woods, hand tools and re-arrange the design but that will be another day !
    As for the new workbench appliances, they’re all done with hand tools. I use Pax panel saws for dimensioning the plywood and then I treat it like solid wood from there. Plywood isn’t fun to work with hand tools so I try to avoid it whenever I can.
    hope that helps and thanks again,


  8. Posted by Paul on Jun 9th, 2013

    A miter shooting board is certainly not a luxury, I would agree. A nice addition in anyones workshop.

  9. Posted by david on Feb 25th, 2014

    Tom, if I may ask, how do you get accurate saw slots for the miter board? Do you lay it out with a combination square then follow the lines? I don’t think I would ever get it right that way.

  10. Posted by tom on Feb 25th, 2014

    thanks for the question. When I make miter boards/boxes, I cut the kerfs before assembling.
    I lay them out with a combination square and use the same backsaw I’ll be using for sawing to cut the slots.
    This gives me the best fit and has worked well thus far.
    hope that helps-

  11. Posted by david on Feb 26th, 2014

    yes that helps a bunch, that’s a doh! moment for me. Thank you for the reply. I have no idea why this was puzzling me so much now I have no excuse for making it. I assume you lay them out in position with the combination square then saw together slid into proper alignment for the 45s and the 90.

    I meant miter box, I must have been admiring your shooting board when I typed that. I’m bad about doing that kind of thing. Seems my mind is always moving on to the next thought before my body catches up with the last one.

    Just watched your saw kerf plane video. I see one of those in the very near future as well. Really enjoy your videos, thanks so much for the inspiration.

  12. Posted by david on Feb 26th, 2014

    no excuse for not making it now

  13. Posted by Salko on Oct 2nd, 2014

    Cutting the kerfs prior to assembly sound great but what about the alignment at assembly time, do you place the saw into the kerfs and then use your combo square to align it or something different to what I’ve written.

  14. Posted by tom on Oct 2nd, 2014

    thanks for the comments.
    you got it, I place the same backsaw into the kerfs to line up the parts.
    all the best~

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