My Vice-Held End-grain Planing Guide

My vertical vise-held, end-grain planing guide for planing the ends of wood dead square with ease works better than a shooting board especially if you have lots to do. Why do I say that? Because I have used a regular shooting board for almost six decades and at best they are really quite awkward, hog lots of essential benchtop space and disallow other work to go on most of the time because they are almost always in the way. Now, obviously, it does not replace the shooting board for mitre work nor for moulded stock like picture frames and such, so it’s not really an either-or. Mine tucks neatly at the end of the bench and gets pulled to task in a split second or remains out until all of the pieces needing end squaring are done.

We decided to post a 14-minute video on making it and using it and in under two days, its had 32,000 views totalling 2,500 hours of viewing time so if a percentage of these people make one and use one over the next few decades my 15 minutes of being filmed as a DIY-how it’s already been successful.

One common question is, “Doesn’t the platform part deteriorate in use because the cutting iron planes the support rail?” Well, if you use the aid carefully, no, not really. But, if it did it’s just a couple of swipes more with the plane to correct the guide so I would anticipate this one guide alone to last me fifty years of regular daily use.

It literally takes five minutes to assemble once the wood is cut to size and then you’ve taken out any and all guesswork as to whether the end of your boards are square. It’s so good that I rarely even check the end of my wood for square once done.

A thing that is most overlooked by the ‘professional‘ questioners is the natural posture of planing vertically with the plane using both hands to support and manipulate the plane to the workpiece and the security of both guide and piece locked as they are in the vise. Nothing moves.

The next most common question is, “Doesn’t the platform part deteriorate in use because the cutting iron planes the support rail?” Well, if you use the aid carefully, no, not really. But, if it did, it’s just a couple of swipes more with the plane to correct the guide so I would anticipate this one guide alone lasting me fifty years of regular daily use.


  1. Paul,

    Thank you! That is truly a simple answer to a constant need in wood working. Best wishes to you.

  2. Thanks for sharing this awesome end grain planing jig. Within a couple of hours I had one assembled and in the vise squaring up some end grain. This is far more natural than using the shooting board. It looks like it could have a variation where corners of a drawer box could be shaved to a perfect miter. Any thoughts about that?

  3. There are at least six things I like about this:
    – not having to clear the workbench to use it;
    – the natural posture;
    – holding of the plane by the tote;
    – not having to press horizontally on the plane;
    – not having to use the lateral adjuster (if the plane side is not square to its sole or if the shooting board isn’t perfect).
    – it works with any bench plane.

    Because the use of fully threaded screws, to maintain its geometry, the assembly relies only on friction due to the pressure exercised by the screws . It is surely a good practice to check it from time to time and surely if it has fallen or has been bumped against.
    But then one should always examine a fallen tool.

    About glue: I would not rely on glue only as the glueing would only been as good as the glueing of the first ply (delamination possibility). So if glueing, the srews are still necessary.

    1. Of course there is also the version shown on the post “a square-end plane guide” dated 16 November 2022.

      1. Sylvain, Thanks for the tip to look back to 16 November. Without question there is a different perspective in that article. Both articles put together a hefty amount of information on a basic subject — how to square up the end of a board. Thanks to Paul we have this basic idea brought to a fine level of craftsmanship.

  4. Simple and functional! Thanks for yet another tip. Now, how would I work on narrow stock, such as a 1x 2” that I would like to rebate along its length on one side? I’m about to start making your excellent Workbench, but I’m wondering how to work the length of really narrow stock without resorting to an end vise and bench dogs. Thanks!

  5. I made the paul sellers version of shooting board and I love it. however, i do find it awkward to use a shooting board sometimes but due to my lack of experience I am sure – this happens when I have to chew more material and my arms do become sore. I like this idea also as a step towards going the alternative way that paul uses to directly clamp the board and plane from both sides to square it up, which does require a lot of experience.
    i am going to build this one for sure this week. thank you as always Paul for bringing me into hand tool woodworking and made this art it so enjoyable and achievable not just for me but for many!

  6. Ha, might make this one too
    Being purely hobby, I got a little lazy with taking out the shooting board and just reverted to putting whatever endgrain I need trimmed and squared in the vise and carefully going at it like that with lots of checking.

    I like how you don’t have to fiddle with the lateral with this compared to a shooting board if you never bothered to square one side of the plane with the sole, especially if that plane is pulling double duty for both shooting miters and regular planing

  7. Thank you!

    I never liked the shooting board. I make a knife wall all around the board, then I plane from both sides. Now with this jig it will be so much easier!

    A mitre version can be made (well, two). It would be a bit more complicated, but not much.

    Thanks again!

    1. Yes, a mitre version for picture frames would require the jig to form a Z shape, instead of the C shape, but holding in the vise might be tricky depending on the size of workpiece.

      For mitres that go across the end grain (width of the workpiece), such as a mitred box, you would just need the same jig, but with each 2×4 (and the plywood where it meets the 2×4) planed at a 45 degree angle. That might be trickier, but not too difficult, and obviously only a one-off task.

      I think I’m going to try a couple and see how I get on!

      1. It’s not complicated and nor is it tricky or hard. Simply add a 1 x 2 piece as a removeable guide with 45º cut at the end screwed to the face of the original carriers.

    2. It’s not complicated and nor is it tricky or hard. Simply add a 1 x 2 piece as a removeable guide with 45º cut at the end screwed to the face of the original carriers.

      1. Huh? Can you show us? Thanks for this trick, btw. I think gravity makes this a superior “shooting board”.

        1. Thinking through this, I’ll probably make one with a 90 on the right handed side, and a 45 on the other.

  8. Simple but effective! It’s yet another ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ moment reading Paul’s Blog.

  9. I’m encouraged that even Paul uses a jig on occasion. I struggle with squaring and truing, where it’s second nature for a more experienced woodworker. Granted they have many, many more hours in than I do, but it’s reassuring to know that some jobs are just plain difficult with unsupported tools, it’s not just my lack of ability.

  10. One comment: Would you say it’s 100% better than a properly utilised Shooting Board ?

    1. Just in case the answer is not so obvious in my youtube video, this is my reasoning. My reasons for this guide are: 1: The bench top is clear so no need to move anything when squaring end grain which you must do when using a shooting board. 2: The plane is used in the standard upright way so no laying it on its side which I don’t care what anyone says is usually awkward and the wood or the plane often slips. 3: The wood and the guide are locked rock solidly in the vise so perfect for new woodworkers to establish total control. 4: Both hands on the plane at all times so total control with no awkwardness. 5: Dedicated use for squaring ends both ways and no compromise every time. 6: Simplicity of construction. 7: Speed of construction. Can be made in under five minutes. 8: Can be made to match extra widths for wide boards. 9: Especially good for wide boards. 10: Wood goes down, out of the way, rather than across the benchtop. 11: It needs zero skill to make it and make it well if you want to. 12: It’s so very intuitive. 13: Can be trued dead square if overzealous planing or accidents happen to take it off a thou’. 14: Last but not least. A new woodworker needs access to end grain planing very soon after beginning the craft. Shooting boards are not so easy for novices and are intimidating to make. This provides the stepping stone they need. And finally, I didn’t make it or offer it as a replacement for a shooting board with its obvious advantages for mitreing and moulded stock. Purely as a strategy for what new and seasoned woodworkers

      1. Paul, thanks so much. Just a question on squaring the end a board longer than my bench is high.
        May I assume that I just turn everything in the vise and plane in an up or down direction rather than horizontally?
        Many thanks.

        1. I put it at an angle and have yet to do something superlong. 95% will be shorter than three feet long and five feet works easily at an angle.

          1. “Aha moment”.
            Putting it at an angle will more or less automatically put the piece against the vertical guide (which is of course necessary for a good result).

  11. Thanks Paul. I made your original shooting board and (while it works) I don’t like using shooting boards very often. I’ve been trying to train myself to plane the end grain in the vice with pretty good success (just working to the lines). This is great though. Can’t wait to make it.

  12. Thanks for the inspiration – just finished a workbench inspired by your model, and managed with an old saw (treated with a hammer and a file) to rip a piece of wood using your hand down trick og got it fairly straight. Once again thanks.

  13. Nice. I once shaved a thin layer of skin off my left index finger using my shooting board. My left hand slipped toward the plane right as I thrust my right hand forward. I like this concept and will bevthe next jig I build.

  14. Well this seems like an awfully good way to rethink the traditional shooting board.
    I’ve always been a fan of gravity such as it is. Thank you, very much!

  15. Could you provide rough measurements for the three main pieces? It would be helpful. Thanks

  16. Knocked one up in a short period of time. Dead square both directions first time. As Paul would say “love it, love it, love it”! Kevin from down under.

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