Make a Sticking board

According to the Oxford dictionary, the verb form of “stick” means to push, thrust, poke, insert, plunge, dig and probably many others. In woodworking it means to cut a moulding and to do it by hand. The easiest method is to use a benchtop appli- ance known as a “sticking board.”

A sticking board can be of any length, width and thickness. In its simplest form, it comprises a flat board and a fixed fence. A screw or several screws near one end of the board serve as stops. It can be fixed to the bench by clamping between dogs, using holdfasts, or various other methods. A sticking board doesn’t only serve to cut moulding by hand; it can be used when ploughing a groove or making a rabbet. I used mine to make my moulding planes, the entire set of which is not yet completed.

The “traditional” style sticking board has one seriously annoying flaw; it has a fixed fence like my old one here.

Rarely have I ever worked a board which was the full width of the sticking board, and if I did, it never was the exact width. Many times I would use offcuts to fill the empty space between the board to be worked and the fixed fence. I would do this trying to make the board flush with the sticking board’s front edge so the fence of my rabbet or grooving plane can utilise the edge of my workbench. Usually it would be impossible to make the work piece flush with the edge of the sticking board; instead it would over- hang. Depending on the thickness of the material being worked, inadvertently tilting the plane is a common problem and a square rabbet cannot be achieved.

A great solution is to build a new sticking board with an adjustable fence. I cannot take credit for this as my idea was spawned from watching an episode of The Woodwright’s Shop. I saw very briefly Roy using one, but unfortunately the camera angle didn’t reveal much. Nonetheless, it appeared to be a sticking board with an adjustable fence. I start- ed building on the fly.


My board is made up of hoarded scraps. Western red cedar for the base and pine for the fence. I knew one of these years I would find good use for the WRC. The adjust- able fence rides in tracks that are T slots I bought from Carbatec 10 years ago. The knobs used to fix the fence in position are part of a box set I also bought 10 years ago for making jigs. I’ve never found much use for it until now. Note to self: Stop reading catalogues.

Handy to have if you’re making a lot of jigs. I’m not sure if they’re still selling

While a sticking board can be any length, it has been said that a good size is about 8’ (2438mm). That is generally a good size for making lengths of mouldings, but unfor- tunately my bench is just under 6’ (1828mm). I made mine from the

length of a scrap I had on hand which happened to be the ideal length for my bench.

The base of my sticking board is: 35 ¾” x 7 1/8” x 1 ½” (908 x 181 x 38mm). The fence is 35 ¾” x 1 ½” x ¾” (908 x 38 x 19 mm). Optionally, you can install a hook on the front edge of the base of the sticking board A hook sits against the front edge of the workbench and stops the sticking board from sliding across the bench, much the same principle as in shooting boards and bench hooks. But it can also serve as a surface for the fence of a plane to ride against should you need to plow a groove or cut a rabbet.

I didn’t go out and buy new timber for the hook. Instead I went to a charity shop and picked up an outdoor table for $4.00. I don’t know what species it is and one of these days I’ll bother to find out, but it’s heavy and hard yet easy to plane. I’d hate to build a large cabinet with it; I think I would need a forklift to move it around. The dimensions are 35 ¾” x 2 ¼” x ¾” (908 x 57 x 19 mm).

Step 1.

If necessary, cut the base to length then plane flat both sides and square one edge. For the fence, rip 1 ½” (38 mm) from a board, cut it to length and plane it flat and square.

Step 2.

Make a couple of dadoes in the base for the T slotted tracks. Measure in 4” from both ends and make a knife line.

Holding your square still on the knifed line, butt the track against your square and mark the opposite end. You now have the exact width of the required dado.

Holding your square still on the knifed line, butt the track against your square and mark the op- posite end. You now have the exact width of the required dado.

Repeat chopping the sec- ond half and finish lev- elling the bottom of the dado with a router plane set to the thickness of the track and test the fit.

You want the tracks level with the surface. You don’t want the track proud of the base’s surface because it would interfere with the board being worked.

Step 4

Insert the T slot track into one of the dados and flush one end with the edge of the base. At the other edge of the base scribe a line on the T slot track. Saw to the line using a hack saw.

Clean up the edge with a file and repeat for the second dado. These Bahco files I bought from England really leave a beautiful surface and remain sharp. Admittedly though, I don’t use them very often, but I have used in the past the modern-day Nicholson files and they were very disappointing indeed. I wouldn’t recommend you buy them.

To glue the tracks in place I used Loctite AA 330. The glue comes with an activator and can be bought separately if need be. This is an ultimate glue for gluing metal to wood, The instructions are easy to follow. Spread glue on one surface and spray the activator on the mating piece. I didn’t need to use clamps be- cause the fit was good and tight; adding clamps wouldn’t have made a difference. Don’t be in a hurry to buy the Loctite, as it is expensive. Fish glue from Lee Valley will work just as well. I’m using the AA 330 glue until it’s expended; I bought it so I might as well use it

I left it to dry overnight even though I could have resumed work within 30-60mins.

Step 5

Install the hook. Remember this is optional so skip this part if you don’t want the hook. I cut the piece to length allowing a little extra for flushing the ends to the base. I used my own homemade version of liquid hide glue and clamped it overnight. To save time you should clamp this at the same time you install the tracks but I would highly recom- mend you don’t install the tracks until you’ve installed the hook and checked for square. This way you can plane the top square without fear of hitting the metal tracks. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Once the glue has cured, plane the top edge flush with the top surface of the base and check the front face of the hook for square with the base. This is critical; there is no compromising here. The reason is, when you’re planing a rabbet using a fenced rabbet plane (for example), it’s the face of the hook that the plane’s fence will register against. If that’s out of square then your rabbet will also be out of square.

Pre-drill some holes and reinforce the hook with screws.

Tidy the ends of the hook with your block plane

Step 6

Now for the adjustable fence. Place the fence on the base and flush up the ends by feel. Hold the fence immobile, locate and mark both ends of each slot onto the bottom side of your fence.

What we want is to transfer the exact location and width of the slots to the fence. Then we can locate the dead centre of the tracks and bore our holes in the fence precisely to meet up with the tracks. This is more precise than using measurements

 I use a brace and 29/64” brad point bit to bore the holes. The eggbeater drill isn’t ideal as it requires more torque to bore the hole.

Accuracy this time round isn’t all that necessary, but having said that, it is good practice to bore and drill accurately. It takes a long time to acquire skill, but without constant practice it takes no time to lose it.

I have chosen to omit from the article the type, length and quantity of screws used as a stop. Reason being, as there is no strict rule to use the measurements I have supplied and in particular to the thickness of materials, I could not justify adding those partic- ulars as your build will not be identical to mine. You may use thinner, shorter, longer,

wider or narrower stock and the length and number of screws I used will not pertain to what you may need in your build.

On another note my editor Matt McGrane has pulled me up on an important point that didn’t cross my mind. He wrote to me and I quote:

“I have a screw-arm plough plane and the arms extend a few inches on the side of the plane towards the adjustable fence. With a narrow fence, the plane’s arms can hit the fence’s knob, which interferes with the operation. The solution might be to use a lower knob or simply a nut.”

He is right. This would be an issue with all plough planes whether antique or new. You can avoid this potential problem by using Matt’s suggestion of using a hex nut or use

a wider adjustable fence. Having said that, the only time this will become an issue is if

your stock is ¾” or less and you had to bring the fence all the way forward to the hook. I believe this occasion would be a rarity and if it did occur then simply use the above solution as a temporary fix.
BLO used as a finish

2 thoughts on “Make a Sticking board

  1. Hi Salko, Thank you very much! (again). As someone new into woodworking and trying to do everything I can with hand tools, I can relate to the importance of the sticking board. I haven’t had issues with moulding (not there yet) but trying to make rabbets, grooves into narrow pieces is not easy and this is the right appliance for it. I have seen one from James Wright in YouTube but no movable fence. A quick question: when you have a wider board then you start putting more screws as stops?


    1. Hello Edward and welcome to my blog. I use my sticking board when the need arises and so far the need has been more than not. To answer your question the answer is yes. Instead of adding more screws, you’d have to space them out. As an example, if you had an 4-foot-wide board, you would space two screws, one on each end of the board. There’s no need to use numerous screws, as some people do; two will work.


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