First page of the cool woodworking archive.

Winding Sticks – alternate use

Posted by is9582 on February 19, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been doing a lot of hand planing lately, with a good portion of that in the “flattening” mode, as opposed to a more general “smoothing” mode. While I was working today, I was checking my progress with a pair of Winding Sticks, and as I used them I wondered if others do the same thing.

So, I’ll start with a basic description of using the winding sticks, for anyone not familiar, and then share my trick of the trade, but I also made a short video earlier, that I’ll post down below.

When I’m preparing to use a hand plane in order to flatten a board, if the board is fairly large, I can usually feel whether there is a crowning in the center or not. If the board is fairly narrow, the only really good option is to use my pair of winding sticks, as they amplify the differences making it much easier to see even small discrepancies.

As I progress on the larger boards, it is less and less easy to feel the shape of the board, and the winding sticks again are required. On larger, and wider boards, it can be difficult to know for sure just where you need to remove wood, even if you’ve determine there is a crowning on your board. After I set the winding sticks on the board I wish to test, with the winding sticks’ center dots close to the centerline of the board, I sight over the stick closest to me, and lower my sight until the first portion of the far stick’s top edge is obscured. This will either be the right corner, the left corner, or the whole stick. The first two results indicate there is still twist/wind in the length of the board, which requires further work. The last results indicates the two sections where the winding sticks are sitting, are in the same plane. This doesn’t automatically mean the board is flat, so you need to test in multiple locations down the board. I usually leave the winding stick alone, the farthest from me, and move the closer one towards the other stick, in about 6″ increments. If you get the same “in plane” reading all along the board, just make sure to check for flat along the length of the board, with the longest straight edge that you have.

Now, back to the tip portion of the article. After I check the winding sticks, and find there is still twist/wind as well as a slight crowning, I lightly tap the end of one of the sticks, and watch to see where it’s center of rotation is located (the highest part will be very close to the center of rotation). I made my winding sticks out of cocobolo, and they will spin quite easily on any raised section, but metal winding sticks may not spin as freely. In either case, you can also lightly hold the winding stick towards it’s center, and while applying extremely light downward pressure, try to rotate the stick. If the stick still rotates fairly easy, the center of rotation will again be very close to the highest point. If you feel some friction, even if it still spins, you are likely getting pretty close to flat.


Click on the link below, to watch the included video:

Winding Sticks to determine where to plane


Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools Since 1978

I hope this helps anyone that is having some trouble working wood flat, with hand tools. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. You can also find me on Twitter as @LeeLairdWW and on Instagram as LeeLairdWoodworking.

Lee Laird

Are those curly legs?

Posted by is9582 on December 6, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , ,

While I was breaking down the large boards of Soft Maple that I purchased, I cut two pieces that are each 31″ long, which I plan to use as the legs for a new base. At this point, I’m looking at these pieces as netting two legs each, but if it looks out of proportion, I may just decide to laminate some beefier legs. We shall see.

So, today I decided to see how this wood behaves with a hand plane. I like to start out planing one of the large face sides, and when I have that flat, I’ll plane one edge so it is square and true to the planed face.

Leg board after one pass with the plane.

Leg board after one pass with the plane.

This face side of the board, had a raised bulge running the length of the board, so I focused on that area first. I lowered the bulge, planing down the length of the board, since it was fairly pronounced, and was hard to prevent tipping the plane fore or aft. After bringing that part down so it was almost completely level, I started working across the grain, so I could take advantage of heavier shaving and expedite my progress. It is amazing how much easier it is to work the wood across the grain, but do expect the surface to have a rough and splintery texture, so don’t expect to get a final surface planing this direction (unless you are actually wanting to give your bench top some “tooth”, so your work doesn’t slide around as easily). One other note: I always use an iron that has a fair amount of camber, when working across the grain, which helps me target any specific area and leaves a scoop pattern in the wood and the iron’s corners don’t dig in. I followed the cross grain planing with my old Stanley #3, first set up for a little heavier than normal shaving, then as a super-fine smoother, while planing with the grain.

Same leg board after planing it closer to level and showing some nice curly grain.

Same leg board after planing it closer to level and showing some nice curly grain.

After seeing the beautiful curly grain in this board for the bench legs, I’m getting more excited to see if the boards I cut for the bench’s top, will also have this nice grain?? Only time will tell!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Lee Laird

Bass improvements – intonation and string height

Posted by is9582 on October 21, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

I recorded some music a few days ago, and after creating the drums, I went back in to lay down a bass track. While I was tuning up the bass, I happened to glance at my strobe tuner and noticed the intonation was off quite a bit, so I grabbed my tools. [**For anyone that doesn’t know […]

Dowd’s Tools – Austin

Posted by is9582 on August 7, 2015 with 2 Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last weekend we went down to Craft Pride, located at 61 Rainey Street in Austin TX, to see our good friends Lynn and Tracy Dowd, who were having their Dowd’s Tools event. They always have a large range of tools, and I almost always find something that must follow me home. While each event is […]

Checking out Germany

Posted by is9582 on June 25, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , ,

I don’t have enough time to write about this subject tonight, but I’ll see if I can make some time in the next couple of days. I thought I’d toss out one photo I took today, of a post/beam that is inside my Daughter and her husband’s “house”, which has a ton of character and […]