Introduction: Making Pimped Winding Sticks

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Serious woodworkers will know what winding sticks are, and how valuable they are in identifying and correcting twist (or 'wind') in boards, furniture components, etc. Basically, they magnify the wind to make it more visible

Well, they're easy to make too, and I'll show you how. Plus, I'm pimping them with dots and keys, which will speed up positioning them correctly and reading them more clearly

There's a video too, so no excuses for not making a set for yourself!

Step 1: Basic Winding Sticks

Cut two lengths of lath, approximately 16" (400mm) long, 2" (50mm) wide, and 3/8" (10mm) thick

Plane them square and true all round. Most importantly, they should be straight along their long edges and these edges should be parallel

(Non-parallel winding sticks will work, but both need to be identical, and used the correct way around)

Step 2: The Pimping - Dots

Select some highly contrasting wood (or other material) to make the dots and keys from. My winding sticks are a pair of meranti, and a pair of english oak, and my contrasting woods are Panga Panga and English Holly

Use a brad point bit to bore clean, shallow holes, for the dots, near the bottom edge and centrally in the length, on the face of each stick.

The dots are made using a plug cutter, matched in size to the drill bit

Dots are used to centre the winding sticks across boards, so that they line up well and are balanced. This might not save much time when used just once, but when correcting wind, the little savings all add up.

Step 3: Keys

Scribe in rectangular sections at the top edge, towards the ends of the face of one stick (for each pair)

Chop out open mortises about 1/16" (1.5mm) for the keys to be seated in

Slice a piece of the contrasting wood just thicker than 1/16". Saw, and then plane to a tight fit in the mortises, the two keys

Keys make reading the wind much easier, since the contrasting wood is highly visible as it appears above the front stick

Step 4: Glue Up

Apply glue to the mortises, and install the dots and keys

Add clamps to secure while the glue dries

Step 5: Flush Up

Use a plane and card scraper to flush the dots and keys to the sticks

Make sure the top of the keys are perfectly in line with the top of the sticks - since accuracy here affects the accuracy of readings. You can re-plane the sticks after the keys are installed, should you need to

Step 6: Apply a Polish

Protect your sticks with shellac, which will help regulate it's moisture content too (wood can change shape as it absorbs or looses moisture, resulting in non-straight and un-matched sticks that won't be accurate)

Use a super blonde shellac on pale woods, to maintain a high contrast. Apply it to dots and keys with a small brush, and allow to dry before polishing around them with the rubber

Dark dots and keys in pale wood sticks can simply be polished at the same time as the sticks, with a blonde shellac

Step 7: Start Using Them!

Now you've made them, start using them.

I hope you enjoyed the Instructable. Please post photos of any winding sticks you make in the comments