Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winding Sticks

It's been quiet on my blog. Not because I haven't been doing anything, but because processing rough lumber by hand isn't so interesting. I'm hoping to get back to blogging about my brown oak Shaker side table once I can do some actual joinery.

One thing I have been missing while I'm trying to cut out some legs for the table is a pair of winding sticks. I decided I must have some for this project, so I made a pair.
My version of winding sticks.
I had some nice sticks of air dried sycamore, as well as some reddish mystery wood for inlays. It could be goncalo alves, but I'm not sure. The hope is that these two woods will contrast nicely for years to come.
Two sticks of sycamore, with center buttons installed.
For center buttons, I decided to use the quick and dirty hillbilly method inspired by Greg Merritt, which means bamboo skewers. I found some really big 4mm ones a while back and have loved using them for things like this.

I used my eggbeater drill, and after accurately marking the center point on each side of each stick, I drilled in half way from one side, flipped them and drilled the rest of the way on the other. This method worked perfectly for me. Zero tearout, and the skewers filled the holes perfectly.
Bamboo skewers to mark the center points of the winding sticks.
I could have made some dowels of the same wood I used for the inlays, but I already had the bamboo dowels. Less work won out. It's a light color similar to the sycamore, but they are clearly and easily seen. The purpose of them is to give yourself an aiming point to center them. If I am edge jointing a piece of wood and want to check for twist, I stick the winding sticks on the edge of the board. The dot makes it easier to balance them in use.

I chopped out space for the inserts with a chisel and mallet, used hide glue and clamped them in.
Clamp on the insert.
I left the rough parts to the outside, and glued the flat parts to the cavities I just made. I figured there was no need to plane them twice.
All glued together.
If you were wondering what ever happened to that raw linseed oil that I processed with sea water last year, it turned out real nice. I decided to use it on this project.
My home-made BLO.
This was a great little project, and a good opportunity to practice accuracy. They are far from perfect, but they will work until they warp too bad. Then, I can make some more!

UPDATE: I wasn't too happy with one of the inserts, so I removed it and replaced it. If you would like to see my blog posts on that, see the next post.


  1. The winding sticks look great...but...I’m not sure about being known as “quick and dirty”. LOL...I’m sticking by bamboo skewers though. They are super handy!

    1. Thanks, for the compliment, Greg! Haha! I certainly didn't mean you were quick and dirty, I meant bamboo skewers are great pre-made dowels!