How to Make Winding sticks

Winding sticks are the tool that usually first touches the lumber. They can tell you if there is a bow, cup twist or other imperfection that should be removed in the milling of the board. They have been in use for thousands of years and are still a hand tool that should be in every wood show. On top of that, they are often the first tool that Hand tool wood woodworker will make for the woodshop. They can teach several key skills that should be mastered early. If you want to see How to use them or see far more detail on how to make them and the skills involved, here is the long format video for that.

Tools Needed

#4 Hand plane setup for smoothing:


Marking Gauge:

Panel saw:

Marking knife:


Bit set:

Chisel Set:

Block Plane:

Rabbit Plane:

Spring Clamps:

Shooting board:

Flush Cut Saw:

Supplies needed

3'-4' of 3/4" X 1 1/2" stock (mine was hard maple)

Inlay material (whatever scrap you have on hand)

3/8" oak dowel:

Boiled Linseed Oil:

Past Wax:

wood glue:

Chose Your Stock

Start by choosing your material. this can be almost anything you have laying around the shop. Mine was made out of Hard Maple beam 3/4" X 1 1/2" X 40" that beam should be cut in half to make two identical sticks. You will also need some inlay materials. I used ebony and Box Elder as they were playing around on the floor. The key is that one is darker than the other. Last you will need a little bit of dowel stock. mine was 3/8" oak but again whatever you have in the shop will work well.

Cut Rabbit For Inlay

This is the easy method of inlay and you could do this for both the light and dark wood, but I will also show you a second method for smaller pieces of scrap. For this use a rabbiting plane or combination plane to cut a rabbit along one corner of the stock beam. It should not be as deep or wide as the stick you wish to inlay do that it can be planned back to flush with the stock face. the stock can then just be glued into the rabbit. I just use some spring clamps to hold it in place as the glue dries.

Second Inlay Method

The second method of inlay is in a stopped Rabbit. I start by using a square, marking knife and marking gauge to lay out the cut lines on 3 sides of the corner of the beam. this should be slightly smaller dimensions than the peace you want to inlay. When the piece is glued in it can later be trimmed back to flush with the beam. With a chisel and mallet start by making a stop cut at the stopped end of the rabbit. Take care to stay away from the marking line. This can be cleaned up later. Then use a chisel to slowly remove the waste from one end to the other. When you get close you can test the peace in the rabbit. Slowly work all the way up to the marking lines tell you get a nice tight fit with the inlay. Last glue it in and secure with blue tape or spring clamps.

Flush Up Inlay

Once the glue is dried it is time to flush up the inlays. Use a finely set plane to trim up the two faces to be smooth with the beam. and a shooting board will make quick work of the ends of the stock.

Add Dowel Pin

Now you want to Drill a hole in the middle end to end of both boards so you can easily center the stock on the work. The oak dowel can then be inserted into the hole and cut flush cut saw. if the fit is tight it might not even need glue. But a bit of super glue may be the best fix here if it is a bit loose.

Make Parallel

This is the only important step of the whole Project! I start by smoothing and flattening the front, back, and bottom.the last thing it to make the two sticks exactly the same height! I do this by clamping them side by side on a flat surface. This way when they are planned together the plane will make them perfectly parallel.

Finish IT

As with all my hand tools I love a BLO and Past Wax finish. it just feels good in the hand. I apply the BLO untell it soaks in. usually 2 applications with 15 minutes in between. then I rub in some past wax and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. last I use a rag to buff the wax and then let them sit over night. After letting it dry they are ready to use.