Winding Stick Glasses
June 24, 2013 § 1 Comment
Winding sticks are great helpers when milling wood. Even the slightest twist (wind) in a board will be revealed by sighting down the board and examining the ends of the sticks. But even when the two sticks are made with contrasting colors, sometimes your eyes have a hard time focusing. The easiest way to focus is to simply close your weaker eye and only use your stronger, dominant eye. I have heard winding sticks referred to as winker sticks, suggesting this was how they were often used. Another trick is to take a thick piece of cardboard or plastic and drill a small hole for sighting. This effectively makes a pinhole camera which helps your eye focus. I have a used a piece of cardboard for a long time, but I decided to try something new. I dug out an old pair of safety glasses and completely blacked them out with electrical tape, save for one small opening in the right side. I then carefully drilled a hole in the opening (a hand brace and auger bit work great on plastic). And now I simply put the glasses on when I need to sight down the board. Patent pending.
There has been a lot written about winding sticks, and everyone seems to have a favorite design. I’ve seen winding sticks made from some of the most expensive wood you can buy. I use humble aluminum angle irons, one covered with blue painter’s tape for contrast. And you can even buy a pair from Lee Valley. One of the more interesting historical references to winding sticks is from Roubo. One plate clearly shows winding sticks in practice, though of a different design than we normally use today. These sticks have small feet that sit in rabbets cut into each side of the board. When the rabbets are co-planer, the wood between is brought down to the same level. The rabbets would prevent any spelching at the board edges. Warren Mickley discusses the plate in this Woodcentral thread. The pictures below are from the NYPL Digital Gallery, and additional plates from Roubo can be seen on their site here.