Graphical Construction Glossary >> Woodwork. >> Joinery >> Winding Sticks

Winding Sticks
A pair of straight battens that are used to sight across to determine if a piece of timber or a frame is twisted or not.

a pair of winding sticks

These are a time honoured way of quickly checking if a piece of material is not twisted. Or as we used to say when I were a lad, if it is "in-twist" as opposed to "out-of-twist" or twisted. Note that there is no mention of level here. I am not talking about getting anything level, just checking a piece of timber for twist.

  • Two straight pieces of wood are selected, say 45 x 45 but anything will do really
  • They are placed across the board and it is worth while trying to get them fairly square off the board. So that in effect they are roughly parallel.
  • Go to the end of the board and lower the eye line to be almost on the same plane as the winding sticks.
  • If there is a confusing background or bad lighting then sight from the top of one stick to the bottom of the other. This way you are looking at the gap between two sharp edge and any discrepancy will stick out lick dog's balls. (This is the reason why we try to get them near enough parallel).

It is very easy to see that by using sticks that are significantly longer than the width of board that you are checking, then that extra length will multiply the amount of twist and make it easier to see. If you don't use the sticks it is very hard for the eye to catch the far edge, and it may not be square anyway.

When fixing heavier timbers to the top of your bench to cramp up door or window frames it is essential to check that they are not twisted in relation to each other in this way. It is very easy to fix one on top of a bit of crap without noticing. The timbers that hold the frame must be true.

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