Chris Schwarz's Blog

Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy

Two years ago I wrote about some unusual homemade winding sticks I encountered in North Carolina (read the article here). Instead of using inlay to help broadcast a board’s twisted state to your eyes, these used a pair of half-moon cutouts.

They worked brilliantly, perhaps better than any other set I’ve used before.

This summer I made myself a quick pair while in Germany. These were made with a Forstner bit in a drill press. I bored in from each face of the board, leaving a 3/16”-thick strip in the middle. Then I sawed, chiseled and rasped out the waste below. My goal was to imitate the way the originals were made (but maybe make them look a little nicer).

While at the Lie-Nielsen Open House this weekend, I spotted a commercial version of these winding sticks being made by Red Rose Reproductions. They are beautifully made and cost $50. Dan Schwank at Red Rose makes them by inlaying the top strip into a groove in the stick. His work is practically flawless – I had to look closely to see the joint.

If you are looking for a style of winding stick to try, I definitely recommend this half-moon style (unless you have a really dark shop; then they are not as effective). The half-circle shapes quickly telecast the shape of the board to your eyes (even if you have older eyes). Make them, if you have the time and inclination, or support the good work Dan does by buying them from Red Rose.

— Christopher Schwarz

9 thoughts on “Half-moon Winding Sticks – to Make or Buy

  1. Red Rose Reproductions

    Chris, many thanks for the shout out. I have just completed a large batch of winding sticks and have added a longer 22″ version. Your support is much appreciated!

  2. Matt_Rob

    Super easy to make,I took two pieces of 3/4″ oak scrap then cut them to each 14″ long by 1 3/4″ tall ,then cut half circle in the ends on one piece with a 2″ forstener bit then glued a 3/8″ strip by 3/4″ wide to the top …done, took all of about 20 good,last long time.

  3. geovincent

    It would be nice to have some dimensions. How width, length and thickness of the stock. The picture makes it appear as though the sides are tapered making the base wider than the top?

    1. comboprof

      Width and thickness doesn’t really matter and the longer they are the easier it is to see twists. However to be practical 16 to 24 inches is about right. Remember you want to see both ends while looking down the length of the board.

  4. RBK

    Interesting idea! Thank you for that. I’ll make it (them) before I mill the lumber for my next project.

  5. Bernard Naish

    Have both this interesting, and new to me idea and an inlaid marker. Then you can use them in both shades of grey. It will not be long before someone adds an LED marker. Come to think of it………………………?

  6. comboprof

    This looks like a nice little project for my new set of Forstner’s and new rasp. Thanks for the idea.

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