Winding Sticks – Episode 1

Winding Sticks

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Paul starts by talking through the features that make these his favourite winding sticks. To get the wedged shape he rips down the stock to get the two sticks. Then comes the centre spot inlays and cutting the recess for the contrasting top edge.

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  1. António on 9 March 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Another great video!

    Thanks to the team!!

  2. Eddy Flynn on 9 March 2015 at 7:32 pm

    great video thanks, do the white inlays have to be any particular size in relation to the hieght of the winding sticks

  3. Wesley on 9 March 2015 at 7:55 pm

    That is beautiful wood. Is it Sapele or actual (reclaimed) Mahogany?

  4. ticktockman on 9 March 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks guys. Heading out now to finally make a set…

  5. sarah on 9 March 2015 at 11:31 pm

    do just use the sticks on the front and back edge only or should you start in the middle and work out towards egdes

    • Bas Cost Budde on 22 September 2015 at 10:26 pm

      This I have been asking myself too. It can work. By putting one stick in the middle, I will be able to find the part that twists the most (some sort of binary search). This I actually tried.

      Alternatively, just take the ends and make them without twist; then, plane down everything that sits inbetween. I think I heard Roy Underhill say this. I haven’t tried this (soon will).

  6. moochiedave on 9 March 2015 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks, Can’t wait to make mine

  7. Calvin Stark on 10 March 2015 at 12:22 am

    Great video”…he’s a good teacher. I have so much to learn!

  8. rhwoodworks on 10 March 2015 at 12:43 am

    Thank you !!

  9. Maurice Villari on 10 March 2015 at 2:58 am

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise for free. If one looked at all your free videos, they would accumulate a list of very useful tools to do woodworking with.
    It maybe a personal thing, but I think your teaching style is perfect.
    I hope you recover from the cold soon.

    • D.J. King on 2 April 2015 at 3:35 am

      Maurice, you’re not alone. I feel the same way. Thank goodness for Paul Sellers!

    • hphimmelbauer on 11 June 2015 at 10:10 am

      Another one, who has the same feelings. I am Austrian, so English is learned in school and not from childhood on. But I clearly understand everything, what Paul says. His style is perfect for me and helped a lot. Its calm, pragmatic and positive enthusiastic – if its referring wood…

  10. Dave Ray on 10 March 2015 at 3:12 am

    Paul, you know how to teach. I really like the way you give us the best way to do something, then give us alternative methods. Thank you

  11. Gary Newland on 10 March 2015 at 3:22 am

    Another great video – Thank you!

  12. johnfranssen on 10 March 2015 at 7:29 am

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve already made these winding sticks a few months ago, according to you blogpost last year.
    Now with this geat video I think I’m going to make another set.

    Thumbs up for the whole team!

  13. fudoka on 10 March 2015 at 8:28 am

    I made a pair of winding sticks a while ago – nowhere near as good looking as these of course, but one thing I did which I found really handy with my slightly dodgy eyesight and varifocal glasses was to stick on a couple of bits of reflective strip (as sold for cyclists etc.) instead of putting in the white inlay. Now I just put the winding sticks on the work, hold a torch by the side of my head and sight along. It works really well, especially when checking longer pieces of timber when, if one end is in focus, the other is blurred.

    • Ian Hemphill on 12 January 2018 at 8:12 pm

      Outstanding idea for old eyes, Alan, I’m going to work this into my pair.

  14. bigparny on 10 March 2015 at 9:36 am

    Another great video!
    I, too have made a pair copied from those used by Paul in earlier videos. However, now I’ve seen these I’m eager to replicate them as they are much better than the rectangular design I have used.
    Thankyou, Paul for the clear and and varied options so anyone can make these with nothing more than a basic tool kit.

  15. Lynn Bradford on 10 March 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks, Paul! I have been wanting to make a set like yours, but was hesitant to use my table saw, since I’m rather attached to my fingers. Now, you have shown me, as you always do, how to do it in so many different ways. I appreciate that.


  16. Lynn Bradford on 10 March 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Have you posted a video on how to make a dowelling plate? Your knife / dowelling plate looks to be a hole with the sharp edges left?

  17. Martin Theuer on 10 March 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Oh Paul. Like always it is so great to see you work. You make people want to do it themselves. Pity, that I cannot run in the workshop straightaway. I feel a bit embarrassed that I don’t write as much comments as I watch your lessons but what to say. Its just a simple repetition all the time. I simply love your way of teaching and passing on your skill and knowledge. Thank you very much. Martin

  18. swr123 on 11 March 2015 at 8:08 am

    Another very inspiring vid. I’m looking forward to making these, too.

    I think the downloadable pdf is a great idea. Might it be possible for your techno-assistants to maybe add a few of these to some of the past videos, where sketches exist? I think I’ve watched the shooing board video about five times (I’m not complaining, I like rewatching the vids, I find them therapeutic!) but I Keep forgeting to write down the dimensions…

    Also I very much appreciate the many alternative suggestions in this video for acheiving the tasks if we don’t have a particular tool.

  19. martin Brown on 13 March 2015 at 11:02 am

    You make the sawing aspect look so bloody easy,this is a testament to you skill.Enjoyed the video will make a pair soon !

  20. stantonwoodwork on 13 March 2015 at 11:42 am

    Great use of the hack knife. i bought one from Duluth trading years ago. Mostly used it to pry and fix mistakes. This is much better.

  21. jmahoney on 14 March 2015 at 3:00 am

    My only question is whats up with the whiteboard?

  22. Mark Burgess on 21 March 2015 at 2:40 am

    Your calm manner with the way you teach is wonderful. I will make me a set of these soon as I can find some ebony or might have to use the black sharpie. Thanks again Paul for another great video. I’m off to see episode 2.

  23. adrian on 22 March 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Love the various detail on alternative rebate cutting. Yes , don’t give up when the exact tool is not in your box . Improvise and you can get the job done!

  24. ivanw on 28 March 2015 at 6:30 pm

    As Ebony is an expensive wood you can use a cheaper wood and color it with black ink (used for fountain pens) hope you still remember what those are.

    • Douglas Tangeman on 30 March 2015 at 6:24 am

      First let me say thank you Paul for another inspiring lesson.
      What I used for my “Ebony” was Red Oak with two coats of a Ebonizing solution made from white vinegar and iron, You can find a lot of information on how to make the solution on the internet , just search “Ebonizing wood.

      • David R. on 22 September 2015 at 6:35 pm

        The problem I see is that ebonizing or any staining will be only on the surface, but I will have to plane the inlays flush. I already used a softwood for the light parts and don’t want to spend a fair amount of money to get some ebony.

        Any more ideas on how to supplement the woods used? I want it to be simple and low cost but not cheap as in using a sharpie. Has anyone tried something that worked reasonably well? How deep does ink sink in? The base wood is oak in my case.

  25. David R. on 16 September 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Regarding clamping the sticks for planing after sawing, I found it helpful to use the clamp-in-a-vise method, since this allows to accommodate for the angle and additionally to support the pieces of wood on the vise. I just couldn’t make it work putting them directly in the vise, I wouldn’t get to the lower portion well.

  26. Bas Cost Budde on 22 September 2015 at 10:22 pm

    17:06 “find a different location so I don’t run the same hole”

    It’s remarkes like those, into the beard, that make the difference between a written instruction and a video. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I feel so much like an apprentice (being there).

  27. Thom Spillane on 29 January 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Thank you Paul, you are a amazing person such a great teacher I’m always intrigued and learning from your videos. You do such a great service by posting these videos and every time I watch I just want to go into my small shop and try what I just was taught and it always works. Thank you again

  28. Mike Coryell on 15 August 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Such a wealth of knowledge. I love that you take the time to show all of the alternative methods you could think of. I’ve spent plenty of time in my shop/garage trying to find alternative ways to do things when I didn’t have the proper tools.

  29. jeffdustin on 20 January 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I wrecked 2 pieces of 1″ x 1″ oak. My saw cuts were as sloppy as a drunken Sailor on Mardi Gras. I can’t seem to rip worth a darn.

    I put a 1×1 in a face vise and scrubbed and smoothed off half of a face. That’ll have to do because I simply can’t get the saw cuts to cut straight AND to slope diagonally along the long axis.

    • Debra J on 21 January 2017 at 11:15 pm

      I had trouble ripping too. But then I paid closer attention to sawing down one face a short distance, then flip the piece to saw down the opposite face. I kept turning the piece and not let the saw wander. It seemed to take forever but my ripping skill leveled up. Now I have winding sticks!

  30. jeffdustin on 24 October 2017 at 1:33 am

    I want to make the winding sticks out of pine. The 1″ x 1″ red oak was a beast to rip saw. Any reason pine wouldn’t work?

    • Philip Adams on 26 October 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Hello Jeff,
      Pine can be a little soft as far as long term wear and tear is concerned and oak can be prone to movement. I’d recommend a more durable and stable wood such as the sapele as used here. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work, just that they might not last as long.

  31. bigparny on 3 November 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Hi, Paul and team… your masterclasses have made all the difference to my hand tool woodworking. I can now sharpen a cutting edge to a razor finish before the other guy has unwrapped his grindstone. In the early days it was all about speed -‘sharpening on a grinding wheel to produce many sparks and a dull edge. Today I can sharpen most edge tools within a few minutes. Now I can create a super sharp edge in no time. You have revolutionised my approach to tool sharpening for which I will br forever grateful. Tony Parnham. Keep up the good work. Thank you! Ps can you tell me how long I have been subscribing to WWMClasses, as it feels like forever – and well worth every penny.

  32. Andy Doller on 26 January 2018 at 12:19 am


    I first watched this video a few months ago. I assembled my pieces and I am finally ready to begin, but I realize that there was not much mention in prepping the first 1×1 blank. I guess my point is, without winding sticks, how do you ensure your starting stock is square and true?

    I think the answer is in that the critical measure was the distance made from the “bottom” planed face to the top. Geometrically, I am not convinced that this 1 dimension between 2 top and bottom planes is sufficient to ensure planarity. Is there something in design or construction method that ensures the planarity of the bottom and top where the indicators have been inlaid?

    I just wonder how you know the bottom is planar and without warp when we’ve only ensured the top and bottom are the same distance from each other.


    • Philip Adams on 26 January 2018 at 2:31 pm

      With stock the size of the winding sticks you should be able to determine this from sighting it directly combined with measuring, as well using a well flattened plane. A no 5 or 5 1/2 may be handy for this if you have it.

  33. gerald Anania on 11 September 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I noticed that in the video the measurements are shown as 1 X 1 but on the whiteboard I see the measurements listed as 1 1/2 X 1 1/4 . I guess you could make it anything you want within reason but not sure why the video is square stock and the whiteboard is rectangular. I was actually concerned the 1 x 1 might be too light a weight.

    • harry wheeler on 11 September 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Those measurements on the white board are dimensions of the inlays. His stock is 1″ x 1 1/4″ . These winding sticks are a very good size and weight for most of what we do but you can make them any size you like.

  34. Alexander Miller on 3 December 2019 at 12:20 pm

    How to secure the sawn-apart, tapered halves of the 1×1.25 for planing? I don’t have a very sophisticated bench & tools – no tail-vice, just a face vice and some simple dowel-in-a-hole dogs. It’s hard to find a way of holding these skinny ‘sloping’ pieces, with their tapered cross-section, so that they are well supported and the sawn face is presented to the plane at a workable angle.

    I echo all the compliments about Paul’s instructions. They’re very clear & easy to follow, but I’m still at a level to be stopped by basic problems where I haven’t enough experience to ‘read between the lines.’


    • Alexander Miller on 3 December 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks for the response, Colin.

      I think a couple of low-profile doe’s feet would do, with the workpiece close to the front of the bench. I had jumped to the conclusion that the sloping face of the skinny piece would make it impossible, or extremely difficult, to plane when laid flat on the bench; but now that I’ve checked it properly (duh!) I see that’s not the case. It’ll just be a tad more challenging for this planing novice.

      Reminder to self: ALWAYS check your assumptions before acting on them :).

    • Izzy Berger on 4 December 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Alexander,

      I passed your question on to Paul and his answer is below:

      Watch our video on clamp in a vise and see if that helps you:

      Kind Regards,

      • Alexander Miller on 6 December 2019 at 2:51 am

        Izzy, thanks for your reply, which I just lately discovered. Not sure why I missed it before but I’m still blundering a bit, in finding my way around the web pages.

        The video you referenced is, as usual, easy to follow and very helpful.


  35. Colin Scowen on 3 December 2019 at 3:23 pm

    You could double sided tape a couple of pieces of plywood to the inside of your vise jaws, 5mm or so down from the top, then you can put the sticks in the vise, rest them on the plywood and tighten the vise, then take short strokes with a fine set on the blade.
    You could double sided tape them to your bench top, you could make a birds mouth out of thin plywood with a dog leg that would let you hold it in the vise.

    • Alexander Miller on 4 December 2019 at 12:39 am

      All good suggestions, Colin – thanks. Meantime I decided to add hardwood ‘cheeks’ to my vice (vise :)) and change the way it’s mounted to the bench. Then it will be able to hold the workpiece securely and in a plane-able position; and it will be more useful in future. I’m in the midst of fixing the vice now.

      At this stage I’m finding that to complete any of the projects, I first need to make some new tool or upgrade an existing one. But once I start on that ‘sub project’ I discover that first I need to make ….. etc. Oh well, it’s all fun!

  36. Brandon Guergo on 2 December 2022 at 12:41 am

    Where do you find 1-1/2 x 1-1/4 wood? Do I just have to plane down a 2×2? I don’t have a band saw and I understand these need to be accurate.

    • Paul Rowell on 2 December 2022 at 8:15 am

      The exact dimensions don’t matter the important thing is that the top and bottom are straight and parallel. The winding sticks aren’t that long so ripping down the length with a handsaw is doable. Mark your finished width with a guage and cut from both sides to keep yourself close to the line but leaving a couple of mm to plane. Paul has lots of videos on stock preparation that show these techniques.

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