Editor’s note: Today we have a guest blog from John Leko, a furniture maker in Huntsville, Ala. Visit his web site at jleko.com.
When I’m milling rough boards into lumber, I have never employed winding sticks. Instead I have a long(ish) straightedge that is used to try the board in three positions.
First, across its width. I start with the board “cup up” and traverse it with my low-angled jack plane. When I’m taking a shaving across the entire width throughout my board’s desired length, the cup has been removed, and I switch to planing down the long-grain. This proceeds until all of the cross-grain “tracks” have vanished.
To address the long-grain furrows left by the jack, I switch to the jointer, which also happens to be a bevel-up tool. Using good technique (or at least trying to…), I flatten this face, checking it with the straightedge at several points across the board’s width.
Finally, I cant the straight edge skew to the grain, and test along the board’s length first in one direction, then askew in the other. If either direction reveals a gap, the jointer plane is employed to remove material along a perpendicular skew line until the gap closes. Mind the gap!
In this fashion, I have always been able to produce true flat stock without the aid of winding sticks. This method removes any subjectivity from the determination. Can I see a hint of white (on the rear stick) still? For me, it’s a great deal easier to see the gap between the straight edge and the board’s surface.
For really long boards, I can see where winding sticks could be helpful, but I debate theirs usefulness for most other stock. Maybe I’m wrong?
— J. Leko