Planing Out of Wind

winding

Planing a board of any width and length by hand, so that it will be true, need not call for any special talent on the part of a patternmaker, yet tradition and bigotry are responsible for the survival of the belief that expert handling of “winding strips” furnishes the only correct means of planing a board surface out of wind.

As this apparently hard-and-fast shibboleth has still many adherents, an attempt to shatter the long established belief and practice is at best but a thankless task. The use of “winding strips” is so manifestly unnecessary that the chief wonder to any thinking man is, that the use of them didn’t “die abornin’.”

My contention is that a plane and a straight-edge, ably assisted by a good right arm and at least one eye that can see a hole in a ladder, about complete the outfit for planing true work, though a workboard or bench reasonably true on the top to rest the piece on, is important enough to be considered as a means to a desirable end.

Using the straight-edge only will determine much more accurately than winding strips ever did or can, just how true the board is, by first resting it diagonally from corner to corner, then reversing to opposite corners, and if the board be of sufficient thickness not to be influenced by any irregularities of the bench, and if the straight-edge lies evenly both ways, the piece is bound to be true.

If the piece is thin and wide, and is apt to be distorted by whatever it may lie on, let it rest on its edge each time you try the straightedge. To exert any undue pressure on the straight-edge will not help matters in the least, but rather prolong the agony, so that the time consumed will then almost equal the world’s record now held indisputably by the winding-strip fiends.

I am convinced that if the users of winding strips will try the straight-edge method and saw out as many Ping-pong racquets as the stock in the strips will permit of, and present the same to their friends as souvenirs of an ancient and dishonorable system of robbing employers, they (the winding strips) will be put to better use than they ever were before.

Old Bob

American Machinist – July 3, 1902

—Jeff Burks

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6 Responses to Planing Out of Wind

  1. Hank Cohen says:

    Please, is it wind as in what you do to a clock or wind as blows from the East?

  2. As far as I have always heard it it is wind as in clock. That is the board is twisted or wound. Thus you use the sticks to see the twist and unwind it.

    I by the way use a straight edge as well if that.

    If you timber frame then they are useful for getting the joint in the same plane from one end of a log to another. Therefore I guess if you have a really long board to plane out twist then use them.

  3. durbien says:

    I often find I am out of wind after planing.

  4. Scott Meek says:

    Old Bob lost his parents in a horrible winding stick accident when he was young. Thus, his intense hatred of them is rather easy to understand.

  5. Peter Buchin says:

    “…and at least one eye that can see a hole in a ladder…”

    What a great phrase!!

  6. I usually use a trick taught to me by a power jointer user. Using a flat bench, I lay the board on a face, and see if it rocks. The high spots are quickly indicated. Then I just flip it over, mark the high spots, then plane them down until the board is flat on that side. Then I run a try square over the surface to find any hollows and take them out. Once it’s nice and flat, I true an edge to it and go from there. I have a nice pair of purpleheart winding sticks that I made, but I rarely use them.

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