Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Gets

I bought a pair of Winding Sticks from Lee Valley. Winding sticks are used as sighting devices, laid across a board they accentuate twists and define high points. Traditionally they are shop made of wood, but I liked the idea that these would stay straight regardless of the environment. Additionally they have machined grooves spaced 1/8" apart, for readily estimating the amount of material for removal.

The one thing I didn't like about them is their lightness. The aluminum feels flimsy. I decided to fill mine with Beech.

I started with an off cut from my bench build. The quartersawn parts are located in the rough stock. I started by jointing the bark side, giving me a reference face parallel to the grain. The bandsaw was used to was used to cut the sides off, following grain lines. The blank was left a little taller than the final dimension.

I have several short strips of ebony left from several years worth of table inlays. I want a dark strip across the top of the infill, to better contrast against the milled surfaces of the other stick. They are only an 1/8" wide, so I inlayed two strips, side by side. The groove was cut on the table saw with a flat tooth blade, a little shallower than the ebonys height. This allowed me to clamp the strips in firmly.

After the stock came out of the clamps, the inlay was planed flush, and to final height. Next the stock was ripped in two, right up the middle of the two ebony strips. My show faces are bookmatched.

Now I locate the centre of the hanging holes, and there drilled a 1/2" hole with a brad point bit. Ebony plugs were cut, glued, and driven into the holes.

After the glue dried, I cut the plugs off with a flush cut saw. I cut up a coffee can lid to use as a shim. This keeps the background from being marred by the saw. I cut in from all around the plug before sawing the middle through. This prevents the plug from snapping off and breaking below the surface. A smoothing plane brings the plug flush without grinding ebony dust into the surface of the white beech, as sandpaper would do.

After the plug is flush the centre is found with a wheel gauge, and drilled though with a 1/4" brad point drill. The hole is given a light champher with a hand held countersink.

The strips are planed to their final thickness. A rabbet needs to be ripped to allow the infill to fit. I use a flat tooth blade in the tablesaw to cut it, slowly raising the blade and bringing the fence in until it is of the right size. A featherboard keeps the stock tight to the fence, eliminating the thin stocks want to flex. Not shown is the strip of 1/4" plywood clamped under the featherboard, keeping the feathers lifted and clear of the blade.

A transfer punch is used to keep the infill inline with the hanging hole, and the ends are marked with a knife. They are sawn off, and the marks sanded clean.

I then broke edges and lacquered them. I used epoxy to glue them into place.

I like the way they turned out. The wood strips add a surprising amount of substance to the sticks.

The ebony contrasts well with the milled aluminum, and it and the beech are used throughout my bench, contributing to a consistent look in the shop.

I also like the way that they have the reliablilty of metal and the look of wood, and are a nice combination of old and new school.

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I'm a woodworker on the Canadian prairie.