Winding Sticks

I made some winding sticks from reclaimed maple with jatoba inserts.


I wanted to make some layout tools for myself and try and class up the joint somewhat. I never tried inlaying and usually make things out of pine scraps so this was nice for a change.

I started off by chopping up an old beaten up card table that was destined for the trash.


After stripping of material and removing damaged hardware, I found some maple underneath.


Not trying to be masochistic here, I just figured on cutting everything by hand. I have a table saw that lives in the garage for rough work. This was easier to saw at the bench beside trying to rig something up.

The winding sticks are to trapezoidal in cross section so I had to cut an angled face onto one side. It worked out OK.


Here are the two “blanks”. Rough shaped and cut to length.


They had to be taken down in height though. I chiseled out the bulk this time as opposed to sawing again.


..and then planed the faces. So shiny.


Then I planed the bottom of each winding stick flat. Perfect is good, right?


The tops of each winding stick were planed together to get them the same size and parallel.


I have an old stair tread in jatoba that gets pulled out for small things. It is hard for me to plane. Lots of stropping the blade. I’m getting better though.


I planed one face of the jatoba and then cut out the part to use as an insert. I only focused on having one side of the insert flat for now and the other side would be planed flush after inserting.


I shaped the inserts into trapezoid shapes and then traced around them on the winding sticks.

With the shapes trace out, I then chopped out a recess to match.


And cleaned up the recesses with the router plane.


The inserts were glued in. The tops sit proud of the face of the winding stick. They’ll be chiselled and planed flat.


After chiselling:


At the center of each winding stick, I wanted a center dot. This was done by making a dowel and then drilling the stick out and inserting the dowel.

I didn’t have a dowel maker to I drilled a hole in a flat washer. I then pounded a stick of jatoba through the hole, making a dowel.


I just needed two short pieces so this worked fine. The washer didn’t hold up for long but I got enough.


I used the same drill that I used on the washer and went and drilled out a pocket for the dowel.


I hammered short lengths of dowel into each winding stick. I wiped off the excess glue with some shavings, so that’s why it looks untidy.


They planed up real nice. I also planed the trapezoid inserts flat too.


I planed each surface again and then sanded and shellacked all. With the shellac dry, I rubbed the sticks with 0000 steel wool and wax. They have a low lustre.


I think they look pretty nice. Now to see if they help prep a board. They’re not for looking at!




Suburban safari

For no reason, here are some photos I took at the local arboretum. I went to chill out, walk around in the trees and take some pictures of the wildlife. A suburban safari, if you will.

First up is one of my favourite birds, the swallow. Hard to photograph when they’re on the wing.


Turning sharply:

A chipmunk camouflaged against the trail:


Then I came accross this burned-out tree. Lightning or teenage bonfire?

On the inside, charred wood:

Also, I spotted this guy:

Ah, the common tree rat. So cute.


Resurrecting the blog v3.0

I’m back on WordPress again after a long hiatus. I’ve stripped the site down to just show blog posts. Maybe it won’t have a strong woodworking theme and I’ll just do random posts and see where it goes. Certainly there are things I can share here that can’t fit on instagram or facebook or what have you.

I’ve been really busy with engineering work and haven’t got back into woodworking really. I’ve put together my bench and started to make some winding sticks so I’ll post that soon. Otherwise, time has been taken up with cycling and going down that rabbit hole and general screwing around on the internet.

I hope to post updates soon.

Pinewood Fat Man Derby

I just got volunteered for a project: Help my nephew with his Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby car.

From what I understand, I was chosen as I have a lathe and it may or may not prove useful. Well, I can’t tell the kid no.

So, here’s what the idea is: A wheeled model of the atomic bomb “Fat Man”. Now, what’s with kids these days and their mania for learning history? Back in my day we had Thundercats and we were damn glad.

Sorry for the lousy photo. It is the first and last I will take with my new tablet:


The plan calls for a bomb to be carved out of the supplied pine block. With paint and logos like “Uranium 238” and the like.* Here is a rough draft of the technical drawing we’re going with:


I figure we should mill some test blocks of wood and do a few mock-ups first. Then I plan that we chisel the shape rough and rasp and sand away the rest. Hopefully it warms up soon and we can get out to the shed.




*and the first nerd who wants to tell me that Fat Man was a plutonium bomb or that’s not the right isotope or whatever gets to paint this car as punishment

400 N. Lake Shore Drive

Going back to look at old projects I had worked on in a drafting class, I found this made-up logo I had put on a title sheet:


The address 400 N. Lake Shore Drive was the site of where Santiago Calatrava was supposed to build the Chicago Spire. Evidently, I had figured on buying the place and setting up shop there. With my millions of dollars, I suppose.

This is the spire as designed:



However, the site is still a disappointing hole in the ground.

I see that Gensler has a concept drawing out: Report on Hopefully something comes of it. I need a decent office space.



John Glenn – A sunset in space

A couple of months back I got into learning what I could about space, astronauts and the engineering involved. One of the books I read that gave a great insight was John Glenn’s book “A Memoir” that dealt largely with his  everyday life as he worked on his space missions.

The part that stood out best for me though were the free flowing prose about going through the earth orbits: the sights, the sounds, the weird lights out the window, how the spacecraft vibrated.

His words on seeing the sun set for the first time:

“This was something I had been looking forward to, a sunset in space….Wonderful as man-made art may be, it cannot compare in my mind to sunsets and sunrises, God’s master-pieces. Here on Earth we see the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows with a luminous quality no film can capture. What would it be like here in space?

It was even more spectacular than I had imagined, and different in that the sunlight coming through the prism of Earth’s atmosphere seemed to break out the whole spectrum, not just the colors at the red end but the greens, blues, indigos, and violets at the other. It made spectacular an understatement for the few seconds’ view. From my orbiting front porch, the setting sun that would have lingered during a long earthly twilight sank eighteen times as fast. The sun was fully round and as white as a brilliant arc light, and then it swiftly disappeared and seemed to melt into a long thin line of rainbow-brilliant radiance along the curve of the horizon”.

RIP John Glenn

Playing with Inventor; sharpening stone holder

I recently dusted off a copy of Autodesk Inventor, a 3D drafting software. I had used it before to make models for engineering projects and wanted to give it a spin again.

You start of by sketching and extruding parts, similar to like you would in Sketchup, but views and drawings are easily generated.

I went about seeing if I could do a mockup of a sharpening stone holder. Design what you know, I suppose. Continue reading

Róisín – A little guitar amp.

Here is a little diversion from the woodworking posts I’ve been putting up.

This is a guitar amp I made a while back. Her name is “Róisín”, which is Irish for “Little Rose”. She was named as a companion for a larger amp I had called “Rosie”, named after an AC/DC song.

Researching cabinet design is one of the factors that sent me down the rabbit hole of woodworking.


Continue reading