DIY Network

How to Use Winding Sticks

Winding sticks are two same-size sticks of contrasting colors that are traditional tools for checking the evenness of a bench. Learn how to use winding sticks with these basic steps.

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  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Check Levelness

Lay one stick across one end of the bench. Make sure that the winding sticks are actually flat. Place the second stick across the other end of the bench.

Go to one end of the bench and bend down to look across the sticks. The sticks should be parallel to each other. If you're having difficulty focusing across the two sticks, poke a hole in a piece of paper and look at the winding sticks through the hole. This allows the eye to focus on both sticks at once.

sticks should be parallel

Step 2: Plane High Spots

If you see a wind (uneven place) on the bench, mark the high spot.

Plane down the high spot to even out the workbench (Image 1).

A modern twist on this traditional tool is an aluminum winding stick. With aluminum winding sticks, one need only look at the peaks of the sticks to check the level (Image 2).

Note: Winding sticks can also be used to check the level of wings and outfeed tables of a table saw.