Our winding sticks are made from quartersawn material and are perfectly parallel when they leave our shop. However, wood is wood and depending on your shop conditions you may need to tune them up periodically.
The first step is getting the bottom edge straight. You can check the sticks against themselves by touching the their edges together and looking for gaps or set them on a flat surface, like the top of a table saw, and check to see if they sit flat. If the bottom edges aren’t straight you’ll need to plane off a few shavings. Given their tapered height, we recommend using a long grain shooting board. You’ll want to shim the top edge of the stick off the shooting board or you will end up planing a square edge on the sticks, which is fine except they will tip over a little easier in use.
Once the bottom edges are done, the top edges need to be made parallel to one another. This does not mean they need to be dead parallel to their bottom edges, a slight taper over their length won’t matter (more on that later). The best way to do this is to place the sticks on your bench with the inlaid surfaces facing each other. Leave a gap of roughly 1″ between the sticks to make plane-balancing easier, gently pinch them between some bench dogs, and use a light cut on a jointer plane to remove some material. When you’re getting a full shaving off each stick you’re done.
Lightly chamfer the edges and a block plane or sandpaper and apply some Watco Danish Oil (“natural” color) to the sticks and they will look like new.
The main thing to be aware of with winding sticks is to use them in the same orientation every time. Let’s say your freshly tuned sticks are tapered across their length a total of 0.008″. That’s not bad and because both sticks are equally tapered (due to planing them simultaneously) they cancel out their error and work perfectly. However, if you flip one stick in use you just doubled the error to 0.016″ and will be unintentionally planing some of that error back into your board. This is one of the reasons we use inlay on both sticks. As long as the sticks are tuned up with the inlay facing in and then used in that same orientation every time you don’t need to worry about the top and bottom edges being exactly parallel.