Tool Review: Red Rose Reproductions’ Winding Sticks
Colonial Williamsburg's Bill Pavlak takes a look at a modern version of this traditional hand tool
Sure, winding sticks can be made from plywood or angle iron, but since being stared at is their sole purpose, they ought to look good. Dan Schwank of Red Rose Reproductions has taken a novel winding stick design from an antique store find and turned it into a modern tool that looks and works beautifully. Many traditional winding sticks employ contrasting color inlays on the upper edge of the far stick to make them easier to read against different backgrounds. The novelty with Red Rose’s is that the inlays have been replaced with half moon cutouts below the upper edge of the far stick. Instead of reading from one top edge to another, you read these from the top edge of the front stick to the underside of the strip formed by the cutouts on the far stick. As ambient light from your work space fills in this negative space, it amplifies the presence or absence of twist. Additionally, a downward sloping bevel worked into the strip of wood above the cutout creates a shadow that makes it easier to discern one stick from the other.
I shelved my own winding sticks for a couple of months and put a pair of 22-in. winding sticks from Red Rose Reproductions through their paces. (They also produce a 14-in. version.) After just a couple of minutes, my eye was accustomed to this new way of looking. Whenever, out of habit, I did happen to read from top edge to top edge the shadow effect of the bevel created enough contrast to give me an accurate view. Simply put, these worked very well. The workmanship and finish is crisp and clean and, perhaps most significantly, they are made from carefully chosen, quartersawn walnut. This last point should guarantee considerable dimensional stability over the life of the tool – minimizing the amount of truing up they will require as humidity levels change over the seasons. Though I’ve always been an advocate for nice, user-made winding sticks, if you’re more inclined to buy a pair, look no further than what Red Rose Reproductions has to offer.
Winding sticks by Red Rose Reproductions
$75 for 22 in.; $55 for 14 in.