The other day, I set to work truing up the sole of my wooden jack plane, and I was doing my best to find the high and low spots with my straightedge. The sole seemed slightly twisted, and it occurred to me that what I needed was a pair of winding sticks. Normally I can tell if a board is twisted just by sighting down one face–if it looks straight to my eye, then it’s straight enough for me. But, this being a plane sole, I was taking extra care to ensure that I did not remove any more wood from the sole than absolutely necessary.
I dug around in my scrap bin for a minute, trying to find some suitable scraps to use for winding sticks, when it occurred to me that I already had what I needed right there on my workbench.
I set my iron fore plane on its side at the far end of the stock and set my 16″ ruler (from a combo square) on the near side. Then I sighted down the plane sole to check for twist.
As you can probably see, the far right corner dips down slightly. With this guidance, I was able to correct this out-of-flat plane sole pretty easily.
There are no doubt situations when real winding sticks, complete with inlaid sights on each end, are a treat to use. And if you want to make or buy a nice tool, who am I to argue? But if you need winding sticks only once in a great while, as I do, you can probably make do with what you already have in your toolbox.