CFrye's Tool Swap Beam Compass and Winding Sticks

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Project by CFrye posted 03-07-2014 04:43 AM 4481 views 4 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From the beginning of this Measurement and Layout swap I wanted to make a beam compass. I searched on line, repeatedly, and was surprised at how few I found that were all or mostly all wood. Nothing wrong with metal beams or trammells, just not what I wanted to do (although I was really tempted by the Rockler trammels like Sanding2day used for his version. Mafe built an all wood model. I really liked his idea of using wedges. I found a restoration of a beam compass with wedges at Full Chisel Blog and patterned mine after that. Enough chit chat. :-)
The Beam Compass was made from two 2×2’s from the big box store. The gnarly grained piece had to be the beam and the winding sticks. I was concerned they might not remain true. Went with them anyway. Couldn’t resist that figure! The 2×2 was cut into three pieces on the table saw and cut to 24” long. The wedges are maple. The points are broken drill bits cut to length and sharpened on the bench grinder. Initially I was going to use 2mm pencil lead points for the pencil trammell. That worked until I broke the lead off flush trying to remove it after a test fit. Eventually settled on pencil stubs held in place with friction of a leather strip that threaded through the trammell and was tied in a knot. I made a union or sleeve so that the winding sticks could be used to extend the beam for longer diameters. The ends of the winding sticks were inlayed with walnut and maple and a maple dot was inlayed in the middle (didn’t get a pic of that). It was all finished with black wax (Johnson’s Paste wax mixed with soot from the wood stove) to bring out the grain in the oak. A second coat of plain wax and a light buffing followed. All three trammels can be used together with an ellipse engine called a Do-Nothing-Machine).
LakeLover is the recipient of these tools. I hope he will get lots of use out of them and modify them to fit his shop and own woodworking style. The Monte Python quote is from a comment LakeLover made somewhere along the way.

-- God bless, Candy

30 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


9065 posts in 3815 days

#1 posted 03-07-2014 04:53 AM

Well done Candy.

View nayo's profile


298 posts in 3131 days

#2 posted 03-07-2014 04:59 AM

that for sure will be a nice gift, I just did a beam compass(albeit with bolts) yesterday, and you don’t know how useful they are till you have one. and today i learned what a winding stick are.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5290 days

#3 posted 03-07-2014 05:02 AM

You did a Super job making it!


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View nezzer's profile


26 posts in 3375 days

#4 posted 03-07-2014 05:09 AM

Nice job as usual. What a useful thing to have learned to make.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4158 days

#5 posted 03-07-2014 11:26 AM

Cool, Candy! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Don W's profile

Don W

20175 posts in 3805 days

#6 posted 03-07-2014 12:13 PM

Excellent work Candy.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4042 days

#7 posted 03-07-2014 12:27 PM

Very nice Candy

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Thewoodman2000's profile


822 posts in 3208 days

#8 posted 03-07-2014 01:27 PM

sweet setup you have made there!!! I likesss the grain tooooo!!!

-- (the only thing in there she says is....tap on head..........tap..........tap..... saw dust) - James

View theoldfart's profile


12861 posts in 3689 days

#9 posted 03-07-2014 01:33 PM

Nice job Candy, maybe a couple of pics of the winding sticks please? I have some 3’ Mahogany pieces that I’m going to inlay with Maple. I need them to flatten the top of my bench i’m building.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5335 days

#10 posted 03-07-2014 02:48 PM

Well done.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3836 days

#11 posted 03-07-2014 02:55 PM

Looks good.

View terryR's profile


7656 posts in 3546 days

#12 posted 03-07-2014 02:57 PM

Very nice work, Candy. The gnarly grain is gorgeous.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View jordanp's profile


1086 posts in 3178 days

#13 posted 03-07-2014 03:16 PM

Spectacular design Candy!

-- J. Palmer Woodworks - Rockwall TX -I woke up this morning thinking “man, I really hope someone posted some soul scarring sh*t on LJs today.” -- - Billy

View BusterB's profile


2365 posts in 3246 days

#14 posted 03-07-2014 05:11 PM

Thats pretty cool Candy…and I am very impressed with your DIY finish…Nice. I have a vast collection of “Do Nothing Machines” in my shop and none of em look anything like that…rofl Great creativity and execution on the build.

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View CFrye's profile


11357 posts in 3078 days

#15 posted 03-07-2014 05:13 PM

Waho, thanks!
Nayo, I’d like to see your version of the beam compass and what you did with it.
Thanks for the comments and encouragement Joe, Nez and Sheila!
Don, it was fun to build. Probably not near as useful as yours!
Roger, it has a very serious flaw…won’t hold ice cream!
Thewoodman, I was curious how the gnarly grain would look on the trammels. The first thing I did was to cut the 2×2 into the three beams so I’m still looking for another!
Kevin, here is a blurry staged pic of the winding sticks in action.

I put the walnut stick in back so it would contrast with the white background. The maple didn’t stand out as much as I thought it would, partially due to the black wax I’m sure. You can kind of see the center dot in the pic. I hope you post yours when you complete them.
Thanks Wayne and Shane!
Thank you Terry! I wish I could have brought the grain out even more. It was truly the star of the build.
High praise Jordan! Thank you kindly.
Buster, you crack me up! Thank you sir.

-- God bless, Candy

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