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Fairing Stick

Fast-Forming Faring Stick

When he needed to lay out smooth arcs on the Adirondack chair on page 74 of issue 149, WOOD® magazine Master Craftsman Chuck Hedlund turned to his shop-made fairing stick. Chuck's version, shown above at left, features an adjustable cord with a sliding "toggle" that locks in the desired arc for hassle-free use.

To make your own, start with a 3/4"-wide piece of 1/8" tempered hardboard. The length is up to you; but at 24", this one handles most layout chores. Also cut a piece to size for the toggle. Now drill the four 1/8" holes, as dimensioned, through the ends of both pieces.

Next, thread a length of #18 nylon mason's cord (ours measured 38"), following the arrows in the drawing below. The cord gets tied to one end of the fairing stick, then goes through the holes in the toggle, loops through the other end of the fairing stick, and ties back to the toggle.

To use the fairing stick, start by figuring out the endpoints and midpoint of the arc you want to create. Here's where you'll appreciate Chuck's toggle device. Instead of using clamps or nails to hold the ends of the stick in place, just slide the toggle to flex the stick until it matches your desired arc. Friction locks the toggle in place, retaining the correct shape. Now align the stick on your workpiece and trace. If you have multiple pieces to mark, you can pick up the stick and move it without losing your setting.

When you're not using the fairing stick, slide the toggle to release tension on the stick. That minimizes any "memory" setting in. If this happens, just adjust the cord and flex the stick in the opposite direction.

Also, if you need a fairing stick greater than 3' long, increase the stick's width to about 1-1/2" to keep it from twisting sideways under tension. For a really long stick, switch to 1/4"-thick hardboard.


Comments (7)
Friend69716 wrote:

I found that the toggle did not work well for me. I made a arrow using a long bolt with 2 nuts, a hole in the middle of the stick and two notches cut in the head of the bolt to keep the string from slipping off the stick. It can be easily adjusted screwing out the nuts.

6/18/2015 01:30:45 PM Report Abuse
wirebender wrote:

The Top Shop Tip issue 203, page 10 explains my previous post...too big to post a pix here.

5/19/2012 10:44:39 AM Report Abuse
wirebender wrote:

A fairing stick with equal dimentions the length of the stick will produce an arc...tapered toward the middle from both ends will produce a parabola and tapered toward the ends will produce an elipse.

5/19/2012 01:22:40 AM Report Abuse
kmealy wrote:

I'd be interested to know if a fairing stick creates a circle's arc, a parabola, or a catenary? (show your work :-)

5/9/2012 08:08:19 AM Report Abuse
dacastonia wrote:

One way to print is to highlight what you want to print, copy and then paste to another program. I use Word. All of the graphics transfer and you can then edit the material before printing.

12/22/2011 12:36:00 PM Report Abuse
bat72 wrote:

I recently used this tool to make arch in the bookcase faceframe. It worked well, but if I had used the suggested nylon bag closure it would have been much easier to construct.

12/1/2009 07:19:58 PM Report Abuse
Rayven69 wrote:

You can also use a toggle from a nylon bag closure, i.e., a sports chair bag, sleeping bag canvas tote, etc.They're plastic and a lot less complicated!

11/28/2009 02:05:51 PM Report Abuse

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