Instructables
Wood rings are beautiful.  They feel warm and have a lovely sheen when finished properly.  They tend not to be very durable, though.  Often they crack along the grain after continued wear.

Bent wood rings address this problem.  Made from very thin layers of wood wrapped with the grain running all the way around the ring (instead of across or through), these rings can stand up to quite a bit of pressure without cracking or breaking.

I gave Josh wood this past father's day.  Woodcraft sold various turning blanks of exotic hardwoods, and we had a lot of fun turning rings on his tiny micro lathe.  I still prefer the look of wood rings made from a solid piece of wood with the grain running through the ring.  Some exotic woods hold up quite well, but some do not.  We began looking into ways to make our rings more durable and read about bent wood rings.

There wasn't a whole lot of information out there as to how exactly to make the rings.  After a fair amount of experimentation, I've come up with a method that works for us.  We don't make wood rings any more (our passion for making them lasted about a month before our attention spans expired and we moved on to the next interest), but I wanted to share the method with others.

I also sometimes put a bent wood interior inside a solid wood ring to make it stronger.  It would be impossible to use some woods for rings (like figured satinwood) without some type of serious strengthening.  I haven't included directions for that in this instructable, but they're not too hard to figure out once you know the basics.

I'll also show you how to add a crushed stone inlay.

Some people are now choosing bent wood rings for wedding or engagement rings.  They can be pricey from some retailers.  They might take a little bit of practice if you want perfect rings, but the technique is simple and the materials are cheap.
 
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dsluder1314 days ago

Hey there - can you tell me what kind of gloves you used that the CA didn't stick to? I tried latex and that didn't work out to well. I'm seeing polyethylene listed online, but I just want to confirm that with you. Thanks!

How were you able to get that perfectly straight band to put the powder mixture in?

supersoftdrink (author)  CreativeChick815 days ago

I cut out the middle of a strip of veneer, but only on one end of it. If the uncut end of veneer is wrapping evenly around the ring, the sliced borders are easier to wrap evenly. The third picture in step 1 and the first 4 pictures in step 2 show this technique (I suspect I'm doing a terrible job of explaining it). After the ring is wrapped and dried, use a small, flat, metal file to make sure the groove is even.

Would love to get the answer to this. I have made many of these rings after finding your instructable. (It was wonderful. Thank you.) I find I still have trouble getting the groove straight and uniform for the inlay. I have tried both cutting a strip out before wrapping it and trying to cut the groove in afterwards - any suggestions. I do not have access to a lathe.

Pictures

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sabihakber made it!9 months ago

My first attempt.

thank you supersoftdrink. Running out to get all kinds of sand paper.

Only problem if had so far is the white streaks of the superglue peeking out here and there. how do I get rid of these?
Also, do you use any kind of polish to finish them up?

Lastly, can you suggest to me a glue that wont do these white streaks?

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supersoftdrink (author)  sabihakber15 days ago

Superglue turns white when it hits water. I suggest either letting your ring dry a bit more before adding the superglue, or leaving the last few wraps unglued until the ring dries, securing it again with a rubber band or whatever, and then gluing down the outside, once there's less risk of the glue turning white. Make sure you don't breathe on the ring to speed up the drying process. The moisture from your breath is enough to make it white.

carl.waine.12 months ago

This has been very useful advice. I recently started a store (world tree artifacts), making hand crafted wooden jewellery and this will be a great way to expand my range :)

Norad2000x made it!2 months ago

Many thanks to the original poster Supersoftdrink for this instructable! Over a week, I've frantically learned the craft and made an ebony engagement ring for my fiancée. She loved it.

I thought I'd share the lessons I've learned, mistakes I've made, and things that worked for me to better help you guy make awesome rings.

1. Supply: I got my veneer from veneersupplies. They came well packed and extremely attractive. The thickness was really good at 1/42"

2. Boiling: I tried boiling all kinds of veneer. Straight grain works best. Slightly wavy grain is doable. Crotch grain did not work for me. Soft woods disintegrated. Like Supersoftdrink's suggestion, repeated light cuts with a sharp blade work best when cutting strips. I learned that cutting strips wider (5-10mm) and then sanding them down after they're glued helps prevent the wood from cracking. I usually boil the wood for 5-10 minutes. I tried steaming once in a steamer- the wood strangely didn't bend as well for me.

3. Bending: As Calskin's suggestion, multiple bending iterations work very well! I mainly worked with mahogany and ebony, and if you tried (like me) to bend them to ring size in the first attempt, they frayed and snapped. So, bend them into a large loop, let dry, coil tighter, boil. The ebony took about 3 repeats, while the mahogany took about 2.

4. Glue: Follow Supersoftdrink's suggestions. In my first batch, I tried gorilla glue. It did NOT work for me. It filled in the cracks, but because it took some time to cure, I ended up with a lumpy ring with lumps of glue or gaps between strips. So, I then tried wrapping foil around the ring, then hose clamping it. It still resulted in rings where there are thin air gaps between strips. Very unattractive!

Super glue gel worked very well. Tried liquid super glue- too thin. The wood must be wet, or it doesn't work. I ended up boiling my strips right before gluing them. As Supersoftdrink suggested, USE GLOVES. I tried nitrile examination gloves- not good. Instead, the super thin plastic gloves you buy at the $1 store that comes in 50 pack works amazingly well! The super glue gel does not adhere to the plastic! What worked well with me is first glue the end, wait 10 seconds to dry. Generously dollop 1/2 turn of super glue gel, press down the strip, wait to dry. Repeat till I got to the end. Glue will squeeze out the sides, but that can be cleaned and sanded. The ring blanks that came from that are in most cases tightly wound with no gaps.

5. Sanding: I used a thin strip of painters tape to mark how thick the ring should be. I dremeled most of the excess off, then hand sand with a flat sanding surface. I tried making comfort-fit rings...I didn't have much success. It was really hard to get an even, curved bevel, and I didn't have the right tools. A microlathe would probably help.

6. Finishing: You can get high grit (600-2000) sandpaper at automotive stores. ACE/Miners sold single sheets of 1500 grit too. Dremel's fuzzy polish wheel works amazingly well too.

I used super glue gel as the finish. I first tried liquid super glue, but it resulted in uneven lumps as the glue pooled as it dried. What finally worked best for me is to don two plastic gloves (not latex/nitrile!) , dollop some super glue gel onto the clean ring, and just smear it all over with your gloved hands. Then, let it dry, sand lightly, then repeat. It resulted in a very even coat. I must have stripped off the coating 5-6 times before I got the process down. If you are waiting minutes between applications, USE NEW GLOVES. Otherwise you will get white flakes in your finish. It's not worth it.

Super glue will stain your woods slightly. The mahogany I used became a nice rich brown, while the ebony turned very sleek black.

Hope these suggestions help you!

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azgeogirl3 months ago

Just a heads-up about crushing stone: the dust of some stones can be toxic, ie malachite. Make sure to use a respirator when doing this step.

sabihakber9 months ago

iv been boiling my veneer strips for the last half hour. they just wont get bendy :-(
i bought this pack of dyed colored veneer from Woodcutters near DC.

also, the water has drained most of the color from the dyed veneer strips.

any ideas??
Im thinking about pressure cooking them

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supersoftdrink (author)  sabihakber9 months ago
They might be too thick to bend. Try to hold one of the strips (one that hasn't been boiled) in some steam and see how it bends. If it doesn't... you might be stuck making something flat with the dyed veneer (like micarta).


You could try sanding the dry veneer to make it thinner and more flexible, but I'm not sure how much the dye has penetrated the wood. I like the natural color of wood and haven't worked with dyed veneer, unfortunately. I suspect they might select less pliable wood for dyed veneer, since they expect people to laminate it together in flat layers (often to make a block that can be lathe turned).

@supersoftdrink:

yeah, the wood is really hard to work with.

SO a couple of question:
the glue im using is a liquid type and although it says its good for binding wood, its really not. what exact brand of wood glue do you use. is it a gel type because the liquid type just runs all over the place.

Secondly where do you buy you veneer and at what thickness?

Lastly, i REALLy am thinking of using a pressure cooker. what do you think might happen based on your experience if i did do something that crazy :-)

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lizzard771 year ago
Such a great instructible, thanks a lot. My first walnut ring is just curing...
calskin2 years ago
Has anyone tried to use gorilla glue?

Also, I'm having a lot of trouble with my veneer. I bought mahogany and after boiling it, it's still splitting really bad. Like to the point I can't bend the ring. I was thinking about maybe bending a larger radius, letting it dry, then boiling again and bend it to a smaller radius gradually. Does anyone have thoughts on this?

I was using pine before for this project, and it bends really nice, however I'm worried about it not being durable. I like the look of mahogany an since it's a harder wood I thought it would be more durable. Maybe I should look for a softer wood?
supersoftdrink (author)  calskin2 years ago
Gorilla glue expands as it cures, so it wouldn't work very well.

Some woods like mahogany are a pain. If you find it splitting, you'll have to sand it down very very very very thin. Of course, if you do that, you'll need several long strips to wrap around to make a ring that's as thick as the others.

Even the softer woods end up being pretty durable in these; the cellular structure being wrapped in a spiral and impregnated with superglue really adds incredible strength to the rings.
Thanks for your reply.

I figured out a solution that I'm sure will work on any type of wood.

If the wood is splitting, boil it, then wrap it to a large radius. This might be the radius of a coffee mug if need be.

Use a large metal hose clamp as a clamp to keep it in place. Let it dry.

Once it's dry, it will hold the shape if taken out of the hose clamp.

Bend it to a smaller radius while dry, but don't force it too much or it will split (you'll know what the limit is.)

Tighten the clamp to the new radius and boil it again.

Repeat until you get the desired radius.

Once you get the radius down, roll tin foil very tightly to the size of the inside diameter (which should be slightly smaller than the finger) and roll the ring around it. Clamp it, and boil it again. This will make the ring have a uniform bend that you can't get with just the hose clamp.

I did this with the mahogany, and it worked awesome. The bend is more uniform than previous ones too. I know it's a lot more work, but I wanted to use a dark hard wood, and I like the holographic proporties of mahogany so for me, this is worth it.
I know I'm finding this comment over a year after you posted it but I was wondering if you could post a picture of your mahogany ring? I'd really love to see it. Also, how has it held up over the past year? Compared to the softer woods, has it been more durable?
You can try adding a bit of fabric softener to the water when you boil it. I don't have personal experience here since I have not bent very much wood. But it's a tip I have read about from several sources. It's worth a try anyway.

Also a good source for veneers is Constantines. I happen to live near them and I bought an assortment of veneers for less than twenty bucks that will let you retire on wooden rings.

http://www.constantines.com/supriseassortment.aspx
I hadn't heard of the fabric softener. Unfortunately I didn't see this comment till after I've bent the rings.

Anyway, I was successful making my wife's wedding ring using the method I mentioned above.

Gorilla glue worked really well too. It does expand, but if you have the ring wrapped around the aluminum foil on the inside, and then have a small wrap of foil around the outside, and then hose clamp that bad boy till it dries, all the glue squishes out the sides and it's brown so it makes a sort of wood filler. Then you just file and sand off the excess.
Yep, Gorilla Glue actually works really well BECAUSE of the foaming action. Especially on woods with large pores like oak, it totally impregnates the wood and makes the whole thing incredibly strong. I've always just used tape around it to hold it while the glue dries, but I guess a hose clamp might work better...
One of the reasons that most use CA glue, is that it is also used as the finish. When buffed down through the grits and then micro-meshed its on of the toughest around. As a wood turner I've been using CA and the CA-BLO method since the 90's. As far as bending Mahogany, its not the best for one of these rings. I'd turn one on the lathe before trying to bend it to a tight radius.
BLSTIC1 year ago
Just thought I'd say thanks for this instructable. I tried it myself and the first one turned out surprisingly... round... As far as I'm concerned the hardest part is getting the first two layers glued without sticking them to whatever your mold is.

Also, once you discover a nice coating of dry superglue on your fingers, nothing takes it off like 80-grit. You break it up with the paper (and instantly get the sensitivity back) then after an hour or so the micro-sized chunks have fallen off of their own accord.

P.S. Once glued these things stop resembling wood in terms of stiffness to weight. More like FRP. I imagine a bamboo ring (bamboo is already as good as some kinds of aluminium in this regard) would be simply incredible...
wow i am so conviceing my dad to let me make these
sabu.dawdy1 year ago
this is simply amazing
lux4x41 year ago
Il like it!!! I use the same techinque!!!!
nmvb1 year ago
What thickness of veneer did you use?
Jennwesxc1 year ago
I just signed up for an instructables account for the sole purpose of being able to leave you a comment saying THANK YOU for posting this! I used your instructions to make an engagement ring for my partner. I'm really happy with how it turned out and she loves it. I imagine it took you a long time to put these instructions together. I really appreciate that you took the time to do it - it really helped me out. So thank you very much!
builderkidj2 years ago
I should post pictures of my shield using this method :l
You provided so much info so well. It just makes me want to share too.
I have an instructable on how i make brush applicators for cyanoacrylate bottles. Essentially it can turn the bottle into a paintbrush. I know you don't have large areas to cover on your rings, but you may still find it useful.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Brush-applicator-for-cyanoacrylate-glue/
These are gorgeous! My girls will *love* this. I've made a few rings for them out of solid wood, but they usually break before too long. Thanks for sharing!
I love the way you make these rings.... I also make and sell wood rings and I disagree with what you said about shellac.... I use shellac because it was one of the few hard finishes I have found that does not flake off like polyurethane or laqure.
supersoftdrink (author)  Prop4 years ago
I'd love more information on how you apply shellac. I never actually see the flakes come off, but the finish on my wood rings that have shellac dull quickly around the edges even though I take them off before washing my hands. I don't ever intend to sell wood rings, but I still have a few more family members to make them for, and I prefer applying the shellac to solid wood rings. It's easier to fix if I make a mistake. We use a piece of cotton that's been tightly wrapped around a wad of cotton to rub on some shellac. After a few coats, we put a little alcohol on the cotton pad to take off any ridges in the shellac (too small to see very well) and keep rubbing, sometimes adding a drop of oil to the pad if it gets too sticky. We keep applying layers until it's really shiny. We have some garnet and blond flakes that we use, depending on the color we want (or which bottle I grab first)
You may not know this but the process you describe here is called French Polishing. To the letter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_polish
I dont really even put as much thought into it as you did.... I just fold up paper towel and dip it in the shellac.... then just wipe it on the ring in very thin coats... and put three or four coats... It will not stay shiny for long with use but I found that after being used the ring dulls and darkens a bit and leaves a very nice finish..... Another good finish I found is lintseed oil with a bit of varnish mixed in... similar out come as shelac.... there are some pictures of my rings here www.hineswoodworks.com
poly only flakes in my experience when you apply it to a unclean surface or in too thick layers...clean the ring and use thin layers of poly sanding lightly in between. and i may be wrong about this but i think shellac is not very water resistant.
grayseep1892 years ago
Any suggestions on where to purchase the veneer?
http://www.constantines.com/supriseassortment.aspx
jkovacs62 years ago
Thank you so much for this instructable. I'm making an engagement ring for my girlfriend. Seeing some pictures of the process really helped!! It showed me some things I was doing wrong and really sped up the process. My first attempt after reading turned out great!!
Klesa2 years ago
I love the idea of these! Now to get my father to do something awesome like this for my mother or vise versa!
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