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.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 89Next »
azgeogirl18 days 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.

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

sabihakber made it!5 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?

Untitled.pngUntitled1.pngUntitled3.png
sabihakber5 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

20140202_014958.jpg
supersoftdrink (author)  sabihakber5 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 :-)

20140202_140722.jpg20140202_140031 (2).jpg
lizzard7711 months 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!
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)  Prop3 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!
awojahn2 years ago
Love this!

I finally got all the supplies (just not a lot of CA)...

Out of curiosity, as I have learned from another ring guide (can't remember where) that used maps as the supply (the maps were run through a paper shredder and then coiled, and painted in three sections- outside, inside, sides), you can "paint" with resin if you have cheap brushes you are willing to part with and are careful. After a few layers the rings would supposedly stay together and be hard as resin. Do you think this method would work over wood?
supersoftdrink (author)  awojahn2 years ago
Resin takes a lot longer to harden than superglue (minutes versus seconds), and I'd be concerned that it would sit on the surface of the veneer, rather than soaking in. Water from boiling the veneer helps draw the superglue into the wood itself, strengthening the whole ring.
Steaming wood makes it easier to bend vs. boiling. Just make a steam box and steam the wood for a couple hours. It doesn't saturate the wood as much as boiling.
Awesome instructable, thanks!

I found that sockets that I had around the shop (3/8 metric and english deepwell socket sets) are a wide variety of outer diameter sizes and are great for forming rings. With an 3/8 socket to 1/4" hex adapter you can put the socket into a cordless drill and quickly sand and micromesh the spinning ring.
I was wondering if you have experimented with hide glue on this project?
xxlcamlxx2 years ago
Is there any chance you would sell them?
They are beautiful!
Nice pictures. Which camera did you used?
1-40 of 89Next »
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!