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.

Step 1: Form the Ring Shape

To make the rings, you'll need:

wood veneer
a straightedge
a thin, sharp blade
something to hold and boil water
something finger sized to wrap the wood around
masking tape, rubber band, or velcro cable tie to hold wrapped wood in place
various grits of sandpaper
dremel (optional)

If you're adding a crushed stone inlay, you'll also need:

stone to crush
a hammer and anvil or some other device for crushing stone
a toothpick or other small, disposable implement to mix and apply epoxy
a metal file

We bought a sample pack of wood veneer at the local woodworking supply store.  It cost $20 and contains more than 20 pieces of veneer, enough to make hundreds of rings.  Some types of veneer don't bend very well at all.  I had the most success with thin, tight-grained pieces of veneer with the grain running the long way.  I'm sure the more difficult woods could be used if they were sanded much thinner.  I didn't bother, though.  I can use that veneer for something else.

Using a straight edge as a guide, slice your piece of veneer into a long, thin strip.  I've found it works better if I use many light strokes instead of trying to cut through the veneer in one pass.  Sometimes the blade tries to veer away from the straight edge along the irregular grain.  Lighter strokes helps combat that.

Using a dremel with a sanding tip or regular sandpaper, sand down the ends of the strip.  You'll want them very thin.  If you don't sand them down, a kink will form in the wood as you wrap it.  It'll look out of place and will make it difficult to get a tight wrap.  It's also easier to hide the seam when the end is thinned down.

If you want to do a crushed stone inlay, slice two thin strips of veneer to fit over the base strip of veneer with enough space between the thin strips for the stone inlay.  On the ring in the picture, I simply sliced out the middle of a strip of veneer on one end of the strip, leaving the other end intact so I could wrap the base and overlay of the ring with just one piece.  I'm lazy like that.  Please look at the picture for reference.  I wanted the groove for the inlay deep enough, so I left the thinner strips longer than the base portion.

Some people steam their wood.  Some wrap it in wet paper towels and place it in the microwave.  Boiling the strips in a pot of water works best for me.  Different woods take different amounts of time to get flexible enough.  I boil mine for roughly 10 minutes.  They're usually bendable by then.

I've discovered that a copper pipe is roughly the right size to make rings for my middle or index fingers.  We have a stepped ring mandrel somewhere that I could use, but I can't find it.  I've also learned that a AA battery is the right size to make a ring for my 3 year old.

When the wood is sufficiently flexible, remove it from the boiling water using tongs.  It cools quickly, so it shouldn't burn you by the time you get back to the table.  Wrap it tightly around the round item of your choice and secure it with masking tape, a rubber band, or whatever you can find.

If you're making a ring with one color on the inside and one on the outside, only wrap the inner portion at this time.  Leave the veneer for the outside in the pot for now.  If you're making a ring with a stone inlay, make sure to wrap the base part of the ring (the solid portion of the strip) first if it's in once piece.  If the thin strips are separate pieces of veneer, leave those in the pot for now.
<p>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 fianc&eacute;e. She loved it.</p><p>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.</p><p>1. Supply: I got my veneer from veneersupplies. They came well packed and extremely attractive. The thickness was really good at 1/42&quot;</p><p>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.</p><p>3. Bending: As Calskin's suggestion, multiple bending iterations work <strong>very</strong> 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. </p><p>4. Glue: Follow Supersoftdrink's suggestions. In my first batch, I tried gorilla glue. It <strong>did NOT </strong>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!</p><p><em>Super glue gel worked very well. </em>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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. </p><p>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. </p><p>Super glue will stain your woods slightly. The mahogany I used became a nice rich brown, while the ebony turned very sleek black. </p><p>Hope these suggestions help you! </p>
<p>Hello there :) </p><p>I know it's already 2 years ago that you commented on this but I hope you're still looking here once a while...Our anniversary is coming up end of March and I really would like to attempt to make one of these rings and I am a total rookie when it comes to wood working....</p><p>1) Do you think that's a possible task for a beginner? </p><p>I was roaming through the web looking for the right veneer and went on the a website you mentioned. They have sample packs but they are approximately only 10 inches long - is that long enough for a &quot;standard&quot; size ring? And I am looking at &quot;raw wood veneer&quot; rather than paperback, correct? Was trying not to spend a fortune on something I am not sure I am capable of doing :) </p><p>When I go through the steps, everything seems logical to me...there are just a few little questions that pop into my head: </p><p>How do make the end piece disappear? Simply by sanding it down? </p><p>What can you use as base piece to wrap the veneer around? Wooden dowel or pipe? I hope I can find the right size....what's my allowed variation in size? </p><p>Thank you so much, really appreciate it</p><p>Karolin</p>
<p>Tried both ways, as a test ...</p><p>1) Ash branch piece, left with natural edge, milled and sanded out the centre, sealed with nitrocellulose, like <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Wooden-Ring/" rel="nofollow"> https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Wooden-Ring/</a></p><p>2) Figured maple and teak veneers, sealed with cyanoacrylate, like here!</p><p>Definitely a bit fiddly the first time!</p>
<p>Hey! this is such a great instructable!</p>
<p>im curious is it ok to use iron-on edging veneer or no? </p>
<p>Yes. Boil for a couple minutes and then the glue strip will soften and can peeled off.</p>
<p>I am having troubles with gaps appearing in my rings. Trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.</p><p>I know I am using too much glue, as everything sticks to everything when I make them. After re-reading this, I will try to reduce the amount. (My rubber glove was sticking to the last ring horribly!)</p><p>I am boiling the vainer for about half an hour to try to get it soft enough to bend easily. Even then it is kind of stiff. Is this normal, or is it possible my vainer is too thick?</p><p>Is there something else I am missing?</p>
<p>Your veneer does look very thick. <br><br>You can make it thinner by (very carefully) sanding it thinner. That's really time consuming, I know. The veneer packs I've gotten from Woodcraft have had veneers with varying thickness, and I've used the thinnest ones for anything that required bending</p>
<p>Hey David,</p><p>I started making my rings by this tutorial and another one and they both tell us to wrap wet veneer around an object and wait for it to dry. But then I read somewhere that you can start the process right away, water will accelerate CA gluing.</p><p> You might want to leave the last piece to dry because moisture can turn CA into a lighter colour, but I didn't have any troubles so far.<br><br>Make sure that your veneer is really thin though, I use 0.6mm.</p><p>You also need to understand that it usually takes the time to get the feeling, my first really beautiful ring that I'm still proud of was in about 20th try. :)</p>
<p>iv been boiling my veneer strips for the last half hour. they just wont get bendy :-(<br>i bought this pack of dyed colored veneer from Woodcutters near DC. </p><p>also, the water has drained most of the color from the dyed veneer strips. </p><p>any ideas??<br>Im thinking about pressure cooking them </p>
<p>What is woodcutters? I live near DC</p>
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). <br><br><br>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).
<p>@supersoftdrink:<br><br>yeah, the wood is really hard to work with. </p><p>SO a couple of question:<br>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.</p><p>Secondly where do you buy you veneer and at what thickness?<br><br>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 :-)</p>
<p>You can also buy veneer softeners to bend the wood without steam/heat!</p>
<p>This was such a great instructable. Made one of these for me and my fiance's 10 year anniversary. I was having trouble making a perfect bevel/comfort fit edge. A microlathe would be the perfect solution, but since I don't have one or want to spend the money to buy one, affixing the ring to a power drill seemed like the next best solution. To do this I 3d printed some tools I made. First is an expanding disk to hold a ring in place and attach it to a power drill for shaping. There's also a ring form and a but to hold the ring from the ouside for inner finishing and polishing. I put them up on thingiverse (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1151126) so you cant print them out if you want. I also printed a pretty sweet box to give her the ring in, you can see it in my pics below.</p>
<p>Thank you so much for posting this Instructable it really helped and inspired me! Here's a bent wood ring I made with Walnut, Sycamore &amp; Abalone shell which would not have been possible if it wasn't for this tutorial!</p>
Any tips on how to keep it from getting glued onto the form while you apply further sections of glue? I've successfully glued the ring to my mold twice now because I can't twist it fast enough. Do you think using a thicker glue would help?
Quick question: where on earth did you get the rocks? I've been looking everywhere and can't fine anything near as colorful as I'd like. I need help asap because I've gotta finish a project for my girlfriend. Thankful for any help I can get.
It turned out great
Also how do I prevent the veneer from cracking? It has cracked the last few times when I try to wrap it. Thanks!
<p>This is a great 'ible! I was just wondering whether thicker or thinner superglue is better? Thanks a bunch</p>
<p>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!</p>
<p>Hi! I'm not sure what you call it- they look like grocery plastic bag material. I've found them in 50-100 packs at the dollar tree. Search for &quot;scrub buddies disposable gloves&quot; on google- those are what I used</p>
<p>How were you able to get that perfectly straight band to put the powder mixture in? </p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Pictures </p>
<p>My first attempt. </p><p>thank you supersoftdrink. Running out to get all kinds of sand paper. </p><p>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? <br>Also, do you use any kind of polish to finish them up?</p><p>Lastly, can you suggest to me a glue that wont do these white streaks?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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 :)</p>
<p>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.</p>
Such a great instructible, thanks a lot. My first walnut ring is just curing...
Has anyone tried to use gorilla glue?<br><br>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?<br><br>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?
Gorilla glue expands as it cures, so it wouldn't work very well.<br><br>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.<br><br>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.<br><br>I figured out a solution that I'm sure will work on any type of wood.<br><br>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.<br><br>Use a large metal hose clamp as a clamp to keep it in place. Let it dry.<br><br>Once it's dry, it will hold the shape if taken out of the hose clamp.<br><br>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.)<br><br>Tighten the clamp to the new radius and boil it again.<br><br>Repeat until you get the desired radius.<br><br>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.<br><br>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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>Anyway, I was successful making my wife's wedding ring using the method I mentioned above. <br> <br>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.
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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>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
this is simply amazing
Il like it!!! I use the same techinque!!!!
What thickness of veneer did you use?
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. <br>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. <br>https://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.

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