I love the look and feel of the bentwood rings,but the only ones I could find are a bit plain for me. If I'm going to have a wooden ring, It's got to show off my skills a little, right? So had some time and paitence, so I thought I'd take it up a notch and show you how it's done. Since I couldn't find a very detailed tutorial when I got started, I thought this might be helpful. Although I have a lathe, I did not use it in any of these rings. The beauty of the bentwood ring is the simplicity and ease of construction with minimal tools. I did this ring and tutorial pictures in my living room on the coffee table in 4 hours.
Step 1: Materials
2. Super Glue...any old regular kind
4. Exacto Knife and box knife blades.
5. Somethingcircular to wrap the wood around. (Sockets work the best for me)
6. A bowl of water
Now that we've exhausted your budget, let's get going!
Wood: I like cutting my own veneers of the table saw... I cu tthe 1 inch strips myself, it's nice to play around with the thicknesses for wrapping. Thinner is usually better, unless the wood is too grainy and porous. The good thing is, it only taks a small board to get about 20 rings worth of wood. Also, I have a small stock of veneer, from a friend... you can get it online, don't get the sticky backed stuff. you just want plain wood veneer.
Sanding: I just glue sandpaper to thicker cuts of veneer for good sanding tools. Get the auto sandpaper from anywhere, Walmart has it, I sand 3-4 steps up to 2000 grit for a good shine. Also, I;ve wrapped some sandpaper around a pencil and around a rubber glue tube for sanding the inside of the ring. again, super easy, super cheap.
Step 2: Ring Size.
A ring sizer is great, but you don't need it. Just try your ring around a bunch of sockets and use the one the fits the a little loose. If it's tight, then your right will be too big when it's finished. Better to makeit slightly small and sand the inside to fit the finger. If your making the ring for a friend, then just have them measure the inner diameter of a ring in Millimeters, and use a socket that's about a millimeters smaller than that.
Step 3: Prepare the Wood.
Boil your piece of veneer for 10-20 minutes, until it is soft enough to roll into a cirle about the size of the ring you want to make. tape it around and let it conform to a spool for a while. it doesn't need to dry out all the way. If it splits or splinters when you wrap it, like in the picture with my thumb, then it's either too thick a veneer, or you need to boil it longer. It should be very pliable. Note that you need to wrap it immediately after taking it out of the water. A matter of seconds will make it harder to wrap, as it will start cooling down and setting. When I do it, I like to store 5-10 pieces wrapped up in tape to dry for later rings. Once they are dried bent, all you have to do is dip them in a bowl of water for a few second to make them workable again. The best centers for your ring are very hardwoods cut to very thin veneers. My best luck has been with walnut and cherry. Softer woods tend to crack and crease in the initial rolling, though it is doable with a thinner veneer. Softer woods don't hold shape so well, so they will be thicker in the final product to have any considerale strength. For an inlayed ring, the core is only really seen on the inside of the ring anyways, so use something hard. If it's a plain ring, then use whatever you want.
Step 4: Wrap the Core
1. Very important. Wrap the Socket in tape with the sticky side OUT. I used to try it without the tape and end up pulling the wood apart trying to get it off the socket. Easiest way to do this is stick it to the socket, then wrap it the other way, and when it's all the way around, break it off and give it a spin to get the initial tape to come off the socket.
2. Bevel the beginning of the wrap to a feather edge on sandpaper. This will make it easy to wrap without making a big space on the inside of the ring.;l
3. Dry-wrap the wood for alignment. If you don't do this, you will end up wrapping a candy-cane swirl, not a ring. Make sure that you are wrapping it straight with the way the veneer is cut. If it's off alignment and you try to force it straight, you will end up with huge gaps in the wrap, which WILL show up later,and make it weak.
4. Wood consistency... It needs to be soaked, then dried, then glued. The soaking opens up the pores, then you have to dry it off so the water comes out of the pores, so the wood can be infused with super glue. If it's too wet, the glue will set in the water and turn white. Too dry, and the wood won't soak up the glue, and you'll have a weak ring. The wood should be bent in a spool but still pliable. I soak it then dry it with a cloth, like my jeans, then wait a minute or two.
5. Once you have the alignment right, then you can tack it together with a line of super glue. Not just a dot. You want the whole width of the ring glued. As you continue, there needs to be plenty of glue as you roll it and let it dry. I let it dry a little, then wrap more, let it dry a little, wrap more... and so on... til it's done.
Step 5: Sand the Core.
Here's where you start to see some initial results! if you want to stop here for a normal plain bentwood ring, it'll look pretty good. But you want amazing, right? it's gonna take a little more work.
1. Cut the sides relatively parallel, with a blade. I find it easier to use jsut the blade, as it's easy to get more pressure behind the blade that with an exacto-handle.
2. Sand the outside of the ring smooth.
3. Sand the edges by holding the ring flat on a piece of sandpapr, and rubbing itback and forth. Put pressure on the high-sides to even out the ring and make it parallel to the other side/edge. Don't do it too much, we;ll do it again later after we put on the decor... But make sure there's no cracks in the edge
4. Keep sanding. I use up to 2000 grit on thefinished ring, but you probably only need about 400-800 for the center blank. We're just going to build on top of it.
Step 6: Add Cross-cut Veneer.
Bentwood rings are strong because the core is wrapped,a nd there's no cross-grain like a normal wood ring, to break in the middle. To get the cross grain look, just glue it to the outside of the bentwood core.
1. Cut the veneer. You have to use tape or it will never cut in one piece. Tape both sides of the veneer, then cut a srip across. I used Zebrawood veneer for this one
2. Soak the veneer. I just put it in the water I'd used for boiling. It's just still warm, for about 5 minutes. That's good enough. The cross-grain bends very easily around the ring.
3. Glue on the veneer just like you wrapped the ring. Again make sure you dry-fit it so you get it straight. You can see I didn't get it exactly straight, but that's ok Because I'm going to add more wood in-between anyway.
4. Again, sut off the excess, and sand it on a flat surface. Don't sand it all the way to the blank though.
Step 7: Inlay! Here's the Best Part
This is the hardest and most time consuming part, but also the most rewarding. This is where you stand apart form your friends in the woorworking world. Micro-Inlays are not easy. One ring I have has over 60 pieces of wood on the outer surface.
1. Cut the edge you want to glue against, down to the blank, not into it.
2. Cut the piece to be inlayed.
3. soak/dry the wood for inlay.
4. Glue on to ring with plenty of glue.
5. Repead until covered.
This is the hardest part for me, and doing this, there's really no way to not get your fingers super-glued. With practice, I don't glue my fingers to the ring anymore, but I do get glue all over a few of my fingers, and that's ok, because it comes off in a day or two. It's worth it to me. I've tried using gloves, but the detail you're working with, and how tight you'll want to hold it, the gloves just glue to the piece and rip off anyway.
Step 8: Add a Finish Edge
I used to stop there. The ring looks good already, but this last step makes it professional. Adding an edge hides all the inlay ends on the edge of the ring.
1. Sand the veneer to add to the edge
2. sand the edge of the ring with 400 grit sandpaper. less than that will leave small gaps, and more will not allow for a good grip on the glue.
3. glue the ring to the veneer.
4. carve the veneer back ot the edge of the ring
5. file/sand the edge to match.
Step 9: Sand, Polish, and Oil
1. I use 400, 800, and 2000 grit sandpaper to achieve a good shine, and then I put on some olive oil, because that's what I've got at home. I might get some different oil someday, but this works fine for now.
2. I highly reccommend getting some type of soft cylinder and wrapping sandpaper around it for the inner part of the ring. This is the hardest part to sand. I just wrapped a piece of sandpaper around a plastic tube of glitter, and that works. it has to be almost the inner-size of the ring for a smooth sanding job. Too small, like the pencil, and you'll get an un-even gouged out inner circle.
3. DON'T SAND THE NEW EDGE! ok, so you can sand it, but only with 800 and 2000 grit, because it's thin, and you don't have much to play with before it disappears. I made this mistake on one ring, and had a razor thin edge that looked really dumb. So, the edge flat on 800 and 2000 just a bit to shine it up and maybe round it out a little, but don't go overboard, unless you have a very thick veneer for the edge.