Introduction: Casting a Ring

Picture of Casting a Ring

If you are like me, and have very large fingers, most rings won’t even come close to fitting you. The only options that you are left with are to either spend lots of money on getting a ring in your size or to make one yourself. While away from my forge for the semester, I had the opportunity to try my hand at casting with my university’s equipment. I wanted to make something that looked a little sinister, so I decided that I wanted to make a big skull ring for the fun of it.

Step 1: Getting Started

Picture of Getting Started

First, I started with a wax tube that is designed to form rings. You can get these tubes in a variety of shapes, sizes and wax compositions depending on the project that you want to make. I used a saw to cut a section that I felt was appropriate for the ring and got to work.

Step 2: Make It Wearable

Picture of Make It Wearable

Before you remove too much material for the decorations, you need to make it wearable. The inside of the wax tube is rather small but the walls are thick, so that you can size the ring. There are several ways to make the hole bigger, but for this project, I used a torch to heat up a ring mandrel and slid the tube down the mandrel until it reached the size that I wanted. Since the mandrel is hot, it will melt out the extra wax. Be sure to do this to both ends of the ring so that the hole is even from both ends. Personally, I like this method because it is fast and leaves the inside of the ring smooth.

After that you shape the ring to be whatever you want. For this ring, I wanted a big sturdy ring shank. To remove the majority of the material, I used a belt sander because the wax that I am using is fairly sturdy. Please note that different kinds of wax will require different methods. The green wax that is pictured is very hard and is better for carving rather than sculpting.

Step 3: Decorate

Picture of Decorate

After that, I added a wax skull from a mold that I made a while ago for just such a purpose. The wax for the skull is closer to paraffin than it is to the green wax, so I had to be careful not to overheat it while joining it to the band. After that I cleaned up the model and got ready to cast it.

Step 4: Sprue It Up

Picture of Sprue It Up

For this project, I was allowed to use a centrifugal casting machine.  The first step in casting this way is to sprue up your wax item. The rubber base in the pictures has a little cone on the bottom that will act as a funnel for the metal to travel through during casting and the sprue act as channels for the metal to travel throughout the mold. Typically you should cast with the largest part of the ring towards the sprue base because it will cool slower than the smaller areas and lead to a better cast. For this ring, however, the largest part is also the most detailed part so I had to add extra sprues. As you can see in the picture, there are sprues that lead from the base to right under the skull and to the sides this is so enough metal can reach the skull without having to put a sprue on the skull and possibly ruin the detail.

Step 5: Investment

Picture of Investment

The next step is setting up the mold for casting. First spray your wax item with debubblizer and let it dry. This will prevent bubbles from forming when you pour investment and help save the detail. After that, coat the piece in you casting investment with a brush. You want to make sure that you get the investment into all of the nooks and crannies. Once this first layer has dried, add a second layer and let it dry. With it all dry, you add your steel flask and pour the investment. Once the investment has been poured, you can either use a vibration table or vacuum pump to remove the air bubbles from the wet investment. After that, you cook the mold based on the instructions for that type of investment. The investment that I used had to be baked for 15 hours at a range of different temperatures.

Step 6: Melt and Spin

Picture of Melt and Spin

Once the mold has been baked and all of the water has been removed, you can load it into the centrifugal casting machine. Initially, I was going to cast this ring in sterling silver, but I realized that I was a little short. Instead, I cast this ring with a sort of bastardized Shibuichi, which is a Japanese alloy comprised of silver, copper and a little gold. Once the metal is loaded into the crucible, put it in the machine and just melt it. Add a little borax to keep it clean and run the machine. Once it’s done spinning, submerge the mold in water to cool the piece and see how it worked.

Step 7: Remove Sprues

Picture of Remove Sprues

The cast piece should be solid without gaps or inclusions. As far as I could tell the casting was a success. The next step is to remove the metal that filled the gaps that the sprues left and to clean away as much of the investment as possible.

Step 8: Grind and Polish

Picture of Grind and Polish

After that all that is left is to grind away any bumps, sand it smooth and polish it. If the design that you wanted requires that the piece be polished then you are done.

Step 9: Patina

Picture of Patina

I didn’t want a bright shiny skull so I decided to use patina on it. Shibuichi is supposed to yield a very dark rich color if the right patina is applied. The only problem is that that patina requires about a week to make and ordering a bunch of chemicals so that will be left for another instructable. Instead, I applied a patina that is supposed to yield a smooth black color and gave it one last buff.

Thanks for reading.


JenniferH214 (author)2016-05-30


How did you melt it

I believe that I used an oxy-propane torch.

ChrisJ27 (author)2015-07-17

Sweet ring, I want one.
I am getting a bunch of gold nuggets that I am planning on melting into a ring, since I have "feminine fingers," and I am a guy. Do you have advice for using this method to cast a ring, and then putting a stone in it?

Armeria Garcia (author)ChrisJ272015-07-17

There are a bunch of ways to mount a stone depending on the shape of the stone. If it's a cabochon you could leave a flat area slightly larger than the stone in the wax and solder on bezel wire after casting the ring. If it's a faceted stone then you could leave a cavity that fits the stone in the wax model with nubs around it. Once cast, the nubs could be bent over the stone to secure it. Those are just 2 of many ways to do it. You can find tons of interesting ways to mount stones online. Thanks for your comment!

Edbed (author)2015-06-01


Armeria Garcia (author)Edbed2015-07-16


Phoghat (author)2015-03-19

Links for materials ( wax especially)?

Armeria Garcia (author)Phoghat2015-03-19

All of the materials that you would need for this project can be purchased from Rio Grande.

abenavente (author)2015-02-27

ive buy that ring 5 month ago are you sure that skull is yours?

The skull on my ring was from a silicone mold I pulled off an old plastic toy. From what detail I can actually see in your photo, the skull on your ring doesn't seem to have the sutures around the top of the skull. The skull on your ring also looks more smoothed out than the one on mine.

u r right! isn't the same thing, my apologies.

No worries! lots of people make skull rings so some of them are bound to look similar.

jewelrydmd (author)2015-02-26

Nice instructable. I do a lot of centrifugal casting and was impressed with the ring. Some tips I have come about with casting are adding a vent to your casting. If you put a thin string of wax from the top of your casting and let it either be a fin to the bottom of your sprue former (the rubber base) it helps insure complete casting. Also, the little dots you had where the sprues were next to the skull are called shrink back porosities. They are probably due to over heating the metal to a superheated state. Using a lesser torch or less time with the flame on the metal could help limit them. Another way to limit these is to add a bubble of wax in the sprue just before the area where it meets the casting. Regardless, awesome job and it looks great.


snoopindaweb (author)2015-02-25

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I'm afraid that I'm not familiar with what that represents.

GlowWireGuy (author)2015-02-25

Flipping sweet. Did you carve it yourself? So many skull rings look cartoony or just really off, but yours looks dead on. How much for a ring? :D

Thanks! The skull came from a mold I took off of an old toy. I'm too clumsy to carve something that small myself. I don't know what company originally made the skull or if there is a copyright on it so unfortunately I don't think that I can actually sell it.

Brian996 (author)2015-02-24

Really cool! I have made wood rings and have been wanting to make some with metals. Now I just need to find the right tools.

Armeria Garcia (author)Brian9962015-02-24

Thanks! Depending on how you want to make the rings the tools can be relatively inexpensive.

spylock (author)2015-02-24

Very nice,Im gonna try a ring using one of the DIY coffee can forges,and for the mold Plaster of Paris,something simple.I will see what happens.

icemanfrost (author)spylock2015-02-24

I would really like to know how well the plaster works for this process. Would you please post here and let us all know?

spylock (author)icemanfrost2015-02-24

Yes I will,it will be a week to ten days but I plan on taking photos,if it turns out well,I will do an "able" if not I will let yall know what happened anyway.All I have for a crucible is a cast iron and steel lead ladle for plumbing so Im worried about about getting enough heat to melt the silver,If map gas wont work then I will go to something hotter,and Im gonna use one of those $3.00 Chinamart battery back vibrators to make a small table to get rid of any bubbles or air pockets.Im doing this ring really on the cheap,thanks for your interest.

Armeria Garcia (author)spylock2015-02-24

Thanks and good luck!

spylock (author)Armeria Garcia2015-02-24


Olek410 (author)2015-02-22

Hey one question can I do the same with wood. I can carve better in wood also I can add better detail(No offence to your awesome ring). So the real question is, can I make the original ring(the wax one) out of wood instead then use that to then make the mold for it?

Armeria Garcia (author)Olek4102015-02-22

What I think you could do is make it out of wood, make a silicone mold of it and then pour wax into the mold to make a wax copy. I think that's probably the safest bet since I don't know well wood burns out in the oven. Thanks for the comment.

This always seemed like a step that should be taken anyway. If there are any errors in the casting... all the work you put into to make the wax ring is gone forever. If you make one either with wood, wax, or even metal, and cast a silicone mold. Use that mold to make to make the "lost wax" form you cast the final ring with. Then, if anything should go wrong with the casting, just reuse the silicone mold to make a new model. It also allows you make duplicates, or even the inevitable "This one is silver... wish I would have used gold..." I don't care how skilled or talented a person is, it is nearly impossible to replicate the original exactly. Save the hard work you put into it and keep the original. Great job on this!! I love the ring!!


I have used this process only twice... once in junior high, making an arrowhead pendant, and once in high school with a ring. Neither was anything to brag about. But since it was about hundred years ago or so, I can't remember how you calculate the amount of metal needed to cast a given project. Any help on that would be appreciated.

Also, I did learn from two different teachers and learned a tip that I thought I would share... take your mold out of the oven and cast your piece WHILE THE MOLD IS STILL HOT. This will allow the metal to stay liquid longer to get into finer details before it cools. Also, after allowing the casting to set a few minutes so the molten metal can solidify, you can dunk the still-hot casting SLOWLY into cool water and the hot investment will crack and bust leaving your prized piece reasonably clean, with only a few remnants of the casting material to remove, if any at all.

If the mold has cooled completely,(which is what the high school teacher did...) the metal cools faster and may not completely fill the cavity. (That's what happened to my ring.) And then, you have to use a hammer and screwdriver or chisel to bust out the investment. What a pain!

I guess that's the difference between an actual metalshop teacher (jr. high), and a "general art" teacher.Go figure.

Olek410 (author)Armeria Garcia2015-02-23

Thank you for the reply I know the wood version would burn, I was just asking if it was possible. Again thank you for the reply great instructable. I did vote for your instructable on the ring contest, hope you win!

Armeria Garcia (author)Olek4102015-02-23

Thanks! Just as a follow up, I have seen people successfully cast from biological materials before such as insects and flowers. I think wood might just be too dense to not leave something behind in the mold.

danamark (author)2015-02-24

Gee, so cool, I want one, looks like something you dug up in a grave yard at the "very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world" and you shouldn't slide on your finger. :)

Armeria Garcia (author)danamark2015-02-24

Haha, that's probably the best description I've heard for this ring. Thanks!

jhammonds pelfrey (author)2015-02-24

dude! I'm jealous would love to learn this. awesome job btw

Thanks! I'm sure if you check around your area or at nearby community colleges you can probably find a jewelry class. It's a lot of fun.

dangerous dan (author)2015-02-22

@ olek410: no you can't use wood.
At the peak of wax burnout, the temperatures reach 1350° F in the flask, this allowed the wax residue to completely vaporize. Wood would leave behind a matrix of carbon, and ash.

Thanks for the comment.

Attmos (author)2015-02-22

Very cool! Mean looking.

Armeria Garcia (author)Attmos2015-02-22


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