Picture of How to Make a Ring by Steam Bending Wood
materials needed.JPG
I've tried making bent wood rings using two different methods: boiling the veneer and steaming the wood. Personally, I prefer steam bending the wood in the microwave. It's faster (10 minutes vs. 30 seconds), and I don't have to wash any dishes when I'm done. :) I was inspired to finally give this a shot after reading this instructable

If you're going to make one of these rings, please make sure you wear the proper safety gear (mask, gloves, eye protection), and work in a well ventilated area. For example, I sand the wood and apply the glue outside usually. In other words - breathing in noxious fumes from super glue and inhaling wood dust is bad for you. 

I'm using walnut burl veneer for this ring. 

Materials you will need to make a steam bent wood ring: 
  • Wood veneer ~1/32" thick
  • Ruler
  • Box cutter/razor blade
  • Ring mandrel (no groove)/wooden dowel/round object
  • Sandpaper in the following grits: 60 coarse, 100 medium, 150 fine, 220 very fine, 400 super fine
  • Grade #0000 extra fine steel wool
  • Gorilla super glue (clear)
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Stand to hold ring while drying
  • Paper towels
  • Water
  • Microwave
  • Tongs
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Step 1: Cutting a Strip of Wood Veneer

Picture of Cutting a Strip of Wood Veneer
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Decide how thick of a band you want your ring to have, and place your rule on the veneer accordingly. Holding your ruler firmly in place, lightly score the length of the wood. Continue lightly scoring the wood on the same path until the strip cleanly breaks free. Avoid trying to cut the strip in one forceful motion; it's difficult to control where the blade goes, especially as it cuts over irregularities in the wood. 

When you're done, take the strip of veneer and sand down each end so that it tapers to a thin edge. Doing so will make it easier to conceal the seam where the veneer joins later on. 
lgulli23 days ago


johnr71543 months ago

its very nice! Good work :)

I made a ring for my girlfriend, and she loves it! However, after wearing it for a few days, she mentioned that it stinks even after washing it. I wonder if it may be the gorilla glue? Has anyone else had this issue?

pbrown211 year ago
This is awesome I'm gonna try this. Thanks a million
smoak2 years ago
About how long is the veneer? I'm sure the longer it is the thicker it is, but that thickness looks good.
CaterpillarArts (author)  smoak2 years ago
For the ring in the pictures, I'm using a piece ~8" long and 1/32" thick. That length is enough to make a sturdy size 4-6 ring. For larger ring sizes I've been using 18-23" long pieces of veneer.
Thanks, what's a good place to find veneer like you use?
CaterpillarArts (author)  smoak2 years ago
Try searching for "wood veneer variety pack" - you'll find a few different places. You can also try looking for it at local home improvement stores, just make sure you pickup the veneer that doesn't have a backing.
DoctorWoo2 years ago
I just finished my first one using this method, and it came our rather well! I ended up using the super glue bottles that have the brush in the cap, and this work wonders when rolling the ring.
However, I was curious as to how "squishy: your rings are. I have a little play in mine, and I was curious as to how much you've got in your. Thanks!
CaterpillarArts (author)  DoctorWoo2 years ago
I'd love to see a picture of it! As long as I work slowly and make sure there aren't any gaps between the layers, my rings are very strong - I've even taken a mallet to one of them just to see. However, if I leave any gaps (even super tiny ones), or I don't make the ring thick enough, then they have a bit of play; if you push down on these weaker ones, you can audibly hear the veneer cracking. If you don't think you left any gaps, then try adding more layers of veneer next time - especially if you're making a larger ring size.
I stuck a picture of the rings I have. The one on the left is the better of the two, the one on the right was just kind of test to see how well the microwave steam trick worked with my microwave (turns out well!)
As far as the play goes, my better ring [left] does creak a bit, but only if you put a good amount of pressure too it. I may have missed glue at a few areas. I also ended up wrapping two bits of veneer around, to give me a bit of play with sanding and engraving.
CaterpillarArts (author)  DoctorWoo2 years ago
Very nice! I really like the second one :)
rimar20002 years ago
zomfibame2 years ago
sunshiine2 years ago
Thanks so much for sharing! I like wooden rings!
Kiteman2 years ago
What's the advantage of finishing with superglue over a traditional varnish?
CaterpillarArts (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
I've read that it helps strengthen the ring. However, I chose to use it because I liked the way it felt better. I used Varathane on a couple of rings, and I just didn't like the feel of them; it did look nice, though.
Ah, like making a composite material.

Nice idea.