Picture of How to make a ring from cast off copper pipe
How to make a stylish ring from piece from 3/4" copper pipe.

Made with inexpensive plumbing tools, polished with available materials.

Step 1: Aquiring materials

Picture of Aquiring materials
You need only a few things to make this ring:
  • Copper pipe. 3/4" pipe makes approximately a size 9 or 9.5 ring.
  • Something to cut copper pipe. I use a pipe cutting tool, but a hacksaw would probably work.
  • Something to remove sharp edges. Sandpaper, a file, or a dremel should work.
  • Something to polish the ring. You could try several grades of very fine steel wool, or fine sandpaper, followed by a polishing cloth, or a dremel.

tear drop8 months ago

you can use a ring stretcher available at amazon

are there any ways of making the ring smaller because its a realy good ring

sysiphus (author)  matthew.byfordloggie1 year ago
The easy way is to use different sized pipe. Not only are there different sizes (1/2", 3/4", etc.) but some have different wall thicknesses, which will change the inside diameter of the ring. (The 3/4" measurement is outside diameter.)

Beyond that, you will need to look at the various jewelry Instructables to find one on sizing rings; I'm pretty sure you are looking at buying equipment to do sizing.
thanks thats realy helpfull ;)
bmac_151 year ago
Is there a way to keep my finger from turning green
clincoln1 year ago
By the way the copper ring will oxidize and turn your finger green just to let you know
drapeta2 years ago
Pro tip Orion
the way i made mine was i cut the pipe length ways so i got a long strip, then cut a piece with tin snips (heat it with a blow torch then let it cool to make the metal softer) and bent it into a ring shape, then i used lead-free solder to join the ends. it is much more difficult but lets you change the size of the ring if your fingers aren't exactly 3/4"
you can soldier on a symbol or something to cover up the joint- I made a cross with 2 pieces of copper
Is there a cheat sheat for the ring to pipe size? I wear a 13 in rings thats like
22.26mm\0.876in I think. I ask because I don't feel like going to lowes and shoving my fingers into pipes again.
This might save you from getting your finger stuck in a hardware store pipe. http://www.celtarts.com/ring_size.htm
Sorry its not sheat its sheet
dac012204 years ago
I think that one may also try copper fittings for an in-between size, they are slightly bigger then the too small, but still slightly smaller than the too big.
 off topic...but slightly obsessed with the ink series?
Why, yes, Mr. dustfingerssilvertounge (if that is indeed your real name), it's cheap. That's kind of the point.
gilleseg5 years ago
I just purchased a 3/4 inch copper coupling for this project.  My fingers are rather large and this fit me the best.  If you are looking for a somewhat larger size that the 1/4 inch you might try the coupling... Also I am going to try some simple engraving with my diamond tip dremel attachment.  I may do simple lines or circles or something.  Cheers and thanks for the instructable, its great!
Wouldnt the ring make a big green patina ring around your finger?
Yes it does.  if you coat it clear nail polish it should keep the copper from oxydizing on your finger.
freerunnin16 years ago
haha ur finger will go green, i did this before and that happened to me...
If you lacquer it, it will keep the metal from oxidizing.
does regular polyurethane work I know its usually meant for wood... I've also heard clear nail polish works.
Poly is a bit messier and in my experience, more finicky than lacquer, being a plastic. Clear nail polish is essentially the same thing as lacquer. Nail polish remover = acetone = lacquer thinner. If you try poly, good luck; you'll need it.
well I was only asking about polyurethane because I have that on hand, but I just realized that I dont have any pipes the correct size so I have to go to the hardware store anyway.
I tried nailpolish, sticky and it remains sticky forever and becomes irritating on your fingers. My ring is clear in the morning and by the night it becomes greenish, the finger too looks kinda wierd but i don't care.
SG1Oniell6 years ago
lol, didn't think that through eh? using your left hand to take a picture of your right hand with a right handed digital camera.
OrionBlade6 years ago
I used to use ball peen hammers of various sizes to stretch rings I made. clamp one hammer, ball side up, in a vise, and put the ring on the ball, then put another hammer on top, ball side down. You wind up with a C shaped cross section that you can then flatten back out by inserting a rod and hammering the ring between the rod and hammer. This works great, but remember to anneal after every pass. To shrink, get a jeweler's doming block - hammer into the dome, flip, hammer again, then flatten with the same technique. This will shrink the circumference slightly. Good for getting half sizes to a size or so. to go real wacky with size, slit the tube, overlap, and use an oxyacetylene or oxypropane (or even oxy mapp) torch to weld the copper back together - leaves a huge bump from the weld bead, but you can just file or grind that down. I'll post an instructable about how to do a welded ring soon, maybe even a forge welded steel ring too! good work on the cut and polish - wonderfully simple and quite pretty.
I did this at science olympiad today (school science thing) with a leftover bit of pipe. I used a grinding wheel to shine/even it out, and used a dremel to round out the edges. I placed the ring on a dowel rod and pressed it to the grinding wheel, so that the ring spun around the dowel and against the wheel. question about tinning it with solder to resize it smaller, how exactly would you do that? It's too big for my ring finger at the moment, and although i have an iron and such i wouldn't know how to do that without making a mess. Thanks for the tips!
sysiphus (author)  Dr Science116 years ago
I've never tried it on a ring, so I don't know a way that would work. If I were trying it, I would get a very thick flux and apply it very carefully, and very thin, over the whole inside. The solder will follow the flux, so adding a little bit, carefully, may work. Just be ready to have to clean some off the parts you didn't want it to go onto.
davidcarr36 years ago
A 22mm olive fits my fingers perfect and is already convientiently shaped. just throwing it out there....
Troutful6 years ago
Thanks for the great instructional. I tried this last night, and had a ring in about 20 minutes. I applied some additional techniques that my dad, a master plumber, taught me over the years. I thought I'd share them. 1. If the pipe you are cutting from already has a burr or lip on the inside edge from a previous cut, it's easier to remove this before cutting the length for the ring. It's also easier to clean it first this way. Think of the rest of the pipe as a clamp to hold your ring-to-be in place. 2. An excellent tool for polishing is a fine steel wool. I used aluminum sandpaper (don't know the grip, just this strip that my dad uses for plumbing) followed by steel wool. The steel wool not only polishes the surfaces, but does a good job of putting a final touch on smoothing edges. I have thin fingers like the author, and the ring it on my middle finger. I am replacing my lost wedding band, so the final product will have to fit my ring finger one way or another. My first try would be heavier grade tubing. I wore it to bed to test out the green factor, and yes, I do have a green mark from about 6 hours of wearing it. Silver solder on the inside might help this, as someone else suggested. I may be able to tolerate the green finger, but what I don't like is the smell of it. I'm used to wearing a rose gold ring (gold & copper that looks like copper) that didn't have any odor to it. So in order to wear a copper ring, I would have to try out that oxygen-free copper someone mentioned. Thanks again for the great idea!
mkamchin7 years ago
is there any way that you could change the size of the ring with out buyig a different sized tube
i made one in jewelry class. If the ring is SLIGHTLY too small you can use a ring stretcher (like a stepped cone that you pound a rod into to spread out), and annealing doesn't hurt (red hot, left to cool) it's also very easy to make the ring smaller, just slice off a chunk, squeeze it closed, slice off both ends with one cut to even out the ends, solder, file off excess solder, pound round on a ring mandrel (skinny cone), and polish... I guess it's easier if the jewelery department at your school rocks
theRIAA theRIAA7 years ago
You could probably stretch it out a bit since copper is quite malleable but finding something that wont warp the circle would be hard, I suppose you could do it in a few steps witha conical stretching device of some kind... Or heat it enough to make very malleable and use a bar of the right diameter with a taper to get the copper in, however you'd have to get the ring back off again before it gets cool or you may wreck it.
sysiphus (author)  mkamchin7 years ago
I am sure there is a way. I am also sure that I don't know what that way is. Sorry.
WTSerpent7 years ago
I made a copper ring about a month ago, and was surprised to find this. i had done almost exactly what these instructions say. however, i happen to have a ring anvil and a ball-peen hammer lying around. between steps 3 and 4, i lightly hammered the ring to produce an almost golf ball-like texture. to polish it, i used emery cloth. a little while after i made the ring, i was reaching into a cupboard and bumped my hand, and the edge of the ring scraped my skin. though it was a minor wound, it was painful for a while afterward. to avoid this problem, anyone making a ring could file out the inner edge, and/or use nail polish. i have made several more rings since, and both methods seem to work. i was thinking about using brass instead of copper, it doesn't seem to turn your finger green.
dfedde7 years ago
yea it will turn your finger green I made a ring a cupple days ago from some copper wire ( using the a Simple wire ring Instructable in the related menu right below this) and mine was vary green by the end of the day (but I'm about as white as they come)
smokehill7 years ago
One warning about a copper ring -- if you have a job or hobby where you may get something heavy dropped on your hand, a soft-metal ring may not be something you should wear (actually, for auto mechanics & others, rings are something that ought to be in your pocket during the workday anyhow). Aside from that little caveat, you might want to check out some of the different "flavors" of copper pipe available. Even though the cheapie joints like Home Depot usually only carry one Harry-Homeowner size of copper pipe, a regular plumbing store will stock several different grades ... I think the grades are K, L & M thickness. The thicker-walled pipes (which is what plumbers use on their own houses, heh heh), will have a smaller inside diameter, I believe, which will yield slighly different "ring sizes." Also, by using the repair couplings or copper joints (not just the tubing itself), you will get larger diameter "tubing," in effect. This should give you a better selection of "sizes" to work with. NIce instructable. With some imagination & basic tools, you could do some interesting decoration, perhaps, too. Drilling in just a wee bit, and either gluing in contrasting metal "dots" (brass?) or filling the cavity with silver solder? Scalloping the edges? soldering on small metal decorations? Engraving with a Dremel, or stamping in letters or numbers like machinists use (cheap sets in Harbor Freight). Nice ... and lots of ways to take it further.
Another further thought for different sizing -- If you brazed or soldered on some sort of metal decoration, that would neatly hide a cut in the ring where you made it smaller ... and would give you a lot of brazing area to hold it together, not just the "ends" where the cut was made.
sysiphus (author)  smokehill7 years ago
I may go back and try this now. I've ignored it, because I've been busy. But now I've smashed my other ring in a door, and rendered it unusable. It also hurt a lot. (It was the silver ring that's out of focus in the last photo of step 4.) But I got used to wearing two rings, so now I've got to find something to wear, on the cheap. Thanks for the advise. I'll see if I can scallop the edges a bit, at the least.
Scalloping may be the toughest decoration unless you can rig up some sort of a jig to get even spacing & even depth. After seeing some custom knife decoration, I decided to play with my Dremel & some files to see if I could do the same to some of mine. Pretty feeble, uneven results, actually. Scalloping is one of those things that has to be really regular to look good, and tiny little mistakes get magnified. If I ever get the urge again I'll try to figure out some simple jig to keep it from looking like it was done by a drunken gorilla with a chainsaw. I've known a few people over the years who have lost fingers because of rings; they were serious accidents (motor dropping onto the hand), but the smashed ring actually did more damage than the motor because it cut off blood flow until the medics could cut it off. I don't work around anything quite that dangerous anymore, but I don't wear my softer alloys (24K, 22K) or rings with thin shanks while working with equipment. Changing motor mounts seems to be one of the most ring-dangerous projects, so I won't wear any jewelry at all for that.
sysiphus (author)  smokehill7 years ago
I'm a computer geek by trade, and rarely do anything that could hurt a ring or my finger in it. The ring in the door was a completely freak accident, and the ring was soft enough that I was able to grab tools from the toolbox and pry it free quickly. The stuff I do that might hurt it usually involve chainsaws, and I doubt that a ring could make a bad situation worse there. :-)
teresajoy7 years ago
Don't try to fit the copper pipes at the store, and get your finger stuck in them. This could make a for long conversation with the paramedics on the way to the hospital.
sysiphus (author)  teresajoy7 years ago
This was the first message I saw after getting back from a day at the hospital; on the way in I rode shotgun while my wife was in the back. Weird. Having heard the banter between everyone as we sped down country roads at high velocity with lights and siren blaring, I would have to suspect that the paramedics would find it damn funny.
If we cut a slit we can bend it to the size that we like. Can that work?
sysiphus (author)  Naruto_Uzumaki8 years ago
I really have no idea if it would work. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, which meant no cutting slits in it. I figure anyone with the tools and knowhow to do that doesn't need me telling them how to make a ring.
Murdok8 years ago
You could just line the inside with electrical tape (or something like it) so it won't change your skin color. It might also make it fit better.
sysiphus (author)  Murdok8 years ago
That might work. I may try that, and I've recently crushed the ring I normally wear and I want another.
ironsmiter8 years ago
and now, for the peanut gallery.... Body Chemistry has a LOT to do with weather the rate of copper oxidizing will exceed the rate of natural exfoliation... a coating of nail polish every few weeks should work ok, to keep the ring copper colored, and your finger skin colored. Another option is to get out the propane torch, and tin the ring with silver solder. the real stuff... NOT electronic solder. the plumbing flux will work well enough... you MAY lose a 1/2 ring size that way... you'll have to test it. It's ex-plumbing... use the tool designed for it... grab the pipe flare tool that is used to create the flanges, and stretch away :-) if you have a very large drift, you could also use it to expand/flare the ring. just drive it on through... the work hardening will be of benefit in holding the round shape, in the otherwise soft copper. If you want it shrunk or expanded cheap, safe, and easy.... talk to the local jeweler... often they'll do it for free, or a minor charge(takes about 2 min tops for 3-4 sizes change). For your "next" instructable, with the mini-project copper bracelet..... If you can, do it with Oxygen Free copper. the commercial copper/magnet 'lets are done with that...part of why THEY don't turn green on people :-) they darken to a rich shade of brown over time... if using castoff electrical wire... give it a good coat of varnish. should help.
sysiphus (author)  ironsmiter8 years ago
Tinning it with solder is a great idea. The theoretical 1/2 size reduction might make it actually fit my finger. A pipe flare tool might work to go the other way, but I don't have one. My plumbing tools (like my plumbing skills) are pretty basic. I could take it to a jeweler, but around here they charge $20 to size a ring. That's $20 more than I've spent on it so far. For the bracelet, I'd rather use oxygen free stuff, but I'll probably just use the existing stuff I scrounged during house construction. If I don't use the free stuff, I'll never do it at all. I appreciate the peanut gallery; it helps me get better, and reminds me there is always a better way to do something. Thanks for the comments!
Lead-free solder, my friends. Use lead-free solder.
mrmath8 years ago
I wonder what size pipe I would need to use. My wedding band (left index finger, next to the pinky--just in case this is not a world wide standard!) is a size 15.5 US. Most men's wedding rings slip right through it without touching it. You would HAVE to use something on it to keep it from corroding. Think about how it was down in the damp area you left it in for three weeks. You start wearing that, and washing your hands with it on, and it's gonna go green. To resize it bigger, you could try what some jewelers do. I had to have a gold ring sized up one half size. He put it on a graduated stick, and pounded it down the stick until it was the right size. Basically stretched the metal. You could try that. Did I mention you could try that?
sysiphus (author)  mrmath8 years ago
I have thought of that, but I've not tried it. I just moved into a new house that I helped build, thus the plumbing. Maybe in a few weeks when I can settle down enough to do 'for fun' projects that take more than 3o minutes of my time. I actually thought about walking into a hardware store and sticking my finger down cpper pipe till I found one that fit. You may find that a 1-1/4" pipe works.
jehan8 years ago
using a dremel worked really good for me it made it really shiny
sam8 years ago
Awesome.. when I was about 6 I made a ring for a girl this way, after workmen had been fixing something.. I went a step further and soldered a really small diameter piece of pipe to the top, and I glued a small piece of quartz into it as a diamond.. thanks for reminding me of this!
bobba8 years ago
If you don't want to have a green finger, you could plate the ring with gold or silver. ;-)
Cool, but doesn't it turn your finger green?
it might turn your finger green, but it depends on your skin composition as to whether or not it does. Anyways, cool instructable
Copper always turns your skin green - you just can't see the green shade if your skin is very dark. Then the ring will go green...
sysiphus (author)  MD_Willington8 years ago
It very well could. I've heard conflicting reports on whether or not copper does. As this one is not yet sized for my fingers, I've not work it much and can't tell you if it will turn mine green. My next mini-project is a copper bracelet made from cast-off electrical wiring, I'll find out then.
Sgt.Waffles8 years ago
Cool! +
By the way, you can also make the ring out of PVC, so that it does not change finger color (colour in Canada). You then just have to paint it.