Introduction: How to Make a Wooden Ring

Picture of How to Make a Wooden Ring

A ring that I had from Vietnam recently broke, leaving an emptiness on my finger and soul, so I decided to fill that emptiness with a lil bit of craftiness.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

A piece of wood preferably with an interesting grain pattern (I used wenge)
Some sort of finish
Hole saw
Forstner bit  
Drum sander
Belt Sander

Step 2: Drill the Outer Hole Partially

Picture of Drill the Outer Hole Partially

Guesstimate what the outer diameter of the ring should be, depending on the size of your finger and choose a hole saw accordingly. Using a drill press, drill part of the way through your piece of wood, making sure that the piece of wood being drilled stays intact with the board.

Step 3: Drill the Inner Hole Fully

Picture of Drill the Inner Hole Fully

Put a forstner bit a little smaller than your finger into the drill press and drill a hole through the center of the outline you've already drilled.

Step 4: Finish Drilling the Outer Hole

Picture of Finish Drilling the Outer Hole

Put the hole-saw back in and finish drilling the outer hole. Pull the ring-shaped piece of wood out of the hole-saw.

Step 5: Sanding Galore

Picture of Sanding Galore

Use a small drum sander attachment to sand the inside of the ring to the appropriate width. I used a larger drum sander attachment to sand away the machine marks on the outside, but you can use whatever method you want.

Step 6: Getting It Down to the Right Size

Picture of Getting It Down to the Right Size

I was afraid of cutting myself, so instead of cutting the ring down to the correct with, I just sanded it a bunch with a belt sander.

Step 7: Final Sanding and Finishing

Picture of Final Sanding and Finishing

I suggest hand sanding after you've got it down to the size you want. You also might want to round out the edges. I used paste wax to finish it. Some type of oil would probably also work well. I'd be careful using anything like lacquer or polyurethane because the coat might go on too thick and then it wouldn't fit your finger. Now, you should either have a beautiful ring or a useless, mangled piece of crap. If you should have a useless, mangled piece of crap, repeat steps 1-6.


phycob (author)2017-12-06

"If you should have a useless, mangled piece of crap, repeat steps 1-6." Man that's just rude.

MichaelY23 (author)2015-12-07

I posted an article on how I go about making a simple wooden ring here: Might be worth a look for anyone needing a detailed walkthrough.

Atomicwaffle (author)2014-12-01

So I am trying to make a ring for my girlfriend because she really likes wooden jewelry, but I'm not sure which way to start this project. I've read up on many different ways to do it and came across this instructable and another one that advised using wooden strips wrapped tightly around a dowel rod. I need some help with which one to use because both ideas are great, but I might not have the best tooling for this one. Thanks!

DAndreak (author)Atomicwaffle2014-12-17

I would recommend the second method, there's a good instructable here. Using this method the ring would be quite fragile, as the grain runs crosswise. the smallest of pressures and impacts would cause it to crack and break.

Atomicwaffle (author)DAndreak2014-12-17

Thanks man! I owe you one big time.

KnockOnWood (author)2013-03-15

Great Instructable. I've made 3 rings so far. One comment I must share in regards to a while ago. To get a hardened, very durable finish, I used a general purpose 2 part epoxy to fill in wood grain, and then coat in enamel clear spray (lightly).

Also, for the wood always splitting. The tightest grain and most dense wood I've come across is Ebony Wood, Also known African Blackwood. This stuff is like wood steel, used for piano keys and gives off a liquorish odor when cut (don't know why). I've only found it online and in Woodcraft.

Again great info, in the process of cutting down time and making a jig for a standard lathe.

David CoryE (author)KnockOnWood2014-12-09

Hey KnockOnWood I was curious what 2 part epoxy you are talking about? Is that surfboard resin? Where did you pick some up? Thanks

jpwarzone (author)2013-11-18

I just made one out of redwood. by using hand tools, the process took me a whole day, but I imagine, with power tools, it would be much easier to create a wooden ring.

nerd12 (author)2013-01-13

well, this seems like a project worth doing :D <3 rings
i really never thought of making wood rings, only focusing on metal :/
i don't have any power tools but the drill, but i will definitely make this by hand :D
thanks for the inspiration!

Teddy97 (author)2012-12-13

what is the best wood to use for this?

ForgetMyProfile (author)2010-02-18

respectfully, I think that you have steps 3 and 4 backwards.

Most hole saws have a pilot drill bit for keeping the hole cutting saw in one place while cutting. If you drill the inner hole first, there is no place to put the pilot bit in one place to do the outer diameter of the ring. Ever tried it with a hand drill? I'm not sure it can be done.

Yes, I do see the drill press. While I'm certain you have a vice of some kind to hold the work steady while the outer ring is done secondly,  those who DON'T have a drill press are going to have a rough time if they have to use a whole saw without the help of the pilot drill.

Doing it my way makes more sense . . . at least to me.

Good, interesting instructable.

Lush, tropical Grand Rapids, Michigan.

cap826 (author)ForgetMyProfile2012-07-14

go half way with the outer ring then do the inner then finish the outer.

Here's the way I see it:

- If you drill the outer ring first, then it becomes much harder to hold the inner disc of wood while drilling the inner ring.
- If you drill the inner ring first, you can't see just where you're placing the bit for the outer hole, and you won't be able to center it precisely.
- As this instructable suggests, you can center the rings by "marking" the outer one first, then help hold everything in place by drilling inside then outside. It's really a compromise between the two methods.

That is why you do step 2.  You partially drill the outer "ring".  This is then your guide after removing the core.  This can be done easily even with a hand drill.

quomaya2 (author)ForgetMyProfile2010-02-18
From my experience, it's too hard to hold the piece of wood as you drill the inner hole with a forstner bit, but if you could get it to stay in place somehow, then your way would work just as well.
TheDevilsRubberDucky (author)2010-02-15

 y not laquer or poly?
btw laquer and poly are totally different finishes so poly is not "laquerish"

I think that the coat would go on too thick and then it might not fit on your finger, but it would probably work if you were careful.

Bard (author)quomaya22012-05-21

If its too thick couldn't you just re sand it down then try again?

quomaya2 (author)Bard2012-05-21


I have tried several different finishes for wood rings and have watched them as there used by people... poly and lacquer tend to chip and wear in not so good ways..... lint seed oil wears too fast unless its a mix of lint seed oil and varnish. This is a very good finish if you want a dull finish and it lasts.... Cyanoacrylate (CA glue / Superglue) gives the most durable high gloss finish but is really hard to get on properly. If you do it do it on a lath or in a drill and make sure you dont touch it with skin for at least 24 hours.... My favorite finish for rings right now is shellac... it dries very fast and still looks great even after is worn.

Instructable04 (author)2011-12-17

Ow dam!! Dad and I have tried EVERY POSSIBLE ON-HAND WOOD!!! I am still wondering if pine would be alright?? See, the prob is that the wood keeps on splitting...We also tried using hickory wood, split split split SPLIT!

Well you just need to do a lot more research on wood properties then...

Pine is a terrible choice for a ring, because it A) has a huge, loose grain and is full of things like knots, so getting a detailed shape out of it is going to be difficult without splitting, and B) it's really soft and inappropriate for being on your finger where it will get dented immediately, even if you could make it.

Hickory is pretty much the most difficult wood in the world to work with (with the possible exception of ebony). It splits like crazy and will jam router bits and break tools and all kinds of things.

You want a tight grained hardwood that is durable but easy to work. Like maple, cherry, or walnut. There's a reason finely detailed furniture is always made out of those woods, and never pine or hickory.

hatschel (author)2011-12-19

The ring will be broken befor or after.
Beliv it or not.
It´s importent to make the wood´n peace in te right direction vertikal like the tree grows
Or the better way glue 4 peaces of wood together and then make the ring.
I make mine on a lathe.
sry about my bad english

Instructable04 (author)2011-12-17

Two questions. One is can you use like ANY wood with a grain pattern? and would this be suitable for my girlfriend if done properly?? I love the look of them!

quomaya2 (author)Instructable042011-12-18

Can't help you much with the girlfriend problem. Maybe tell her it was done with love so it's worth more than any gold?

A hardwood would be the best to avoid splitting. I I like the look of the darker woods for these a lot.

Instructable04 (author)quomaya22011-12-18

Thanks quomaya2.

shadow wave rider (author)2011-07-12

what does wengelicious mean?

It's when your wenge is too delicious to be expressed with multiple words.

ddbear (author)2011-07-03
I found this Instructable helpful when sanding my rings! It works on the wooden and metal ones! This is my picture of it which may be a bit more simple!

daemonfist (author)2011-06-26

Just made one of these this weekend using pretty much the exact same methods here (hadn't even looked online for instructions...LOL)...anyways, I found that a Rotary tool with a drum sander attachment will work nicely as well!

Jon316 (author)2011-04-19

Thanks man this really helped, although i didnt have a hole saw, I still made an awesome ring.

tinstructable (author)2010-07-16

Sorry, i'm kinda new to woodworking... what is a forstner bit? I'm sure we have one, i just don't know what it is...

quomaya2 (author)tinstructable2010-07-16

Forstner bit=

Weissensteinburg (author)2010-02-14

 This is great. I tried to make a wooden cryptex once, but didn't know this method to cutting rings. What type of lumber is that?

Are cryptex's those little number contraptions? And the wood's wenge.
Vespa O (author)quomaya22010-02-14

Just a safety note on Wenge, WEAR A DUST MASK! The dust can be real nasty! It is a respiratory irritant and then there is what is known as the "Wenge trip" yep... it can cause mild sensory distortion...

quomaya2 (author)Vespa O2010-02-14
hahha, that's funny because I made a pipe with a wenge bowl, but I have yet to smoke out of it
thepelton (author)quomaya22010-02-17

I wouldn't if I were you.  I suspect that heat would probably intensify the chemical release from the wenge.   This is why certain woods are preferred (such as briar) for making pipes.

thepelton (author)thepelton2010-02-19

Tulipwood (Liriodendron tulipfera, NOT the rosewood (Dalbergia sp.) relative) was used as a carveable nontoxic and UNFLAVORED wood for making spoons by early pioneers.  Many central American and other tropical woods have some sort of toxin in them.  Most will not kill you, but could give you a disagreeable taste or rash.

crawlingdeadman (author)Vespa O2010-02-15

you should always wear a dust mask regardless of the type of wood. goggles too for that matter.

anfractuosities (author)2010-02-18

I made a bunch of rings just like this with some scrap cocoboro that I had lying around. I made a bunch, b/c they kept splitting. They looked great though

zaniac77 (author)2010-02-18

This is cool. You know, I would think over time that your own body oils would shine it right up if you just put a light wax on it at first to get it going. :)

ac-dc (author)zaniac772010-02-18

That's what you might want to avoid, as perspiration could make it swell, sweat isn't considered neutral in ph, and you can get fungus growing in/on the wood.

I don't know what the best treatment is, but I would lean towards an initial treatment with light oil to penetrate it, then liberally apply silicone grease rather than wax or oil because it is more resistant to detergent, if you got any soap or dishwater/etc on your hands it is less likely to strip the grease off.

zaniac77 (author)ac-dc2010-02-18

Yep, that's probably true. My brain is on pause today, apparently. ^_^

hydrnium.h2 (author)2010-02-18

Lol, "This wooden o", totally misinterpreted, could apply to this

wortmanb (author)2010-02-18

I do this by laminating together 5 2x2 or 2.5x2.5 squares of wood into a sandwich; usually with a dark wood like wenge for the middle layer (and I'll take a piece that's 1/8" thick and sand or plane it down a bit), then two layers of maple or walnut veneer to set that piece off, then outer pieces of a wood to contrast with the wenge, like padauk.  Each layer switches the direction of the grain by 90 degrees, like in plywood, so that there's less chance of a stress crack along the grain carrying through the piece.  I use Gorilla glue for maximum water resistance, though TiteBond III should work as well.

I drill a 1/2" hole in the center using a forstner bit and then, after trimming off the corners to make the whole thing octagonal, mount it on a sanding sleeve and stick it in my dremel (since I don't have a lathe).  I then use files & sandpaper to shape the outside and end up carefully shaping the inside with a smaller sanding sleeve on the dremel.  Arm-R-Seal to finish.

Gave one to my wife for our anniversary last year and she absolutely loved it.  This method isn't necessarily better (though I think the lamination gives additional strength) but it's an alternate way to approach shaping the rings.

Prop (author)wortmanb2010-02-18

I laminate 3, 1/8th pieces... drill with a forstner or spade bit.... then I use a knife and size the ring to whatever the requested size is (if you do this pay attention to grain direction while carving)... I then use a flush cut saw and guide block to cut the out side of the ring to mostly round and sad from there.... My process can be done entirely by had once the wood is planed to the right thikness

unseen wombat (author)2010-02-15

it's a cool idea, but won't the part where the grain is perpendicular to the ring split?

If I were doing it, I'd go for bending very thin veneers of some flexible wood like ash or white oak to the diameter of your finger and gluing together. Then the grain direction goes around the hoop at all points. Sand it properly and you probably won't even see the glue joint.

Prop (author)unseen wombat2010-02-18

You can make the ring quomaya2 made in then add bent veneer on top of it and it will make a very strong ring... Make the ring then put it on a lath... use a parting tool to make a groove then inset veneer into it.

quomaya2 (author)unseen wombat2010-02-15
yeah, it might split eventually, but it was pretty easy to make the way I did it, so I don't really care

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