Introduction: Make a Pair of Segmented Wood Earrings
Wood has a special appeal to me, it's a living thing with a personality. There are so many colors and textures. It's incredible that something growing in the back yard or hiding in the wood pile can unleash such beauty when you cut into it. Wood is all around us, you can buy it, recycle it, or, best of all you can harvest and discover it.
I like making jewelry because it's so small and intimate. Most people wear some form of jewelry, usually gold or silver. I like the warmth of wood, metal is just cold and lifeless.
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Step 1: What You Need
What do you need to make a pair of wood earrings....
wood, of course.
you'll need glue, I use super glue and gorilla glue. Some people ( well, many), use wood glue.
Acetone or latex gloves. The gloves will keep the glue off your fingers. The acetone will clean superglue off your fingers.
you'll also need something to give the wood a nice finish and protection. I use a mixture of mineral oil and bees wax, you might use that, or laquer, shellac or urethane, whatever appeals to you.
You'll need sandpaper...220, 400 and 600 grit.
A drill with a drill bit between 1/16" and 1/8".
2 6mm jump rings
2 4mm jump rings
And a saw. I use a bandsaw. If you don't have access to one, you can make a scroll saw work, but it's a challenge; straight and smooth is important. Or one of these contraptions, adapted for your purpose...
https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Smallest-Workshop-in-the-World/ step #4
Do not use a tablesaw. Don't even think about it. And, NO handheld power saws, the work is just too small. You can use a hand saw if you have one with a thin kerf, like a hacksaw or a japanese pull saw. If you're using a handsaw, the work must be held firmly in a vice.
If you're using a power saw, you need a fence. A simple piece of wood clamped to the worktable and parallel to the blade. It's important that the fence is clamped firmly and as parallel as possible to the blade so that the cut doesn't wander. Straight is important.
Step 2: Getting Started
You'll need wood, I like wood with a little contrast and some personality. Here, I'm using cherry, maple, mahogany and walnut. Begin by cutting convenient sized pieces. I've started, here with pieces 3/8" x3/8" x1 1/2".
The earrings are made in three sections, two solid outside sections and a middle segmented section. Now is when I start to think about design. Here, I want the two outside sections to be cherry and the middle section will be segmented, maple, mahogany and walnut.
First, cut all your wood to 1/4" width. Everything is now 1/4" x 3/8" x 1 1/2". Set the two outer sections aside, we've going to work on the center, segmented section. I like the segments to be 1/8" and 1/4", cut them 3/16" and 5/16", approximately.
Step 3: Sand and Glue the Center Section
Now is the time to decide on a design. Set the pieces next to each other, in a row. Now move them around until you get a design that you like. Put the pieces carefully aside, out of the way, but in the order you've selected. Now you're ready to start sanding.
Take a piece of 220 sandpaper and lay it flat on your table. Now, take the first piece of the center segments and look at it. It has two sides that are 1/4" x 3/8". You're going to sand these sides, only these two sides for now. Take the piece and lay it on the sandpaper. Holding it carefully with your fingertips, rub it back and forth on the sandpaper. Keep an even pressure on all sides so that you don't sand a slope, we want it as even as possible.
When you've sanded both sides, put it back and do the same for the next one. Keep going until you've sanded them all, KEEP THEM IN ORDER.
Now it's time for glue. For this step I use superglue.
Take the first segment and wet one sanded surface with superglue. Take the next segment (this is why we kept them in order), and press one sanded surface against the wet surface, line them up as well as you can and hold them, without moving, for at least 30 seconds, until the superglue sets up. Work your way down the line, gluing each one, until they're all glued together.
Now, look at your work. You sanded them as evenly as you could and glued them carefully, and they're still crooked, not to worry.
Get the old 220 sandpaper out again and put it flat on the table. Now look at the piece, it has two ends, 1/4" x 3/8" and a top, 1/4" wide by however segments you used. We're going to work on the 3/8" x 1 1/2" sides. Lay the piece on the sandpaper and sand it carefully. You want it completely flat, and you want to get that flatness with the least amount of sanding possible. Now, sand the other side the same way.
Now take the two side pieces that you set aside earlier. Put the center segmented piece down on the table and put a side piece on either side of it.. Look carefully, they probably don't fit together tightly so, sand the side of the side pieces until they fit tightly against the center segmented piece. Remember, the less sanding the better, but we want a snug fit. Now it's time to glue all three pieces together. I use gorilla glue here. If you want, you can use wood glue or superglue. I like gorilla glue because it expands to fill any little gap I may have left. Glue the three pieces together, clamp them and take a break until the glue sets up.
Step 4: Sand and Drill
Now, back to the 220 sandpaper, flat on the table. Sand all 6 sides until they are perfectly smooth. As always, sand thoroughly, but as little as possible.
Now it's time to drill. I use a drillbit about 3/32". I Mark a spot about 1/8" from the edge and in the middle of one end of the piece and drill a hole. Drill into a scrap piece of wood, that keeps the back from tearing out and protects your table.
Step 5: Cut the Earrings Apart
Before you start, a word about the bandsaw. It will cut your finger off and not even notice, it cuts wood and metal easily. KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE BLADE. I use two push sticks. One to push the work tightly against the fence and the other to push the work past the blade. Don't go near the blade until it stops moving.
We've been working on one piece, now it's time for that piece to become two earrings. If you sanded carefully, the piece should be more that 1/4" thick. If not, that's OK. Measure the thickness of your piece and write it down. Now cut into a piece of scrap wood, just a little bit and measure the width of the cut. Double the thickness of the cut and subtract that from the thickness of the earring piece, now divide THAT in half and that's the distance you want to set the fence from the blade. Cut a piece of scrap and measure it. Is that the thickness you want? If not, set the fence again and cut another piece. Keep it up until you get the thickness you want. It's worth the time, because once you make the cut, there's no going back.
Now you can run the piece through the saw for the first earring, then again for the second. This way your shaving material off both pieces, this makes both sides parallel. If you don't make the second cut the thickness of the second piece will be uneven
Step 6: Finishing Them
Now you have two earrings, they're smooth on 5 sides and not so much where you just sawed them. Back to the old 220 sandpaper, flat on the table. Now it's a lot harder, they've gotten pretty thin, sand the rough side. Now trade the 220 for 400 grit sandpaper and sand all 6 sides. Then on to 600 grit, Sand all 6 sides and then gently take the sharpness off the edges and corners.
Wipe all of the dust off, and apply whatever finish suits you. I use a mixture of oil and beeswax. I wipe it on and let it sit for a few minutes then wipe it off. Then I rub it with a soft cloth to bring out a soft luster.
I put the jump rings on next. Using two pairs of pliers, I twist a 6mm jump ring open and put it through the hole in the earring. Close it. Now I take a 4mm jump ring and using 2 pairs of pliers, I twist it open. I thread it through the 6mm jump ring and the loop of the earwire, close it up, repeat with the other one and there are your finished earrings