Introduction: Needle-Keeping Ring
I do a lot of leather sewing, which involves two needles and an awl. Three items does not divide well into two hands, so it seems like I'm always putting a needle down and forgetting where, or dropping one on the floor. Rather than spend half of my time searching for a missing needle, I opted to keep them secure and close at hand with a magnetic ring. It saves me finding a clear spot to put them down, and I can also wave it over the floor to find any that have fallen.
If you sew, and especially if you also have a bad back or poor eyesight, this can be a real time saver. It's also very handy for holding pins.
This project is very fast and simple. It's great for using up small scraps of wood and trying out different techniques. I'm going to break it down into very simple steps for absolute novices like myself, so I ask that the experts among us please bear with me. :)
-Scrap of wood. About 1.5" square, 0.75" thick. A tight grained hardwood is best, but anything will do, especially as practice.
-Small magnet. I used a few cheap 3/8" diameter ones in a stack. No need to break the bank on this.
-Glue. Just a dab of your preferred metal-to-wood adhesive. I used Gorilla Glue.
-Drill and bits
-Rotary tool (Optional, only needed if you want to get fancy.)
Step 1: Drill a Finger Hole
First thing you'll have to do is find your finger size. If you have a ring, the simplest way to do this is to try putting it on drill bits or dowels until you find one that's close. Failing that, search online for ring sizing. round down whatever number you get, as you can always make the hole bigger.
Take your scrap of wood and find the center. Make sure you have enough space for your finger-sized hole and about .25" on three sides, witha little more than that on the fourth. Mark and drill your hole.
Step 2: Drill the Magnet Setting
Select a drill bit the same diameter as your magnet. Drill into the centre of your thicker side. Try to stop just short of hitting the finger hole, but if you break through, don't worry.
Now that the drilling is done, you can start shaping the ring.
Step 3: Rounding Out
Check the hole for size. If you need to make it a little bigger, do it now with either rough sandpaper or a rotary tool.
Round off the bottom half of the ring. Use the finger hole as a guide to keep the shape nice and circular.
Next, cut away about 1/8" from each side of the bottom half. The width should taper down the sides.
Keep at it until it looks how you want. Only remove a little material at a time, and remember that a wood ring needs to be a little chunky to stay strong.
You should now have something that resembles a single brass knuckle. Only it's wood.
Step 4: Shaping the Top
This step is completely up to you. I used a knife and a bit of coarse sandpaper for the grooves. I liked the grain on this and wanted to show it off so I went for a natural, free form look.
If you want a sleek and smooth ring and don't trust your carving skill, you can do well with just some coarse sandpaper and a little patience.
Step 5: Mount the Magnet
Dab some glue on the edges of your magnet and pop it in. It should fit snugly.
Step 6: Smooth and Finish
for the look I was going for on this ring, I roughed in the shape and then skipped right down to 150 grit sandpaper and went down through to 400 grit. That meant that I just smoothed the rough edges instead of losing them completely. It was an interesting experiment.
Whatever method you use, don't forget to lightly sand down the inner edges of the finger hole. A sharp edge will make it tough to take the ring off.
Use the finish of your choice. I used tung oil. For the first coat, I just submerged the whole ring for half a minute, then wiped off the excess. I let it dry, lightly sanded, and brushed on another coat. Dry, sand, repeat.
I hope you enjoyed this little project. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon and the overhead cost is almost nil. I've heard a lot of people say that wooden rings made like this are much too fragile, but personally, I've never had one break. Just keep them fairly thick and don't use them to punch things with, and it should last a long time. Also, be conscious of the fact that any sharp bits of metal will be attracted to your finger, and behave accordingly. Have fun!
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