Introduction: Red Copper Ring

Picture of Red Copper Ring

In this instructable, I will show you how to make this super bright red copper ring. It is really easy, really cheap and can be completely customized by you, so let's get started.

You will need:

Materials

Copper sheet - The thicker the better, I used 1.2mm thick copper.

Paste flux - Mine is made for jewellery, but you could use some plumbing flux instead.

Silver solder - Again, can be bought from a plumbing supply store.

Polishing compounds - I used jeweler's rouge but you can use an automotive polish.

Pickle - You can make your own with vinegar and salt.

Tools

Soft mallet

Pliers

Hammer

Jeweler's saw or hacksaw

Fine file or sandpaper

Rotary tool or elbow grease

Ring mandrel or appropriate cylinder

Step 1: Cut the Sheet Into Three Strips.

Picture of Cut the Sheet Into Three Strips.

The three strips were cut out with a jeweler's saw will be soldered together to make a thick, chunky ring shank.

The formula for how long these strips should be is:

(Diameter of your finger + Thickness of material) x pi

I wanted a size 10 ring, which is about 20mm in diameter, so in my case this formula was:

(20mm + 3.6mm) x 3.14 = 74.1mm long strips

Step 2: Prepare Shanks for Sweat Soldering.

Picture of Prepare Shanks for Sweat Soldering.

Sand the copper

Apply flux

Add generous amount of solder

Heat up copper to melt solder

Then pickle the copper to remove the oxides, you can use a mix of vinegar and salt to do this.

After the copper is clean, stack them up and solder them on top of eachother.

Step 3: Form Ring and Solder Seam.

Picture of Form Ring and Solder Seam.

File the rough edges smooth.

Bend the ring shank around with pliers and hold it closed with some scrap binding wire.

Solder the ring shank with plenty of solder.

Step 4: Hammer Ring Blank Round.

Picture of Hammer Ring Blank Round.

Using a cylinder and a soft mallet, beat the ring into a round shape.

I used a ring mandrel, but you could use a large drill bit, a socket set or anything round you can get your hands on.

If your ring turned out too small like mine did, it can be enlarged by hitting it with a metal hammer around the circumference until it is the appropriate diameter.

Step 5: File the Ring Blank Over.

Picture of File the Ring Blank Over.

Get the basic shape of the ring in with a file and some elbow grease.

This step is open to your imagination, I just went with a classic domed look.

Step 6: Sand, File and Sand the Inside of the Ring.

Picture of Sand, File and Sand the Inside of the Ring.

Using a rotary tool and a needle file, round over the edges of the ring to make sure it is comfortable.

I taped some sandpaper from 400 grit to 600 to 1200 onto a drill bit to sand the inside.

Step 7: File Some Texture Into Your Ring.

Picture of File Some Texture Into Your Ring.

I chose to file facets on my ring, but you could use a hammer to beat some interesting texture into it or even file grooves and troughs into it.

My process was to clamp the ring, file a facet, run over the facet with sandpaper, unclamp, rotate and repeat. This took a long time.

Step 8: Polish the Entire Ring.

Picture of Polish the Entire Ring.

I used cotton buffs in my rotary tool for the inside, and larger felt buffs attached to an old wood lathe for the outside of the ring.

I pre-polished with green crocus and final polished with red rouge polishing compound, but you could also use some abrasive automotive polish.

Step 9: Heat Treat the Ring.

Picture of Heat Treat the Ring.

To get this particular texture and colour, I covered the entire ring with flux, heated it up to a bright red, then quickly quenched it in a bowl of water. This has to be done quickly for the best results.

Step 10: Polish the Ring Again and Done!

Picture of Polish the Ring Again and Done!

I just went over the ring with my final polish, red rouge, and buffed it with a rag to end up with this.

The red is super bright and truly eye catching in the sun light. Depending on how you heat treat it you can get colours from deep purple to bright yellow!

To preserve your finish, rub some wax or a sealer onto the ring. I used renaissance wax. This prevents the colour from chipping off or darkening as well as prevents the copper from turning your skin green.

Comments

MazinM (author)2017-02-15

Hi im having a go at this instructable but I couldnt find any copper so im using brass, do you think I could get away with tin-lead solder or do I have to use silver solder?

JonathonZ (author)MazinM2017-02-15

You should avoid using tin/lead solder because it is much softer and more prone to breaking. Also the lead in the solder is a bad idea for prolonged contact with skin so is not a good solution for jewellery.

olivi3r (author)2016-07-28

Hi ! I love your ring, I'm currently trying to make one similar myself but I'm struggling with the soldering, it always break when i try to bend the copper sheets ! I'm using silver solder and flux...

When you stack the three sheets do you just melt the soldering or do you press the sheets together when hot ?

if you have any idea why this happens it would be great, if not, i'll keep trying !

Thanks a lot for sharing anyway ! :)

JonathonZ (author)olivi3r2016-07-28

Hello! It's great to hear you're giving this project a go.

When you say it breaks, are you referring to the solder joint itself splitting and separating the three sheets? Or does the copper itself crack when it is bent?
If it is the first issue, I recommend adding more solder, and ensuring it is completely melted over the entire surface of the copper. When heating it, make the entire piece really really hot to ensure there are no gaps that haven't melted.
If it is the second issue, you should try annealing the copper as you bend it, so bend it a bit, heat it up to a dull red, quench it and repeat until it the two ends meet.

You shouldn't need to press the sheets together, but you have to make sure the solder is melted over the entire piece at the same time so the sheets can come together on their own and not be held back by a solid piece of solder on the opposite side of the shank.

Sorry that I wrote so much but I hope this helps, and if I misunderstood your question, please clarify your problems (maybe include pictures), and I will do my best to help you fix them.
Thank you!

olivi3r (author)JonathonZ2016-07-29

Don't apologize for writing so much, thanks a lot !
It is the first issue, solder break every time, I will follow your advice and keep you posted !

Thanks again !

olivi3r (author)2016-07-28

Hi ! I love your ring, I'm currently trying to make one similar myself but I'm struggling with the soldering, it always break when i try to bend the copper sheets ! I'm using silver solder and flux...

When you stack the three sheets do you just melt the soldering or do you press the sheets together when hot ?

if you have any idea why this happens it would be great, if not, i'll keep trying !

Thanks a lot for sharing anyway ! :)

SeviM1 (author)2016-02-21

Hello!! I have seen your ring a month ago and I loved it!!! I am trying to make it, but compining copper and brass..

But I have a problem. How did you manage to get the final shape??Steps 6 and 7?How can I achive this polygon shape?What is the technique??

JonathonZ (author)SeviM12016-02-22

Hi!
To create the faceted texture I just followed these steps:

-Clamp ring in vice
-File a flat spot on the ring
-Unclamp the ring and rotate it

Then repeat those steps until the entire surface has been faceted. It isn't difficult but it is time consuming. I hope this helps, and please post a picture of your ring! I would love to see it :)

SeviM1 (author)JonathonZ2016-02-22

Do you have any pictures?? I am really comfused :-(

I don't have a vice. My ring is still in step 5, piscture 2 and I do not know how to continue.

JonathonZ (author)SeviM12016-02-22

Oh sorry, I misunderstood your question. In step five I rounded over the edges of the ring so instead of it looking like a cylinder, it was shaped more like a donut. I did this by filling the sharp corners off the ring, around the entire circumference. This gave the ring a domed or rounded profile.

SeviM1 (author)JonathonZ2016-02-22

ok..thanks..I am trying to understand :-) After making it rounded I create the faceted texture?

The texture is random?? Or there is a technique or a sequence to follow??

JonathonZ (author)SeviM12016-02-23

Yep, after it's round you randomly create the facets. I found it easier to create the facets in the middle first, so it looked like a bolt head, then filed the facets on the edges.

SeviM1 (author)JonathonZ2016-02-23

Thank you very much..I will try it...

SeviM1 made it! (author)SeviM12016-04-02

this is the ring that I finally made.

It is quite different from your own, I combined cooper and bronze and I rounded it a lot..

Thanks for the idea!!

JonathonZ (author)SeviM12016-04-02

Wow! That is absolutely gorgeous! I love the swirls of colour you have in there and the red works really well. You did a great job, thanks for sharing your project!

arostirolla (author)2016-02-24

In one of the comments you mentioned that copper oxides would form different colours. How whould i heat the ring to achieve different colours?

JonathonZ (author)arostirolla2016-02-24

In my experience you can only get yellows, oranges, reds, blacks and maybe a purple from heating the copper. To get yellow, heat the copper less, to get black, heat the copper more.

To get colours like blue and green, you can use other chemicals and methods. Using an ammonia fumigation box you can get blues and greens and it is very easy to do although less consistant.

If you're aiming for a specific colour I would highly recommend experimenting on test pieces to make sure you can get the results you want consistently before you colour your nicer projects.

arostirolla (author)JonathonZ2016-02-25

Thanks for the help. Looking forward to making some.

marcellahella (author)2016-02-19

Really nice instructions, thank you.

I wanted to ask you if you know what happen to the copper when it turn red like this. It always happen to my copper too when I heat it up too much with the torch, even without the use of flux, and I was wondering if it is something inside the copper coming up to the surface, or if it is just a patina kind of thing.

JonathonZ (author)marcellahella2016-02-19

When the copper turns red, it means that the oxygen in the air around it has bonded to the copper to form a copper oxide. Copper oxides can range from green, to red, to black, and I find that the flux prevents the black from forming. It is a patina, so the colour is only on the very surface of the metal.

Hope this helps.

marcellahella (author)JonathonZ2016-02-25

Ok, thank you very much for answering

warriorethos2 (author)2016-02-20

JonathonZ, as I said before on a previous contest, nice work on the ring. Your instructable was easy to follow and instructions were well written. I like the finished texture that you put on the ring. Good luck in the jewelry contest.

JonathonZ (author)warriorethos22016-02-20

Thank you again!

masterofhalo (author)2016-02-16

i think the ring is awesome but i dont have much money,is there a cheaper way to do it?

JonathonZ (author)masterofhalo2016-02-19

What part of the project are you having trouble financing?

Renarde Rousse (author)2016-02-15

Beautiful!

JJBartels (author)2016-02-06

Is the process much different between this and the brass?

JonathonZ (author)JJBartels2016-02-06

The process is identical, except you won't be able to get these colours with brass. Also, you might have more luck finding thick brass stock than I did looking for copper.

JJBartels (author)JonathonZ2016-02-07

Awesome thank you!!

Squee (author)2016-02-02

I did a similar finish on a copper vessel and sealed it with liberal amounts of Renaissance Wax, unfortunately that was not enough. In about 6 months the nice red finish had turned fuzzy green.

JJBartels (author)Squee2016-02-05

Would reapplying the wax every so often help this effect do you think?

Squee (author)JJBartels2016-02-05

It certainly couldn't hurt. I want to find a better way to preserve this patina, but I won't be able to experiment more until I manage to get my home workshop set up.

JonathonZ (author)Squee2016-02-02

That's disheartening to hear. I have plans to try powder coating though, with transparent beads. That will give me a practically indestructible industrial solution. I just need to buy a toaster oven and the powder itself. Thanks for the heads up though!

Leathaldose (author)2016-02-02

I came across this instructable about a week ago. It made me clean my room to locate all the jewelry making tools, had them scattered every where. you would think after being in a place a year, would have put things away after move in. but who has time with so many awesome instructables to read.

JonathonZ (author)Leathaldose2016-02-02

Haha, too true! If you do end up making something like this, I would love to see pictures.

GergelyD (author)2016-01-31

Nice inst, but it would be nice to know what are you using as a flux, as there are a nice variety of them out there.

Boric acid? Refined clay? Fluoron? ...

JonathonZ (author)GergelyD2016-01-31

I used a borax based flux. I do believe, however, that any other appropriate flux would achieve the same results.

warriorethos2 (author)2016-01-30

JonathonZ, nice work on the ring. Good easy to follow instructions.

Raitis (author)2016-01-30

Oh, I saw this on reddit a while ago! It's a nice ring and has that good feeling of a rough first shot at something which is still nice to use with all the imperfections. :)

Obviously voted as well, those jewelry kits would be put to a good use by you.

JonathonZ (author)Raitis2016-01-30

Thank you so much, that means so much to me!

JJBartels (author)2016-01-29

also, if you were to use a sealer on the final product instead of a wax, what would you suggest to use?

JonathonZ (author)JJBartels2016-01-29

I personally have had really bad luck with thicker sealants. I have heard that clear nail polish works, beeswax, or something more industrial because jewellery and rings in particular are exposed to very harsh conditions.

JJBartels (author)JonathonZ2016-01-30

Okay thank you!

GamingGecko (author)2016-01-26

Hey love the ring I just wanted to clarify some of the steps, the
solder holds everything together but what is the flux for, could the weld be done without it? Is the color determined on the temperature that the ring gets to when you heat it? Could you have a multi colored ring by keeping one side of the ring cold? and when heated will it changed color while heating or after it gets quenched as if its after how could you determine the colour? Could the color be changed after you quench it the first time. Lastly if the color can be changed, lets say that purple is achieved at a higher temperature than yellow, (hypothetically) so as i was heating it i quenched it to be yellow, then i heated it again would it not change color or would it go beyond yellow to purple and could i change it back to yellow after it has exceeded the yellow heat colour. sorry for all the questions some of them might be a bit hard to understand i was just curious :P

Thanks in advance.

JonathonZ (author)GamingGecko2016-01-26

I'll do my best to answer your questions :)

The flux ensures that there are no oxides on the metal preventing the solder from making a strong connection.

The colour does change depending on how hot the copper gets, correct.

Theoretically, you could have two colours by keeping one side of the ring cold, but this would be very difficult to do as the ring needs to be red hot to get a nice colour.

If you heat it up but dont quench it, the ring will turn black. By quenching it, water vapourises as soon as it touches the copper, violently tearing off the black layer that will form over the red.

If you heated it up and quenched it again, it will change colour - a bit.

If you got yellow, then heated it up again to purple colour, it would turn purple. You could change it back to yellow by removing the colour completely with pickle and re-treating the metal.

Hope that helps!

GamingGecko (author)JonathonZ2016-01-27

Omg, i wrote a paragraph and then i pressed "view all steps" now its gone ;-;

Alright. Thanks so much for the help, didn't think you could answer the questions XD. So I'm gonna ask some more. If you sanded\filed the red would it turn back to the copper color? Is the black line around the ring the solder? and what is the black spot on the inside of the ring? In the step where you show the ring just quenched there is a sort of dark red with black splatter on it is it able to be finished like that or does polishing and sealing change it to what it is now? Do you need it to be made of 3 sheets, is there a reason that it is? Could it be made out of more thinner sheets? Is the bar pliable? Could it be made of one thick sheet?. I think that's all the questions i have so far, thank you for answering so quickly, hope you have another instructable coming soon love to see more of your work, Thanks again.

JonathonZ (author)GamingGecko2016-01-29

Yep, the colour is just a thin layer on the outside of the metal.
The visible crack is indeed where I soldered the shanks together.
The black spot on the inside is also solder, from where the ring was soldered round.
The black firescale on the ring does come off with polishing.
I used three sheets because I didn't have access to any copper thick enough.
You could use thinner sheets, but I don't know why you would do that to yourself haha
The bar is very difficult to form by hand and with pliers.
It could (and probably should) be made from one thick sheet.

Hopefully that answers every question you had :)

GamingGecko (author)JonathonZ2016-01-27

I also had another idea, what if u used a spay bottle the quench it, i imagine that it would tuen out very strange depending if u used mist or squirt, just a future idea.

JJBartels (author)2016-01-29

How exactly does the pickling work?

JonathonZ (author)JJBartels2016-01-29

A diluted solution of acid eats away at the surface of the metal, focusing on impurities and oxides. After leaving the dirty, oxidised metal in the pickle for a couple minutes it comes out clean.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Hello! My name is Jonathon Zalakos and I am an independent maker of many different media. I do harbour a soft spot for goldsmithing though!
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