Introduction: Ring Out of Old Piano String

Picture of Ring Out of Old Piano String

Hello and welcome to this instructable! :)
We - that´s David and Juli - would love to help you create a beautiful, rustic and still classy ring.

We made ours out of an old piano string which we found while tidying up. (To be honest, nobody knows where it came from and which piano has now to come along without its high c...)

If you don´t have some of these lying around (and don´t want to do cruel things to your grandma´s old piano), you can use some other (metal) strings, like from a western guitar or bass for sure.

This project was a great joy for us - we tried out many different things but this ring was our favourite outcome.

As it is our first instructable and we are not native speakers, please excuse any errors. Now let´s get started!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

As we dont have many professional tools, we try to keep our project as simple as possible.

All you need is...

  • the heart of this project: a piano string, which is normally a strong wire wrapped with a copper wire. The deeper the tone, the broader the ring will get. This is important if you use a western guitar/bass string, as the copper wire is usually much thinner there.
  • a hammer (to flatten the copper)
  • a nipper (to cut the wire)
  • some fine-tip pliers (to form the ring)
  • a soldering iron
  • tin-solder (we used a special one with 4% silver in it, but normal tin should be fine)
  • some small clamps (to hold the ring in place while you solder it)
  • some sandpaper or similar (to smoothen the ring)

Step 2: Cut the Wire

Picture of Cut the Wire

First you have to cut a piece from the string. It should be long enough to fit around your finger. Be generous, as there are always losses (and the piano is dead anyway).

Step 3: Flatten the String

Picture of Flatten the String

Now its time to show your inner Hulk!

It´s simple: Get yourself some flat, hard surface and hit the string gently, but powerfully. Best way is to start in the middle and work yourself towards the endings as the copper tends to stretch a bit.

As we love our neighbours and are not lucky enough to own an anvil (yet ;), we used the concrete floor in our cellar.

Step 4: Bend the Thing!

Picture of Bend the Thing!

After flattening the string, you can get it into the right shape. If available, we recommend using round nose pliers as they do not damage the copper that much. Be careful at the edges, so the copper doesn´t break or slip off the inner wire.

Step 5: Prepare for Soldering

Picture of Prepare for Soldering

Cut the string a tiny bit shorter than your desired length (as the tin takes some space). Bend the ring and let the endings barely touch each other.

Step 6: Close the Ring

Picture of Close the Ring

Use the clamps to hold the ring in place while you connect the endings with the tin. Be careful, as the copper can change its colour when exposed to high temperatures for a long time. You can use this to create a more rustical look, if you want!

Step 7: Fine-tuning!

Picture of Fine-tuning!

Use the sandpaper or other polishing tools to smoothen rough edges and get the copper bright and shiny.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Enjoy your master piece :)

We love our new ring, as it combines the things we like: It´s rustic but elegant, reminds us of our passion to make music and can probably save middle earth from Sauron ;).

So if you have some old strings you don´t use and want to make yourself or someone you like a pleasure - go ahead and try it out! We hope you like this instructable and look forward to see your results! Feel free to modify the concept. We like the minimalistic look, but you can easily add a gem or even make a bracelet or necklace!

Comments

Alywolf (author)2017-05-10

great use for thoes tiny coils.

OrienteeringGuy (author)2017-03-30

I'm glad you specified tin solder. Some folks might only have the old lead based solder lying around. I want to make some for my piano playing friends.

bhavik zure (author)2017-03-30

nice one.

voted

ThomasG187 (author)2017-03-28

Great instructable! I've used guitar strings to make several rings, but I love how you flattened yours out. I take 3 pieces of string, clamp one end in a vise, and braid them together. It's been a while since I've made one, but now I want to make one like yours!

Sounds good! If i may ask - how did you keep the ends braided/connected? I guess the piano strings would be hard to braid - at least the deep ones. But it should be no problem to apply the hammer-method on the deep guitar strings ;)

I would solder across the braid, figure my length, and solder across the braid there. Then I would cut in the centers of my solder joints, and connect the two soldered ends together. If that makes sense. I made one for my wife, but she has misplaced it. If we can find it, I'll post a picture of it. :)

LeslieGeee (author)2017-03-28

Hello Dave, Great instructional. FYI, if you can find an old flat iron used to press clothes with a wooden handle you can take the handle off turn it over and use the flat part as your anvil. Make sure you can remove the whole handle also if you can't find a removable handle you can find someone that can remove it for you. This is what I have been using and it has been working well!!

Hey Leslie, that sounds like a great idea! I did some eBay research, and apparently the old flat irons of our region look a bit different. But I will ask my grandmother for sure, maybe she has something similar for me. If not, I might try to repurpose some cast iron weight of an old floor lamp. However, as we live in a flat and our neighbors have a very young child, we will probably still go in the cellar for further noisy projects :)

Hi David, I don't know where you are but I am in the States and at the time I only paid $5.00 for it. You have to look for the removable handle kind. I am pretty sure you will be able to find a removable handled one in an antiques shop so that you won't have to pay S&H. I found mine in a little hole in the wall shop. For a muffler I made a "pillow" for it out of leather and dry sand which helps very well with muting the sound. Wood will only amplify the sound unless you place the pillow on a small stump. Good luck and again thanks for the tutorial :)

mrsmerwin (author)2017-03-25

are all piano wires copper wrapped or just old ones? I have an old player piano that was being repaired. Due to a series of unfortunate events, the inner workings are lost forever. I am considering getting rid of the whole piano. Maybe I will remove a few wires before I do. How long is an individual wire? (So I know what to expect before I get in there.)

drumlovr (author)mrsmerwin2017-03-28

As an artist, I have seen several projects using piano keys. If you can't use them, I totally can. If you decide to part with them, please let me know. I will pay postage and give them a new life. Thanks! ogburn30@gmail.com

Hey! As far as I know, all normal pianos (like not electronic) have at least some strings wrapped in copper. Usually, the lower notes are produced by only one thick wire wrapped in copper (as ours), the mid-range notes are made by two thinner strings wrapped in copper and the higher notes are produced by three thin strings (without copper) of the same length. The length depends on the overall size of the piano.

Sorry to hear about your piano - but it might be a nice occasion to get some new jewelry, right? ;) If your piano looks nice on the outside, you could consider recycling the whole thing, e.g. a nice wine rack (https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Repurpose-a-Piano-Into-a-BarDrinks-Cabinet/) or even make it green by planting some nice flowers in it.

But please be careful when removing the strings. They may be under strong tension.

If you somehow find out the model or manufacturer of your piano (maybe with pics), i can probably tell you more :)

Wow! Besides give us a fantastic idea about using the piano strings to make a beautiful ring, you also shared the idea how to turn a dead piano to a making people talk piano. Lots places for bottles there. I love it. It's like making a TV stand with a old Sewing machine cabinet. Kudos to you!

A making people talk piano - that´s a new expression for my vocabulary :) Thanks for that and the nice words!

BillMil (author)Davethebrave2982017-03-28

I second the notion to repurpose the piano. There are so many options for conversion and there's a lot of good, usable wood in a lost piano. The inner workings look awesome as art.

Davethebrave298 (author)BillMil2017-03-28

Unfortunately, many old pianos are destroyed and burnt because the costs to repair them are too high. As a musician, my heart hurts when I see handmade instruments being destroyed - so you are totally right: Why not give new life to them?

Silver Wren (author)2017-03-28

Hi Dave, I have searched on line for the piano bass wire, but so far I haven't found any in the UK. Any suggestions please? Kate

ThomasG187 (author)Silver Wren 2017-03-28

Probably search for "piano strings". If you have a local music store, or even better a piano repair shop, you might check there. Another idea would be to call a piano tuner and ask if they have any old strings. A new set of acoustic guitar strings will work as well. Hope this helps!

Silver Wren (author)ThomasG1872017-03-28

Thank you, I will give the guitar strings a try.

Hey Kate! They sure are hard to get. I doubt any seller would offer single strings online, as only few people could actually use them. If I was you, I would search for some piano maker in your region and kindly ask him if he got some spare parts for you. They often exchange single ones while repairing or tuning old pianos and probably can´t use them after. If you don´t find any, you can still use some bass/guitar strings - although they are not as thick as piano strings, they should at least be easier to get your hands on. If you need further help, just ask :)

Thanks Dave, I will keep looking.

UlrichR2 (author)2017-03-27

I just swapped my bass guitar strings a few days ago, I am definitely trying this. Awesome work!

Davethebrave298 (author)UlrichR22017-03-28

If you do, be sure to post a pic - we would love to see some people adopt this and find out how it works for other instruments and materials :)

38ren (author)2017-03-25

Gorgeous ring! All I have on hand are guitar strings, but I will give this a go, although I do not have a soldering iron, will this be too much of a problem?

Thanks for this well documented instructable my vote is yours :)

Davethebrave298 (author)38ren2017-03-26

Hey! Thank you very much - we appreciate your vote :)! First of all - we would love to see a photo of your guitar string ring if you happen to make it! Be sure to take the deeper strings wrapped in something like copper (sometimes its also Nickel or Bronze, even silverplated copper). The soldering iron and the tin is helpful to keep the ring in its shape. If you manage to bend the string so it stays round, or even keep some of the inner wire exposed and make like two hooks holding each other, that could also work. Have fun! :)

Shep4u (author)Davethebrave2982017-03-28

I suppose it might be possible to interweave the copper covering before flattening on a mandrel (round steel bar), unfortunately I don't have any strings to try it, the inner wire hooks idea would be ideal for a 'torc'.

Davethebrave298 (author)Shep4u2017-03-28

That´s a nice idea! Might try it the next days! Often the inner wire is a bit sturdy and tends to bend in ways you don´t want it to. A mandrel (or something similar) would of course be helpful for this!

38ren (author)Davethebrave2982017-03-27

Thanks for the advice, if I ever recreate this project, I will surely post a pic :)

Azahrens (author)2017-03-28

What a beautiful ring! I gotta say, for non-native speakers, you write with feeling and clarity. A pleasure to read and an outstanding idea! Definitely gets my vote!

Davethebrave298 (author)Azahrens2017-03-28

Wow, thanks for your vote and the kind words! Seems like those never-ending lessons in school were not totally in vain ;)

deluges (author)2017-03-27

Beautiful ring, and the last picture is stunning. Thanks for sha-ring ;)

chica.emmer (author)2017-03-26

Nice instructable! easy ti follow directions!

4DIYers (author)2017-03-25

Holy is that ever fine workmanship, looks beautiful!

Davethebrave298 (author)4DIYers2017-03-26

We´re glad you like it! :)

About This Instructable

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Bio: Hey! I love to recycle old stuff and create new, useful (sometimes also beautiful, but useless :)) things out of it.
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