I cannot count the number of requests I got for this project, but there were many of you who asked me. This is MY take on the secret wood rings that you all shared with me. I think that while many of the processes can be refined and improved upon, the basic steps are all here!
See the real rings sold here: http://mysecretwood.com (which are amazing works of art)
Step 1: Splintering the Wood
The cornerstone of this project is that the rings are suppose to look like a miniature forest on your finger. That look is achieved with a piece of wood splintered in a way to give the illusion of trees.
I have to say, getting this look was the hardest part of the build. I used my planer and brought the wood down to 1/2" thick. I started with a piece of bloodwood, a piece of cherry and a piece of beech wood.
My first attempt was just to smash the cherry wood with a sledge hammer. The splinters were too large. Next attempt was when I put the bloodwood in my bench vise and tried to get a good break with simple leverage. I ripped my vise right off my bench!
The third attempt, with the beech board, was to add three blocks of maple to make a controlled break in the vise. It worked a lot better and I didn't end up with a metal vise on my foot!
I then ripped the board down to 3 1/2" in width so it fit snugly in my resin mold.
Step 2: Pouring the Night Sky
The resin portion of this ring is suppose to mimic the night sky. Forest and sky together in once piece of jewelry. A very clever design. I can only guess how they make their rings but I think having the wood flat in the mold should be the easiest method for pouring the resin.
My thinking here was that the wood would dam up the mold and I could pour a small volume of resin to fill the open section. I used a piece of blue tape to insure the wood would remain flat.
I mixed up 2 oz. of West System resin (105 resin & 207 hardener). The reason I chose this brand was simple. I've always had trouble getting all the bubbles out when using it in the past. Since I wanted micro bubbles in this casting, it seemed the correct epoxy.
So, I mixed up the clear epoxy and added a couple drops of blue pigment. just a little bit goes a long way! I'm also pouring the resin nice and high, for even more micro-bubble-trapping effectiveness!
In order to get that night sky swirl I'm adding a second pour. 1oz of epoxy resin without any pigment, also poured high. Now we wait.
Step 3: Rough Shaping
24 hours later and the cast can come out of the mold. I'm already loving this look! I think I got exactly what I was aiming for. I couldn't be happier.
Next step is to drill hole for the ring. This should be right at the edge of the splinter/resin line. You'll want to size this hole accordingly for whomever will be wearing this. Here is a useful chart of ring sizes in both inches and mm.
Then I take the block over to the band saw and rough cut the shape of the ring. These are small rings and the band saw is sharp, so be super careful. You will need your fingers for wearing these....
I decided to use my belt sander for the shaping process, it removes wood and resin quickly. You can also do this with a Dremel tool. (it will just take longer) I ended up cutting out two rings and shaped them both on the belt sander in about 10 - 20 minutes. I added a number of facets to the resin, doing my best to mimic the original rings.
Once the rough shaping is done, it's off the sanding pads.
Step 4: Sanding and Polishing
When I said earlier that the splintering was the hardest part, what I didn't mention was the sanding was the LONGEST part.
Sanding sucks. it just does. This is my field of sandpaper and my cynical sanding mug. Get comfortable. The grits start at 120 and end at 800. From starting at 120 to finishing both rings at 800 grit I was invested in a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes.
After sanding all the sides and facets to 800 grit you end up with a decent looking rings and honestly the majority of the work is behind you. But we can make it even better!
What I use for polishing grits are called micro mesh polishing pads. They start at 1500 and go through 12000. This will bring the ring to an almost mirror shine! My only regret was that the foam pads ended up rounding over all my sharp facets. This problem is easily solved by buying the pads without the foam backing. Had I know that ahead of time, I would have done so.
When you're done with the micro mesh, it looks pretty good, but a little plastic polish can make it even better!
So, dab on a little plastic polish then use a buffing wheel on a Dremel tool! This takes the ring to eleven, and really makes it shine!
Step 5: Completed Rings
Here are some beauty shots of the completed rings!
Thanks for looking!