So the other day I was dinking around on good old instructables when I saw the Wax Contest. Me being the impetuous teenager that I am, I instantly thought "Hey! I have the perfect project! It uses wax in multiple ways!"
So I ran down to my basement and started working.
This project is the result!
So what exactly is a signet ring?
Have you ever seen a medieval style movie where the king has an
important document to send, so he takes a nearby candle, pours wax onto the letter to seal it, then presses his ring into the soft wax to imprint the shape of his ring into the wax? (If you haven't, I hope I was descriptive enough to get you the general idea.) Well, that's what I'm going to show you how to make in this instructable. The design I decided on was simple, but if you want you can make your ring however complicated or stylish you would like.
Step 1: Make a Mold
I decided to make my ring out of aluminum. But, I decided that I didn't want to mill the ring- I wanted to cast it.
So, the first step is to make a mold. And seeing as I'm entering this into the wax contest, I decided I would do Lost Wax Casting, so as I go I'll explain the process.
1) Find a large chunk of wax (I used an old candle that I had laying around) and put it on some newspaper.
2) Take a knife and cut off a section of the wax candle so you have a flat surface, and make it slightly bigger than how large you want your imprint to be- this will give you some wiggle room to work with.
3) After that, round out the wax so you have a nice circular shape (Except for where you carved out the imprint surface.)
4) At this point I decided I wanted the sides of the ring to be skinnier then the imprint surface, so I slowly worked on shaping that.
5) Next step is carving out the ring hole- I used the knife and simply started carving a hole into the wax about the size of my ring finger.
6) Now, take some files and start smoothing the ring, touching up the edges and making sure that it looks right. It doesn't have to be perfect, you can finish the shape with other tools once it's metal. (I don't know why in that picture the wax looks white... sorry)
7) Last, take a bit of extra wax, and carve it to make a basic funnel or spout shape. Then take a lighter or other flame source, and apply the flame to the base of the spout to melt it. Then, while it's still melted, firmly press the melted wax to the ring, and let the waxes fuse together.
Nice, you've done the hardest part!
Step 2: Pour the Mold
Now we're going to make the actual mold.
Find your Plaster of Paris, and follow the directions to make your plaster.
Next, find a old water bottle (or soda can, or whatever is the right size and is disposable) and cut off the base, leaving enough room for the mold of the ring to fit inside with none of the ring showing, and without it touching the bottom.
Then pour the Plaster of Paris into the water bottle base, and stick the ring in the plaster.
Let it harden overnight or until your directions say it's finished.
Step 3: Melt Out the Wax
After the mold has dried completely, remove the plastic bottle.
Turn on your oven to about 200-300 degrees (if it starts to smoke, it's too hot).
Place the mold in the oven upside-down so the wax can start to drip out. Make sure you put something underneath it to catch the drips!
Once the wax is completely gone, remove the mold and let it cool.
Step 4: Melting the Aluminum
Now it the fun part- melting the aluminum and pouring it.
I made my foundry off of various ideas I found on Instructables- if you're interested in making one, just do some research and I'm sure you'll be fine.
So, you melt down a bunch of aluminum, and once it's thoroughly melted, pour the molten aluminum into your mold.
I shouldn't have to tell you to wear safety equipment, you should already know that, but what I will warn you about is to make sure that there is no moisture in your mold. I was pouring aluminum for a different project once, and forgot to check for moisture. The mold exploded, sending aluminum flying in all directions. I got a lovely scar on my face, luckily it faded after a couple weeks, but still. Learn from my mistakes :)
Step 5: Break the Mold
After the aluminum has cooled, break apart the mold, being careful to not damage the ring. One way to do this is to take some pliers, securely grip them, and carefully hit it with a hammer until the plaster is completely broken off of the ring.
Step 6: Widening the Hole
Next, secure the ring in a vise, and size the hole to your finger. There several methods, I started with a drill bit and then finished with a file, but it would have gone a lot faster if I had a dremel tool on hand. If you have one with the right attachment, I highly recommend you use it!
Step 7: Polishing/Final Touches/Engraving
Next I took the nearly finished ring to my grinder/polisher, and gave the ring a nice polish and a final shaping. Then, I secured the ring in my vise, took my drill with a small drill bit, and carefully drilled out my first initial (the letter C.) Again, this would have gone a lot faster and looked nicer too if I had a dremel, but I wanted to show you that it is possible to get by without one.
Once the ring is engraved to your heart's delight, you're finished!
Step 8: Using Your Signet Ring
*Note: I took these pictures about a week after I finished the ring, so that a nice patina could develop on the ring. (A patina is the covering that a metal gets after it oxidizes.) If you don't want a patina on your ring, use whatever sealer you find works best.
So, you have a beautiful ring but you don't know how to use it. Worry not! It's not hard at all.
You will need four supplies:
Melted wax (A candle)
Spare paper to go underneath to catch drips
And your ring.
Start by lighting the candle and letting a good amount of wax melt. Then, pour the melted wax directly onto the envelope so it forms a nice circle. Quickly, while the wax is still melted, place the engraving on your ring into the molten wax, and let the wax harden. When you remove the ring, you should have a beautifully sealed letter!
Simple, huh? It might take a couple of tries at first, but eventually you'll get the hang of it.
Thanks for reading my instructable, and I hope you enjoy your new ring!