Making a Simple Sterling Silver Ring




Introduction: Making a Simple Sterling Silver Ring

With the correct equipment and these step by step instructions, anyone can make a simple sterling silver ring. Some abilities required to make a ring include using a saw and using a torch. This project requires much attention in order to complete each step safely. For a repeat ring maker, this process could take two hours or less, while a beginning ring maker may take much longer. Two simple rings are depicted in the images. These steps are important if you are looking to sport your own jewelry creation making it personal at a price comparative to if not better than purchasing a ring.

The materials needed to make a ring may seem unrealistic for a DIY project. Check around your community to find a work space or craft space that may offer open shop hours for you to use their equipment. You'll need:

Step 1:
  • Ring sizers (not necessary if you know your ring size)
  • Ruler
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Marker or mechanical pencil
  • Tape (optional)
  • A chunk of sterling silver

Step 2:
  • Wooden block (with a V cut out of one end - see image)
  • C-clamp
  • Block of wax
  • Saw
  • Scrap metal (optional)

Step 3:
  • Ring clamp
  • Large file

Step 4:
  • C-block
  • Leather mallet
  • Metal mallet

Step 5:
  • 4 inches of galvanized steel wire – 20 gauge
  • Pliers

Step 6:
  • Fire Brick (or another fireproof surface)
  • Flux – an agent used to make solder “run” faster
  • Tiny paint brush
  • Solder wire
  • Torch lighter
  • Torch (or pencil torch)

  • Tongs
  • Water
  • Pickle – a sulfuric acid solution to remove imperfections from soldering and annealing metal
Step 8:
  • Ring mandrel
  • Leather mallet (same as used in step 5)
  • Small files
  • Sandpaper (320- 400- 500- and 600-grit)
  • Polish wheel

Step 1: Size Your Finger

1. Find your ring size using the ring sizers.

2. Find the dimensions of your ring size in the table shown.
Note: If you know your ring size, there is no need for the ring sizers.

3. Trace a rectangle the length of your ring on paper, the width of your desire using a ruler.
Note: If the ring width is too narrow, it may not solder correctly.
Note: If you want to attempt a design, the paper mockup is where you can practice drawing it and placing it correctly.

4. Cut out the rectangle.
Caution: Be careful with the scissors.

5. Wrap the piece of paper you cut out around your finger to see how it looks and feels (taping together if necessary).
Note: If it looks the way you want you’re ready to move on; if not, continue trying different things with the paper.

6. Trace the rectangle of paper onto your chunk of sterling silver using a marker or mechanical pencil.
Note: It may be easier to use a ruler again to trace onto the sterling silver rather than tracing the paper.

Step 2: Saw From Sterling Silver

1. Place the wooden block on the edge of a table.

2. Clamp the wooden block to the table with the C-clamp.

3. Run the saw blade through a chunk of wax.

4. Begin sawing up and down with as much pressure as a handshake.
Note: Before you begin sawing the sterling silver, you can use the optional scrap metal to practice your sawing skills until you feel comfortable with the motions.
Note: To begin a notch in the silver, run the blade up (against the blades) with moderate pressure a couple of times.
Note: In order to turn the corner once you’ve sawed the length of the ring, continue sawing with the pressure of a handshake, but slightly start to turn the angle at which you are sawing. The slower you take the angle, the less likely you’ll break a blade.
Caution: If you use too much pressure with the saw or turn to abruptly while sawing, you could break the blade.

You should now have a long rectangle of silver with the width you desire. Don’t worry if the edges are not perfectly straight. This will be taken care of with the file.

Step 3: File Edges Down

1. Take the wedge out of the end of the ring clamp.

2. Place the rectangle of sterling silver in one end of the ring clamp.

3. Place the wedge into the opposite end of the ring clamp (the end opposite to that with the rectangle of sterling silver).

4. File the edges down using the large file to make the edges as straight as possible.
Note: Repeat steps 1-3 moving the rectangle of sterling silver in order to file each edge.
Note: There will be more precise filing later on with smaller files so for now don’t worry about having it perfectly straight.

Step 4: Form Band

1. Set the C-block on the table.
Note: There may be a notch in the bottom of the block that will catch on the edge of the table. This will keep the block in place slightly.

2. Place one end of the rectangle of sterling silver on the smallest C on the C-block.

3. Lightly pound the sterling silver with the metal mallet so it begins curving at the end.
Caution: While using both mallets, use caution so you do not hit your fingers.

4. Turn the rectangle to place the other end in the smallest C.

5. Lightly pound the sterling silver with the metal mallet.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 on the middle-sized C of the C-block and the largest C of the C-block if necessary.
Note: Your ring should be curved like a C, similar to the third picture in this step.
Note: If you can no longer make progress on the curve using the metal mallet and C-block, try using the leather mallet to pound the ends closer together while just holding the sterling silver in your hand.

You now have a “band.”

Step 5: Bind Ring for Pressure

1. Cut about 4 inches of the galvanized steel wire - 20 gauge.

2. Wrap the steel wire around the band pressing the ends of the band together.

3. Line up the ends as best as possible.
Note: If the ends are different widths, line up one set of edges. If the other set of edges is uneven, it can be filed after soldering.

4. Pull the ends of the steel wire around the band, twisting them with plyers as they meet.
Note: Twisting the steel wire will hold the band together.

Step 6: Solder

1. Place the band on the fire brick (or other fireproof surface).
Note: The place where the ends of the band meet should be visible and easily accessible (See the first image of this step).

2. Brush enough flux to cover where the ends of the band meet using a tiny paint brush.

3. Snip off 1-2 pieces of solder wire (about 1-2mm each) depending on the width of your ring.

4. Place the pieces of solder where the ends of the band meet.
Note: It may be easiest to pick up the snips of solder wire using the tiny paint brush with flux (the snippet(s) of solder wire will stick to the brush). Then swipe again where the ends of the band meet placing the snippet(s) of solder wire.

5. Turn on the gas for the torch.
Warning: Do not open the gas valve too much as this will cause a large initial flame.

6. Hold the torch lighter about 1-2 inches from the torch.

7. Strike the lighter.
Note: Flame should be visible.
Warning: Be careful with the flame on the torch. You will now be heating the band. Do not touch the heated sterling silver.

8. Hold the torch about 3-4 inches away from band.
Note: Wave the flame over the band. Notice phases in the soldering process. (1) flux will turn very white, (2) sterling silver band will turn slightly orange, (3) sterling silver band will turn a dark gray.

You can now turn off the torch.

Step 7: Pickle Thoroughly

1. Grab the band with the tongs.
Warning: The band will still be hot so the tongs are very important.

2. Dip the band in a container of water.
Note: Dipping the ring in the water will be just enough to cool it down properly.

3. Place the band into a container of pickle.
Note: Let the band sit in the pickle until it is white colored.
Caution: Pickle, as it is an acid solution, could cause irritation. Do not get it in eyes.

4. Remove band from the pickle using tongs.

5. Run water over the band to “rinse” the pickle off.

You can now remove the binding steel wire.

Step 8: Finish the Ring

1. Shape the ring using the ring mandrel by pounding it with the leather mallet.
Note: This will get the band as round as possible.

2. File the soldered part of the band using the small files.
Note: A round file or half round file is best for the inside of the band as it is curved.
Note: Use a small file along both the inner and outer edges of the band to slightly dull the sharp edges.

3. Sand the entire surface of the band.
Note: Start with the 320-grit sandpaper as it is the coarsest. A measure of how much to sand is, make the whole surface the same amount of “scratchy.” You can then move up to the next level of grit sandpaper (400-grit, then 500-grit and finally 600-grit) and repeat sanding for each.

Band will look slightly scratchy; move on to the polishing step to create a shiny ring.

4. Polish the band using a polish wheel.
Note: Hold the band with a slightly firm grasp. Turn the band slowly to polish the whole surface. Continue until it is as shiny as you desire.

Step 9: You're Done!

You have now made your own simple sterling silver ring. You can try making designs by stamping, drilling, or sawing. Also, two-finger rings are an interesting thing to try. A few different options are pictured. Of course, these other options will increase the time of completion but can make your ring even more unique and personal.

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    6 years ago

    What gauge did you use for the silver?


    9 years ago on Step 7

    A great description of the ring-making process.  A word of caution about using steel binding wire is in order.  Always remove the wire before you drop the ring into the pickle.  The iron in the steel wire will cause a chemical reaction that will deposit copper on your silver ring.  This is a form of electroplating.  Make sure that your tongs are made of either copper or wood.  Never put anything in your pickle that contains iron.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry about the mix up on step 6, I think I got it taken care of. Thanks for all of the comments!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I took a metal smith class at a studio called Lillstreet and it was great! i learned how to make my rings in a bit simpler way, all it involved was cuting out the shape, doing whatever you wanted to the piece of metal (texture, put holes in in and what not) than hammer it round on a mandrel with a though leather hammer until it was completely closed (at first until its similar to your shape and than closed as close as possible) than using a bit of silver solder and a premixed acetylene torch, solder it shut, no need for wire! then just sand (using that special sand paper) and polish using grinding wheels with polishing compounds, yes it would heat up but you would hold it on a special piece of wood or something like that


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very NICE... I have always wanted to do this... I will need to get my supplies together now... have a idea where to get some at? Thanks


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Check your nearest university bookstore. If they don't have basic supplies for jewelrymaking classes, they will know of a place that does. In my college town it was the local comic book store that carried the necessary implements and materials. Crazy, huh?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    In many western states you can find rock shops that contain a lot of the tools for doing this. A local one in Colorado Springs is Ackley's Rock Shop.

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    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    depends on your country. I guess you could do a google search for "Precious metals services" for the metal. Then I guess it's just search for jewellery supplies online for your saw and solder, etc.. (some precious metals services places also deal with the solders.)


    12 years ago on Introduction

    During world war 2, soldiers who found they had a lot of time, such as those in reserves, in the back lines, in the hospital, or POWs, would take a silver half dollar and turn it into a ring to send to their wives or lovers back home. They apparently would punch a hole in the center, and beat the metal from surrounding the hole horizontally until it surrounded it vertically. I have seen such rings, and you can still see part of the original coin design on the outside.

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    there are things that could be added: Annealing on a charcoal block to prevent firescale. noting that pickle is 10% Sulphuric Acid. Denatured alcohol helps remove remaining polish left on the ring (ultrasonic also helps). You can also tumble the ring by putting it in a pouch with rice and putting it in the clothes dryer (on cold setting) for a couple of hours (Not all of us have purpose tumblers). But that's all beside the point and completely superflous. I like this instructable, it gives a nice insight into simple ring making and all this can be done in the home without buying anything too expensive (tumblers, ultrasonics, etc)


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable! Reminds me of my wonderful hours in jewelry class in college. Two things I'd point out: The images in Step 6 are out of order. You show the gray ring before the white flux and orange metal. At the polishing stage, I always found it was best to use the ring clamp again, as the metal often heated up to uncomfortable levels, and polishing compounds would get on my hands.