Introduction: Stacking Ring Toy

When my kids where young we had a plastic ring stacking toy and the kids spent a lot of time over the years playing with it. I recently came across a picture of a wooden ring toy and decided to make one for my newest grandchild who is due two weeks from when I started creating this instructable. It will go into the toybox I am also building for the little one.


Scrap wood

Hole saws- I used seven sizes, I realize the size gap is not consistent but it's what was in my kit and I'm happy with the size and appearance

1" for the ring center

1 3/4" 2 1/4" 3" 3 5/8" 4 1/8"

4 3/4" (will need two of these, one for a ring, one for the base)

1" dowel rod

Drill press


1/2" round over bit

1/4" round over bit

Stiff brush or suitable substitute


Food coloring (We had Neon colors in the pantry)

Rubber gloves/hospital gloves

Step 1: Setting Up

I had scrap pieces of lumber left over from a live edge project I had worked on last year. The boards were originally cut into slabs from an elm tree that had fallen in our yard. The wood was 7/8 inch thick. I laid out the hold saws to avoid any knots or blemishes on the finished pieces. I did not want small pieces of the knots to come loose when the toy was played with.

I could have cut out the circles on the bandsaw or table saw and then used a spade or forster bit for the center but I have used the hole saws in the past for other projects and was comfortable using them. Two recommendations when using the hole saw, first: cut near the edge or drill a dust hole, it helps kick out the sawdust. I'll explain about buildup when I cut out the centers. Second: drill over halfway through the board than flip it over and cut from the backside. it prevents tear out when the blade exits even with a scrap block under the work piece. You can see the difference in one of the photos.

Cut the outside of all the rings, changing the hole saw for each ring. Remember to cut out two of the largest pieces, one for a ring and one for the base.

Insert the 1" hole saw to cut out the centers.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Ring Centers

Secure the ring with a clamp, do not try to do this with your hands. Because there is no place for the sawdust to escape the teeth will clog in SECONDS. Drill down briefly, raise the bit, clear the teeth, repeat until you're half way through then turn the ring over, readjust the ring in the clamp so that the ring is flush with the drill table. From the opposite side of the ring drill down briefly, raise the bit, clear the teeth, repeat until you're through.

To clear the saw dust out of the teeth I used a paint stripping wheel held against the hole saw as it spun. A toothbrush was too soft and I felt uncomfortable using a steel brush.

The plug will have to be removed after it is cut out of each ring, I forgot to do this only once. I use two flat tip screwdrivers to push and pry the plug out.

This step can be done with a spade bit but I already had the hole perfectly centered so it made sense for me to keep using the hole saw bits.

Step 3: Rounding Over the Edges

Be careful during this step, your fingers are close to router bits.

For the four larger rings use a 1/2" Round over bit. I set the height so that the bottom of the guide wheel was close to but not past the center of the ring. When routing the outside edge of the ring turn the ring in a counter-clockwise rotation. When routing the inside edge of the ring turn the ring in a clockwise rotation.

I recommend at least two full rotations. Trying to do a one and done rotation has always failed for me but two rotations has almost always given good results.

For the two smallest rings I switched to a 1/4" round over bit. I had less wood removed but better control plus my clearance plate around the bit was very small allowing me to keep my piece stable.

I preferred the look of the rings from the 1/2" bit but with my equipment it was not safe to do the smaller rings. I did have some chipping with the smallest ring and ended up cutting a new one.

I did the outside edges first and then the centers, but I don't think it would matter which was done first.

Because of the thickness of the rings I cut the dowel to 6 1/4". This allowed about 1/4' sticking above the top ring when its all assembled. With the 1/4" round over bit route one end of the 1" dowel.

After I first published this a reader mentioned using a dowel rod to hold the ring and move the ring close to a sander to round over the edges. I've seen this done for rings, put a dowel in a board near the edge, put the ring on the dowel and move it close to your sander. Change the angle of the board to get a rounded edge.

Step 4: Assemble and Coloring

Glue the dowel to the base. Wipe any excess then use the rings to hold the dowel in a vertical position.

I did some research on colors for kids toys and settled on food coloring. There are several references online about using food coloring.

I put down wax paper to prevent any stains on the counter top. I heated up some water, and just before it started to boil I put 1/4 cup into each cereal bowl, I added the food coloring. If I had to guess there was about 15 drops or more. I was watching the color more than counting drops.

Wear gloves and wash your gloved hands between colorings. If there are drops of color on your gloves it will mix with the next color when doing the next ring. I did not change gloves, just washed them in the sink and wiped with a paper towel when I changed colors.

Dip a clean rag (mine was a cut up old t-shirt) into the color solution and apply to a ring. I was able to get the color on the rings that I wanted after the first application.

I also used the fork to dig the ring into the food color solution, turn the ring and then lift it out of the bowl. Use the rag to wipe of any excess. I had to dig the last two rings about five times to get the color I wanted.

When I did a test batch earlier on a scrap of wood I had to apply the color solution three times to get the shade I wanted, I think the solution was too thin. I also tried using just the food coloring without diluting it first. I liked the brighter color but my wife and one of my daughters overruled me. They felt the softer color would be more appealing to a child.

After applying the solution to the ring clean the gloved hands in the sink and dry with a paper towel. Use a fresh cloth and repeat for the second ring. Repeat until all the rings are done.

Step 5: Last Step

Allow the rings to completely dry, I left them for two days.

For the final step I will coat everything with a bees wax. Several articles said I could use other finishes but as I said earlier, my wife and daughter said the kids would like the softer tones.

I just heard that my pregnant daughter's is headed to the hospital, the little one is coming out early. it will be a few months before this gets used but its ready.

Hope you found this intractable helpful.

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