Introduction: Wooden Olympic Rings

The summer of 2012 to me is a summer where I just got a new job and find myself unable to find enough time or energy to go out to do my regular exercise at the gym. Looking for other options of getting some exercise done at home, I bought myself a kettlebell and a pull up bar. However I felt incomplete... Especially whith the damn London Olympics on TV I've found myself with an insatiable craving to get me a pair of rings. Now, here's the problem: buying rings online gives you various sizes and various grades of quality. A decent set of rings would cost me about 200 euros. If you're anything like me I'd rather use that 200 euro's to book me a nice holliday and see whether I can make a set of rings for a fraction of that price. 

There are some instructables online that tell you how to make a set of rings out of PVC tubes and some that show you how to make rings out of wood. The problems I've seen so far with the instructables on wooden Olympic rings is that they use 'fancy machinery'. By that I mean the following:

Angle grinders
Band saws etc

I have none of the above, and I was not willing to buy any 'fancy tools' to get the job done. Back in the day the woodworkers only had the simple tools as well and yet were able to make pretty much anything out of wood. 

The goal of this instructable is to show people like me, who don't have fancy tools, that it is possible to make a pair of Olympic rings with nothing more than a (jig)saw, a drill, and a couple of wood files. 

Step 1: Measurements and Wood Selection

Now, a part of the reason why I decided to make my own set of rings, was that a lot of rings your buy on the internet are not according to Olympic measurement regulations. Obviously you won't have that problem if you make them yourself. 

I found the official olympic measurements to be (Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (1)):
Ring inner radius: 90mm
Ring cross section diamter: 28mm

Wood selection
At the time I had to find some wood for this project, I was a bit short on cash and didn't feel like buying wood for this. Especially since I've never made anything like this before and I wouldn't be surprised if I would screw up the first try. I went around town looking for a piece of wood with the following properties:
- triplex or mulitplex wood
- thickness either around 15mm or 30mm
- at least 30X30 cm board

At some student accomodation I salvaged on old drawer, which I'd find cool to turn into a set of rings. It was a piece of multiplex 15mm thick and about 60x40cm across. I always love to turn something that someone discarded as trash into something usefull, especially when it's for free! Time to get busy!!


Step 2: Wood Preparation

From here it gets easy: 

I prepped the piece of wood by sawing off all the parts that wont be used. Next I sawed it in half since we need to double back it because we need rings with a thickness of 28mm. I sanded down one side of the board to glue it together in the next step

Step 3: Glueing to Get the Right Thickness

Using some simple wood glue, I glued the sanded down sides together to get the right thickness. I used my trusty wood clamps to keep things as tight as possible. I just let it dry for about 24 hours. 

Step 4: Plan Out the Rings, Start Sawing!

Next, It's time to draw out the inner and outer rings. I also drawed out a ring in the center to guide the shaping of the ring later. 

The only machine I used here was my old power jigsaw that I happened to have. If you don't have one, just try using a manual jig saw :)

I drilled some holes to get the jig saw blade through

Step 5: Shaping

Now comes the tedious part, where you need a lot of perseverance and patience. A little bit of elbow greace will definately help here too. 

I used some good old cheap wood files i once bought to shape the rings. The good thing about this is that you control every tiny step being made in this process. If you use band saws etc, you might take off too much of wood and there'd be no turning back. 

I found that the trick here is to do all the rough and general shaping first, then try to make everything round. Don't worry, every stroke of the file will get you closer to your goal. Keep going, even if your files start breaking apart on you!

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Allright, it took me a while to shape everything. I was extremely pleased with the result when it was all done. Now the wood is bare, and I guess it'd be a smart idea to protect the wood from sweaty hands etc to preserve these babies for the years to come. 

I still had a can of acryl based lacquer, so I went ahead and spraid on a couple of layers. Let it dry till the lacquer is sufficiently hard. I'm keen to find out whether others would treat the would similarly or even treat the wood at all. Give me your input please!!

Voilá: a pair of wooden olympic rings made out of salvaged wood!

I used some straps I bought somewhere cheap. The only thing you have to make sure of with these straps is that they have to be strong and be able to carry your weight. The olympic standards for width of these straps is 40mm. 

Time to start training!!