Intro: Aluminum Rings
Have you ever seen a ring on display and you thought "I can do better than that!" but you don't know how to? Have you ever wanted to make a couple of rings yourself so that you can give them to that special someone? Have you ever wanted to own a ring of power forged from the blood of your enemies? (you probably have a lot of enemies to make an aluminum ring out of their blood)
Well whatever demented reason you have, this is the instructable for you! All you need are a couple of basic materials to make some pretty fabulous rings! I'll be walking all you random internet people through the ancient and fine process of forging aluminum rings.
- Table vice
- Sand paper
- Aluminum scrap metal
- (Optional) OR Aluminum sheet made from the blood of your enemies
- Sulfuric Acid (Battery Acid)
- Caustic Soda
- Alligator wires
- 3, 6 volt batteries or a constant 18 volt power supply
- Aluminum strips (preferably same alloy as the aluminum your using to make the rings)
- Rubber Gloves
- Beakers or Plastic Tubs
- Distilled Water
Step 1: Cutting It Down to Size
The first thing we need to do cut our scrap aluminum into strips. Try to make the strips a little longer than the circumference of your ring size. In my case, I am size seven. That means that the diameter of the ring is 17.3mm. All you have to do is do some 3rd grade math and multiply the diameter by pi (I could go for some pie to be honest...) which gets me 54.3mm. Add half a millimeter to that number and then you'll have the length you need for your ring! Simply cut the strips to that length and a width that you would comfortably wear and then you'll have the metal you need for your rings!
Step 2: Shaping the Ring
To get the strips into a ring shape, I just got a hammer, found a cylinder roughly the diameter of my ring size and started hammering. It's easier to get a rounder ring if you do it by hand (aluminum is soft in thin strips) but hammering is also a possibility if you want to. I first used a stools leg, but then I realised I wouldn't be able to get the ring off, so I looked around and found a marker that was just the diameter I needed for my ring. I did this by hand and got a nice round shape and it was already quite comfortable to wear (asides from all the scratches I got from the cut aluminum).
Step 3: Smoothing the Edges
Now that you have your rings all shaped, you'll want to start filing down and smoothing out the edges. I just used a precision filing kit, but any roundish files would work. After you file it down, you may want to sandpaper it so that it can reflect like a diamond (Rihanna really needs to know the difference between shining and reflecting). We aren't going to polish it completely right now, unless you don't want to anodise it. In that case, do whatever you want for your final personal touches.
Step 4: Anodising!
I don't have many pictures for this part of the process so I'm just going to describe this in detail.
WARNING: YOU WILL BE WORKING WITH A VERY STRONG ACID AND ALKALINE. YOU MUST HAVE RUBBER GLOVES ON DURING THE ENTIRE PROCESS. HAVE A SOLUTION OF BAKING SODA ON HAND IN CASE OF ANY ACID SPILLS. IF YOU ARE A MINOR YOU MUST BE SUPERVISED BY A RESPONSIBLE ADULT
Now that, that is out of the way, I'm just going to put it out there that I got a minor acid burn from this process. It wasn't too bad because I immediately dipped my hand in the carbonate solution. You really need to be careful during this process because it could've gone a whole lot worse.
HERES THE SCIENCE: Anodising is a pretty cool process in my opinion. Its an electrochemical reaction that happens when you put metal (usually aluminum) as the anode in an electrolytic cell with a strong acid (usually sulfuric acid) as the electrolyte. Because the acid is in a solution, it contains water molecules. The electricity causes the ions created from the water molecules to go to the electrodes with the positive ions, hydrogen, to the negative cathode and the negative ions, oxygen, to the anode. The oxygen causes the aluminum to oxidise, however the acid also attacks the acid. The overall effect of this is a porous structure, think of honeycombs sort of. Because it's porous it can be filled with stuff, like dyes and colorants! Clothing dyes work really well as a DIY substitute but anodising dyes work the best.
In this process you're going to need to move from one part of it to the other relatively quickly and you should probably have everything ready in advance.
Step 1: Cleaning the Rings
Fill one of the beakers with caustic soda and dip the rings in it one at a time. You will want to leave the rings in the bath for about a minute or so each. This is so that you can remove the previous oxide layer built on the aluminum. Use some aluminum scrap metal to fish out the rings.
Step 2: Setting Up the Anodising Bath
With your other beaker pour 1 part water to 1 part of battery acid (20% sulfuric acid). PUT THE WATER IN FIRST! Why do you ask? Long story short, you'll probably explode. Fill up the beaker so that your rings are completely submerged.
Next, allyou need to do is have your ring connected to aluminum wire of the same alloy or titanium wire as your anode (connected to the positive end) and aluminum scrap metal as your cathode (connected to the negative end). There needs to be tight contact with the wire and the rings so that it can anodise properly. Place the anode and the cathode in the acid bath and run a current of 18v through it. Leave it in there for about 45 minutes and then stop the current and take the rings out. Then give the rings a good wash to get rid of the acid.
Step 5: (Optional) Dying the Rings
Again I don't really have many pictures of this part, but it's really simple though. After you have washed the acid off of the rings, you need to quickly put the rings in a dye bath that is heated to about 38 degrees Celsius (I'm too lazy to convert that to Fahrenheit). Leave it in the bath until the rings are roughly a shade darker than what you want. Some of the dye will leech off during the sealing process which I will describe in the next step.
Step 6: Sealing
This step is so very simple. Get a pot of boiling water, throw the rings in there for about 45 minutes and you're done! The water MUST be boiling, not steaming but boiling.
When I made my own rings, I put the ring which I dying in a bit before the water was boiling. This messed up the sealing process and caused most of the color to leech off. However it did come out with a nice bubble gum pink color.
Step 7: And You're Done!
I put a months worth of research into the anodising process and week of work in my workshop class to get these done and polished. To be honest I am really proud of these rings I've made even though I botched up the sealing. Considering it's my first try at this, I think did pretty good.
Good luck making your own rings of power my friends!