Bentwood Rings




Introduction: Bentwood Rings

This is my first Instructable, so I hope that I do not forget anything. I was commissioned by a close friend to make a set of rings for a surprise engagement and a set for wedding bands. I started off with solid wood blanks and a drill press. After making what I thought be a perfect ring, it broke after a couple weeks of wear. At this point I went back to the drawing board and started to research bentwood rings. This not only solved the issue of strength, but also allowed for the beautiful wood grain to show. So here are the steps I used to make a set of wedding rings.

1. Materials:
Wood Veneer ( I purchased a pack of 40 random veneers from Wood Craft)
X-Acto knife and extra blades
Straight Edge metal ruler with cork back
Titebond Premium Instant Bond Wood Adhesive (Gel) 2 oz.
Dremel with small sanding bit (120 grit) and cotton polish tool
Variety of sand paper (I used:Gatorgrit- 120, 220, 400, and Steel Wool grade #0000)
Batteries and painters tape
Cabot Gloss Polyurethane spray

2:Making the Ring:

Cutting: Start of by selecting the veneer. The tighter the grain is, and the thinner the veneer is will make this process easier. After the selecteing the veneer(s), cut long strips. After marking on your veneer the desired width, take the ruler and start off making very lite cuts on the veneer. (Notes: A ruler with a cork back helps keep the ruler from moving. Making lite cuts keeps the veneer from splitting).
Sizing the Ring: Once the veneer(s) have been cut down to the width you would like, determine the size of the ring being created. There are many websites that give the dimensions of ring sizes. Now take a battery and start wrapping the painters tape around the battery until the desired diameter has been reached. Now take off about 2 or 3 wraps of the tape (this will help when sanding at the end to ensure the ring diameter does not become too large).
Bending the Wood: At this point a source of hot water will be needed. I used an instant hot water boiler (a boiling pot of water on the stove will do the same thing). Once the water is boiling take the pot off the heat source and place the veneer(s) into the water. Allow veneer to soak about 10-20 minutes depending on type of wood. Use tongs to pull the veneer out of the water.
Gluing the Ring: While the veneer is still wet, start off wrapping the veneer around the battery until you have made a full circle. Carefully take the Titebond and add a couple of drops to the end of the veneer and spread with the X-acto knife. Wrap the wood over the glue and hold firm until dry (about 15-20 seconds). The veneer should now be glue to itself. Continue the process of gluing and wrapping the veneer around the battery working in small sections (about 1/4" - 1/2"). NOTE: Make sure to spread the glue out and cover the wood completely. Do not use too much glue, it will get very messy if too much is used!
Once the desired thickness has been reached, cut off the access with the X-acto knife and finish the gluing process. If you are using 2 veneers, follow the next step, if not continue to "Sanding the Ring."
Two-Toned Ring: If you are using to veneers follow these steps to ensure a seamless joint. Take the current ring and sand down starting with the 120 grit and moving to the 400. Pull the second piece of veneer out of the water and sand down the the beginning of the veneer until it is paper thin. The more time spent on this step, the better the ring will look. Start off by gluing the veneer in the same direction as the first veneer and starting off where the other veneer stopped. Continue gluing until desired thickness has been reached as was done in the "Gluing the Ring" step. NOTE: If you are using two veneers in one ring, make sure that the ring does not become too thick or it will be uncomfortable to wear.
Sanding the Ring: Start off laying the ring down on one side and moving it back and forth over the 120 grit sand paper until flat, do the same on the other side (By laying the ring down, this ensure that the rings width will be even, if done by holding the ring in your hand, the ring can become uneven in spots). Move onto the 220 grit and sand the inside and outside (At this point decide of the ring will be flat on top or convex "curved"). Sand the outside as need for desired shape. Move onto the 440 grit on all side of the ring and finishing off with the steel wool. At this point, check the sizing of the ring the ensure proper fit and sand more on the inside if needed. If a lot of material needs to be removed, I would suggest using the Dremel (Make sure if you use a Dremel that the inside of the ring stays even and not too much material is removed on one side making the ring look lopsided).
Finishing the Ring: Once the ring has been sanded as smooth as possible, it is time to apply a finish to the ring. I used Cabot's Gloss Polyurethane Spray to finish the ring. The spray allows for a smooth and even coating on the ring. Take some sewing thread and hang the ring in a place that can be sprayed (only us this in a shop or outside). Once a thin coat has been applied to ring, allow it to dry for about 4 hours. Take the steel wool and buff the ring until it shines inside and out. Repeat this step as many times as needed. The more coats that are applied the more the wing will look like glass.
The End: Put on the ring and enjoy!



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37 Discussions

i honestlynlike the more worn lokm of a single/doubke coat of poly


I have worked with silver and stonecutting for years and always wanted to incorporate a wood inlay around a silver ring. Your Instructable is perfect for what I've wanted to do, and if you tried your hand at silverwork, having a metal core for strength as well as a raised metal rim to the ring would give much added strength. I have a beat up silver ring I made myself as an example, just imagine it with wood veneer inlaid in the depressed hammered section. EXCELLENT INSTRUCTABLE!

2 replies

So, I want to know how you made your metal ring with that lip on it. I love your idea!


4 years ago

Quick question, I made my first bentwood ring today from a zebrawood veneer. After I sanded it down, I forgot to take that into consideration when it came to the ring size. so it's now about one size too big. Do you think there's a way to add a layer to the inside so I could get it back to the right size or should I just start from scratch? Thanks for the tutorial.

1 reply

I'd give the ring to someone as a present and start over. You'll probably find that the practice with the first one makes the next one even easier.

am i the only one that has problems with wrapping the wooden stripes around the battery? they have been in boiled water for 20 minutes, and they were too rigid; then i left them into that hot water till the morning, and i found them still rigid but fragile. Any tip for me?

1 reply

Assuming that you're using really thin veneer, the problem is probably the type of veneer that you're using. Some species of wood never become really flexible regardless of how thin the veneer is or how long you soak them. A good veneer to get started with is maple. It's inexpensive and works well.

Hello, would this work with a veneer with a self stick back? Thanks! (I know i would still have to glue, but i have found self-stick veneer to generally be cheaper surprisingly)

I had the idea of making a wooden ring for our 5-year anniversary (even though we're not married, I reckoned we had to celebrate). But I wasn't quite sure how to make it. Your idea proved to work nicely!

Although I would recommend against soaking wood for 10-20 minutes. I trashed a lot of veneer due too the wood being to wet. I ended up just wetting it just slightly and letting that soak in. Here is a link to my end result:

Sending you a patch!

2 replies

Thanks for the patch! I would agree that soaking to wood too long on some veneers just destroys them. Great finished product. After doing some research, I found that running the ring on a lathe and alternating super glue and boiled linseed oil gives an amazing shine!

I just used some regular wood stain, because I wanted to keep the feel from the wood. Linseed oil would have been a good idea, too bad I'm already done! :P

Wow, says I. I think this is fantastic. Also, question. I find these to be immensely pretty. Do you know what kind of veneer it was that was used for these two?

Awesome! I am an avid wood worker, now handicapped I am reduced to doing hobby sort of projects, not complaining just the facts! Anyway, I am always on the lookout for small wood projects, this is great! I am going to try making one asap. Thanks for the Instructable! Very detailed!

Great pictures. Why the polyurethane finish instead of the traditional cyanoacrylate? Doesn't the poly finish tend to mute and plasticize the feel of the wood? Great tip about scoring the veneer to keep it from cracking. I've always just sanded it thinner if it wasn't bending very well.

Some woods are much lovelier with the grain running through the ring instead of around it; I've found it helps to put a bentwood interior on solid wood rings made from the more delicate woods (like figured Asian satinwood). It adds durability without limiting the amount of visible natural sheen.

I am thinking I may have to give this a try! Seems very 'simple', without many required tools/supplies. Perfect!

A question though, and maybe I'm just "missing it", but how do you deal with the end of the veneer, where you stop wrapping/gluing? Do you simply "taper" it off by sanding, until it's a smooth transition to the underlying layer? And same question for the start of the veneer, where you begin wrapping... do you just sand this down after gluing to taper/smooth it off against the overlying layer?

Hope my question makes sense...

1 reply

Great question! Yes, you want to taper the veneer at the beginning and the end. As well, you want to taper in the middle if you are making a two tone ring.

Nice. How have the rings held up so far? I'm pretty hard on my wedding band and I'm wondering about the "crush resistance" of these.