Intro: Easy Turquoise Channel Ring
Brief channel ring with easy cut turquoise. Just a few of these, and you will pay for the diamond saw itself. I also have used diamond discs to do the cuts, it's a bit more frustrating and dusty, but after a few sales of these, you can afford your own.
Step 1: Get Your Turquoise and Diamond Saw
First part, is to get your turquoise. I got these slabs off ebay, they are cheap, and easy to slice. Make sure you have some goGgles or sunglasses on to cut with so the "mud" doesn't get in your eye. I have this cheaper diamond arbor, you can get them for under $400 off ebay, and when you start cutting your own cabs, it's worth the money.I'm assuming ya'll have cut straight lines with paper, same thing with the turquoise, a little sandpaper to scratch it up a bit, then a pencil mark will work fine. A sharpie is a bit too thick, even the fine ones, just make a rectangle a tiny bit wider than the metal band channel, then cut the smaller rectangles on your diamond saw. Every tiny rectangle of stone needs to be played with a bit at a time to make sure they fit snug next to each other. Just take the diamond bit as pictured above, and go back and forth so any tiny chips made by the bigger saw will get smoothed out. I get them from ebay, they aren't expensive nowadays, just make sure it has an 1/8" shank that will fit into a dremel or foredom.
Step 2: Laying the Slices Into the Ring.
First thing is to either cast your own, or you can get ready mades from Rio Grande, I did however, make my own in the past that I fabricated from sheet. Simply make or buy a round rectagular wire band. Then cut donut shaped "sides" for the ring. Solder the band to the flat pieces, then cut around the band flush on the inside, and leave a lip high enough for the stone.You need to do them in small batches, otherwise, the epoxy will start to set after around 15 minutes and get messy, also the pieces will slide down the channel and obiously, you can't epoxy them upside down. I also use a foredom or dremel to grind down the initial heavy stock that needs to be removed. You can even do it with a table sander, you just need to let it cool down after a few seconds of sanding, too much heat can loosen the epoxy up and you'll be super frustrated. Also, any gaps in the stone is OK, as long as it doesn't travel down to where the final surface will be. I always place the ring on a surface when drying, that gently holds it upright and out of the way of anyone or anything (cats) that might knock it over while drying. I've used anything from boxes with semi holes cut into it, or a clamp, third arm or even an unwanted rag or shirt bunched up, just remember, that epoxy is STRONG, if it adheres to something, it will be alot more work getting it off than preparing the ring for drying in the first place. The full cure is in 8 hours, but if you don't need to grind anything, 3 hours is fine for simple handling. I use a tungsten carbide cylinder bit to clean the stone of excess epoxy, this will make gaps between the stones. I use Devcon 2-Ton epoxy, I've used lots of glues and epoxy's and this is my favorite one. Don't confuse this with its sibling "5-minute" epoxy. It's not water resistant, and the stones will fall out if there is too much heat added when your sanding and polishing. Also, it is better to splurge and order the little bottles of Epoxy, they are around $15 but well worth it. They also come in "syringe" type applicators, but they are messy, and they become uneven, which wastes epoxy when you don't have the 1:1 ratio. When you mix the bottled ones. all you do is hold the bottle upside down, and just eyeball it like the size of a dime or quarter, do them side by side until they are about right and thoroughly mix the two together, I use a chopstick for this, and then a toothpick to apply them to the ring. It's imperative that you don't get any of this on your hands, and if you do, wash it off IMMEDIATELY, once its wiped onto something, it gets picked up by something, and if you wipe it in your eye its bad news. Before applying epoxy, make sure there is no dust on the ring, rinse it off in the sink, then make sure it's completely dry and all the water has evaporated before placing the stones.
Step 3: Epoxy, Sand and Polish.
You can use regular sandpaper if diamond is not available. Just keep in mind to keep the "sanding intervals" small so the ring doesn't get too hot. Turquoise is around a 5.5 on the Mohs scale, diamond is 9, and the sandpaper is about 7. So it will scratch the turquoise OK, but diamond abrasive is best, the sandpaper just takes a little bit longer. It can also withstand water sanding as well which will keep the stone cool too. I start with a foredom or dremel and grind the heavy stock with a diamond belt dremel bit. Or if your lucky enough to have the diamond tools, you know what to do. Should a problem arise, such as one of the inlays not being epoxied down flush, you will see a clear gap of epoxy, and it looks pretty bad since people will pick it out right away. You can also use a belt sander, just make sure you only grind it down in slow intervals, letting it cool down a bit. Aggressive prolonged sanding will possibly loosen the epoxy up and you will have to fit the piece in again. For the dremel bits, I use a small diamond cut off wheel, as well as a small stone tipped bit or diamond tipped bit, to go back over and smooth out the epoxy after each laying down of the epoxy. Meaning, the dried stuff will create a space for the next application, and it needs to be grinded down flush so the stone fits as close to the next one. The new one to the epoxied one. with around 120 grit, then to 220, 320, 400, 600 then scotchbrite. When the ring is done, you can buff with tripoli, dishsoap and toothbrush, then rouge. Don't mix the compounds and wash thouroughly between. Easy peesy.