Inspired by that idea, I decided to make a little "gripping hand" ring out of a fork and document my steps to share with you, dear reader.
This was a quick and dirty little project, that could reasonably be duplicated with just a few basic tools in a couple of hours.
Step 1: Tools
You could make a simple fork ring with just a couple of hammers, a vise, some pliers, and a rotary tool with some cut-off discs and common grinding bits.
If you have a few additional tools at your disposal though, they will be helpful. This is the full list of tools I used to make this ring:
- Steel jewelry mandrel (helpful but not necessary); this is the one I have
- Flat pounding surface (I used my little homemade anvil), but any smooth, flat and hard surface will work
- Channel lock pliers and vise grip pliers
- Rotary tool with metal cut-off discs, a small carbide carving bit and diamond bits (helpful but not necessary, as common grinding bits will work), sandpaper discs, and buffing disc
- Various grits wet/dry hand sandpaper
- Metal polish
Step 2: Get an Old Fork and Pound It Flat
I got an old fork at a thrift store for $0.25. I tried to find one that was relatively plain, and not too wide across the tines.
I began by pounding it flat on my anvil with the flat side of a ball peen hammer.
Step 3: Measure and Mark, Then Cut the Tines to Be Finger-like
I began by measuring around the circumference of the recipient's target finger with a strip of paper.
The fork was marked as shown using the paper measurement as a size guide.
A thumb was drawn into the space below the tines. When curled together the tines and thumb will look like a right hand.
Using a metal cut-off disc in my rotary tool, I trimmed off the tines to make them more finger-like. The same cut-off disc was then used to carefully round over the ends of each of the tines. Very, very light pressure was used so the disc would not shatter. These thin cut-off discs are not intended to be ground on the sides like this, but it was the best way to reach the inside edges of the tine tips.
Be sure to always wear safety glasses when you use tools. For a rotary tool like this, full goggles are even better.
Step 4: Shape the Thumb
Disregard the curved tine-fingers in this step. I ended up pounding them back flat before moving on to the next step.
In order to carve the thumb shape, I wrapped the jaws of a pair of vise grip pliers with some blue masking tape and pinched the fork in them. I then wrapped the pliers in a soft rag and placed it in my vise.
A rough thumb shape was created by first removing the bulk of the excess material with a cut-off disc in my rotary tool. Then the finished shape was created by carefully carving the remaining metal away with a small carbide bit. Basic grinding bits could likewise be used for this.
Step 5: Begin Curving the Ring Shape
The beginning curve of the ring was created by using the vise and hammer to carefully curve the thumb and the palm part of the hand/ring.
I pinched the fork in the vise, pounded it with the hammer a bit, moved the fork up just a little, and repeated the process.
I did this until a nice curve was created across the palm section of the ring.
The textured jaws on my vise really chewed up the fork, but as this was a fairly experimental project I wasn't too worried about it.
Step 6: Bend the Tines Into Ring-shape, and Refine
I wrapped my mandrel and the jaws of a large pair of channel locks with some blue tape. (This was not necessary, considering how chewed up the ring was already and how chewed up the mandrel became . . . alas, hindsight!)
The tines were pinched with the pliers around the mandrel until they appeared to be in a somewhat ring-shape.
This shape was then carefully pounded (while still on the mandrel) with a hammer on the anvil to refine the round shape. This required a fair amount of trial and error to get all the tines into a uniform shape. The ring had to be flipped over every other couple of pounds to make sure I wasn't creating a conical ring shaped like the mandrel. Some small pipe would have probably worked much better, but this worked in the end.
After some time and effort, the ring was shaped as shown in the third photo. Mostly round-ish!
Step 7: Not the Prettiest Thing . . .
This is what the ring looked like up to this point.
It was pretty hacked up with a ton of tool marks, but generally in the shape I wanted.
Step 8: Refine Details
I decided to carve the edges of the thumb and outer fingers just a little to make them look more rounded and finger-like.
I started with a carbide carving bit to remove some of the material, and then moved to a couple of diamond bits to smooth things out. While I did this part, I held the ring in the small pair of vise grip pliers shown earlier.
If you have some basic grinding bits, you could carefully use those to achieve similar results.
Step 9: Finishing: Sanding and Polishing
The ring was then sanded with various grits of sandpaper discs with my rotary tool, up to about 220.
Then I switched to wet hand sanding with grits 320, 400, 800.
Then I rubbed the ring with some metal polish, and buffed it with a buffing disc on my rotary tool. The ring was then hand-buffed with a soft cloth and I called it good!
Step 10: Get a Grip!
It's not perfect . . . but aside from the remaining tool marks, it looks fairly shiny and ringlike!
This was an experimental foray into making a piece of jewelry, yet I found the process fun and educational.
I hope you enjoyed this; thanks for taking a look!