Intro: Rings and Split Rings
This instructable will show how to make your own metal hardware type ring (i.e., not jewelry) and a split key ring type ring. These are made from garage door springs so the size of the spring dictates the size of the ring. This instructable shows how to make these rings from the tension springs that are typically found hanging horizontally near the ceiling of a garage on either side of an overhead garage door's rails. The larger springs are found over the headers of larger garage doors. I tell you that to familiarize yourself with where they are used. You will of course not remove them from your garage door for this project but will buy one new or find a broken or discarded one.
If you attempt this instructable I caution you to wear protective eye wear, take any precautions I describe. Do not put your fingers or anything else fragile and of value between the coils of these springs. These springs are very strong and tight and if pinched you may not be able to just pull out with out further injury and if part of one hand is trapped in a spring it will be very hard to get it out with only one free hand.
This photo shows examples of the split rings. The one on the right is about 3cm diameter and the larger one about 11cm.
The materials and tools needed are pictured. In place of the Dremel an angle grinder with a cutting blade can be used and a vice may be helpful where suitable.
Step 1: Step 1: Separate About 2 Coils
Whenever cutting a coil of the spring have a wire running through the center because the coils like to fly away when cut. The wire is for safety as well as convenience.
If you look at a split ring you'll see that the ring is two coils thick except at where the two ends are near. There it is only one coil thick. That is where the cut must be made to separate the ring from the spring. (You could make it as many coils thick as you like.)
It is customary although not necessary to cut the end at a slant.
Using a screw driver and perhaps a hammer spread the coils apart with the coil to be cut on the same side as the ring. In this photo it is on the right. Be careful! These springs really want to pinch fingers.
Step 2: Step 2: Cut the Coil
Use a Dremel with a steel cutting disc to cut the coil such that it leaves a part of the ring with just one coil thickness.
The size of the screw driver will determine how much space you have to work in. If you use a larger screwdriver you may stretch the coils apart so much that they do not return to their previous tightness and then there is a space between coils for future rings. If that happens, when you go to make the next ring you will prune away the stretched coils before choosing where to cut for the next ring. Wasteful yes, but there are a lot of coils on these springs. If when cutting you need to nick other coils, nick those on the spring not the ring. You probably do not need to cut all the way through the coil. At more than halfway it may be possible to bend the cut and it will break at the cut.
Depending on how clean the cut is and for what purpose you plan to use the ring you can clean up the cut with a grinder or the Dremel.
So much for split rings.
Step 3: Step 3: Simple Rings
It is simpler to create one coil rings. In this case just cut the coils in a straight line down the spring for however many rings you want. Be CAREFUL! Have a secure wire through the center of the spring because it is during this operation that the rings pop away from the spring. Since access to the coils being cut is excellent you can cut them with the same Dremel, an angle grinder with a thin cutting disc, a pair of bolt cutters, or I suppose a hacksaw.
When a ring is cut this way the ends do not line up because it is a coil. Also there is a space between the ends that is the same thickness of whatever was used to cut the coil.
a. To remedy this use two screw drivers to bend the ends further out of alignment so that they clear each other.
b. Use a pair of groove joint pliers to compress the ring so that the space between the ends is as small as you desire.
c. Then use the screwdrivers to bend the ends so they are in alignment with each other.
For larger spring material a bench vise would really come in handy for this these operations.
You are most likely making these rings to put something on them, like really big keys, etc. In that case When you do step (a) bend the ends far enough apart to put things on the ring, then put the things on the ring before proceeding to step (b).
If things are to be ringed permanently you could tack weld the joint.
I have yet to find a "killer app" for these rings but I use them as parts of other projects like hanging the bell shown here. They are versatile and easy enough to make a bunch of at once or to make as needed.
I am into re-use and re-purpose. This instructable is the first in a series using parts from garage doors. Others projects will include wireless timed-limit lights, a log roller, wall hooks, a fidget, ...