Both of my daughters have asked me to make them rings so I decided to write a guide on how I created a jewelry set for my youngest girls.
She had asked while on holiday after seeing a pendant in a shop if I could make her one in the same coloured material. It was an onyx green resin material. I said yes but would have to find some first. The matter dropped there until a year later I got hold of so kitchen worktop samples, typically called corian, but these ones I think where a product called velston which is a plastic resin used to make custom bathrooms, work tops and similar installations.
One of these samples just happened to be a close match to the colour Amy wanted, so I decided to have a go.
Please read on if you want to find out how to turn jewelry (rings and pendants) from plastic resin, and also please vote for this in the competition if you like the guide.
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Step 1: Sizing the Ring
Before you start you need to identify the size of ring required, as I might want to make more in the future I purchased a ring sizing set this was cheap about £2.99 from AliExpress.com. I then just got Amy to try on the ring gauges until we found one that fit.
If you only want to make one then you can calculate approximate diameter of the ring using a peace of string.
1 Wrap a peace of string around the required finger.
2 Measure the length of string required for a single circumference
3 Divide this value by Pi (3.1415926.......)
Use millimeters in your calculation its easier - transfer the value to the calipers HOWEVER - you will need to check this value more often when turning to ensure the ring is the correct size
Step 2: Making the Blank
If using the string method transfer the measurement to the plastic resin (plus a little) then cut a square. For the ring guide - just place the required guide on the material and draw around it and then cut out the square.
I marked the center of the square and drilled through using a 2 mm bit. This just needs to be large enough to provide a location for the revolving center to sit when mounting on the lathe.
Finally cut of the corners of the square to help speed the turning - this will also result in fewer catches when you start to turn.
Place a scrap of wood in the lathe jaws and turn it round and down to a suitable size for he ring blank to sit on. Then using hot glue attache the blank to the woo chuck and bring up the tail stock. Use the pre-drilled hole to locate the blank in the center of the lathe and apply a little pressure - This will ensure that the blank is held correctly while the glue cools off.
Once the glue is cold - you can start the rough off the edges turning the ring to a little larger than required. Now set a pair of calipers to the required fit size and check/mark to the internal diameter while the lathe is rotating.
Step 4: Removing the Center
This can be done either bit drill or by hand.
By Hand :- This is probably the more difficult way as it requires you to use a parting tool (very small one) to remove the material, one catch and the ring will ping off of the wood and you will probably have to start again.
By Drill :- This was how I did it - I found a fostner bit that was almost the size required and drilled through to the wood. I then put extra hot glue around the outside of the ring and removed the remaining materiel down almost to the size needed.
I then put a light close up to the ring center while spinning and finished turning the outside of the ring. The light gives you an indication for when the ring is getting thin in places.
Step 5: Starting to Polish
You start to polish the ring at this point before parting it of, I used Abranet to sand down to 400 grit to get the ring finally to the correct size, and then polished both the inside and outside using Micro Mesh pads.
To remove the ring I used a small parting tool to form a groove at the rear of the ring and then used a hack saw blade to go the rest of the way. The reason for not going all the way with the parting tool is that at this point the ring is quite thing in places and there is lees chance of a catch with the blade. All you have to do is rotate the lathe at a relatively slow speed and apply a light pressure on the blade with one hand and catch the ring with the other.
Step 6: Finishing the Ring
Using the same sacrificial wood chuck, turn it down to make a jam chuck. Do this by holding the ring close to it while turning (make sur that the side of the ring leading onto the wood is the finished side) and gradually tapper the wood so that the ring fits on and hold firmly. If you take a little too much off, its not a problem - just wet the wood a little and it will swell up and hold the ring.
Once the ring is on and spinning its time to finish shaping, sanding and polishing the outer and inner sides of the ring where it was parted off in the previous step. Follow the same procedure of sanding down to 400 then polish using the water and micro mesh pads.
Its up to you at which grit you start sanding, but the better the finishing cut the finer grit you can start with and the less sanding needed.
As you can see I also added a little decoration to the ring by taking a parting tool and cutting a groove around the ring on both sides, this was sanded and polished as above.
Step 7: Making a Pendant
You have a bit more freedom on a pendant to start with. Size is up to you, just cut a square of the material as before, drill the center and hot glue it to the sacrificial wood chuck, using the tail stock as before to hold it firmly in place to let the glue set.
Step 8: Turn the Back First
I turn the back first, turning the blank into a round shape curving over the edges and ensuring that there is enough surface to apply glue latter.
Once the rear has been fully finished, mark a couple of pencil lines from the pendant to the wood - these will help to recenter the peace next. Now carefully pry the pendant from the wood and clean the surfaces of all dry glue.
Flip the pendant over and use more hot glue to re-attach it to the wood using the pencil marks to locate it in the approximate center. Once set turn and finish this face, you can see that I put some initial decoration on, but changed my mind later and removed it. this was possible because I had left sufficient material to have a play before the next stage.
Step 9: Off Center Decoration
This is where I changed my mind on the decoration.
Start by prying the peace off again and reattaching in the same way, BUT this time use one of the pencil marks and position the peace lower on the wood. Make sure to use plenty of glue as the off center spinning will increase the chance of the pendant coming off during turning and you having to start over.
Once secure start removing material at center - because the pendant is off center this will result in a thinner section on one side of the forming hole (this is the top of the pendant) . If you are car full you can start by drilling this out for speed, them continue with a gouge. Remove enough so as to leave a thin but strong top section (stop and start the lathe to check this regularly).
Once happy withe the size of the hole you will also need to under cut it at the rear, careful hear as you could catch it.
If you like the look then finish it off by sanding and polishing as per the ring. If not as in this case add some decoration - I added a single ring, which due to it being off center formed a partial ring around the hole using the parting tool. Before adding the ring I turned the lathe by hand holding the tool on the surface to score it, this gave me a visible line to follow when the lathe was turning at full speed, Once done I finish and polished the pendant and removed it carefully from the lathe.
Note Throughout the turning process - If you are not sure it will stay on the lathe just add a little more glue and you should be fine. Just remember that the more you add the harder it will be to remove the pendant at the end when its at its weakest.
Step 10: Making the Pedant Cord
The tools you will need are shown in the first image (pliers, wire cutters pin pliers an 2 mm drill bit) the materials are a suitable length of cord, this will depend upon how long you want it and the material you wish to use. Importantly you will need some silver wire - I use the kind used for making beaded jewelry.
Start by forming a loop at one end by gradually turning the wire around the pin pliers while holding the tip in the jaws. Next hold the loop against the side of a 2 mm drill bit and twist the wire around the bit until you have between 4 to 6 turns (more if you need them) then use the pliers to squash the turns together so you form a tight spring. Slid the spring off the drill bit and cut the residual wire off.
Use the spring like a threaded nut and screw it onto the cord, if you have selected the cord wisely it will screw on nicely , for extra hold you can squash over the lower cut end of the spring onto the cord.
Repeat this for the other end of the cord and then straighten up the en loops.
For the final catches I generally take these off of old necklaces I get cheap in charity shops or on the odd occasion I buy a new one.
An alternative is to larger peace of jewelry wire into a hook with a loop at the end and attach that.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, if you have please consider voting in the plastics competition.
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