Signet Ring From Nut

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Introduction: Signet Ring From Nut

About: I'm just a guy who likes makin' stuff. I love the creative process. Professionally I am a Therapist (LCSW). I got my Associates Degree in Fine Art before pursuing a career in helping people work through th...

Late one night I had a crazy idea to make a signet ring. I had been thinking about the possibilities of making a ring from a nut, and this seemed to be the logical thing to do with it. Well, I couldn't sleep after that and I lay awake musing about how to accomplish it. I wanted to get up and go to the store and buy myself a suitable nut and get started, but alas, most stores aren't open at 2 am. Therefore, I was relegated to waiting until morning.

Since then I have collected the items necessary to make the ingenious project brewed up in the sleepless hours of the night. And I must be honest, it turned out just as cool as I imagined it late at night a couple weeks ago. My wife has taken to calling me "The Scarlet Pimpernel" because I wear it all the time now. It is comfortable and yields some great conversation.

There are a couple other instructables that have made rings from nuts that I tried to glean information from to make the project go as smoothly as possible. Those are listed below:

Daddy Daughter D6 Ring
by donedirtcheap

Remix: Metacarpal Armor
by FlatCatRussellandtheTennesseeTwo

Step 1: Materials

This was a relatively simple project.

  • 3/4 nut (the size that best fit the target finger)
  • Angle grinder (purchased at a friends garage sale for $25)
  • Dremel (my trusty friend... seriously, if you don't have one, now is the time to invest)
  • File
  • Sandpaper (220, 600)
  • Masking tape
  • Xacto blade
  • Trickle Down Charger
  • Salt Water
  • Q-tips
  • Polyurethane

Step 2: Round Edges

This is where the sparks really fly! I started by picking what flat edge I wanted to keep. This was simple, since all 6 sides were the same, I couldn't really mess it up. Then, holding the nut with some pliers, I started the process of rounding out all the other edges with the angle grinder.

I had to prop the nut up against my work bench to do this. I would then simply use the grinder perpendicular to the nut and shape it slowly. I would periodically check the shape to make sure it was uniform. This took about 10 - 15 min.

Step 3: Angle/Shape Ring

This is where a cutting blade came in really handy. On each side of the nut I cut a gradual incline to make the band smaller at the back of the ring. Once the cut was complete I put the grinder disc back on.

I then shaped down the side to have as smooth of a bevel as possible. Then I rounded the edges to create an aesthetic and ergonomic appeal. I was cautious not to carve this down too much at this point as I still needed to shave out the threads of the nut to size it to my finger.

Step 4: Fit Ring (grind Out Threads)

Now comes the time to bust out my friend Mr. Dremel. I can't even begin to count how many projects I have used a dremel for. Using an old, duller tool I began shaving out the threads. I was surprised by how this didn't heat up the nut that much... it did, but never to the point where I couldn't hold it with my bare hands. This process took another 10 - 15 min.

I also was cautious to not shave off too much here as I would still need to sand it down. I got it to the point were it just fit tightly on my finger.

I also used the dremel to do a little more fine shaping of the ring. Particularly I focused on rounding the edges for the comfort in wearing the ring.

Step 5: Sand Smooth

While I don't have a picture of it, I started the smoothing process with a metal file. This knocked down all the rough edges left over from the grinder and the dremel that would have taken forever with just sand paper. Once that was achieved I started at it with the 220 grit sandpaper. Do as much as you can with this as the 600 grit won't get out any of the scratches. Then, using the 600 grit paper, sand it to as shiny of a polish as you can get.

I don't like my rings to be mirror smooth so I stopped here. You could get a smoother and more reflective surface if you wanted, but I was satisfied.

Step 6: Design for Imprint

I wanted the stamp of my signet to be a design of my initials. So, using the shape of the flat surface of the ring I began designing what I wanted. Once I figured out one that I liked I turned the paper over and traced the design in reverse. This is what I would then need to trace onto the ring for etching.

Step 7: Prep for Etching

With electrolysis (how I do the etching), anything that you do not want etched needs to be well covered. This can be done with nail polish, tape or any other thing that will seal off the metal. I used masking tape for this.

Placing a strip of tape onto the ring surface, I drew the reversed design onto the flat surface. Then, using and Xacto blade I carefully (and I mean carefully) cut out the design from the tape. Anywhere that metal is showing will be etched, so make sure only what you want is carved out of the tape.

Step 8: Etch Imprint

This is a fun process. I have done it a few times now, and I learn more each time. It takes some patience and caution. I think it looks more dangerous than it actually is. The fumes are probably not very good to breathe, so I usually find something to cover up my mouth.

I use a 12V trickle down charger to do this. Start by clipping the positive end to the metal to be etched. Then, dip a Q-tip into the salt water solution. Make sure it is nice and wet. Then, clip the negative end of the charger to the Q-tip making sure it is touching some of the wet part. Then touch and hold the Q-tip to the metal. The longer you hold it to the surface the deeper it will etch. Since the plan was for this to be a signet, I wanted the etching to be rather deep. I did the etching for about 5 min. in each spot going through both sides of 7 Q-tips.

Then comes that magical moment (its actually a bit nerve racking) part where you take the tape off and see if it did what you hoped it would. In my case, it did... mostly. The tape had shifted a bit in one spot, but it still looked pretty good.

Step 9: Clear Coat

To prevent any corrosion on the metal while wearing it (I woke up with a reddish brown finger after wearing it the first night) I applied a thin coat of polyurethane over the inside and outside of the ring. This should keep my finger staying the same color and the etching to stay nice and clean looking.

Step 10: Put It on and Look Awesome

This turned out just as I had imagined it late at night. It ended up working really well too.

I hope you enjoyed this and I would love to see others try it too.

If you liked it, please vote for it in the Guerrilla Design contest too.

Guerilla Design Contest

Third Prize in the
Guerilla Design Contest

4 People Made This Project!

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173 Discussions

Can I use a car battery for the etching, or does it have to be AC power?

2 replies

a car battery will definitely work and the voltage type doesnt matter. just be careful not to electrocute yourself

I would like to do this as well. But I have a piece of mokume gane that i’m Going to use.

If you did a carbon steel, you should go out of your way to make a silver sleeve inside the ring and seal the whole thing with renaissance wax. If you do stainless, just go with it as is.

years ago I gave a buddy a knife but first I took it to the jewelry dept. in Sears and had it engraved. So that may be an option for those that don't want to etch.

This is an excellent project. I've always found signet rings to be very cool, and I often lament about living in the wrong age...i.e. who writes letters anymore, let alone sealing them with wax? Still, this lets us add some style and color to the hand made letters and card. I really appreciate this project.

One question. Could you please go into more detail about the electrolysis part? I'm really unfamiliar with this kind of etching?

Thank you!

Quick question- does anyone have a video on how to make one? I want to make one but have no idea how to. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks for this boss been looking for a way to make these for ages made 2 today for my pinkies want to make 8 in all spelling "dead meat" any advice on getting the more curved and professional look?

1 reply

Take it slowly with the shaping. Use a file to get it down to the rounder shape.

I made mine bigger than my finger and then fixed the soze problem with a cut aquarium pipe part, i haven't had any troubles yet

I used a dremel and mine turned out great

This is project pretty but overall, it is a BAD idea; I know from personal experience. I made one of these, less the etching, in 1974, using only a file and my hands after drilling the center out with a drill press. I was careful to get the size correct.

It turned out great - BUT - after wearing it for a short while my fingers began to swell (cause was unrelated) and I soon began to worry. I thought I would lose my finger because I could not get the ring off. I tried soap, machine oil, vaseline, swearing, and everything else I could think of, without any luck.

I sat down with a cold canned drink for a while. I relaxed, my finger was somewhat cooled by the can, my blood pressure dropped, and I managed to get the ring off. With soap. And a lot of pain. The nut I used was hardened stainless and would have to have been cut off otherwise and I figured my finger would be in poor shape after that had been done.

There are reasons why many rings are made of gold and silver - they are relatively soft metals. They can more or less easily be cut off.

Think before wearing a ring made of hardened steel. You may have no problems -- or you might end up like I did.

2 replies

Thanks for the warning. the key is to not make it too tight.

Well, there is still the issue of your finger swelling - even if the ring is properly sized. That is what happened to me... I still recommend using something else as a starting point for a ring, or at least a softer metal, like brass. Best wishes everyone!

Great instructable! I've heard that you can also use clear nail polish to coat the ring. Also, I tried engraving the ring with a dremel. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND USING A DREMEL TO ENGRAVE THE RING. It doesn't go deep enough and you lines can be erratic :(

1 reply

Yes, I agree. It is to hard to hold the dremmel steady