There are so many choices when it comes to exotic wood for ring making. Wood is so diverse, and you can have a long woodworking career and still stumble upon new and interesting species to work with. One of the best ways to produce unique and interesting wooden rings is to become familiar with as many interesting wood types as possible.
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Beautiful Exotic Wood Species for Wooden Rings
Wood for ring making can be almost any species. Even softer woods can be used, especially in a lamination. It pays to become well versed in the different types of wood that are available in the world.
In the picture on the left is a large piece of Gabon Ebony that I found on a really good deal at a WoodCraft store. There is also a piece of Briar, Cocobolo, and Buckeye Burl.
Ebony has long been used for musical instruments. The best violin nuts, tuning pegs, and tail pieces are made from pure black Ebony. This wood finishes very well, and almost has a stone-like appearance when polished.
Briar has been the premier choice for tobacco pipe makers since it was first used. The wood is dense, heavily figured, and polishes very well. The surface is very smooth when finished, and it takes a finish extremely well. The small blocks are not cheap, but several high quality rings can be produced.
Wood for ring making can be found anywhere. Look for something exotic, even if it’s a little expensive, because even small pieces can be made into several rings. This lowers the cost per ring significantly.
Another great species to consider is Buckeye Burl. This wood comes from a very large growth on the tree, and it can have amazing coloring. As far as a wood for ring making, Buckeye Burl can have a ton of variation from piece to piece. Tans, blues, reds, blacks, and every combination and pattern can be found on Buckeye Burl.
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Cocobolo Rosewood is a great species to work with as well. The dust can be a respiratory irritant, so be careful. However, the colors and the density of this wood make an incredible looking ring. Look for pieces with an interesting grain, and bold color to work with.
There following are alternatives to the expensive stuff. Wood for ring making can be found for a low price, even with an exotic look. Combine these with some of the above species for a really unique ring.
A very colorful species to work with is African Padauk. This wood is naturally red in color, and under a finish it can stay like that for a very long time. When freshly cut, Padauk is a bright orange. Over time, the coloring darkens, and becomes a deep brick color. There are also streaks of very dark brown and dark red that go through the piece.
Cedar finishes very well, and is a soft wood for ring making that I use often. The real beauty of Aromatic Cedar is when you apply an oil finish. Cedar explodes with color, and compliments any other wood nicely. It also makes the shop smell amazing when you work with it.
Maple is an extremely versatile piece of wood. Basic cuts can look plain, clear, and even. This can be beneficial when a solid light color is needed for a lamination. However, Maple can also be the star of the show when figured pieces are used. Figured Maple comes in several different patterns, and they all have a very unique look.
Wood Veneer for Making Rings
Veneer sample kits, sometimes called wood identification kits are sold in woodworking stores in the veneer section. These contain around 50 different species of veneer. If you ever need a specific color, or shade of wood for a ring, these kits are perfect. Another great part is that they last forever when used for ring making, because such a little piece is used to make each ring.
The kit I purchased had Koa, Sapele Crotch, Quilted Mahogany, Rosewood, and many more really expensive species of wood. I have been using the same two kits for years, and they have produced dozens and dozens of rings.
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Spend some time in the wood store, or online. Look for new and interesting species to work with, and try them out in the shop. The more you know about what kinds of wood are available, the better rings you can produce.
My book, Wooden Rings: How To Make Wooden Rings By Hand explains the process for making wooden rings by hand. There are step by step directions, and it explains how to make over 50 different wooden rings. Anyone can follow along, and very few tools are required.
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