This is the Essential Wooden Ring Making Tools List, and in this post you will learn exactly what tools you need to be successful as a ring maker. Thankfully, you don’t need a lot of tools, but there are some that make the process a lot easier. Enjoy.
Wooden Ring Woodworking Tools
Since wooden rings are a woodworking project, regular woodworking tools will do the job in most cases. However, since you are making a specialty product, the couple tools you need to make the process easier are important to have.
These tools will not only make your rings fit better, sell better, and look better, they will also make your process a lot smoother. You will have less frustration, less stress, and a much more enjoyable ring making experience.
Here is the list, and each one is fully explained later in the post.
Ring Making Tool List:
- A Ring Sizing Mandrel
- A Set of Forstner Bits
- Small Saw, Powered or Non-Powered
- Wood Files
- Belt Sander or Sanding Block/Sticks
- A Lathe
- Expanding Ring Mandrel for the Lathe
- Lathe Chuck with Pin Jaws
- Carbide Lathe Tools or HSS Lathe Tools
The Ring Sizing Mandrel
There is one big thing that influences whether or not someone will wear a wooden ring that you make for them. That’s the fit. If the ring fits poorly, it will never come out of the jewelry cabinet, no matter how well it was made otherwise.
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For this, you need a reliable way to measure the size of the rings you make, and this essential ring making tool is called a ring mandrel. Ring sizes are not normal measurements in inches or millimeters. That would be too easy.
No, ring measurements are in numbered sizes in America, and they are expressed differently in other countries. Wherever you plan on selling your wooden rings, buy a mandrel that is graduated for that area of the world.
The side of the mandrel will have markings that indicate the size of the ring on that part of the shaft. All you do is slide the ring down the mandrel until it stops, and you take your measurement right there.
Forstner Bits in Common Ring Sizes
In order to drill your rings to the right size, you will also need a set of reliable drills that leave clean holes. Thankfully, the Forstner bit has you covered. These bits are not expensive, and you can get a set for a great price online.
The advantages of a Forstner bit are many. It’s these differences that make them superior to any other type of drill.
Especially if you have not bought any drill bits yet, and need some specifically for making wooden rings, then don’t waste a penny on anything else. You need these bits, and they will not let you down.
Why Use Forstner Bits for Ring Making:
- Forstner bits leave clean holes that are very smooth on the inside. This means less sanding inside the ring, which is a chore due to the small space.
- These bits also don’t break the fibers nearly as much on entry and exit as other drills, which means you will lose less blanks due to damage.
- Since they come in so many sizes, you can typically find something very close to your needed size, and for a low price too.
- Forstner bits are self clearing, so they won’t heat up as easily and possibly weaken the glue on your laminated blanks.
With all of those advantages, and the low price, you can’t go wrong with these bits. Plus, they last a long time, especially when you are using them to make rings. Get a couple that are close to the common ring sizes, and you will be all set.
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The drill you use can be anything from a simple corded drill to a drill press. The bits are far more important than how you make the hole. Even a beginner can drill a nice, straight hole with a good Forstner bit.
A Saw for Removing Waste from the Blanks
When you create your blanks, they will all be oversize. The blank is the piece of wood or lamination of several that you use to make rings. Typically these are rectangle shaped, and good enough for several rings.
When you drill all of your holes, you then have to cut them apart for more shaping. The easiest way to do this is with a band saw. However, if you don’t have or will not buy a band saw, then just use a coping saw instead.
The saw is great for separating the blanks, as well as removing the excess waste. The shape of your blanks is going to be odd when you cut them all free. After that happens, you can use the same saw to trim them down even farther.
The more you trim, the easier it is when you switch to the lathe, or switch to files and sandpaper by hand. If you are using the hand shaping method, the more you can remove with the saw, the more enjoyable your sanding experience will be.
Wood Files for Rough Shaping
Another great tool for ring making is a wood file. Wood files are made from metal, and they have teeth on them that remove wood. They are more aggressive than sandpaper, and they remove material quickly.
As a non-power tool, files are awesome for shaping your ring. The more you can do with files before going on to sandpaper, the better. It’s much easier to use a file than sandpaper, and the file works harder for the same amount of effort.
When you file your ring, do as much of the shaping as possible before switching to sandpaper. The more you do at this stage, the easier the sanding stage will be. That’s huge, because most people give up at the sanding stage.
Belt Sander or Sanding Block/Sticks
After you saw off the waste, you now need to rough shape the ring as close to round as possible, and that’s where a belt sander is a huge help. If you do not have a belt sander, or powered sander, then you can use sanding blocks or sanding sticks.
Powered tools are better than hand tools for speed, and you can still make an excellent looking wooden ring without them. If you have a belt sander, the tool will allow you to remove a lot of material quickly, and get the ring down to shape.
If you are working by hand, then wrap some sandpaper (80 grit to start) around a small wooden block, and start sanding. You can also glue cut up pieces from a sanding belt to blocks of wood and make sanding sticks.
The firm backing of the wood behind the paper helps the grit work better. You will have better results, and faster results too.
If you are working by hand, buy an 80 grit and a 150 grit sanding belt. Make some sanding sticks that measure an inch by about six inches, and glue sandpaper to their faces. The belts last a long time, and you will love working with your sanding sticks.
See Also: Top 10 Wooden Ring Making Posts
Making Rings on the Lathe Tool List
The following section are the tools you need if you are making your rings on the lathe. There are more tools that you can get as optional items, but these are the basics that make the job really easy.
You really don’t need very much to get start turning your rings on a lathe. Even if you are a beginner, the lathe is one of the easiest tools to pick up. You can be making things by the end of the first day.
The down side is the initial investment, but even with basic tools and a starter lathe and chuck, you can have enough to make great looking rings for a very long time.
For reference, I have a Harbor Freight Midi-Lathe, a Penn State Industries chuck with pin jaws, and a set of carbide lathe tools. I made all the tools myself with the exception of the detail tool, which I bought.
I also have ring clamps or ring mandrels that hold the ring from the inside, and a chuck to hold the mandrel. All of which are not expensive and make a huge difference in the process.
The Lathe for Ring Making
The mother of all ring making tools is the lathe. You cannot beat the lathe for speed, accuracy, and consistency. Though making rings by hand is a noble adventure, it’s also a long adventure. The lathe removes all of those time burdens.
You do not need a massive lathe to make wooden rings. Your wooden ring tool kit only needs a small to mid size lathe. The ring itself is small, and you only need so much room to work on something so tiny.
If you are going to buy a lathe, then look for a mid size lathe. I had luck in a discount tool store for my lathe, and I’ve had it for well over a decade now. You may have the same luck, and I hope you do.
Either way, a small to mid size lathe is the perfect start, and you can find them without having to spend a lot of money.
The Expanding Ring Mandrel
On the lathe, you need a way of holding the ring. There are a lot of good ways to do this, but the very best is an expanding ring mandrel. These are purpose made for the job, and they are sold by several places online.
The way the tool works is you put your ring onto the biggest step you can get it on, and then tighten a center screw.
The head of the screw opens the jaws of the expanding mandrel, which grabs the ring.
This little tool holds on like crazy. Now, all you need to do is turn on the lathe, and you can shape the wood with any standard lathe tool. You can also flip the ring around if needed, and the device lets you get really close to the finger opening with your tools.
A Lathe Chuck and Pin Jaws
Most mandrels are not tapered to fit the headstock of the lathe, so you need to grab it with a chuck to make it stay put.
While you are in the chuck buying mood, and since you need jaws anyway, a set of pin jaws or step jaws can serve double duty. The nice thing about these jaws is that they can also hold the inside of rings.
If you need to gain access to the inside, and you want to use the lathe to remove material from your ring, then the pin jaws can help. You can also grab other smaller turnings as well, which is really helpful.
Carbide or HSS Lathe Tools
I prefer carbide tools, but you can use any kind you like. The High Speed Steel (HSS) tools are great as long as you have smaller tips and sharpening supplies nearby.
If you don’t want to fuss with sharpening, then carbide is for you. These tools are easy to maintain, because all you do when the tips get dull is replace them.
You can actually get a few uses from most tips by rotating them a couple times, but you never need to sharpen.
For ring making, a square, round and pointed carbide tool set is perfect. The square, or square with a little radius is great for hogging off a lot of material. After that, the round is great for shaping. Then finally the detail tool gets you into hard to reach places easily.
See Also: How to Make a Carbide Lathe Tool
Now that you see there are not a lot of tools needed to make wooden rings, and you have a complete ring making tools list, it’s time to start making rings.
Buy your tools first if you need them of course, but the next step is taking action. All the tools in the world won’t make anything by themselves.
It’s a lot of fun to learn about ring making online, and through reading. It’s even more fun to learn about it in the shop. You can make wooden rings, even with the most modest of tool sets.
Don’t let the tools slow you down. Get the few things you really need, and get a good book on making wooden rings for more instruction. Between a good book and a couple basic tools, you can be on your way to making great rings in no time.
If you have any questions on Essential Wooden Ring Making Tool List, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, if you have any questions, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
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