How durable are wooden rings? This is a question that I get asked by nearly everyone that sees my rings. The answer depends a lot on the user, but wooden rings are more durable than people think. Here are three great ways you can get the most wear from your handmade rings.
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Are Wooden Rings Durable?
I get asked a lot of questions about making wooden rings, and one of the most common has to do with durability. Obviously metal is a lot stronger than wood, so the first thought is that wooden rings are brittle and breakable.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, metal rings are stronger, but wooden rings that are made well can last a very long time.
There are a few factors that go into how long a ring will last, but they are mostly controllable. The first is how the ring is made. There are many methods of making a wooden ring, and the best produce really durable rings.
Another factor in how durable your wooden ring will be is the finish. Some finishes are going to protect the ring more than others, but through good handling practices you can give your ring a better chance even if you use a more natural finish.
Finally, handling. This is the most important factor in how long your wood ring will last. It’s up to you how you treat your ring. The better you treat it, the longer it will last…
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Building a Durable Ring
As most ring makers do, you want to make sure that you are following a good plan, and making rings that are durable. If you are making your project well, and taking care during the steps, you can end up with a very long lasting ring. The opposite is true for poorly made rings.
The construction method is important. Rings made from wood suffer from a weakness that has to be engineered out of the final product. This weakness is breaking along the grain lines of the wood. It’s a natural weak point, but it can be controlled.
If you are making a laminated ring, you should alternate the grain direction with each piece in the stack. This way, you can use the strength of the neighboring pieces to hold everything together. If you are making bent wood rings, you will have no weak points in the grain, since your ring is wrapped from thin veneer.
Finishing a Ring for Durability
There are a lot of different finishes that you can use on your rings. Everything from oils, to varnishes, and even epoxy or CA glue. These finishes all impart a certain look, and they all give a certain amount of additional protection.
Oil finishes and other wipe on finishes are going to be the weakest. This is by no means an argument against using them. I use oils all the time because they create a very natural glow that is hard to get from more modern finishes.
Another finish type is two part epoxy or super glue (CA glue). These finishes create a protective layer around the wood. In essence, they encapsulate the wood inside a thin layer of plastic. The plastic takes the beating from the world, and the wood remains protected.
Handling Your Handmade Ring
The number one factor in how durable your wooden ring will be…is you. How well or how poorly you treat your ring has the highest chance of making it last a long time, or having it break early on. You are in control, and that’s a good thing.
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A good practice to have when wearing a wooden ring is to take it off when you are doing things that can damage it. For example, when you are working in the shop. As you grab things that are very hard and sharp, you run the risk of marring the ring. Just take it off, and put it back on when you are done.
Also, smacking your hands against things, drumming with your hands, or other activities that cause your ring to hit hard objects need to be avoided. Again, simply take the ring off when you are doing rougher things. This is the number one way that you can make your ring last longer.
How Durable Are Wooden Rings – Wrap-Up
Wooden rings are a lot more durable than people think. The construction type, the finish, and how you handle your ring all contribute to their life span. Thankfully, all of these things are controllable, and that puts you in charge.
Make sure you make your rings from a well known process, and with a method that ensures the inherent weaknesses in wood are controlled. Use either the bent wood process or the lamination process to make them stronger.
Also, select a good finish, and treat your ring with extra care. It’s not a dainty piece of glass, but it’s not a piece of tungsten carbide either. Give it the care that it deserves, take your time as you build, and you can have a very durable and long lasting wooden ring.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
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