This is How to Make a Wooden Ring With a Metal Band, and in this tutorial there are complete step by step instructions for making a great looking wooden ring. This is a fun woodworking project, and a you will have a beautiful wooden ring in the end. Enjoy.
Making A Wooden Ring With Metal
In contrast, metal is not as diverse looking, but has the strength that the wood lacks.
Combine the two together, and you have a perfect balance.
This wood and metal ring making tutorial uses a copper pipe for the metal band, but you can use any band that you find online…with a few key details.
- It’s easiest to use a metal band that is thin, and with a flat exterior.
- Softer metals will cut easier on the lathe, but if you buy the ring to fit you, then you will not need to cut the metal at all.
- Go for a thinner band, because adding the wood will make it thicker, and you want the ring to be comfortable.
- You don’t need to spend a lot on the band. Get something that fits well. You will almost never see it in the finished ring.
- Amazon is a great place to get your rings, just search “flat wedding band” or look at the examples below. (Make sure to get one without rounded edges or beveled edges on the outer diameter. Corners are good, because it means less gap between the pieces.)
Tools and Materials for Your Wood Ring
There are a lot of ways you can make a great looking ring. In this tutorial, I will be using the lathe, but you can follow my instructions on How to Make a Ring Without a Lathe once you have your blank glued up.
From the point you have the blank made, the instructions for doing it by hand are the same as in the other post. Don’t feel like because you don’t have a lathe you can’t make this project. You absolutely can, and before I bought a lathe I made plenty of rings by hand.
Here are the tools and materials you need, and you can make substitutions at any point based on how you want to build, and what ring making woods you want to use.
- Lathe for turning the rings.
- Drill press or hand drill for making the finger openings.
- Glue, Clamps and a saw for cutting and gluing your blank.
- A metal band for the interior of the ring that fits your (or your customer’s) finger.
- Epoxy for gluing the metal to the wood.
- A belt sander or palm sander, files are helpful too for shaping.
- Sandpaper and steel wool for smoothing and polishing.
- An oil finish or a buffing setup for applying your final finish.
Step 1 – Making Your Blank
The first step is to choose your blank design, and glue it together. This is Teekri Wood, which is a custom lamination from a company that I do some consulting work for.
You can use any type of wood you like, just make sure that the piece you select is great looking. For this project, a nice piece of Koa wood, Cocobolo, or East Indian Rosewood will look great. Any exotic wood or rare wood is perfect, and there is a lot to choose from in the world.
Glue the blank together so you are left with a piece large enough for at least one ring. This example blank is going to be turned on the lathe, so it’s about one and a half inches square, and a little oversize at an inch thick.
Next, choose your metal band. In this case, I am using a copper band, but you can use anything you like. Copper can sometimes turn your finger green if you sweat or get the ring wet a lot. If you don’t want that, then pick out a different band.
Finally, the band is 3/4 inch tall, which is intentional, because I want this to be a very chunky looking ring.
Step 2 – Drilling the Blank on the Lathe
In normal drilling operations, the blank stays still and the drill spins. With lathe drilling, the blank spins and the drill remains motionless. It’s kind of weird to see the first time.
Select a Forstner drill bit that gets you as close to your metal ring size without going over, and drill your hole.
You can cut a small piece of MDF for the back end of the blank, and you can either glue it in place or just leave it behind the blank.
If you leave it behind, make sure to press the blank deep into the chuck before you tighten the jaws. The pieces need to be held together well in order for the scrap to protect from blowout.
If you need to open the hole up, you can now use your lathe tools to enlarge the opening. A couple passes with a lathe tool is all you need to remove a little material.
Test fit the metal ring you have until it just fits into the hole. It should pass through smoothly, and without force. It should not pass through and fall out the other side though, otherwise your opening is too big.
See Also: Top 10 Wooden Ring Making Posts
Step 3 – Roughing the Metal Blank for Gluing
Two part epoxy is a very strong adhesive, and you need to use a product like this to adhere metal and wood together.
While epoxy is awesome at sticking nearly anything to nearly anything else, you can help out the process quite a bit by roughing up the mating surfaces first. In this case, use 100 grit sandpaper to scratch the outside of the metal ring and create that roughness. Once you have evenly scratched up the surface, you are done preparing the metal band.
Next, do the same thing inside the drilled wooden ring blank. Reach inside the opening, and scratch the surface with the sandpaper. Be careful not to round the edges of the hole, and stop once you have a bunch of scratches in place.
Step 4 – Epoxying the Blank and Band Together
Mix up some five minute epoxy on a piece of scrap paper. Make sure to use good quality, name brand to part epoxy. You can get any open time that you are comfortable with, because you need to leave it overnight to cure anyway.
Carefully mix the epoxy until fully blended, and then apply it to the metal and the wood. Coat both mating surfaces carefully, and create a thin layer. You don’t need a lot of epoxy to make this work since the pieces fit so closely together anyway.
Once you are coated on both pieces, then simply slide the metal ring inside the piece of wood and line it up squarely. Make sure that you didn’t get any epoxy inside the band at this point, and clean it up if you see any.
After a few minutes, the epoxy will set up enough that you can leave the blank to cure overnight. Make sure to give it enough time to properly bond, and don’t rush to the next step until it has fully cured.
See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – Two Part Epoxy
Step 5 – Flattening the Faces of the Blank
This step is why it’s important to wait for the epoxy to fully cure before going forward. There can be a bit of heat generated in this step, and if the epoxy has not reached full strength, you can ruin the bond.
A belt sander is the easiest tool for this process, but you can use sandpaper laid out on a flat surface with the grit facing up too.
Work the faces of the blank until they are flat. The goal is to get the metal and the wood to be totally flat on both sides. The easiest way to do this is keep sanding until you can see the edges of the metal ring have even sanding scratches on them. The sandpaper will cut the ring and the wood with ease.
Also, you should see the line of epoxy between the wood and metal disappear in the process. This indicates that you have sanded through enough, and that you are as flat as possible.
See Also: How to Flatten Wooden Ring Faces
Step 6 – Removing Waste From the Blank
The easiest way to do this is with a hand saw or a band saw. Use the saw to remove chunks of material by making straight cuts.
Make sure you do not get too close to the metal band, otherwise you will be stuck with a really thin piece of wood on the outside. I recommend staying about a quarter inch away at all times, which will keep your ring safe from any accidental cuts.
Step 7 – Rounding the Shape on the Belt Sander
If you have sharp corners like you see on the blank, these can hit your lathe tools with a lot of force, and it can cause the blank to break up and fly off.
Instead of going through all that risk, simply sand the sharp corners until they are round, and your lathe tools will have a much easier time.
See Also: Where to Buy Ring Making Supplies
Step 9 – Breaking the Sharp Edges of the Band
Take some 220 grit sandpaper and carefully sand the edges inside the metal ring until they are rounded over.
The goal is to just remove the sharpness, and slightly round the metal. You do not need to go nuts and put a large radius on the edges. Just break them, and be careful as you sand not to cut your fingers.
Work perpendicular to the edges, going across the edge rather than with it. Work around the ring on both sides, and don’t stop until the edge feels really smooth and all the sharpness is gone.
Step 10 – Mounting the Ring on the Lathe
There are a lot of ways to mount your ring on the lathe. You can use a chuck and a set of pin jaws, or you can use a ring mandrel. The pin jaws are good, just be careful not to scratch up the inside of the ring.
The mandrel is easier though, because all you have to do is grab it with the chuck and you can easily mount the ring for turning.
These mandrels are really handy. They are almost like a step bit, but with a center screw that expands the jaws. All you do is slide your ring up to the highest step it will go to, and then turn the center screw to expand the jaws.
The holding power of these ring mandrels is really good. If you are not using them to turn your rings, I really recommend picking up a set. Your process will become a lot easier, and your rings will look better too.
Step 11 – Turning the Ring to Shape
The turning process of the ring is the same for any other ring. Start with a roughing tool and turn your blank round. Then, work on reducing the diameter until the wood is thin enough to make a comfortable ring.
Make sure to thin the wooden part quite a bit, and don’t be afraid if the thickness starts approaching less than 1/8 inch or even 1/16 inch at the thinnest.
It’s important that the ring be comfortable to wear. This means you can’t have a really thick piece of wood. If you do, it can make it hard to close your fist while wearing the ring, and that will be uncomfortable.
Once you are down to final size, round the outside edges and create your profile. Switch to sandpaper, and work through the grits until about 320. After that, switch to 0000 steel wool and polish the surface even more.
See Also: Grain Direction For Ring Making
Step 12 – Applying a Finish to Your Ring
Don’t spend a ton of time worrying about the finish on your rings at this point. If you are a beginner, then just work with natural oils that you can apply really easily.
Oil finishes are beautiful, they bring out the natural colors of the wood, and they are also easy to repair. Wood rings tend to lose finish more often than other projects because you wear them against your skin.
Oil finishes are easy to repair, because all you need is a light wooling and then another coat of oil to restore the look. It’s that easy, and you can keep your ring looking amazing without much effort at all.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
Step 13 – Buffing the Ring as an Alternative Finish
I use the Beall Buffing System, but you can start out smaller with a buffing pad for the drill and some Tripoli compound. However, if you have a lathe, the version of the system that mounts to the lathe is not expensive.
All you need to do is rotate your ring against the spinning buff, and allow the Tripoli to abrade the surface. As this happens, you will see the look of the ring change right before your eyes. You have never seen something so smooth as a ring that has been buffed.
Once you start buffing you will be hooked. I promise.
See Also: How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen
Final Tips on Making a Wood and Metal Ring
This is a pretty straight forward project, and you can have a really nice wooden ring to wear or give as a gift in a few hours minus the epoxy curing time. There are however some things you can do to make the process better and easier.
Follow these tips. They all come from mistakes that I have made personally, and they are full of lessons that you don’t have to learn yourself.
One of the smartest things you can do as a woodworker is to learn to profit from the mistakes of others.
Yes, mistakes are good in the beginning, and they can teach you lessons. However, you can also learn lessons by seeing other people ruin their project instead of having to ruin your own. The lesson may not sting as much, but it’s still a learning experience.
Here are some things to think about as you make this ring:
- Buy a good ring from Amazon. Make sure it has corners, and not rounded or beveled edges. These create gaps when you glue the wood on the outside, and they ruin the look you are going for.
- Break any sharp inside edges with sandpaper. The last thing you want is to slice or scratch someone who wants to see your ring. Your buyers will run away if they hurt themselves with your product. So will your spouse if that’s your intent.
- Invest in a good looking piece of wood. The wood you need is so small for this project, so spend a few extra dollars and buy something that you almost don’t even want to cut into because it’s so great looking.
- Don’t cut off so much on the saw that you leave a sliver of wood. Leave something to work on the lathe, just in case you tear out a chunk and need to recover.
- If you can, use a lathe for this project. You can do it by hand, but the lathe will make it easier and more uniform.
- Something like this can be a beautiful wedding ring, a promise ring, or anything else you want it to be. Take your time, and make it the best you possibly can.
- Buff the ring. The Beall Buffing System is the best finishing investment you will ever make in your shop for smaller projects. In 30 seconds you can have a finished piece that you can handle immediately. It’s like magic.
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