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Making a wooden ring has been on my radar as a project that I have wanted to do for a while. With other larger projects and time constraints, there has never been a viable approach for me to get it done.
At Thanksgiving this year while we all sat around chatting, I was talking with my wife’s grandpa about woodworking. Mostly about projects I had done over the past months as well as current ones going on.
We got on to the topic wooden rings somehow and he asked if I could make him a wooden ring. Without hesitating I fired off a yes and said I’ll get it for Christmas. After that began to sink in it was instant facepalm.
As much overtime, I’m currently working and the other large projects I have going on in the shop it was hard to some time to make this wooden ring project come together for my wife’s grandpa.
Update: I wrote in the Intro before building the first ring
Well, I made the ring for my wife’s grandfather but made it super fast in an hour to be exact and didn’t have time to document the process. With the ring complete my wife and I both liked how it turned out it was time to make our own. So below check out how I made our brand new rings.
Choose Your Wooden Ring Material
For the material, I used what I had available in the shop. Which was a lot of scrap walnut and some oak from a pallet I jacked from work. If your wanting to build your own ring after reading this guide feel free to choose any material you desire.
For stock preparation, my walnut pieces were already 1.5″x1.5″ so that’s where I started. I trimmed down the pieces slight since I didn’t need so much extra material for such a small project.
I resawed my piece of oak on the bandsaw to roughly a 1/8″ thick for my ring. I liked using the oak material as it gave a light and dark contrast to make it “pop” I guess you could say. With both pieces cut roughly down for the wooden ring, it was time to glue up.
I choose to use titebond 3 for the glue of material but there is no reason titebond 2 wouldn’t be a suitable choice too. I left my wooden ring blank clamped up for 24hrs simply because I had some other stuff going on and the extreme cold weather also forced me inside to let the blank cure.
Sizing The Ring
Now if your building the ring for yourself and have a pair of calipers now is a good time to use them. Measure the ID of a ring that fits well for you. Then choose a drill bit that’s slightly undersized to drill your hole. This will ensure that enough material is left to be able to clean up the inside to achieve a silky smooth finish.
For my ring size, a 3/4″ forstner bit worked just fine to achieve this task. For my wife’s ring, I made in conjunction with building mine I had to use a 1/2″ forstner bit and then sand it to .595″ to achieve a good fit for here.
Now if you’re making it as a gift for someone and want it to a surprise I suggest you check out this site to figure out what ID you need to make the ring. Again calipers are really helpful in building these rings if the finger is not available.
Shaping The Wooden Ring
Now that you hopefully got the ring size you need to achieve nailed down its time to actually put a hole in it. I used a foster bit on my drill press to get a clean hole put in the center of my blank. If a drill press is not available in your shop you could probably get away using a standard drill and a vise. Just be sure to stay perpendicular to the surface and take your time.
With a clean hole put in the center of your blank let’s get started on the outer diameter of the ring. When I started this process I drew an outer imagery circular as a guideline to make sure I just take to much off. At this point, we are just kind of roughing in the out diameter.
To remove the outer bulk of material I opted to use my bandsaw. Now, this is rather risky cause its such a small object to hold on to and your fingers are rather close to the blade. I felt comfortable doing this and have a lot of experience with bandsaws at my day job.
For you, there are a few different options at your disposable if you’re not comfortable with this:
I’m sure there are more ways than I mentioned just do whatever method is the most comfortable for you and safe.
After you have the ring roughly shaped its time to get everything defined. You have two options you could either remove the excess from the ends now or later. I have done it both ways when making these rings. I feel it’s the easiest to it when you remove some from the ends first but it depends on what blank size you might have started with.
When removing the excess from the ends I used orbital sander but a disk sander would have been a good choice if you have one available.
This is where things can get a little wild so attempt at your own risk. I don’t have the proper chuck to mount a project like a ring on my lathe. So I did what others did cause that’s always the smart solution.
You need to find a socket that fits slightly inside your ring. Then take some painters tape or masking tape and wrap it around the socket till you can slide the ring on with a snug fit.
With the ring on the socket, you will put it in your drill or a drill press and begin final shaping with sandpaper at slow rpm. I used 80grit to start shaping the ring but as always do whats comfortable. Be sure to wear a mask or do this outside with the wind at your back. Fine dust is extremely hard on your lungs so use caution.
Shaping The Inner Diameter
With the outer diameter of your ring taken to the surface finish of your choice my case 320 its time to start the inner diameter. This can be extremely time-consuming so use patience on this to part to get a good fit.
For the inner diameter, I used rat tail file to work my way around the inside to open the diameter up. When doing this I was rounding the inner corners over to soften the look and feel of the wooden ring. When using the file be delicate because, if too much pressure is applied a groove can be worked into the ring that’s hard to remove. Trust me on that part.
Once the inner diameter is getting close to its final dimension I switched to using 80 grit sandpaper rolled up in a tight circle and began rotating it inside and worked through the grits. When I reached 320 I softened all the edges to make it all flow together nicely.
For the finish on these wooden rings, I used boiled linseed oil. I wanted something that would really soak deep into the wood. I am going to continue to keep apply oil every couple days for a week or so than then give it a hard coating of CA glue for outer coating. My knowledge in proper finishing techniques is not the best but to me, this is what makes sense.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what type of finish you would use and your thoughts behind it. I am always looking to learn new things from others.
Make a wooden ring was not near as hard as I thought it would be. It’s like things we normal we try as woodworkers to expand our craft that seem difficult when we look at them as a whole but when you really break it down into steps it’s not near as hard as we thought it would be.
Are you going to get out and build you a ring now? If so be sure to tag us in your project on Instagram @insidethekerf we would love to see it.
Get out there and make some sawdust.