504 Wooden Rings From Scraps

March 23, 2013

You’ve seen the pictures and some of you have even been asking how I did it? After all, jewelry might be an amazing way to win over the love and affection of your significant other. Or it could simply be a way to wow your friends who still think the only thing you can do in your shop is “claim to be building a piece of furniture” but they can’t understand why it takes days, weeks or even months considering the guys on TV do it in 30 minutes or less.

purpleheart rings

Purpleheart Rings

Back around Valentine’s Day 2013 I posted a blog entry titled “Fastest way to her heart is with wooden jewelry?” and ever since then I’ve been down in the shop experimenting with scraps and even buying some exotic stock to try and make new pieces that EVEN I can’t believe came from me.

In today’s episode I share with you some of the basics to wooden ring making I’ve discovered over the past few weeks. I’ll demonstrate the first technique I tried and the one I’m having a lot of success with currently. It’s so simple and you probably already have all the tools on hand.

Tools mentioned in today’s post include:
Auriou #6 rasp
Rikon 70-100 Mini Lathe
Forstner bits
Milwaukee 49-56-0051 1-1/8-Inch Super-Tough Bi-Metal Hole Saw
IRWIN 226340 4-Inch Drill Press Vise

Since recording this video I’ve been experimenting with a couple more options, which appear to be easier and more successful, for creating these beautiful rings. Keep a look out for follow-up posts and maybe even a follow-up video too?

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Comments (30)

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  1. Chuck Turner says:

    Hey Matt. One thing about finishes I saw with folks that turned pens is they used CA glue and BLO. The method is while the piece is on the lathe, use a rag with BLO on it underneath and touching the work and drip a little CA glue on the top while the piece is turning. The only question I can think of right now is how to make sure the ring won’t stick to the mandrel, as the pens were suspended. Just thought it would be worth a try. Thanks for the vid. 3,2,1

    • Matt says:

      That’s a finish I’m actually looking into. One problem is getting the inside of the ring. I’ve been using a high friction shellac finish on a few rings and it’s great.

      But because I can only access the exterior on the lathe, for now at least, I have to add an extra step or two to the finishing process.

  2. Shannon says:

    I could swear by the title that you made 504 of those things

  3. jason says:

    I see you have a new sawstop hat. was that custom made for you by sawstop?

  4. Jason says:

    I heard you lost your old one. I looked on sawstops website to see if they are selling them but they arn’t. 🙁

  5. James says:

    New website looks great Matt! Any project videos coming up?

  6. Mark Loughran says:

    Hi Matt, just a thought, would soaking the rings in epoxy increase their resistance to breaking, not sure if that would work? Perhaps it would have to be dilute enough to penetrate the wood? Keep up the great work!

    • Matt says:

      Yeah I don’t know. I imagine it would have to be dilute to soak in. I’m thinking a gentle reminder the ring is wood and that wood could break if not careful is in order for any wearer of mine LOL.

      • Buck Buchanan says:

        Have you thought of using a wood stabilizer, like a vacuum Cactus Juice system? Makes the wood much more solid, even if you cut into a knot. Makes for some great effects.

  7. Hi Matt,

    Great looking rings. Genius idea for using up scraps of fancy-pants woods.

    I got married in October and wanted something a little different to a regular wedding band so chose a white gold ring but with a pear wood wood inlay. Thought you might find them interesting. Have a look at the range here:


  8. Paul says:

    I keep an old toothbrush handy fro cleaning the hole drill bits, don’t even need to turn off, just hold close and brush the teeth!!

  9. jHop says:

    So how does the finish you apply interact with the various lotions and hand sanitizers out there? I work with a lot of paper, and since I’m a guy, I ignore lotions. But the many women I work with don’t, and I’ve seen a lot of different bottles on their desks in just the past three months. (Did I mention I work with a lot of paper?)

    What sort of reaction will the lotions play with finishes like mineral oil or shellac?

    • Matt says:

      Since recording and posting this video I’ve switched the finish I’m applying from mineral oil or shellac or even poly to a woodturning finish called Shellawax. It’s strong, beautiful and easy to apply.

      Ideally it would be applied and then buffed out on a lathe as it responds to friction. But there are ways to buff it without the lathe too, it’s just not readily listed on the label.

      I don’t know about the effects of the lotions, I rarely use them myself, but the one product I face everyday is hand santizers (alcohol based and not friendly to finishes, especially anything with shellac).

      I’m still working on a good all around finish, but there are just some limitations I guess LOL?

  10. Trevor Hillman says:

    With the abundance of alcohol based sanitizes in the medical fields as well as traditional soap and water washing, I was wondering if a combination of polyurethane and wax would be a good idea or even just polyurethane alone. I am making rings for my wife and I (pharmacists) and some friends (medical doctors). I have a metal lathe with a milling attachment and have found that the end mills allow for perfect sizing without dealing with trying to find the right size forstner bit.

    • Matt says:

      Hey Trevor sorry for the delay responding. I have had some success with a poly all by itself. Of course the one problem I ran into was forgetting to seal some of the exotics I was working with and having them always feel sticky.

      One product I found was Shellawax. It can setup rock hard and is designed specifically for use on a lathe. It’s a friction finish and looks amazing. Unfortunately it is a Shellac based finish, but according to information on their website if allowed to cure thoroughly, up to a couple of weeks, it can be resistant to alcohol.

      The ring I made and coated with Shellawax took a lot of abuse from over sanitizing as I moved in and out of main lab and into my office.

      Still… I think a poly is definitely the way to go for us in the medical field lol.

  11. Ted Palmer says:

    Hi Matt

    I am new to your web site. Thanks for all that you are doing. What is the best grain direction for making the rings? Have you tried taking the grain diagonally across the ring? I would imagine that end-grain on the edges would be weak.

    Thanks Ted

    • Matt says:

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks for checking out the show, I really appreciate it!

      I’ve experimented with both and have had mixed results. It really depends a lot on the wood itself. I happen to like the look of the end grain and think it does add a bit more strength, but some folks prefer it the other way simply because it really shows off the grain pattern and color more uniformly.

      The key is to play with the thickness, for the rings with the grain pattern being emphasized I’ll tend to leave a little thicker and that seems to work…for now.

      • Ted Palmer says:

        Hey Matt

        Why don’t we take the rings down a couple of notches and make them the size for Pandora Bracelets? Being smaller they would be a little more stable and a whole lot cheaper than buying the charms. Merry Christmas.


  12. Gene Bailey says:

    Matt, Just discovered your website thru Highland Hardware. Viewed your bit on making rings because I make wooden bracelets which I cut out with a coping saw and finish by hand with rasps and abrasive paper. Rings being smaller the end grain problem may not be so critical but with a bracelet it often breaks if dropped on the end grain side. I’ve found that making at least two ply at right angles makes for much greater strength (more plies obviously more strength). If made from the same wood blank one barely notices the plies and if various woods are used you get some interesting possibilities. Steaming and bending works for bracelets too; but I think a ring would be too small for that process. Have you ever considered using wood stabilizer/hardeners once you have cut your ring from the wood scrap. Thanks for sharing your work. Gene

    • Matt says:

      Hi Gene,

      Thanks for the great feedback and ideas. I have considered wood stabilizers or even going so far as to impregnate the wood with a polymer, something I’ve seen and heard isn’t as hard as it sounds. I have made a few with contrasting woods set at right angles to each other and they look amazing. I’ll have to try doing the same with a single species, I think that’s a great idea.

      Thanks again for the ideas!

  13. tim says:

    Thanks for the ring video 504. Just made my first one. Any suggestions on how to and what to use tor a finish on the inside of the ring?


    • Matt says:

      I’ve currently been using a turning finish called “Shellawax” it’s a friction finish that you can apply and then it will setup with the heat and friction of the pad on the spinning lathe. To get it on the inside, I apply it and then wait for it to dry and polish it by hand or with the help of a Dremel with a soft pad attachment.

      It works great and sets up nice and solid. I’ve experimented with thinned out poly and shellac, both work great with several thin coats. The hardest part is finding a way to hang them to dry LOL!

  14. Chad says:

    I don’t have a lathe yet but with what I saw on this video I’m going to try and clean up the outside and inside with my Dremmel. I think a med/fine grade sanding tip should work really well to smooth it out. I guess we’ll see.

    • Matt says:

      My very first ring I did all the sanding by hand, it takes a little while, but it can easily be done. I now use a Dremel for the interior, so again, I know it can be done. I’d just suggest stopping and checking it once in a while for shape LOL!

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