Today, we will be showing you how to make a wood ring and inlay on a lathe. This project can be completed on a small lathe, requires little time and it rewarding. The piece of wooden jewelry you will be making makes a unique gift or an excellent piece to sell on an etsy store. We encourage you to combine this technique with many other materials; making your ring truly unique.
Materials for the Wood Ring
You will need very few items for the project.
- Pin Chuck – the piece which allows you to mount a hollow object onto your lathe.
- Wood Piece – select a hardwood with a good look. Although we encourage you to experiment, darker woods are typically used for rings and bands.
Mounting the Wood on the Lathe
Start by drilling a 5/8″ hole in your wood. You will need to expand it further once you have completed your work and know the size of the final jewelry piece. Mount the wood on the pin chuck and lock it in place. Depending on your device, this can either be done with a pin or the diameter is progressively larger allowing the piece to lock in place.
Make sure that the piece is completely secured to the chuck and lock the tailstock in place for support.
Carving out the Design
Turn your lathe on. Due to the small nature of the piece you are working on, you should be able to increase the speed near the maximum limit of your wood lathe. As always, remember to wear all the necessary protective equipment and start slow if in doubt.
The first step in the carving process is to get the wood piece to a smaller shape by using a roughing gouge. Allow the tool to rest on the tool rest and slowly move it across while removing some of the wood. Progressively make your way toward the center of the piece, but do pay close attention to the diameter. At this point, you should have a perfectly cylindrical shape on your lathe.
Depending on what your plan is, you may want to work with a large spindle and complete several rings at once. If you want to make a single piece, you should slice the portion you need and remove the rest. In other words, your cylinder should be slightly longer than the number of rings you plan on making. You can cut the spindle by using a parting tool.
Working with a smaller skew chisel begin to shape your ring. In general, you should aim for a low curvature bead. In other words, the center of your ring should be the thickest while the outer edges would have a smaller outer diameter. It does take some practice, but little wood is wasted and a lot of experience is gained by working on such small objects. You will learn how to make a wood ring in no time.
How to Make a Wooden Ring With Inlay
An inlay is the portion of the ring which lays on top of a primary material. For a metal ring, a wood inlay would mean that the outer edges are metal and the center is wood. This contract creates a particularly nice look which is sometimes mysterious to those who are not familiar with woodworking.
This is achieved exactly the same way as described above. As you work on the wooden band, you will be constrained by the width of the inlay. Make sure that the inlay you turn is exactly the size of the opening on your metal ring blank.
Applying a Finish to a Wood Ring
Just like many other projects, the choices for finishes are endless. However, unless you are working on an inlay which will sit on top of a different material, we recommend using non-toxic finishes. Due to the fact that the ring will be sitting directly on your flesh, it is important to make sure that it does not harm your skin over time. Many options of organic finishes such as oils and waxes are available.
While the lathe is still turning, start by applying your first coat with a paper towel or cloth. If you are using a wax, you can simply press the wax against the surface allowing it to melt and penetrate the grain of the wood. Apply up to three coats by repeating the same steps.
Sizing the Ring
You will need to expand the inner opening of your ring. Find the desired size and by using a grinder or sandpaper, start removing unnecessary wood. There are professional sizing tools which you can utilize, but unless you are mass producing these rings, you can get away with a quicker method.
If your project was an inlay, you should also be sizing it to fit onto the main piece. Once that is complete, you need to apply glue to the inner surface and lay it on top of the metal component.
Other Materials and Considerations
There are many other materials, ways and types of wood you should experiment. The most beautiful ring designs I’ve personally observed will have a contrast of two materials such as wood and metal or wood and acrylic.