Making Wooden Rings #1: The Basics, with solid rings.

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Blog entry by Tribalwind posted 02-17-2010 03:07 AM 31822 reads 26 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Making Wooden Rings series no next part

This is by no means an expert guide to making rings, as I’m only in week-1 of making them ! .
but right now here is what i do, this is fairly comprehensive tutorial for a beginner (and by a beginner!) . its mostly self-explanatory by the pics, but i went and explained anyway..

i begin by sizing a blank about 1/2” thick x 1-1/2 wide, and long enough to cut off several squares

cut them off on my band saw (God i love my bandsaw!, Minimax MM16,bought used for a Song!)
the cut’s very rough as my carbide blade needs sharpening after re-sawing tons of dry logs and green wood ..

Mark the center of 1 square with a center marker

or a combination square,ruler, etc…just get close. you only need to mark one since they’re all identical.

next figure out what size ring you’re making,and get drill bit close to it,
these are wood so a size bigger/looser-fit is probably best.. i got this cheapo ring-mandrel and size-rings on Ebay…i recommend you NOT get this $5 plastic set, go for the nice solid STEPPED size METAL version, it’s around $20 with nicer metal rings.i will be buying that next!.

ok, here’s a shoddy 2-minute drill-press “jig”. 2 scraps carpet taped to a 2×4 clamped to the DP table. recommend you spend an extra 3 minutes and make it a little sturdier/re-usable..tomorrow i’ll make something nicer and screw the faces to a block.just make them 90° to each other.

center it under your blanks as best you can.
and drill out your holes..i just snug them up into the corner and
held them down by problems.


i made this little mandrel out of pecan, #2-Morse taper for my arbor(i just measured one and got close)
and a ring taper on the other…i need to make a new/better one, this was too small for larger rings and too steep/sharp a taper which leaves the outer/right edge unsupported..that said i’ve still made 20 or so rings on it. i’ll duplicate a stepped ring-sizer mandrel on the next one…maybe cut 2 thin saw-kerfs down the middle,to fit small wedges in the end to snug up more evenly (as is, the ring edge on tail-stock side is not touching)
Anyway..just slip the blank on there and snug it up,you can use a 2nd blank to push it on tight while the lathe’s running,also helps true it straight… another option is to knock off the corners first on a scroll-saw or belt sander.
i use a tiny spindle gauge and hold the ring there with my finger applying side pressure to keep it on the mandrel,,wetting the mandrel a bit helps too,hit it with course sandpaper if it gets too slick/burnished

once i turn it down to size. i sand with abranet and abralon pads.
some shaping with the 180-grit, then 400 (yep i can skip up that high it seems with these)
then abralon # 500 ,1000,2000,4000…this is the finish ….with no finish….

here it is after hitting with deft wood-finish to fill the grain,then EEE tripoli friction wax.

and the final piece :) ...pardon the little cloth fuzzies.
i wipe the inside with a little mineral oil or more deft wood finish etc…
CA glue also makes a great finish, just takes more care and i cant apply it on my wood mandrel…maybe if i made it out of UHMW PE.hmmmmm

Hope you enjoyed, next installment i’ll show what i did for the layered rings i started making yesterday ,(since I’m now an authority on rings LOL) the only difference being the glue-up really…

-- Matthew,Long island ny.

12 comments so far

View toyguy's profile


1693 posts in 4284 days

#1 posted 02-17-2010 03:25 AM

I like the way you think….. I have been toying with making some rings, but had some qualms about how to go at it…..... Enter your mandrel. Great idea, simple and that’s the way I like things…. So even an idiot like me can’t screw it up. Thanks for the ideas…... Now if I can get up some energy to hit the shop.. LOL


-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3742 days

#2 posted 02-17-2010 04:03 AM

Nice blog Matthew.
I think the mandrel is a super idea.
The ring finished up very well.
I have to get some EEE.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Tribalwind's profile


69 posts in 3607 days

#3 posted 02-17-2010 04:29 AM

thank you both’
i’d seen other tutorials where guys were making individual jam-chucks and parting off rings from larger blocks etc. seemed like more work than necessary. this way works good and fast! done in 5 minutes for a simple ring.

here is a Similar thing to what i was talking about with the split-mandrel idea, i’d just make it out of wood i think.
though buying a metal one i dont have to worry about carving into the wood,its likely just dull the gouge if anything i think. ah hell, it’s $12 total, i’m buying it :)

here is EXACTLY what i was talking about, only morse taper the bottom and size teh split-taper appropriately !

-- Matthew,Long island ny.

View Vince's profile


1196 posts in 3876 days

#4 posted 02-17-2010 01:09 PM

Who sells those metal mandrels?

-- Vince

View KMJohnson's profile


165 posts in 3468 days

#5 posted 02-17-2010 01:14 PM

Nice work.

-- Let's do it in the wood pile!

View Tribalwind's profile


69 posts in 3607 days

#6 posted 02-17-2010 04:05 PM

i found the mandrels on ebay

-- Matthew,Long island ny.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4189 days

#7 posted 02-19-2010 11:07 PM

It looks like you have this down. You should be aware that mandrel is for stretching (resizing) metal rings… Might be more that a wooden ring can handle. I like your tapered mandrel method you are using now, I think a mandrel with a more gentle taper, (as you said) might just be the best solution.
I think I would knock the corners down a little at the belt sander before turning them on the lathe too… (if you are having trouble with splitting / gripping them as you rough them out on the lathe.)

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Tribalwind's profile


69 posts in 3607 days

#8 posted 02-23-2010 10:06 PM

thanks Jm,
i receibved the metal ring-stretcher a few days ago, been playing with it..
it works nice for certain sizes, and no danger of breaking as i just push it in by hand.
the only way i found to mount it though so far was in a 3-jaw mini-chuck, not the best solution,theres some run-out visible. well i guess i’ll find a use for it for something.

the wooden one’s still working great. found i could put a little cloth tape around ot to get better grip. maybe adhesive backed sandpaper if needbe.

last night i made a big-brother to the ring mandrel, one for making Bangles! i did not go the morse taper route as its too big/heavy i think. i chucked it in a 4jaw-chuck and also use the tailstock to keep it running noice as i can still crank back on the tail to get it off and flip it around .

-- Matthew,Long island ny.

View rhybeka's profile


4663 posts in 3568 days

#9 posted 06-26-2010 04:31 PM

awesome! thanks for the posting Matt! I’ve been wondering how it was done…just another reason to put in my ‘why I need to get a lathe’ list. :D think I’ll wait until I grow my skills a bit more with the other tools first tho :) Nice work!

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View danokaiser's profile


3 posts in 2976 days

#10 posted 06-24-2011 04:51 AM

just read the tutorial, love it. i am wondering if you have measured drawing of your mandrel?

-- Dano Kaiser

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 3735 days

#11 posted 06-24-2011 05:01 AM

very nice work.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Tribalwind's profile


69 posts in 3607 days

#12 posted 06-24-2011 07:20 PM

thanks´these are fun and quick
done all kinds of variations on this since last year.

danokaiser, nah no drawings,not even necessary really. just turn the 1 end to a MT2 or 1, and the other to be smaller than smallst ring and bigger than biggest. oh i´ve also made newer ones longer,maybe 6 inches or so..if u go too long u need to use teh tailstock to keep it true i found,which is extra time when youre making lots of them,otherwise its inconsequential
goodluck! down in bolivia now for a few months, amazing artisans here!

-- Matthew,Long island ny.

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