finish for wearable wood rings

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Forum topic by FrankLad posted 06-08-2009 05:02 PM 38255 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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273 posts in 4319 days

06-08-2009 05:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wooden ring wood ring rings finish durable water protection oil wax urethane membrane waterlox arm-r-seal general finishes

My dad often tells me “Everything’s a tradeoff.”

Selecting a finish for wearable wooden rings is one of those cases. I currently have two choices:

#1: I can use a fairly durable membrane finish (have used Waterlox and currently General Finishes Arm-R-Seal) to achieve the shimmering grain and glossy look that so many customers desire… at the expense of the finish wearing down “ungracefully”. (ie. peeling away over time) ... and another drawback is the somewhat fussy nature of applying these finishes. Has to be in a nearly dust-free environment. This is the case with furniture finishing, and even moreso with rings. Because of their small nature, ANY little piece of fuzz stuck in the finish will be magnified.

#2: I can achieve a high sheen accomplished by sanding and polishing with very fine abrasives. Then finish with a penetrating oil (Land Ark or Mike Mahoney’s Walnut Oil) followed up with a fine paste wax (Black Bison). This is arguably the “best feeling” and most natural of the finishes, plus it allows the customer to “revive” the finish by rubbing with a wax/balm for ongoing protection. However, this finish lacks the water protection and visual depth of grain that a membrane finish yields.

We sell a bunch of wooden rings and we offer both finishes as options. Out of, say, 30 rings sold – only 3 customers may request natural oil finishes.

As part of ongoing testing, I wear a wood ring all the time. Did some landscaping a couple weeks back while wearing a ring finished with Seal-A-Cell and two coats of Arm-R-Seal. I also kept this ring on when washing hands and everything else. Essentially, I do things you’re really not supposed to do with wooden rings, in an effort to ensure that they will hold up fine for the average customer. The outside edges of the ring are now starting to peel away. Now, I’m not at all concerned about the ring itself coming apart with water exposure (since we’ve done the water submersion, washing machine, and dryer tests on some of them) – but like I said… the wearing down just isn’t “graceful”.

I’ve also worn a ring finished with oil for extended times to see how it behaves. Since we pre-raise the grain on all of our rings, regardless of finish, they remain smooth even when the bare wood comes into contact with water. No ugly peeling finish to worry about here. But thereagain… you’ve basically got almost a matte finish to begin with. (NOTE: I will say that with some wood species, I’m able to get an almost unbelievable smooth finish with sanding and oil alone.)

In any event, we let the customer know in our “Care and Maintenance” guide that we’ll refinish it for them down the road when/if the finish wears away.

So those are my thoughts on finishes with regards to wooden rings.

Can you guys offer any advice? Finish recommendations, tips? Thoughts?

...Should I treat the ring like a boat and just epoxy the whole thing? LOL!


-- Frank, Mississippi, Original Bentwood Rings -

6 replies so far

View ChuckM's profile


661 posts in 4676 days

#1 posted 06-10-2009 02:33 AM

Are there any reasons why you can’t or don’t want to use spray poly (light sand between coats – 400 grits)?

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

View FrankLad's profile


273 posts in 4319 days

#2 posted 06-10-2009 04:11 AM

Hey, ChuckM! I’ve actually never tried any spray poly; just been using rub-on stuff. I wouldn’t mind knowing more about this, as I’m open for ideas. :) Thanks!

-- Frank, Mississippi, Original Bentwood Rings -

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

1001 posts in 4403 days

#3 posted 06-10-2009 04:53 AM

Some Planemakers who use very dense woods for the planes, leave the tools over night inmersed in raw linseed oil….works for me.
I tried 1 pound shellac before (“membrane” finish), but after my wife used the ring for a couple of days, the finish was off in those areas with more wear.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Davynurse's profile


53 posts in 2931 days

#4 posted 08-05-2013 02:51 PM

I just got into ring making and im playing around with spray lacquer, it looks great but not sure how it will stand the test of time.

-- Arguments with furniture are rarely productive. (Kehlog Albran)

View Omarito's profile


1 post in 2657 days

#5 posted 11-21-2013 08:08 AM

I have started with making rings at home just for my friends and for my own pleasure, this was some years ago
and i didn’t have really time to take my effort and progress mainly in making the beautiful stuff like you Frank. But as i work with only cyanoacrylate (super) glue as a finnish too, i think this is very nice finnish if you re-apply and fine sand down few times :) always, i would be very happy for some new approaches and great ideas for making wood a beautiful jewelry :)’s an example of one of my rings :)

View Schnurrbart's profile


6 posts in 2256 days

#6 posted 01-23-2015 07:01 PM

How do you get the super glue smooth and still have it glossy? I have tried to glue small pieces together at times and have more trouble with gluing myself to the object than anything. On my lamps, I use Danish oil and fine grit paper and leave the multiple coats until almost dry and then wipe them off. It produces a gloss but not quite enough for a ring I guess. Could you go over how to apply it without having it stick to everything?? Thanks

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