This is 10 Helpful Tips for Gluing Wooden Ring Blanks. By the end of this post, you will know everything you need to create beautiful laminated ring blanks from exotic woods that will not separate, have no gaps, and last a long time. Enjoy.
Making Laminated Ring Blanks for Wooden Rings
The laminated wood is by far one of the most popular styles of wooden ring that you could possibly make. The secret to the style is in combining different types of wood to create signature looks for each and everyone of your wooden rings.
Since there are so many different wood species that you can choose from, your list of combinations is nearly endless. The only limit that you have is in the amount of combinations your brain can come up with.
It’s easy to see why laminated wood rings are as popular as they are. Now, in order to make these rings you need to know how to glue pieces of wood together in a way that makes them very strong, and prevents them from coming apart in the future.
The 10 tips that are coming up will show you exactly what you need to know in order to create a great glue joint that will stand the test of time. This will make your wooden rings look outstanding, and they will perform far better.
Here’s the list, and I’ll go into each one of these tips in full detail farther down in the post. Each of these ideas is important, and they’re also very easy to incorporate into your process.
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- Mill the Wood Completely Flat on the Faces
- Test Fit the Pieces to Check for Gaps
- Make Double Blanks for Safety (or larger)
- Use the Right Type of Glue (epoxy or wood glue)
- Use a Name Brand Glue You Trust
- Use New Product
- Prepare the Surface for Gluing
- Apply a Thin Layer of Glue to Both Sides
- Work Quickly to Get the Ring Blank Clamped
- Clamp Evenly Using Medium Pressure
- Allow the Full Time to Cure Before Handling
- Inspect Your Completed Blanks
Mill the Wood Completely Flat on the Faces
A good joint between two pieces of wood starts with the surfaces that will be glued together. If these surfaces are not totally flat, and they don’t come together perfectly, your glue joints will not be as good as it possibly can be.
Gaps, rough spots, and low spots will cause problems between the two pieces of wood and prevent them from adhering together very well. The whole process of gluing involves getting the pieces as close together as possible, with a tiny layer of glue in between.
In order for this to work, you need to have the faces of your different types of wood sanded completely flat so they meet each other without any gaps. Thankfully, this is easier to do than you might think. It’s actually more about paying attention than anything else.
The first thing you can do is buy thin pieces of wood that are already flat on the faces. These are commonly sold in woodworking stores and online, and though they may be a couple more dollars than rough pieces of wood, the work is already done for you.
Another option is to do it yourself. This can save you a little bit of money, but you need to have the appropriate tools to make it work. However, it can be as simple as cutting off slices with a table saw, and then running them through a thickness planer or sander to smooth out the faces.
However you decide to make this happen, it’s important that you do. In fact, if you can get this part of the equation right, then you already won the vast majority of the battle.
See Also: 9 Great Ways to Make Better Wooden Rings
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Test Fit the Pieces to Check for Gaps
After you cut your pieces for making a laminated ring, it’s important to look them over in the position that you will glue them and make sure that there are no gaps. This is a final check before applying glue to make sure that it’s worth gluing these pieces together.
If you find problems and gaps, then make a point to address these things before you glue your ring blank together. It is definitely not worth gluing together a blank with gaps or pieces that do not come together very well.
Not only will the blue joint be inferior, odds are that those gaps are also going to come to light when you start milling the ring shape. Don’t waste your time on a project like this, and instead sure that your wood faces come together perfectly.
Make Double Blanks or Larger Blanks
While on the subject of making blanks, it’s important that your blanks be at least big enough to get two rings from the same piece of wood. This is not only a safety issue, but it’s also an issue with economics and time.
Making a tiny ring blank is dangerous because it’s very difficult to hold it down while you are drilling the finger opening on a drill press or with a hand drill. If you make a ring blank that’s at least the size of two rings, and you can always clamp down the one that’s not being drilled.
While you’re at it, I actually recommend that you make a larger blank in nearly all cases, because you’ll always have the blank when you need that style again. It’s not uncommon for ring makers to make blanks so large that they get 20 or more rings from it.
The process is exactly the same as gluing up enough wood to make one or two rings, and it only takes a few more seconds compared to the amount of time it would take to make 20 different blanks.
When you look at the economy, and the time savings of this type of operation, you’ll be able to see the benefits of making a larger blank right away. Anytime you ever need that same style in the future, you don’t have to spend the gluing time again with a bigger blank.
See Also: Why You Should Make a Bigger Ring Blank
Use the Right Type of Glue
Next, it’s important to talk about the type of glue. There are adhesives that work better than others. Knowing what type of adhesive to use makes a big difference, and thankfully there are really only two you need to know.
For dry wood types that don’t have a high oil content, wood glue is your best option, and you can find it in a number of places. Wood glue has been the standard for a very long time for all wood to wood joints, and it has a fantastic track record.
When you are dealing with wood that has a higher amount of oil, then you can do a lot better with a product like two part epoxy. You will need to leach the oil from the surface with acetone or denatured alcohol first, but after that the epoxy can make a better bond.
In reality, you can use two-part epoxy for everything. It’s an extremely strong adhesive, and it leaves a clear glue line. Sometimes it has a pinch of yellow, but in general it’s harder to see than a wood to glue line.
Use a Name Brand Glue You Trust
Once you know the type of adhesive that you are going to use, the next step is to pick out a name brand that you trust. At this point, it’s not about the few dollars being saved, it’s about the lifetime of your project.
That being said, you don’t have to buy the worlds most expensive adhesive in order to know that you are doing the right thing by your projects. You can simply buy a brand name that you recognize, and that other woodworkers trust.
Even if you are brand new, you have no idea what kind of glue is better than the next, you can ask woodworkers that have been doing it a little longer than you. Most woodworkers would love to talk about glue, and you can get quite a bit of information for free.
Seek out the brand that they recommend, and bring it into your shop. Use it, and the confidence in knowing that you made a good choice, and that your product will not betray you in the future by falling apart or having other problems.
Use New Product
Another thing that’s important when gluing your ring blank is to make sure that you are using a fresh product. Glue that is old, or has been exposed to high temperatures or very low temperatures is not as good as fresh glue.
Many woodworkers will make this mistake while trying to save a few dollars. They see an old bottle of glue in the shop, have no idea what it’s been exposed to, but they decide that it’s not worth three dollars to go get another bottle.
Instead, they use this mystery glue and hope for the best. Later on down the road when the project falls apart, they regret the decision. However, all of that could’ve been solved by simply buying a new bottle of glue.
When in doubt, replace it. For the super low price of a bottle of glue, it makes absolutely no sense to take a chance on a project falling apart in the future. It also makes no sense to worry about it for years and years.
When in doubt, just buy a new bottle and be confident you did the right thing. Not only will your projects hold together longer, but you will also sleep a little better at night not having to worry if that sketchy bottle of glue is going to betray you at some point.
Prepare the Surface for Gluing
Another tip is surface preparation. After sanding and milling of your pieces, there will be debris and dust on the mating surfaces. This needs to be removed before you add glue, because even a tiny piece of debris can cause the faces to not fully come together.
This is especially important when sanding with a rough grit. A tiny piece of sanding grit from an 80 grit paper can easily prevent two pieces of wood from fully meeting. This means that your glue joint will have a gap, and you will have to make another blank.
Easiest way to do this is with a rag, and just wipe the surfaces off. You can also use an air line and blow away all the dust and debris. Either way you do it, make sure that you are clearing off all the sanding debris from the surfaces before you add glue.
If you are dealing with very oily wood, it’s also a good idea to leech the surface with acetone or denatured alcohol in order to remove the top most layer of oil. This is simply a matter of applying some solvent to a rag, and then wiping the surface to remove the oil.
You’ll have to wipe several times, and it’s a pretty good practice to keep going until color stops coming off as heavily from the pieces. After that, you need to dry them quickly and then get the pieces glued up quickly as well.
This process only removes oil from the surface, and the oils that are inside the word will rapidly work their way back to the surface. Once you leech your piece, dry it off and get it glued together quickly, and you can take advantage of a much better glue joint on oily woods.
Apply a Thin Layer of Glue to Both Sides
To get the best joint between two pieces of wood, you need to create a layer of glue has 100% coverage without any gaps. Areas where there is wood to wood contact without any glue means there is absolutely no bond between the pieces at that point.
The best way to ensure that you have 100% coverage is to apply a layer of wood glue to both of the faces that are going to be glued together. This layer needs to be very thin, and you can apply it with your finger or a glue roller.
Make sure that this layer is not overly thick, but also that it’s not so thin that the layer starts to dry almost immediately. The point is when you have coverage on both sides, and you press the pieces together, you will have 100% coverage inside the joint.
This is very easy to do, and you can even do it with your finger. Wear a glove of course to protect yourself, but a finger is a perfect glue smearing tool that can help you spread an even layer of product on both pieces of wood that will meet in the center of the joint.
Of all the gluing tricks that I know, this is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t have any gaps in your lamination. Gaps end up coming back to haunt you, and they can take a beautiful looking ring blank and make it look ugly very quickly.
Work Quickly to Get the Ring Blank Clamped
Applying your glue correctly is just one side of the equation. The other side is getting your ring blank clamped together as quickly as possible. For most wood glue, you do have a little bit of time, but in general you want to work quickly without rushing.
The last statement means to work in a way where you’re not wasting any time, and you’re going as fast as the process will allow you while still doing it correctly. That’s working quickly without hurrying. It’s the same as doing the job quick without cutting corners.
As soon as glue is dispensed from the bottle, it starts to dry. The longer you wait, the more it will dry, and it can cause problems with the bond. That being said, you only need to do a few things in order to make sure you get your blank glued up in time.
First, make sure all of your supplies are ready. Think of everything that you need to clamp together your blank and have all of that ready to go. Gather everything to your bench, so that you have to look for nothing when you start clapping everything together.
Second, make sure that you are applying your glue in a place that is not too hot. Overly hot places encourage glue to dry up at a much faster rate. This also goes for exposure to direct sunlight. Make sure the place you are gluing has good conditions, and it will help you.
Finally, do a dry run first to make sure your process is good. This is where you clamp everything together without glue and identify/correct any problems you find. This is very helpful at diagnosing problems, which you can fix before they are covered with glue.
Clamp Evenly Using Medium Pressure
It’s important that you clamp your pieces of wood together in a way that holds the faces against each other without too much pressure or too little pressure. Medium pressure is actually the best, for a couple of reasons.
First, the only thing you really need to do when you’re gluing to pieces of wood is to hold the faces together just enough so there are no gaps. It actually doesn’t take a ton of pressure to do this, especially considering how strong a clamp really is.
Even medium pressure from the clamp is actually quite strong when compared to holding the pieces together by hand or stacking something like books on top of two pieces of wood. The clamps are very strong, so there’s no need to over tighten.
Also, very high pressure can actually be counterproductive. If you ratchet the pressure up too much, you can end up driving off too much glue. When too much glue squeezes out of the joint, not enough seeps into the wood to create the bond.
Finally, very heavily glued joints don’t hold together very well. The amount of glue in between the two sheets of wood tends to be way too thick, which becomes a weak point. Gaps become inevitable, and the overall ring blank will look very poor.
Allow the Full Time to Cure Before Handling
It’s exciting to look at several beautiful laminations sitting in the shop in clamps waiting to be turned into amazing looking rings. Make sure to resist the temptation to take off the clamps earlier than you should. Saving a few minutes is not worth doing it over.
A laminated ring is only as strong as the layers and the glue. Make sure to give the blank the full cure time as listed on the bottle of glue that you are using. In most cases, this is several hours or 24 hours.
Dried and cured are two different things. Most glue reaches a fairly high strength point after only a couple hours. However, it still doesn’t reach full strength for several hours after that. It’s important to wait, because your resulting rings will be stronger.
Inspect Your Completed Blanks
Once you do remove the clamps, sand one edge of the blank in order to reveal the pattern and take a look at your work. It’s at this point you should inspect your ring blank to make sure that all of your efforts were successful.
Pay close attention to the individual layers themselves. Look very closely, and examine for gaps or problems that you can find. You might even want to do all four sides of the blank, just to even out the wood and give you more reference points.
Carefully complete your inspection, and if so, make some notes for next time about things that you could do a little better. In most cases, if you follow all of the tips listed in this post, you will have a ring blank that you can be very proud of.
See Also: Essential Wooden Ring Making Tools List
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know the best way is to glue up your ring making blanks, it’s time to head out into the shop and start making something awesome. Depending on your tooling, pick the right type of wood to start with. This will make a huge difference.
From there, start experimenting with your different laminations and looks. Cut some pieces that are the right size for your blank, and then carefully apply a thin layer of glue to all mating surfaces as you work quickly to get that blank clamped together.
Give the blank as much time as it needs to fully cure, and then inspect your work. Following these tips, you should be satisfied with the overwhelming majority of ring making laminations that you produce from here on out.
It’s actually pretty easy to make laminated ring blanks. The beauty of wooden rings comes from these types of laminations, and the color combinations of wood that you choose. Have fun, experiment, and create something beautiful.
If you have any questions, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
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