This is 8 Awesome Reasons to Use a Lathe to Make Wooden Rings. If you are an experienced ring maker, or you want to start out with the best tools, the lathe is the perfect choice. Not only are the processes easier, they are faster too.
A Lathe Is a Great Tool
Having a lathe in the shop is a very useful way to help yourself make more things. Even in cases where you need to drill a concentric hole, or make a part, a lathe is a huge help.
It’s one of those tools that once you have it, you will wonder how you could get along without it. You end up finding more and more reasons to use it, and over time it becomes a favorite.
For making wooden rings, the lathe is your ticket to faster builds, and more even looking rings, in far less time. Here are 8 ways that you can benefit from a lathe as a wooden ring maker.
See Also: 35 Important Tips on How to Make a Ring
The Lathe Makes the Process Faster
The biggest thing that you will notice from having a lathe is the speed difference. Wooden rings that are sanded and shaped by hand are not too difficult to create, but they do take a while. On a lathe, that time is greatly reduced.
In fact, you can make at least ten rings to one when you are proficient with the lathe. This is a huge change in your output, and can be great if you are selling your work. The sheer speed at which you can go from blank to finished ring is amazing.
This speed difference is also without any sacrifice in quality. In fact, with the lathe being far more accurate than any hand shaping, you will actually see an increase in quality. Not often in life do you get to speed up, and increase quality, but making wooden rings on the lathe is one of those too good to be true kind of things.
See Also: The Best Glue for Making Wooden Rings
Selling Rings and the Lathe
When you sell wooden rings, the faster you can make a high quality ring, the more you make. If you only need ten minutes to turn a great looking ring, and you can sell it for $50, you make $300 an hour.
In contrast, selling the same ring that you made by hand for $50 in a couple hours means you make only $25 an hour. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the difference in money using a lathe is astounding.
Also, just like in the earlier section, you will actually make a better product in most cases too, which is a benefit to your customer. Lathes are also not terribly expensive for the size needed to make a ring, so you have less money to earn back to pay for the tool purchase.
See Also: Where to Buy Woodworking Tools
Easier to Make a Concentric Ring
Making rings on the lathe means your rings will look more even. Sometimes, when you sand, you can make thinner and thicker sections. These may be slight, but they can be felt sometimes, and they are not perfect.
It is the nature of handmade things that they are never perfect, but the more you can do to make your rings closer to concentric the better. A lathe is perfect for this job, because that’s the essence of what the tool does.
A lathe turns on an axis, and you carve something around that axis. By the sheer way that the tool is designed, you create concentric patterns while using it. This means rings with an even wall thickness all the way around, and no lumps.
Sanding is Faster on the Lathe
Once you sand on the lathe, you will never want to sand without it again. Sanding by hand is such a pain sometimes, but when you sand on the lathe, the tool does all the work. If you can stand there and hold a piece of sandpaper, you can successfully sand on the lathe.
Since the piece is already moving on the lathe, all you need to do is apply the sandpaper. Sure, there is a pinch more to it than that, but in general sanding on the lathe is several times easier than sanding something that doesn’t move.
As you progress through the grits, you will immediately see the changes in the wood. They happen right in front of you, and you can feel the changes too. It’s a real pleasure to sand like this, and you will end up going deeper into the really fine grits because it’s so easy.
Easier to Profile the Inside
Sometimes, you need to sand the inside of the ring more than others. You might want to make a comfort fit, or just really smooth out the inside. A lathe makes this super easy, and is a huge advantage to doing the process by hand.
Simply chuck the ring by grabbing the outside, and then profile the interior. Flip it over, and repeat the process on the other side. When you are done, remove the ring, and check from the inside to finish the process.
If you leave a little more on the outside surface than you need, there will still be some wood to remove, and you can clear off the chuck marks. This will make your inside and outside surfaces on the ring perfectly smooth, and without a lot of effort.
See Also: 9 Great Ways to Make Better Wooden Rings
More Shaping Options
Once you are comfortable working on the lathe, you will discover many new design opportunities that were not practical by hand. These can end up being some of your favorite looks, and a large part of your wooden rings.
One of the easiest is a series of grooves around the outside of the ring. You can do this with a corner of a skew chisel, or the corner of a carbide roughing tool. Make a set of grooves that are evenly spaced, and the ring will look really good.
Another thing you can do is a single deeper groove, beveled edges, and many other decorative design ideas. These are all super simple and quick too, because the lathe makes it so easy to remove material and shape the wood.
Finishing Right on the Lathe
Another great benefit to owning a lathe for making wooden rings is that you can finish right on the lathe. Applying stain and wood finish is a breeze on the lathe. It’s very quick, and the finish applies very evenly.
Again, the lathe does all the work. As the piece rotates, bring a small rag coated with finish up to the piece. Make contact, and move from end to end. As you move, you will see that the color is applying evenly to your wooden ring.
Applying a clear coat, like a wiping varnish is easy too. Simply do the same thing and allow the lathe to take the finish from the cloth to the piece.
You can also buy any number of friction finishes that are designed for use on the lathe. These finishes go on easily, and cure with friction that you provide by pressing against the spinning piece and creating heat.
Much More Uniform Process
Finally, the biggest benefit to having a lathe other than the sheer speed is the quality of the work that comes off a lathe. Not only is the process faster, but the resulting product is more even, and uniform.
When you make several of something, especially to sell, customers look for the pieces to be the same. If you make a ring for them one year, and they buy the same ring the next year, they are looking for the same ring.
A lathe gives you the ability to quickly and easily repeat what you do over and over again, and all of them will be similar. If you have a final diameter that you like, or a wall thickness, you can easily make rings with the same dimensions with a lathe.
If you have been kicking around the idea of getting a lathe, your homework is to look around in the marketplace and see what you can afford. Since you need the lathe for making small wooden rings, you can get away with something small to medium sized.
The only caution that you need to think about is getting a lathe that will take a chuck, because you will need one. There are mandrels sold for ring making that don’t require a chuck, but you don’t want a lathe that is so small you can’t do anything else with it.
If the price is too much, save for the mid sized lathe and wait. You will be happy you did, because you will be able to do a lot more, and making rings will be very easy. You can find middle of the road lathes for $200-$500, and if you make your own carbide lathe tools, you can save money there too.
See Also: How to Make a Carbide Lathe Tool
8 Awesome Reasons to Use the Lathe to Make Wooden Rings Wrap-Up
One of the best tools that you can own for making wooden rings is a lathe. While not necessary, a lathe is still a powerhouse tool that will take your ring production to the next level really quickly.
A lathe allows you to make wooden rings faster than by hand, and with better results. It’s a rare thing to find a faster method that is actually a better method, but this is one of those cases. A lathe turned ring, is more evenly crafted, the wall thicknesses are uniform, and the process is repeatable.
If you are selling rings, the sheer speed that you can turn them out on a lathe is awesome. If you are making the switch from making rings by hand, you will be floored at how fast you can turn rings on the lathe.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.
If you have any questions about 8 Awesome Reasons to Use a Lathe to Make Wooden Rings, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.