This is How to Make a Wood and Epoxy Ring with Inlace Nuggets. If you have never used Inlace products to change the look of your epoxy, you are in luck. This step by step tutorial will show you everything you need to know to make an excellent looking ring. Enjoy.
Wood and Epoxy Ring
This ring is a half and half design, with wood and epoxy. The epoxy is not just any kind of epoxy, it’s System Three MirrorCast. This is the clearest of the clear epoxies, and it sets up as solid as they come.
The epoxy is also filled with InLace nuggets, dust, and glitter to create the look. When cured, the final product is a solid mass of material that looks like natural stone. You control the final look by what ingredients you add to your epoxy.
As always, the techniques presented here are applicable to other woods, other materials, and different ways of accomplishing the same look. Once you know this process, you can use it on nearly anything else you can think of.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- I will be demonstrating on the lathe, but you can shape this ring by hand just as well.
- Wood for your ring blank.
- System Three MirrorCast resin. (you can use any other clear setting resin as well)
- Inlace Nuggets, Dust, and Glitter for adding to the epoxy. Choose what you like.
- Masking tape to make a dam to hold the resin.
- A small disposable cup and toothpicks to stir the resin.
- Measuring and marking tools.
- Sandpaper and or a belt sander.
- Drill and Forstner bits in common ring sizes.
- Fine sandpaper or a buffing setup for polishing.
Step 1 – Preparing the Wood Blank
The first step in making this wooden epoxy ring is to choose a piece of wood. This can be any type of wood that you choose, though it’s best to pick a species that will look nice next to the epoxy mixture you decide to create.
In this case, I’m going to be using a turquoise mixture, and this blue Teekri wood piece will go along with it very well. There are number of different species that you can choose from, and as long as the wood looks nice, then you have made the right choice.
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The next thing that you have to do is get peace ready. There is a little bit more involved with creating a strong bond between the wood and the epoxy, but it is pretty easy. All you need to do is create a jagged edge on the wood, and the epoxy will stick into it very well.
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You can also break your piece of wood in a vice, or any other way you choose.
The idea is to snap the piece in half, creating a lot of jagged and splintered edges. Select a piece of wood that is a quarter inch thick, about 2 inches wide, and at least 4 inches long. Break the piece in half down the middle, so you end up with a couple of pieces that are about 2 inches by 2 inches.
Each of these pieces can be its own blank, and this will give you two opportunities to make the wooden epoxy ring just in case you make a mistake. For this ring, choose the best one that broke the most evenly, and use that for the rest of the tutorial.
Step 2 – Make a Dam to Hold in the Epoxy Mixture
The next step is to create a dam that will hold the epoxy mixture in place, and prevented from running everywhere. This is a really simple part of the process as well, and all you need is a little bit of masking tape.
Any kind will do, so don’t worry if yours is a different color.
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Since the epoxy is going to form the second half of the ring, you need to create a dam that essentially extends the length of the blank beyond the jagged portion. All you really need to do is wrap the top and with tape, and make sure it’s watertight.
It’s easiest to do this with the wider rolls of tape, because they’re a little taller. Wrap the top half of the piece of wood, and make sure to lightly crease the corners to preserve the original shape. Also, make sure to press the tape tightly against the wood, which prevents leaks.
If you need to apply several layers to get this right, then go ahead. It’s better to apply a little extra tape and have a waterproof dam then to wonder what happened when all of your epoxy runs out. Two part epoxy is not cheap, so you definitely want a little extra attention on this part.
Step 3 – Mixing up the Two Part Epoxy Resin
For this tutorial, the epoxy resin is called MirrorCast by System Three. It is the clearest of the clear epoxies, and it’s the choice of many professional woodworkers when they create a wood and resin project.
What makes this stuff incredibly special is how absolutely clear the product is. This stuff is like working with water, and it actually has a very thin viscosity. If you worked with other epoxies before, you will be amazed at how clear this stuff is.
Follow the directions that are on the box, but the quick version is that it’s two parts of resin with one part hardener, mixed thoroughly for a couple minutes. Don’t over-mix your epoxy, and don’t beat it so hard that you create bubbles.
This stuff is really thin, so most bubbles that you do create will rise to the surface and pop anyway, but that’s no reason to celebrate it by mixing it too harshly. Also, make sure that you wipe the edges of your mixing vessel as you stir, which will make sure everything is incorporated.
Another awesome part about mirror cast is that it is a very long open time, and that gives you plenty of time for the next step, which is a lot of fun.
See Also: Essential Wooden Ring Making Tools List
Step 4 – Epoxy Additives and Creating a Mixture
They can add color, texture, and even more features that make your epoxy look even more amazing than it is.
There are tons of these available, and if you are interested in doing this type of work on the regular basis that I recommend the InLace company. Check them out online, and you can see a full list and pictures of all of their different additives that they sell for epoxy.
The sample that I have includes turquoise nuggets, turquoise granules, black dust, and glitter that I purchased from craft store. The only difference between the nuggets, the granules, and the dust is the size of the particles.
As you work with epoxy, it’s important to have a few different sizes of particle in the mixture, that way you don’t have any large gaps that just look clear. If you’re going for that look, it’s different, but in general you want to try and color the entire mixture.
One of the ways to do that is to have particles of different sizes, that we you can showcase the large, medium, and small, and all of your epoxy has something in it. Essentially the smaller bits filling the gaps between the larger bits.
The other nice thing about these additives is that there’s specifically made for woodworkers, so they are designed to stand easily, turn easily, and cut easily. This makes the rest of the process easier when it comes time to level and shape everything.
If you would rather skip all the mixing, you can just buy a pre-mixed version of inlace, and all you need to do is add hardener and pour.
You would also not need the epoxy, because this is an all in one product. I recommend the Turquoise color, because it looks great and has several different colors inside the mixture.
Step 5 – Mixing Additives and Epoxy
Once you have all of your additives chosen, it’s time to add them to the epoxy, and create your custom mixture. This part of the process is a lot of fun, and you’ll get to see the look of the epoxy change right in front of you as you add different ingredients.
Start with the largest ingredients first. Add enough of them so that the epoxy has enough material to look filled to. Since this epoxy is so thin, not adding enough material can result in the bottom half looking the way you intended, and the top half looking very thin.
Make sure you add enough, which will essentially create a slurry. After that, add some of the smaller ingredients, and some that are different color. Add these in small amounts, and stir every time very thoroughly to mix them well.
Check as you go, and stop when you are happy with the look. If you write down, or measure your ingredients, it will make it easy to duplicate the same look next time. If you don’t, it can be difficult to match the mixture if you need to make a repair or if you didn’t quite make enough.
This is something that’s worth practicing a little. Before you have to do the real thing, it’s a good idea to make a couple small batches, dump in your additives, and just fill some shallow drill holes that are maybe half an inch to three quarters of an inch wide.
Once these harden, you can sand them back and see what the mixture looked like. It will give you a good idea of what this will look like on your ring, and that will help you make decisions when it comes time to do the real thing.
See Also: How to Make Wooden Rings Without a Lathe
Step 6 – Pouring Your Epoxy Mixture into the Mold
Now that your epoxy mixture is ready, it’s time to pour it into the mold. Give the tape around your piece of wood one last check. Make sure that there are no gaps and no place that the epoxy mixture can squeeze out in between layers of tape.
The epoxy is very thin, so even very tiny gaps will allow the epoxy mixture to leak out. Also, since it takes a very long time to cure, even a slow leak can eventually end up draining all of your epoxy over a few hours.
In an effort to minimize the amount of bubbles, slowly pour in a thin layer covering all of the jagged edges of the wood. After you have that initial poor, use a toothpick to tap the pieces in, and also free any trapped bubbles that might be under the surface.
After that, continue pouring in until you’ve added at least half an inch of resin above the tips of the jagged wood. You can even go a little taller than this if you like, but don’t go too tall because anything bigger than the ring diameter is going to end up in the trash.
Take your time with this process, and be careful that you don’t let the blank tip over. Tap the bottom of the blank against the bench a few times. This will also encourage bubbles to rise to the surface and exit. This is particularly important if your mixture is light in color.
Step 7 – Curing and Removing the Tape
While most two-part epoxy resins can cure in one to two days, this one takes a full seven days.
While this is a little bit longer than other epoxies, it’s only a minor inconvenience compared to the way that this product looks. Once you use it, and you get over the initial pain of having to wait to play with your new toy, you will appreciate the difference, I promise.
Once you’ve given your blank enough time to cure, remove the tape and sand all of the surfaces flat. The tape is going to stick to the epoxy, but that’s okay. It’s no match for your belt sander. Make sure to wear a mask, and sand the surfaces flat in order to inspect your blank.
Keep the block flat, and pick off the sticky tape residue that you’ll get on the sandpaper with the first few passes.
Work on one face at a time, and don’t stop until it’s complete. This way, you’ll see a bunch of progress, and you’ll actually see the end coming. Keep on going until everything is nice and flat, and then inspect your blank.
Look for areas that didn’t fill, or abscesses in the work. If you find any of these, mix up another batch of epoxy and fill them. Most likely, you won’t find any gaps or any issues, because the epoxy is so thin, and it runs into tiny areas very well.
Most likely there was also a little bit of settling that occurred as your epoxy additives worked their way to the bottom of the mold. This is okay, and it’s part of the reason that you overfill the mold slightly when you pour.
Step 8 – Marking and Drilling Your Ring Blank
The next step is to measure and mark your ring blank. Remember, the goal of this tutorial is to create a ring that looks like it’s half wood and half epoxy.
In order to create this looks, you have to drill the finger opening in the right place.
The easy way to look at this is that you need the center of your drill to go right through the junction between the wood in the epoxy. This is the simplest way to put half wood on one side, and half epoxy on the other side.
Select a Forstner bit that is the correct size for your finger opening. If you are in between sizes, then choose the one that is the closest without going over the target size. You can always widen the hole later, you can’t put material back.
Measure for the center of your blank, which will give you the most meat to work with, and mark where your drill needs to enter. Bring your blank over to the drill press, and drill completely through using a backer on the bottom to prevent blowout.
If you are drilling by hand, that’s fine too. Clamp the piece to your bench, with a sacrificial backer board underneath. Drill through carefully, and try to keep the drill as straight as possible the entire time you are drilling.
If you drill carefully, and you use a Forstner bit, you will get a nice hole with very clean and straight sides that are also smooth. This makes the rest of the process a lot easier, because you don’t have to sand inside the finger opening is much.
See Also: 9 Great Ways to Make Better Wooden Rings
Step 9 – Cutting off the Waste
First, mark a line completely around the finger opening that is at least a quarter inch from the inside edge.
If your ring is thicker than that, then extend that distance. The point of this part of the exercise is to give yourself a little bit of a border for when you saw off the excess. You don’t want to go to nuts and soft too much, so these guidelines help quite a bit.
If you’re sawing by hand, any old handsaw will do. Just keep making cuts directly downward through the ring blank, and hack off as much of the waste material as possible. If you’re using a power saw, a band saw or scroll saw is perfect.
Carefully cut just outside of the line that you drew, and in the end you will have a fairly well rounded blank that’s ready for the next steps.
Step 10 – Shaping on the Belt Sander
This is most easily accomplished on the belt sander, because it removes material very quickly, and will help you establish your initial ring shape before going to the lathe or shaping by hand.
Bring the ring blank up to the belt, and carefully rotate it as the belt removes material. Pay attention to where you are, and keep the peace moving at all times. The belts sander can remove material very quickly, and while that’s convenient, you can also go too far on accident.
The more you can remove this phase, the less you have to struggle removing by hand, which takes a lot longer.
As you work the ring, don’t forget to flip it over once in a while, because some belt sanders may not be exactly square, and you don’t want a lopsided ring. Continue this process until you’re satisfied that there’s not much more you can do, and then inspect your blank.
If you are going to the lathe, then all you really need to do is round the shape. This will prevent catching on your latest tools, and will help you get a good start. If you are shaping by hand, then make sure to do the full process and get the shape as close as possible before stopping.
See Also: How to Make Your Wooden Rings Stronger
Step 11 – Shaping the Ring on the Lathe
Especially if you are making and selling wooden rings, nothing beats the speed and efficiency of the lathe. It’s rare that you get faster and better in the same sentence, and the lathe definitely delivers both.
In order to mount the ring to the lathe, you need to have an expanding ring mandrel, or another method of holding the blank. A lot of ring makers use a chuck with a set of pin jaws to grab the ring from the inside, and you can do that as well.
However, if you can invest in a expanding ring mandrel, they are well worth the money, and they can hold the ring safely and securely. Mount your ring to the mandrel, and turn the center bolt to expand the jaws and hold it in place.
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Turn on the lathe, and turn the ring round. After that, then it, and start profiling the shape to how you like it. This can be flat, or it can be curved, or anything else that you like. The ring is yours course, and you can create any design you like on the lathe.
Step 12 – Sanding on the Lathe
Start with an aggressive grit like 150, or 180. Under normal circumstances this isn’t very aggressive, but coming after a sharp lathe tool, it is fairly aggressive.
After that, switch to a finer grit like 220 and turn the lathe back on. Sand with this grit of sandpaper until all the scratches from the previous grit are gone, and inspect the ring. Make sure that you don’t see any other scratches, and then move on to 320.
After the 320, sand with 400. At this point, the ring should be very smooth, and you should start to see a look that you really like in the epoxy half. After the 400 switch to 0000 steel wool, which will lightly polish the ring.
Wipe the ring really well with a paper towel or a clean cloth. Clean any steel wool residue or sanding residue off the surface, and check to see what it looks like. Make sure there aren’t any scratches or defects, and address them if there are.
When you are satisfied with the way that the ring looks, pull it out of the expanding mandrel by loosening the center bolt, and sliding off the ring. Be careful pulling it off the mandrel, because you don’t want to ding that really nice surface you just created.
Step 13 – Buffing the Ring with the Beall Buffing System
It’ll take a little longer, but you can get a nice looking surface in the end.
For those of you with buffing equipment, or those who can splurge for the Beall Buffing System, it’s well worth the price, and it’s honestly not that expensive in general. Not only will this finishing method change your life, it’s also extremely fast.
I spent a long time waiting to buy this set up, and as soon as I got it, I really wish I’d bought it years ago. This is single-handedly the fastest way to create the smoothest surface on wood that you’ve ever touched in your life.
It’s amazing to handle a piece of wood that’s been buffed to a high sheen, and even though it looks like the surface is wet, it’s completely dry, and you can handle the project immediately afterward. There is no drying time, and no waiting.
Start with Tripoli compound, and buff all surfaces of the ring carefully. Once everything is nice and shiny, switch wheels and use white diamond compound. Buff the entire surface, and then inspect the ring. If everything looks smooth and polished, you are all done.
See Also: How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen
Half and Half Wood and Epoxy Resin Ring Wrap-Up
The union has a natural look, and since the wood was jagged, the bond is exceptionally strong between the two layers.
If you have a hard time buffing inside of the ring, you can use a small buffing pad on your Dremel tool, and just use the same compounds. Many times, you can angle the ring and the outside edges of the buffing wheel can get at least halfway in.
If you’re finishing by hand, allow the ring several hours or at least a couple days to dry thoroughly before handling.
You can make this ring with many different species, and many different mixtures of epoxy. You might even decide to just try clear epoxy in one of your mixtures and see what that looks like.
If you end up having a good time with these epoxy mixtures, you can make a lot of different ring designs, and your wooden rings can really benefit.
It doesn’t have to be structural like in this example, you could even just do inlays in detail work.
Epoxy is an amazing material to work with, and when you add things to the mixtures that enhance the look even further, it can be very addicting. If you have any questions about the tutorial, or need any help, please leave a comment and I’ll be glad to assist. Happy building.
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