Roughing out Your Ring Blank – Ring Making Tips

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This ring making tip is all about roughing out your blank before sanding. Roughing the blank to the point where it can be turned on the lathe or sanded is an important step that removes most of the waste wood. Once the excess is gone, the rest of the shaping process is much easier.

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Ring Making Tip No. 1 – Rough Out Your Ring Making Blank

ring making tips roughing out your ring blankAlmost all laminated ring making blanks are going to have quite a bit of waste material. This is the nature of the construction process.

In a laminated ring, several pieces of thin wood are glued together in a stack. This stack is drilled for the proper finger opening, depending on the customer. After that, the ring shape is refined around that drill hole.

As you can see in the blank on the left, there are large corners, and lots of excess wood. If you are turning the ring on a lathe, or sanding by hand, removing this excess first will speed the process along nicely.

First, use a hand saw or a band saw to cut off the really large corners. It can be difficult to cut a nice circle right around the ring opening, and sometimes this can damage the blank. Saws create a lot of pressure when they cut, and if you cut the band very thinly, it can crack. Take off the bulk with the saw, then move on to the next step.

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Power Sanding to Rough Out the Blank

ring making tips roughing out your ring blankHere is a quick look at a blank where the corners have been taken off with a saw. When roughing out your ring blank, the goal is to reduce your work level.

In the beginning, most ring makers will be sanding these by hand or using a power sander to do the majority of the work.

wooden rings how to make wooden rings by hand ring making instructions for beginners

Later in their craft they may buy a lathe, but in the beginning it’s mostly hand work.

Knocking off the corners and preparing the ring blank like this means that later in the process the sanding and shaping will be much easier.

If you do not have access to a saw for some reason, I have seen people have good results using a nice file to remove the corners.

Simply clamp the ring into a vise, and then start filing the corners away. It’s not going to be a fast process, but you can really shape the outside of the ring nicely with a well made file.

ring making tips roughing out your ring blankIf you are new to ring making, a bench top belt/disc sander is one of the best investments you can make. This will save you time and money if you are selling wooden rings.

I have a Ryobi that was around $100 when I bought it nearly ten years ago. This is a Home Depot special, and nothing extraordinary or fancy. That being said, it has endured everything that I have put it through over the years.

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Look around for a basic belt sander, and pick up a couple belts to have in the shop. I typically use 100 grit on the sander, but I also keep a 80 and a 120 grit in case I need to change my grit level for a different project.

For most work, a 80-100 grit belt is the best choice. It removes material quickly, but does not leave incredibly deep scratches like the 30-40 grit belts.

These are like rubbing your project with a handful of rocks, and can leave really rough areas. If you have a chance to get a new tool, a belt sander is one of the best investments as a beginning ring maker.

Roughing Out Your Ring Blank – The Final Look

ring making tips roughing out your ring blankHere is a look at that blank after taking a spin on the belt sander. The nice thing about the belt sander is that it removes material very quickly. The bad thing about the belt sander…is that it removes material very quickly.

It does not take much pressure to remove excess wood on the belt sander. Simply touch the piece to the sander, and rotate it around. The sanding belt will do the rest.

While roughing out your ring blank, keep the piece flat on the base of the sander. Slide it into the moving belt gently, and rotate it around. This will allow the belt to work, but not force it to remove too much.

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If you are sanding your blank by hand to the final size and shape, you can always switch grits on the belt. Most belts can be found in finer grits, and this is a huge help. Use the finer belt after roughing the blank and it will remove all the scratches from the previous belt. Then, inspect the piece.

Look for deep scratches, dented or flattened areas, and other defects. Address them. The sander is the best place to do this. Get the shape as close to round as you possibly can before going on to sanding by hand.

Remember, the better you prepare the ring blank at each step, the easier the following step will be to perform. Saw better, and shaping will be easier. Shape better, and sanding will be easier. It all flows from each previous step.

If you have any questions about Roughing Out Your Ring Blank – Ring Making Tips, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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