Jewelry Meets Carpentry with Bentwood Rings

[Dorkyducks] is a bit of a jeweler, a bit of a carpenter, and a bit of a hacker.  They’ve taken some time to document their technique for making bentwood rings. Bentwood is technique of wetting or steaming wood, then bending or forming it into new shapes. While the technique is centuries old, this version gets a bit of help from a modern heat source: The microwave oven. [Dorkyducks] starts with strips of veneer, either 1/36″ or 1/42″ thick. The veneer is cut into strips 1/2″ wide by about 12″ long, wrapped in a wet paper towel, and microwaved. The microwaveglue-roll heats the water in the towel, steaming it into the wood. This softens the wood fibers, making the entire strip flexible. The softened wood is then wrapped around a wooden preform dowel and allowed to dry for a day or two.

Once dry, the wood will hold the circular shape of the dowel. [Dorkyducks] then uses masking tape to tack the wood down to a new dowel which is the proper ring size for the wearer. Then it’s a superglue and wrapping game. The glue holds the laminated veneer together, and gives the ring it’s strength. From there it’s sanding, sanding, sanding. At this point, the ring can be shaped, and inlays added. [Dorkyducks] shows how to carve a ring and insert a gemstone in this gallery. The final finish is beeswax and walnut oil, though we’d probably go for something a bit longer lasting – like polyurethane.

20 thoughts on “Jewelry Meets Carpentry with Bentwood Rings

    1. I’ve never had superglue NOT dry cloudy. If there’s some secret to using superglue on any material without it turning partially opaque, I’d love–not sarcasm–to hear about it.

      1. Use way, way more CA than you ever would if you weren’t sealing it. Use multiple coats of slow-drying CA (not gel) and smooth it with a paper towel while it cures. It actually works, believe it or not. Get a few exotic knife scale blanks from ebay and experiment.

        The paper towel may catch on fire.

      2. I turn wooden pens, and CA glue is a great finish for them. I use CA glue that requires activator. Spray in many coats, then sand down from 300 to 2000 grit. I finish off with a polishing compound buffed by pieces of paper towel. Clear finish that’s “almost optical”.

        1. Derp. my brain is off today. The glue is out of a squeeze bottle; the activator is the spray can. Like Brian wrote, use many coats, each quickly leveled while still liquid.

      3. Moisture and skin oils make super glue turn cloudy. Super glue fuming is used in forensics to reveal fingerprints on surfaces where powder won’t work.

        The discovery was accidental. Someone noticed white fingerprints on everything in a closet where cyanoacrylare resin was stored and found they were difficult to impossible to clean off.

        The discovery that cyanoacrylate resin made a super glue was also accidental. A plastics company was working on materials to make airplane windows from during WW2. One of their inventions was cyanoacrylate, but it proved to be useless for making windows, so it got tucked away with the reset of the failures. Some years later, a person at the company was doing optical tests on some prisms and went looking for something to get better coupling between them. He found a can of this clear stuff, spread it on the prisms and stuck them together. After doing the tests he couldn’t get them apart.

        He went to his supervisor to explain how he’d destroyed a very expensive instrument, but the supervisor said, no, you’ve discovered a glue.

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