So we thought we would write up about our attempt at having a go making wooden rings using the: Wood ID Kit. This was the one sent to us. It includes a whopping 50 different sheets of veneer!
Some of them are the same tree species just cut differently, and a lot of these are exotic woods, so this is going to be a really good test of which woods can bend. We wouldn't recommend this exact kit for making wood rings, just because it's a little shorter than what we'd like. It is 9 inches by 4 inches, which is the minimum amount you can use to make a ring. We usually like a little bit extra. So the bigger sheets are better. There's so many in the kit and we're going to find out which one of these work really good, which ones are moderate and which ones just to totally avoid.
Also, be aware of something called Janka - which means the hardness of the wood. The way they measure the hardness of woods, is that they take a steel bearing of about 1/2 inch in size and come down on it with a press. However many pounds of pressure it takes to embed this bearing halfway into the wood - that's the hardness of the wood! So when you see Janka mentioned, the higher the number, the harder that wood is.
We start by gluing these pieces together. Also, instead of packing tape, we're going to try wax paper around a socket, because it will release the rings a bit better. We're going to skim through this and see which rings turn out the best.
A tip : it's always good to wear gloves when you're doing this, it's going to be difficult not to get it on your hands. Also, when you're pushing this socket out or whatever you used inside the ring, do not stick your finger in the ring right away, because that superglue is probably still wet inside and now you just super glued a ring onto your finger... that is going to be a bad day! After finishing all the rings, they came out really neat and have a lot of potential so far.
The question now is, first when you sand one end to the wood, which end is it going to be? When it comes to rolling it into the socket, which woods are best? We've made about ten rings using different woods and seem to have the same issue - they usually split at the ends. The glue type we're using is watery, however, it's not penetrating very well or drying quickly, and it is the only type we've been able to find.
Ok, so the first ring is not bad. So, let's go through a making. We're not going to make a ring. We're just going to describe it really briefly. So the first thing you do is you get one of your veneer sheets and you're going to slice a section just a bit bigger than you want your ring. You will then have your strip of wood like this and you're going to curl it into a cup with a bit of water at the bottom. Keep it into the microwave until it comes to a boil.
Cut a piece of wax paper which is the back of a sticker that wraps around the socket. Then you curl your wood around that pretty tight. Put it right on top of the lamp because it gets hot and these dry really quick like that. Now ,you're going to take off the rubber band and keep it on that same socket (before I used to roll it on the smaller one). Then you're going to compress it by rolling it against this curl. Oh, so if you're going to sand the edge of this on sandpaper to get it tapered really smooth it does kind of help. This means you don't have as much work on the inside of the ring when you want to get rid of that lip. That's all! So when you roll it, if you're going to sand it first into a taper, that's the end!
You roll first okay, so compress it by rolling and pressing down on the glass, then hold it really tight and then put on some superglue - just enough to secure it and make it just hold, so it's not going to unravel. You don't want to flood it with glue, as then you're going to pop it off.
Well now... any questions about polishing? Let's do one right now. We just use paper towels, or you can get automotive towels. You may find them in an auto parts store and they have two kinds: a cheap one and a pricey one. The cheap one is just fine. So keep the wax paper on and if you can fit it there, then you're going to want to hold it. Put some superglue on the end again, you can just use a paper towel and you're going to want to go in for a quick rub - don't hold. Always keep it in motion and that's it, and that will help for the outside to get the inside and the edges. You can take this off once it's dry.
Don't use the same spot, just kind of fold it over and get a fresh part here, soak it just enough to last, and then you can do another coating - turn it and wipe anyway.
Which was the best wood for rings? How did they turn out? We'll start with this one here. This is fumed red gum from Australia,and this one is really nice. It has got a really neat kind of chocolatey. If you cut your veneer and it's got all these patterns in it, you might want to follow the pattern, follow the stripe. Otherwise, you can see how this stripe goes and curls up and then stops seeing the patterns interrupted. So you can kind of see the same. If that bothers you, here's a something, interesting, fumed red gum. The fumed is like a chemical process that they do to alter the color of the wood. Its quite differet than just a straight red gum. That's what the wood did look like before they treated it and that's not a stain. That is the actual color of the grain. If you do a lot of sanding, it's going to be that color all the way through. Its really made a really nice ring.
Birch worked fine, a really solid ring was crafted. This is one of our favorites. Mozambique wood... now this did not roll well. It was really hard, there's actually no polish on this at all. We didn't put any glue or anything on this, but it sands really nicely and you can get it to shine up without anything. However, you should still seal this with some glue when you roll it. The wood you're going to kink and crack, but you might actually don't mind that. In fact, you might not be able to tell there was a crack even. There was a big long one and the whole thing kind of slivered up, but we really really like this one, because it's super rough looking. It's not totally symmetrical. It's got some straight edges. If you want like a really rustic nice looking ring, the Mozambique wood works well.
Our other favorite, also from Africa, is : zebrawood. So those are our two favorites. Its light, so it works well in the laser burner.
Here's another one of our favorites : walnut... it always comes out nice. The color of it is very nice and you get all this crazy wood grain - don't fight it. It kind of makes for a neat-looking ring. It's not perfect but that's what gives it a lot of character. We'll probably try to get some of the more interesting parts even though most of it's going to be covered up, so you're really only going to be exposing the last bit of the roll. It's a really nice wood.
Lets see, now we are on to : beach wood. Beach worked really well. It has such an even pattern to it.
Now we have : pear wood rosewood, this one was really cool, super easy to roll like paper and it just looks so clean, so nice. It is beautiful the color of it and the stripes, it's rather a lovely wood there.
Remember to not fight the wood when you roll it and you will make a unique ring. It may not be perfectly straight. It is ok if it has got a few cracks or kinks in it.
Ash is a hard wood, they even make baseball bats out of it (its also another burl wood). This one's kind of boring, if you didn't pick up a more interesting pattern. So you might want to consider that when you choose your piece. This is sent from Japan.
Fine mahogany is nice - It's a bit tough, this one's from South America. Red oak is a super tough wood, and this one rolls a lot easier than the white oak. Another type is brown maple - this is ambrosia, just so you know, any maple can be ambrosia maple. In this one, you see specific holes in there... . It seems like a beetle got in there and it brings in a bacteria or some sort of fungus or something that gives this colors, the wood. So, ambrosia means it's been discolored by that invasion.
Here we have mahogany / teak. These came out really nice and make for a good ring.
By the way, pine is terrible. Don't use pine, it's way too soft. Most of the rings made, you cannot crush with your hand, however, you could crush pine very easily. Cherry was good wood also worth a mention is bird's-eye maple. They all work.
Thats about all folks. Good luck making your rings and we hope this has shed some light on what the best type of wood for rings you should use is. We hope we didn't leave anything out - give it a try yourself!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the wooden crafts and 3D product design space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.