Cocobolo Rings

14 February 2014


I decided to make some wood rings for my sisters for Valentine’s Day. One of the nice things about rings is they require such a minimal amount of wood, making them great projects for scraps and expensive exotic woods. I chose to use a lovely piece of cocobolo that I found at my local Woodcraft after some significant rummaging through the pile of turning blanks. I also picked up some thin CA glue to use as a finish.

This one took a little fiddling to get right. All of these were made by cutting a thin slab off the turning blank and drilling a hole in it the size closest to the inside diameter I needed as possible. However, if you aren’t within a very close margin of the finished inside diameter, pick the next smallest size, you can then just sand the inside bigger. I very roughly turned a tapered dowel to friction fit the ring and hold it on the lathe, this is also handy for sanding the inside.

The first two rings, I tried to turn a the same time. When I went to separate the two rings, I broke both of them. I’m sure someone more talented than me could make that work. So I abandoned that route and decided to make them one at a time. That went fine all the way to to point of removing it from the tapered dowel. I was having trouble getting the ring to stay so I wrapped the dowel in athletic prewrap, which worked too well. I couldn’t get it off so I tried tapping it with a piece of wood and broke it. This ring was also a little too thin which compounded the problem. I found they seem to be reasonably stable at about 1.5 mm or thicker.

So, with all the things I learned over the course of 3 hours, I made two more rings, this time using shop towel material to help hold them to the dowel. Be sure to always remove material toward the thick end of the taper to prevent dislodging the ring. Two coats of CA glue to the inside and the edge of the ring, sanding after the first coat. Then I put the ring back on the lathe, re-sanded the outside up to 400 grit and applied three coats of CA, sanding in between with 400 grit. On the last coat, I worked my way up the grits wet sanding with mineral oil starting with 600 grit, and then finished with a polish of ren wax. I do regret not picking up some finer grit micro-mesh to bring the finish to a glassy sheen but, oh well. Next time. At the end of the day, I broke three rings and got two successful ones that will hopefully make two girls smile on Valentine’s Day morning.

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