Wooden Rings

A hand-carved wooden ring, you say? Actually it was one of my first commercial ventures as a woodcarver. When I was living in Ottawa my girlfriend wanted a ring to seal our deepening relationship, but I was much too poor to buy one. So being a carver I grabbed a bit of rosewood scrap that someone had gifted me and carved her a ring. Of course, it was just a simple ring. But it looked enchanting because it was rather lovely rosewood, and she was pleased to have her finger ringed by it.

It was the sixties, and everyone was into exploration, the natural, and feelings of the spirit. So I started making them on a limited basis for friends to give and receive. Unlike a metal ring, a wooden one needs a bit more heft to provide it with the strength it needs to resist splitting. Make it too thin, and it looks exquisite but not too durable. You had to ensure that the grain had a twist because this was one place where straight grain was not a plus. Grain that was too straight would split right along the grain.

Selecting wood was the key to making it as thin as possible and as lovely as you could make it. I liked very close twisted grain. I chose ebony, teak, and some burl woods that a friend provided from his pipe making.

The tools were a bit string to measure and mark diameters, a drill, a knife, and some gouges. The finish was with sandpaper, followed by steel wool and oil.

Wooden ring-making is still a thing, but I made maybe a dozen or two before moving on to earrings. Unfortunately no photos of that early work survive.

9 Replies to “Wooden Rings”

  1. Sounds lovely! I had a couple of wooden rings — loved them, but they were mass-produced, no doubt. I still like the looks of wooden jewelry. Judging by Amazon’s offerings, I don’t think its allure ever went away (or it is coming back — like bellbottoms!).

  2. It’s true, many styles tend to circle around. but lots of the wooden earrings and such these days are mass produced by laser cutting. While I use laser for small print, I consider last made earrings to be very boring. when they were a novelty it was one thing, but now the blanks can be procured at Moore’s, Michael’s and other crafts supply stores. Some very interesting pieces used to come from Africa. I’ll have to think about this a bit, and see if something interesting is possible.

    1. I’ve looked on-line at what’s being sold, and it’s no better than what I was turning out in 1969. I’ll start thinking about how it could be done, with strength and elegance rather than “clunk”.

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