Bentwood Rings Step-By-Step: How We Make Our Rings
Our Seven Steps to Creating Your Ring:
- We steam thin wood strips until they are pliable, and wrap them around a wooden form in the approximate size of the finished ring. Once dry, these strips are taken off of the forms and hold together in a tight spiral.
- The spirals are then glued into shape around another form just slightly larger than the finished product to allow room for our waterproof finish.
- Once set this rough ring blank is taken to the lathe where it is cut to width, smoothed, and any inlays for stone or other materials are carved.
- When we use crushed inlay materials like the turquoise shown above, it is first crushed down to the size of fine sand. This is put into the inlay and several passes are done to make sure all the spaces are filled.
- The ring is taken to the lathe again and the excess stone is sanded away. At this time we also contour the inner edges of our bands for a comfort fit and take our rings through many grits of sanding to ensure a smooth appearance in the grain of our wood.
- The longest step involves our finish. Each ring is coated first inside, and then outside, with 7-8 layers of a waterproof acrylic coating. This protects the ring and allows our rings to be worn during most normal daily activities. Rings remain in this step for several days and if any imperfections are seen in the finish we will strip it and start again. We are serious about our finish! When finished the coatings are sanded and polished to a high, smooth shine that is crystal clear and allows the beauty of the wood and stone to be displayed.
- All of our rings are inspected by at least two of our artists before they are allowed to be packaged for shipping. Our goal is to make sure you receive a beautiful and defect free ring. Small imperfections that do not affect the quality or durability of the ring are allowed as this is part of the nature and beauty of a handmade wooden ring.
Why A Bentwood Ring is Better.
You may already be more familiar with bentwood than you realize. Wooden canoes, rocking chairs, and many pieces of furniture employ the bending wood as a technique. Bentwood itself is a well-established method in woodworking but has only recently been applied to creating rings in a durable and long-lasting way.
Every Northwood Ring is expertly handcrafted by our knowledgeable team to your exact size when you order.
In the cut-out wooden ring there are two areas where the end-grain is exposed and the ring is vulnerable to breaking when put under pressure (or when water enters the wood and causes it to expand).
In a bentwood ring, the grain is oriented around and around, into several layers, creating a durable ring with no weak spots.
To bend wood, thin strips of wood need to be steamed to just the right temperature, then quickly wrapped around a form and clamped to hold their shape. After the wood has dried into shape, a special glue is used to glue each overlapping layer until the thickness of the ring has been formed. We typically use 5 to 7 layers to create each ring for maximum strength with a thin profile.
The way the grain is oriented along the length of a bentwood ring, the layers upon layers of wood, and the strong adhesive work together to create the toughest wooden ring possible. Think of it like building with blocks where staggering each layer creates more strength than the one layer on it’s own.
After the shape of the ring has been created, we carefully sand the wood to a polished state, cut and round the edges into a smooth, soft curve and add any inlays you’ve requested. Crushed shell inlays are placed with tweezers to create maximum coverage.