If you don’t have any scars, I would venture to guess that you lead a very conservative lifestyle free of peril, risk, adrenaline rushes, and interest. Yes, I have a few scars, each with a story and often a lesson learned as well. Scars can be reminders of epic tales of struggle, heroism, pain and suffering. Other stories, while equally fascinating, leave nothing to remember them by other than the experience itself. Such is this story:
Last year, one of my friends Jared, got married. In high school, we were the two of the best woodworking prospects of our graduation class (which sounds better than it actually was). We made the most ambitious projects and were two of the few students enrolled in the woodworking classes who seemed interested in making woodwork. After high school, I pursued woodworking and Jared got caught up in renovations.
He and his fiancé, Logan, wanted to make candle holders out of sections of birch trees, bark on, for the reception. So I got the call, and together, Jared and I cut the birch logs to random lengths and bored holes for the votives. For a wedding gift, I made a small box I now call the puzzle box.
I made it with just a vague idea in my head and just designed it as I went. Only when I had completed the box did I realize that it would make a great ring box. There were two round compartments with each of their initials carved into an end. It was the only one if its kind when I made it, and it still is.
Fast forward a year, when I received an e-mail from Logan. She was looking for an anniversary present for Jared and asked if I could make a wooden wedding ring. I love challenges, so I took the job. I expected the ring to take about 30 minutes to make, but had no idea what the learning curve would be.
The next week, Jared and Logan came over and we first figured out what wood to use, then what size it needed to be. We quickly discovered that my forstner bits, in 1/16” increments, did not allow the proper fit. Jared and Logan decided to go with a dark wood, with rosewood and lignum vitae preferred. Using my midi-lathe, a spindle gouge, and a parting tool, Jared and I turned a few test rings while Logan watched.
We needed to determine which inside diameter fit the best and what the maximum thickness was that we could use for strength, without feeling bulky. We learned that rosewood, turned to a pleasing thickness, was not strong enough and could be broken easily by squeezing it between finger and thumb.
I reasoned that lignum vitae, the hardest of the commercially available woods should be strong enough. And if not, then likely an all-wood ring would not be possible to be made strong enough. We made a few unsuccessful rings, either too loose-fitting, too thick, or too thin.
After about two hours of trying to turn a ring we were all getting tired and Jared and Logan decided to leave me with the task and come back another day. We had established that Jared’s ring finger was the same size as my left middle finger. I knew what I had to do, and just had to get the ring made. I could have called it a day, but I was determined to get one made. I brought out my Taig miniature metalworking lathe and, five minutes later, had a nice looking ring.
Excited to have a working ring, I tested the fit, slipping it over my finger. It fit. I called Jared and told him that I had completed a ring. I took off the ring to go back upstairs to retire for the evening. Only I couldn’t get it off.
In my excitement to try the fit after finally successfully turning a ring, I hadn’t bothered to sand it smooth and the sharp, turned edges were digging into my knuckle instead of gliding over, as a gently eased edge would do. What do I do now? It wouldn’t slide off. Spinning it only cut up my knuckle, to the point where it bled. There was room to move the ring on my finger, but I couldn’t get it past my knuckle. My solution was to slip a piece of sandpaper between my finger and the ring and sand it until it fit over my knuckle. I watched the second period of the hockey game while slowly sanding the ring off my finger.
I sanded the ring smooth and Jared came by to pick it up. He loves it, as does his wife. And I’ve already had request to make another one.