My Bent Wood Ringmaking Obsession

I did not suddenly discover an interest in making rings.  I did suddenly discover how lost in it I have recently become.  I see that it’s been a month since my last post, and that’s because I have been making rings like it’s my job.

You don’t have to be a woodworker to make these rings, but it helps in many ways.  I already know which species are good for bending and which are not.  I’m not a lumber expert, but I’m fairly well familiar with North American species.  Part of this process has been learning more about exotics.  I now know that makore and sapele bend well, and so does zebrawood.

The first time I saw this kind of ring was a couple of years ago.  I thought it might be cool to make some, but shuffled it to the back burner and that was the end of that.  It was only a few months ago I started actually thinking about doing it.  Between then and now, I’ve made probably two dozen of them.

Cherry Ring

Cherry and maple

This is by far the nicest one I’ve made.  It’s cherry and maple, both of which bend well.

I’ve been trying my hand at gemstone inlay, as well.  I’m not getting the results I want, but I know why.  I need quality stones and the right combination of abrasives.  When I get a little better at that I’ll post some more pictures.

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Lesson Learned

It feels good to complete a project.

Chisel Rack

Too much joinery

I finally finished the chisel rack.  Up until now, I have uploaded fairly short videos to YouTube.  I had no idea what I was getting into with the chisel rack video.  I stopped about halfway through the project to have a look at the raw footage and realized there was over an hour of it.  I simply underestimated the scope of the project.  With a little more filming/editing experience under my belt, I may revisit this.  Or maybe I’ll go ahead and post a long video at some point.  With dovetailed corners, housing joints, rabbets and a dovetailed stretcher I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it under an hour.  I thought about posting a series of articles on how I approached each joint and short videos to go with them, but I have to move on for now.  I have other projects pending.  Ah well, it was a learning experience.

I uploaded a video anyway, which is mostly just an apology:

And some happier news – I needed some custom dowels to go with the next couple of projects I’ll be working on, so I made a video about how I make them.  I also wrote an Instructables article to go with it.  I’ve done three Instructables articles now, and all three have been featured.


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Intro Video + Past Projects

My chisel box project has taken been delayed just a bit.  We had another snow storm, which meant more shoveling.  Also, it looks like I’m going to have to make a trip South to see a friend in the hospital.

I did manage to put together something of a trailer for my YouTube channel.  It’s mostly pictures of past projects, but also some footage of me working at my bench.  You might notice that most of the pictures were taken in different places.  They were.  I’ve moved around a lot over the years, which is why I wanted to build a portable workbench.

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Makeshift Shooting Board Success!

In preparation for the Chisel Rack video, I put together this shooting board:


This is not meant to be a permanent fixture, as it’s made from pine and simply screwed together.  I’m just working with small projects right now, so it’s acceptable.  The #4 handplanes aren’t really great for shooting, but it’s all I have at the moment.  At some point I will be reunited with my jack plane, and I have plans to build my own wooden bodied planes as well.

I used to have a prejudice against dimensioned stock at the big box stores.  I mention this because I’m obliged to use it pretty much exclusively right now.  If you’re regularly producing product for sale, the store bought stuff is too expensive to make a fair profit (depending on what you’re producing).  It’s much better to buy rough lumber and surface it yourself.  Since I’m limited to just a #4 plane, I’m only using it for cleaning up after my saw cuts.

On a side note, my free trial ran out on SketchUp.  One feature that went away was the “Export to PDF” thing.  I knew some of the features of the pro version would disappear, but that one threw me for a loop.  Since I don’t have $700 lying around to buy the pro version and Adobe Acrobat isn’t exactly free either, my plan to offer plans has screeched to a halt.


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Shop Update

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Damn You, WordPress!

This is actually the biggest problem I have in my life right now.  I absolutely should count my blessings instead of whining about WordPress.  But I’m going to anyway.

I had every intention of publishing the bent wood ring post on Monday, and then all of a sudden I had a whole new problem to figure out.  If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve been having problems with my other website.  Some of you already know the difference between and, and I’m not going to get into it other than to say that one is less hassle than the other.  My new site has been plagued with problems to do with “PHP Time Limit” and “PHP Max Input Vars”.  Whatever.  I was able to get my webhost tech support to help me fix all that.  More than once, I might add, because one of those problems kept coming back.

Server Error

No helpful information whatsoever

Now I’m having an issue that prevents me from saving any edits on posts.  I try to change a sentence or move a picture and boom – “500 Server Error”.  My understanding of this error message is that it’s comparable to the check engine light in your car – it could be any number of things.  I’m thinking it might be time for some professional assistance.


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A Small Distraction

I promised a post on bent wood rings this weekend, and then this happened:

Winter Storm Jonas

The Blizzard of 2016

Winter Storm Jonas, they’ve called it.  The Blizzard of 2016 sounds better to me, but no one called to ask my opinion.

We got somewhere in the neighborhood of 30″ before it was over.  You never really get to enjoy a good blizzard like this.  There’s always so much work involved.  You can either be proactive and shovel while it’s happening, or wait until it’s over.  We did some of both.

I’ll get back to the ring thing tomorrow, hopefully.

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Winter’s Challenge

Lately I’ve had a tendency to sort of hibernate in the winter.  I used to make the joke that I was solar powered – if the sun was out, I’d be doing something.  For many years I worked outside all year round, and I’m glad that’s behind me now.  These days, the cold and the short days due to daylight savings make me less likely to work as much in winter.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a lot of things online.  I’m still trying to make some sense out of my new woodworking site.  Everything I want to do with it design-wise backfires on me.  I’m also learning SketchUp and spending more and more time learning new things about woodworking.

I’m not in a good position to do much actual woodworking.  The cold is preventing me from spending a lot of time in the garage.  I have a heater, but it’s propane and I can’t run it constantly.  When spring comes I expect to be a lot more productive.

My challenge is to find something other than screwing around online to keep me busy.  I added another project plan to my store, and I’ll be adding yet another as soon as I figure out how to show dimensions in a complex shape.

One thing I’ve been fiddling around with is making bent wood rings.  If you’re interested in what I’ve learned about this look for a post about it this weekend.

Five Rings

Bent Wood Rings

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The Other Blog

It’s about time I got active with my other website.  I’ve got big plans for 2016, and here’s how it starts.  I’ve been spending a great deal of time with SketchUp over the past couple of weeks, and I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish so far.  I modeled a couple of projects I’m going to be building this year and I’ve made plans available for the workbench I built.

Without further ado, I’d like to direct you to my new blog:

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2015 in review

Thanks to those of you following my convoluted and evolving blog.  Hope you all have a good new year!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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