Bent out of shape over a ring... Treebeard would be proud.
December 29, 2011 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Is there any noticeable, physical difference in any of these wooden rings? Moreover, are any of them a better choice for a wedding ring that will be worn daily? (Links and more wooden ring info than you ever wanted inside)

So, this is 'getting prepared for a wedding' question number 8-gazillion for me and yet again I'm turning to fellow mefites for advice and information.

I think I've finally come to the conclusion that I want to go with a wooden ring for my wedding band instead of the other options I was considering (namely titainum, tungsten, unique, vintage, etc). After a few days of perusing what the internet has to offer regarding makers/methods/materials and I've found an Etsy shop that has a few items that I think look really nice.

The remaining contenders are number 1, number 2, number 3, and number 4 [in no particular order].

For reference, I'm a younger male with a ~size 11 ring finger. Daily work is in an office setting but I do most of the handywork around our townhouse/small yard and am not afraid or uncomfortable picking up a shovel, handsaw, axe, ratchet, or tire iron. I would likely remember to take the ring off when doing the heavier types of work since I tend to take very good care of my important things. I don't mind taking the ring off when swimming or going fishing, blah blah, etc, etc. I would likely sleep with it on.

Specific questions follow:

1) These rings all appear to be made using the bentwood method, whereby several layers of veneer are used to make a stronger ring. I'm ok with this and the rings I've listed have a nice curb appeal to them but are there any caveats I may be missing by going with this type of ring?

2) I like the idea of lignum vitae (as advertised in #3 and #4) for it's heft and strength but I just don't know how evident that will be in a ring. My dad's experience in industrial maintenance also puts an added cool factor since I've seen massive 40 year old lignum vitae ball-bearings in real life. Are one of those two better/heavier/stronger than the other?

3) They all seem to be finished with by using superglue or cyanoacrylate. My research seems to show good results from people using this method. I'm sad to lose out on the 'feel' of the wood that a wax or oil coating would allow for but it seems like the wood's grain 'pops' better and that it is much more resiliant to water damage. Can anyone comment as to how much of a PITA a non-cyanoacrylate ring would be to have/maintain?

4) As in question 3, how will the finish hold up over time? I don't mind polishing things up with some fine fine fine fine grit sandpaper every year or so, but wouldn't enjoy doing it every other week.

5) One material/look better than the others? How narrow/wide/thick/thin should I go? I haven't really considered these aspects at all.

Thanks all, looking forward to your responses.
posted by RolandOfEld to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Wow! Those are all so gorgeous! One thing I wanted to mention, in case you haven't thought of it: oftentimes our hands change size as we age. I can't get my (traditional gold) wedding ring over my knuckle any longer, so I've purchased a dummy to wear in its stead while I waffle over having my precious ring re-sized. For your consideration: whichever one you choose, can you buy a second a size larger, just to hold in reserve "in case"? A gold ring can be resized or recast. With wood shaped by this process I can't imagine resizing being an option.
posted by theplotchickens at 3:30 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

The rings are really cool! but yeah, my thought is that wood wears out and in a few years you'd have issues. maybe not though.

but..piggybacking off of theplotthickens's's's's idea. Maybe you and your spouse by each other a gorgeous new wooden ring each year for your anniversary. you could eventually have different colors and such for different moods, but keep them in a nice wooden box on your bedstand or something? and if your fingers/knuckles grew over the years you could keep updating with the proper size.
posted by ian1977 at 3:44 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

This may defeat the purpose, but it might be better to get a metal ring inlaid with wood, like this, this or this. It would be way more durable, and if the wood gets damaged, you could get it replaced while preserving the original ring, if that's important to you.

Also- you probably won't want to wear a wooden ring swimming or in the shower, which might get annoying after a while.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:01 PM on December 29, 2011

Also- of the rings you posted, I think number 3 is by far the prettiest.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:04 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick note: I'm ok with the ring not necessarily lasting a lifetime. The soon to be Mrs. Eld isn't quite so ok, but that's another matter.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:11 PM on December 29, 2011

Re your first question, I think you'll probably find that one disadvantage of the bentwood construction is that it's unlikely you'll be able to sandpaper out scratches, or to reshine it much. If you accidentally sand through the first layer, it would probably be a very noticeable blemish. I don't know this for sure, but I know it is a problem with other veneer processes. Maybe something to ask the seller.

For the record, I think ring number 2 is stunning, but the others are nice too.
posted by lollusc at 4:19 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: Quick note: I'm ok with the ring not necessarily lasting a lifetime. The soon to be Mrs. Eld isn't quite so ok, but that's another matter.

Well, as nicely as possible, whatever. It's an object. It can get lost. It is a token of your marriage; it is not the marriage. My husband is on his 3rd ring in 7 years. We buy plain titanium bands, but my suggestion to you if you're buying a unique craft piece is: buy two. Your will be vastly harder to replace like for like in 10 years than ours are.

Looking at my bands, they are pitted and scratched and dinged if you look up close. I have no desire to buff over the imperfections of time, but if you do, I think you will be unhappy with wood, as beautiful as it is.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:18 PM on December 29, 2011

You might want to think about olive wood for your ring. I have had an olive wood spoon for probably twenty years, use it almost every day, often abuse it by forgetting it soaking in a pot of water overnight, and it's still in very good shape--no splitting or cracking, no raising of grain, any discoloration easily scrubbed off and touched up with a little walnut oil. Rings of olive are apparently available online.
posted by miss patrish at 9:26 PM on December 29, 2011

Best answer: Hello Mr. Eld, Im Steven, and WedgeWood Rings is my shop. Thanks for your interest in my rings. It sounds like youve put a good amount of thought into the particular care and implications of buying a wooden ring, which I appreciate very much. Just to address a general concern: my rings, finished with CA as you noted, are completely waterproof. Feel free to keep it on when fishing. However, soaps and other chemicals will wear the finish off, so DO take it off when washing hands.

Now to address your specific questions:

1)None of these rings are made using the bentwood method. The bentwood method does result in a comparatively strong ring, but I dont use that method for a few reasons: first, it is very limiting in terms of aesthetics- you cant use burls, you cant use spalted woods, you cant use woods that are too oily (you arent going to find cocobolo or lignum vitae rings) and these are just the types that I love to work with! Second, my rings are plenty strong for regular wear. I only use the strongest of woods for solid rings, laminated rings are inherently strong, and lined rings are even stronger. The caveats are as follows: avoid soaps and especially hand santitizer, and take it off if you are going to be working with your hands (i.e. using that shovel you mentioned) TBH your ring will probably survive the shovel! But best to be safe.

2) Ironwood is used to describe many different species of wood. Number 3 is Desert Ironwood, a species native to the Senora desert. It is the hardest, most dense wood I know. It is sure to make the most durable possible wooden ring. The other ring is Argentine Lignum Vitae - an alternative to what is typically referred to as "genuine" lignum vitae, Guayacan, which I also have, though I prefer Argentine in terms of appearance.

3)Hard to answer this question, since I use CA on all my rings, and I always have because of the many, many obvious benefits to using CA over other finishes. In fact, I think most if not all makes of wooden rings would use it if it were easy to do (it isnt). I would be willing to make some rings without it, like the lignum vitae and the desert ironwood ones, and finish it with oil and caranauba wax, but I wouldnt recommend it. The spalted pine would be impossible to make without CA, because CA is what makes it stable enough to use.

4)It really depends on the owner. Normal wear, if you avoid abrasives, it can last for a long time without a blemish. More likely, however, little scratches and patches of wear will form as you unconsciously rub it against something hard and scratchy like a rock. You can polish it right back up, no problem; however, you do need some specialty abrasives to get that mirror shine it had when new. I use 12,000 grit abrasive for the final step. I would guess that if you wanted to keep it LIKE NEW at all times, you might end up polishing it up every couple months. That would be if you are super anal about little scratches.

5) Width: Here are my standard widths- a rough guide: size 5 is 5mm wide. Each size increase has a corresponding increase of width equal to .5 mm. This makes size 6. 5.5mm wide, size 7 6mm, size 9 7mm, size 11 8mm. You can, however, have any width you want! Ive shipped a size 10.5 4mm wide ring, and a size 6 10 mm ring. My personal favorite, since you are asking, is that AZ Desert Ironwood. It is a truly amazing piece and, as an aside, the most Ive spent on a piece of wood per inch^3
posted by WedgeWoodRings at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

Some random thoughts....

Lignum vitae is tough to be sure, but at the scale it has to be at for it to be a ring, I'm not sure how well that durability will translate into real world longevity. My 14K gold wedding band is typically out of round, but easy enough to tap back into shape. When wood yields, it breaks.

In a ring turned from solid wood, you're going to have "short grain" where the grain of the wood runs perpendicular to the edge of the ring. Some woods resist splitting better than others, but those are going to places that are prone to split.

Oiled wood has a surface seal just like wood treated with cyanoacrylate - it's just a surface seal that responds less well to water (or sweat). Also, some exotic woods, like ebony, are strong allergens. You want those well sealed and don't want to be inhaling the dust when you work them.

If she'd like some more enduring symbolism, you could always buy a small lathe and a big chunk of wood. I've bought a $20 chunk of ebony before that was big enough that you could break a ring every 10-15 weeks and still be unlikely to live long enough to go through the entire billet. (And if you were misbehaving, she could beat you with it.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Wedge:

Ha, small world! I didn't expect to get the you on here, good thing I wasn't saying bad things about your rings.

...and thanks for taking the time to sign up. I don't think anyone can go wrong with a membership here. You might also want to look into the mefi mall now that you're a member.

Wow, ok, where to start.

1) First off, sorry for mischaracterizing your rings as bentwood. I happened upon your blog during my research phase and happened to see some veneers there. I immediately assumed this meant bentwood. So maybe you use a laminate style procedure as seen here perhaps? The engineer in me seems to think either method would be quite strong. Of course if your method is unique to you and you don't want it out in the open, that's fine as well, not looking to steal any of your thunder or trade secrets here.

2) Thanks for the clarification on the ironwood/lignum vitae discussion. I'll keep that in mind when considering what I want to go with.

3) Gotcha. If I did request one, I'd be sure to be understanding of your disclaimers in this regard.

4) Yea, I'm not anal so likely this wouldn't be a problem, but knowing I can go in every so often (months or years, likely) and take some (automotive rubbing compound, wet-sand paper of high grit, or what?) time to polish things up is nice to know.

On preview - Kid: Yea, that's true and I may end up doing something like that down the road when I have a decent shop setup, until then....
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:21 AM on December 30, 2011

Oh, yes my laminated rings are made using that technique, pretty much. The lined rings are a unique process that I am eh.. less willing to discuss :D

By the way, I meant to mention- the guy who made that lumberjocks post, Frank Ladner, is the BEST. If you are interested in bentwood rings (as opposed to those I make), I would recommend him and his shop. He uses CA finish as well, unlike some other... less responsible wooden ring makers. His shop is Stout Woodworks, and it is worth checking out. His work was always my inspiration, and he was very helpful when I was just starting out.

The abrasives you are looking for are called "micromesh", which starts at 600 grit , and has 8-9 (I cant recall exactly) that end up at 12,000 grit. The set is like 15 bucks and would last you just about forever, since you are only going to be polishing a couple rings every once in a while. For putting a little finishing polish or just getting rid of a blemish, you would only need to use the last 3-4 pads, probably 4,000-12,000 grid range.
posted by WedgeWoodRings at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Final update.

I ordered rings from WedgeWood and have been 100% satisfied with the entire process. They're in hand and waiting for the ceremony in a few months. If anyone sees this and has questions about interacting with WedgeWoodRings shoot me a memail and I'll be more than happy to respond.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:19 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Final Final update.

The rings have been in use for a few weeks and I've been completely satisfied with the way they're holding up. Memail me for specific questions but I'll just say that my uncoated lignum vitae has become my daily driver with regard to the rings I've purchased.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:36 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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