Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Carving a wedding ring from wax, part 1 - the lathe

A few weeks ago my friends, Susan and Jason, contacted me about wedding bands. Congratulations guys!! They chose the ring "Stitches" and because I love carving waxes, I thought it would be interesting to show how I will make their bands. Ordinarily, I don't use a lathe to rough out the ring blanks but my husband convinced me the lathe would make my blanks perfectly round and ready for carving the detail.

The first step in carving a wax ring is making the tube the correct ring size. In this first set of pictures, we are boring the correct inside diameter to make the ring Susan's size. If we are even off by a fraction of a millimeter, the ring will be too big. We take small passes and remove tiny ribbons of wax, checking after each run with a dial caliper.
The second step in making this ring blank is making the tube the correct outside diameter. Honestly, since this was my first time using the lathe, I chickened out and made the walls of the ring 3.5 mm when I really should have made them 2.5. It would have saved me a step later. We used a cutting tool to remove the wax, a little at a time, from the outside of the tube. Eventually we ended up with a tube that had the correct outside and inside diameter.
Posted by PicasaThis last step involves "facing" the ring and cutting the finished ring blank off the rest of the tube. In the first photo, we use a "facing" tool to cut across the end of the ring blank. In the second picture you can see that the ring is so perfectly symmetrical that, when it spins, you can't see any movement. In the third picture we are cutting the ring off at 6 mm. The last step shows a finished ring blank. There is some flashing where the ring broke away from the tube. This is removed later with a file.

So, now we have two ring blanks. Next week I will post again on the progress of these two wedding bands. I will be rounding the inside and outside of the ring using gravers and marking out where the pattern should be using a divider. See you next week!!


Bridget Rossi said...

Talk about personalized stuff! If only the tools that one would need are here in this house, the people here would definitely want to try them out and make one for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Starting with a blank and handfinishing, very similar to the way my tungsten carbide one was made.

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