Rugged & Rustic Adjustable Ring (Tutorial)
by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved
This bold, rustic ring can be worn by both guys and gals – and it’s easy to make from a small piece of copper sheet, a length of wire, and a bead.
After making the ring, we’ll do a simple patina procedure to give the shiny copper a wonderfully worn, colorful look.
Here’s what this ring looks like before the patina:
- A piece of copper sheet – 22 or 24 gauge (I used 24 gauge).Most jewelry suppliers that carry metalworking stuff carry sheet metal. I got mine online from Monsterslayer.com.
(If you’re going to do the rustic patina on your finished ring, make sure your metal has NOT been varnished. Many craft-store and hardware-store metals have been varnished.)
- A bead – I used a Czech glass nugget bead with Picasso finish, approximately 5mm size.
I recommend using a bead that can accommodate an 18 or 20 gauge wire.
- Copper wire, round soft – 1 piece that’s about 12″ (30cm) long, and preferably 18 or 20 gauge.
I used 18 gauge wire; make sure your wire can fit through your bead.
- Jeweler’s saw, tin snips, or other scissors that can cut metal (you can get these snips and scissors pretty inexpensively at a hardware or home improvement store) – for cutting your sheet metal. I used tin snips.
- Ruler that measures millimeters.
- All-purpose marker (such as a Sharpie) for marking your sheet metal.
- #0000 steel wool – a small piece.
- Metal ring mandrel (or dowel, PVC pipe, marker, or other sturdy cylindrical object that’s about the diameter of your finger).
- Plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer for hammer-hardening your ring.
- Cup burr or jewelry file for smoothing off the wire ends.
- Hot boiled egg – for the patina.
- Sandwich size ziplock bag – for the patina process.
How to Make a
Rugged & Rustic Adjustable Ring:
Caution: The edges of your sheet metal can be as sharp as a knife. Please be very careful not to cut yourself!
First, measure your finger and decide what size you’ll need to make your ring; see my handy Ring Size Chart.
Since the wire we’ll be wrapping around the ring band will take up some room inside the ring, add a couple of extra millimeters to the length of your ring.
We’ll start by using a ruler and an all-purpose marker to draw the outline of the ring on our sheet metal.
My finished piece is slightly larger than U.S. ring size 7 (but is adjustable to fit slightly smaller or larger finger sizes) – and my ring measures 58 x 12 mm:
Use your jeweler’s saw or tin snips to cut out your ring from the sheet metal.
Your ring should now look like this:
Use your saw or tin snips to cut off the sharp corners and make nicely rounded ends on your ring:
Now it’s time to smooth off the sharp edges all the way around your piece of metal, so the finished ring will be safe and comfortable to wear.
Take a small piece of #0000 steel wool and fold it over one of the edges of your metal.
Use the steel wool to sand and smooth every edge and rounded corner of your piece of metal.
Continue sanding until every edge is completely smooth and couldn’t possibly cut anyone.
Also use your steel wool to smooth and buff the two flat surfaces of your metal (front and back):
Now lay your ring across your ring mandrel, at the ring size you want for your finished piece.
Use your thumb to hold the center of your ring against the mandrel:
With the fingers of your other hand, wrap the sides of your ring around the mandrel:
While holding your ring tightly against the mandrel, use your plastic, nylon, or rawhide hammer to pound every bit of your ring while it’s still on the mandrel.
Make sure you hammer the ends too:
Now we’ve finished making the ring band, and it should look something like this:
It’s time to do the wirework now.
Caution: When you work with long pieces of wire like this, it’s easy to accidentally poke your eye or face with it. I recommend wearing eye protection while doing this wirework.
String your bead onto your 30cm piece of wire, and slide the bead to the midpoint on the wire.
Then bend the wire downward on each side of the bead, and continue to bend each side of the wire tightly around your bead until the wires are spread in a straight line on the underside of your bead:
Now place your wired bead on the centerpoint of your sheet metal ring band, and wrap each wire end tightly around the ring band:
The underside of your ring should look something like this:
Use your chain nose pliers to squeeze down tightly on each spot where your wire bends around the edge of the ring band:
Continue to wrap each wire around the ring band, using your chain nose pliers to squeeze down tightly each time you wrap the wire around the edge of the ring band:
We want the wire ends to wind up on the underside of the ring band, about halfway across the 12mm width of the ring.
You may need to trim your wire ends after your last wire-wrap on each side of the bead, so they’ll end up in the right spot under the ring.
After trimming your wire ends, use a cup bur, jewelry file, or steel wool to make the wire ends completely smooth and free from any sharp edges.
Now use the tips of your round nose pliers to make a small curve at the end of each wire, so the wire ends won’t poke your finger when you wear the ring:
Then wrap those final wire ends around to the underside of your ring and use your chain nose pliers to squeeze them down tightly.
The underside of your ring should now look something like this:
Your finished ring should look like this:
How to Add a Patina
to Your Finished Ring
We’re going to do a cheap, simple boiled egg patina process that creates wonderful colors on copper.
However, first I want to remind you that as with any homemade patina recipe, the color results are unpredictable.
There’s no telling exactly how your coloring will turn out – which is part of the fun of DIY patinas!
Here’s my ring surrounded by crushed hot boiled eggs (they’re steaming up the baggie):
Follow the instructions in my How to Oxidize with Boiled Eggs tutorial.
However, don’t roll up your ring with the eggs – I got a quick, colorful patina just by having the ring surrounded by the eggs but mostly not touching them.
Also, don’t walk away during this patina process. The color on mine developed very quickly – within 10 to 15 minutes.
Keep a close eye on your ring so you can remove it when the color reaches the point you like!
To preserve your patina, first make sure your ring is clean and dry.
Then use a clear, matte-finish spray lacquer to seal the patina – three light coats of lacquer on every surface of the metal, drying each coat thoroughly before applying the next coat.
Here’s how my ring looked after the patina: