Turning a Captured Ring

Dress up a finial, stem or about anything else

Woodturned Captured Ring

Step by step procedure

Woodturned captured rings are a neat way of dressing up a boring turned piece or just simply showing off your skills. It can also have some (maybe heavily contrived?) emotional meaning in the case of what's called a "Wedding Goblet". Either way, it's a fun turning project and will turn a few heads ... woodturners or otherwise. I much prefer making my captured rings using parting tools or skews and this is how I do it. The ring is all one piece with no splits and joins. Often, however, that is done when making 2 or more rings and then splitting all but one of them to join them all together later so that they are captured within each other. There's another way of doing this that doesn't involve splitting them at all but that's for another article. I left the ring big and fat so that it would be clearer to see in the pictures. I also didn't do anything to the surrounding areas. I just left them blank instead of making, for instance, a goblet out of the rest surrounding the captured ring.

Here's a specialized tool for making captured rings if you'd like to go that route.
By the way, they are very easy to make yourself.

* Update 6/22/2010:  Making one of these yourself here.

DVC00001.JPG (66284 bytes) Start off with a smooth cylinder.  You'll notice some coves on the right side.  That's just some teaching I had been doing and showing how to do those.  That area does give you a reference point for the captured ring though.
DVC00002.JPG (65887 bytes) Simply make 2 half-coves with your tool of choice on either side of  what will become the bead .... or top half of the ring.  I used a skew but you can just as well use a shallow-fluted gouge (aka spindle gouge) or another tool.
DVC00003.JPG (63325 bytes) A look from the other side.  Make the bottom of the 2 half-coves deep enough so that you can get enough wiggle room to make the size of ring you want but don't go so far down that you make the spindle wobbly or easily broken for the rest of the project.
DVC00004.JPG (59657 bytes) Round off the edges of the bead.
DVC00005.JPG (59314 bytes) Sand them at this point.  You may not get a chance to easily do it again in case you pop off the ring earlier than you expect.
DVC00006.JPG (63523 bytes) Continue working down each side with whatever tool you want.  Here, I'm using just a small rounded skew.
DVC00007.JPG (63525 bytes) Closeup of that.
DVC00008.JPG (62225 bytes) Other side of that.
DVC00009.JPG (64113 bytes) Here's a hook scraper I made for other purposes but it works well here too.  You can buy special built tools just for making captured rings and they work well.  Personally, I just use the skew most times.
DVC00010.JPG (63121 bytes) You can really get down in there and form a good rounded area in the middle part of the ring.  Take care .... it's easy to go too far too quick.
DVC00011.JPG (61758 bytes) Here's a very small (1/8" wide) skew (aka parting tool) that can be used as well.
DVC00012.JPG (61490 bytes) Closeup.
DVC00013.JPG (64948 bytes) And just a 1/2" skew can be used as well.  You have to have enough wiggle room in that half-cove to get the tip up and under there.  Careful though ... you can get quite a nasty catch if you're not careful.
DVC00014.JPG (60656 bytes) Keep working down the sides until it's not quite ready to break free.  Sand the sides and bottom of the ring as you go.  Once the ring breaks free, you'll have to hand-sand all around and under the ring.  That's not fun.  Do as little of that as possible by sanding as you go.  Cut a little off both sides and sand ... repeat.
DVC00015.JPG (59578 bytes) And more sanding ..... *sigh*
DVC00016.JPG (60569 bytes) Finally, I worked down the sides and angled it so that each side met (hopefully) at the same place.  If you've done it well ... and the wood was cooperating ..... all you have left is just a little ring of unsanded wood under the freed ring to hand sand.  Do it now because a rough surface under there will cause scratches on the rest of the wood under it where it came from.
DVC00017.JPG (60094 bytes) It's FREEEEEEE !  "Set my riiiinnnnnggggg FREEEEEEEE".  Lord of the Ring maybe?  How about just Peasant of the Ring?  hmmmmmm   Yeah yeah yeah ... I know.  Leave the comedy to the professionals.
DVC00018.JPG (59251 bytes) See?  It's really on there.  What I didn't take a picture of was the process of working the rest of the wood underneath it.  That newly freed (no, I'm not going to sing again!) ring can really get to spinning and flopping around getting in your way.  Many times you can just hold it with one hand but other times you need to ......
DVC00019.JPG (58710 bytes) ...... tape it down and out of your way.  I had some duct tape handy so I used that.  You'll have to move it to the other side in order to work the left side of course.  This is, by the way, a good way to hold that ring steady if you need to clean up that bottom (cutting or just sanding it).  You know .... if it came loose (I'm FREEEEE!) too soon and you didn't get it nicely finished underneath.  Just tape it to one side .... work it and then tape it to the other side and work that until satisfied.
DVC00020.JPG (63455 bytes) Tada!    That's it folks ... nothing else to see here.  Keep it moving!

CapRingGoblet1.jpg (20188 bytes)  CapRingGoblet2.jpg (21171 bytes)  CapRingGoblet3.jpg (23709 bytes)

Captured-Ring Small Goblet
3/4" tall, 1/4" wide cup, 1/32" stem
This ring was done with a skew.
A basic goblet shape .. Not all that pretty but it was a challenge ... at the time ... I've done MUCH smaller ones since. And there's only so much you can do, stylistically, in such a tiny space of wood.