Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ancient Kauri and Topaz Ring

Stout Woodworks was recently commissioned by a very kind return customer from Florida to make a special ring.  We had previously handcrafted an Ancient Kauri band for her fiance and two weeks later, she decided to purchase one for herself.  Hers was different in that it was cut with a taper and featured a 5mm white topaz, which she mailed to us.

A recess to match the stone was carefully cut into the ring and the topaz was set using a very tenacious, solvent-free bonding agent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hawaiian Koa Wedding Rings for Tom and Summer

Often times the discussion of custom wooden wedding rings takes place over email or phone. We rarely get the opportunity to meet the recipients of the rings, since many of them live in other states or even overseas.

The story behind a recent wood wedding ring set is quite different.  What started out as a very kind email commending our work turned into a phone call and, ultimately, a visit to our humble little workshop by a wonderful new family from Florida.

We had the opportunity to learn the stories - and special value - behind the supplied Golden Koa and Curly Koa pieces, and even discussed which parts of the boards to cut from.  It was a privilege to have had a part in constructing these wedding rings, and for the opportunity to visit with some very nice folks!

Frank and Janna,

WE LOVE the RINGS!!  They fit great and we Love how they look.
What a beautiful job on the rings.

Thanks again so much,
Tom and Summer

Here are some pictures from the process:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ancient Kauri Wood

Ancient Kauri (also called "Swamp Kauri") are trees that have been buried in a peat swamp in New Zealand's North Island for many years.  The preserving properties of the swamp have kept the wood in great condition all this time.  In some cases, darker outlines on the surface of the ground indicate the location and general shape/size of the submerged trees, which are often VERY large.

Stout Woodworks is very happy to now offer reclaimed Ancient Kauri wood in our rings!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tapered Rosewood Ring

Fellow Etsy seller, Mai (HanaPurse) , commissioned Stout Woodworks to build a tapered ring from Santos Rosewood.  This wooden ring is 15mm on top, giving plenty of surface area to show off the wood's beautiful grain and color.  It has gently-rounded edges and a comfort fit.

We really appreciated the great feedback received from Mai:

The seller is REALLY VERY kind. He answered all my questions, and made a perfect wood ring for me. I like the smooth edges, organic feel, and appearance. Amazingly a wood ring is more comfortable than metal ones. Thank you very much.

She also sent a photo of the ring being worn:

Thank you, Mai!  We hope you enjoy your new wooden ring!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wood Choices for Rings

We now have a page available on our website to assist in the process of selecting a wood type for your wooden ring.

It currently includes local woods like Oak, Pecan, Cherry and Maple, as well as more exotic species like Koa, Kingwood, Wenge, Zebra wood, and many more.  This chart will be updated as we receive new material.

In addition, we are developing a web-based "Wooden Ring Customizer" tool which gives the ability to mix and match different wood species, inlays, and linings to get a very good idea of how a combination will look for a wooden ring.  It is quite labor-intensive, as it involves many, many photos and some tricky coding for it all to look right, but we feel it will be super beneficial to our customers when deciding on a wooden ring.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crushed Stone Inlay Rings

In addition to wood inlay rings, Stout Woodworks offers inlays in crushed-stone.  The ring shown here is a wide black walnut band with an offset turquoise inlay.

We are excited about this new style and look forward to showcasing additional examples using material such as malachite and mother of pearl, combined with other wood species.

As with our wood inlay rings, the stone can be centered, offset, or wide and prominent.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wood Inlay Rings

Stout Woodworks is very pleased to offer wood inlays on our bentwood rings!

Each wood inlay is very carefully cut by hand.  The process is a delicate one, but the end result is a durable ring that offers many design possibilities and opportunities to create striking contrast between different wood species.

The inlays themselves can be cut to various widths, and can be centered or offset.When factoring in the option to add an interior ring lining (the ring shown in the picture has a maple lining), the possibilities are even greater.
If you are looking for a custom-designed inlay wood ring, we would be happy to discuss the possibilities!Feel free to visit our wood ring website or our Etsy shop, where we list new rings every week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oak Wedding Ring Pair

Stout Woodworks was recently commissioned by a very nice couple from Albany, NY to make a pair of oak wedding rings.The rings are made in the very durable bentwood fashion, intended for daily wear.

We received an appreciation photo, along with the following testimonial: 

Everyone is impressed by your rings! We used them in our wedding ceremony because we love nature. They are lovely and comfortable to wear. Thanks so much. We are very happy that you design such a product. It was great working with you.

The rings were a joy to build, and receiving feedback like this makes it that much more rewarding.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wooden Ring Durability, In General

When initially pondering the idea of selling wooden rings, I tried to look at the concept of "wearable wooden rings" as if I were a customer first presented with the idea.  I came up with one immediate question:

Do wooden rings hold up structurally?

After all... most folks wear metal rings, which don't really require any special consideration.  You can wear them in the shower, while working in the yard, or while washing dishes.

So why select a wooden ring?

Well, because wood is beautiful.  That's one answer.  It's perhaps something that can't be nailed down precisely - because it is subjective - but people typically find wood to be nice-looking.  I often hear words like "warmth", "charm", or "character" when someone is asked why they like wood.  The grain patterns and naturally-occuring colors in wood, how these features change from one species to the next, and how the various types of wood can be combined for enhanced beauty and contrast, make wood a unique material to be used in rings.

Another reason someone may select wooden rings over metal ones might have to do with environmental impact.  With the recent awakening of eco-consciousness, gold mining practices (which obliterate the landscape, leave massive amounts of waste, and release arsenic, mercury, and lead) have been brought under intense scrutiny.  In general, wood is sustainable.  ...and wood rings, obviously, use VERY small amounts of wood.

So we have a couple of strong reasons for wooden rings, but what about the initial concern? wood the right choice for rings, in terms of strength and durability?

Absolutely, if constructed properly.

Wood has - in most species - an inherent weakness... across the grain.  It is easy to envision this if we consider wood as a bundle of straws.  To break all of those straws by bending them would be a tough task.  But to simply pull the straws (fibers) apart is not nearly as difficult.  Or put another way... it is relatively easy to split a log along the grain, separating the fibers (straws), but it cannot easily be split across the grain.  That requires a saw and a lot more effort.

So there are a couple of answers to that problem...

- Construct the ring from one or more strips of wood in such a way that the natural strength (along the grain) is capitalized on.  (( This is the "bentwood" style. ))

- Or, construct the ring using multiple layers, having each successive layer support the weakness of the preceding layer.  (( This is cross-grain lamination.  Very similar to how plywood is made. ))

The choice between the two comes down to a tradeoff.  Bentwood rings, by their nature, are the strongest of the two.  However, cross-grain laminated rings are more than sufficient enough in strength to be worn, and they offer greater ease in achieving contrast.  The multiple layers of wood provide structural reinforcement, but they also offer the opportunity to mix wood species and achieve countless variations and styles.  Achieving such contrast in bentwood rings is certainly possible, but the time expenditure (and thus, cost) is greater than that of cross-grain laminated rings.

In either case - and to answer the initial concern - wooden rings can be crafted in such a way to ensure their durability.

In summary, wood rings are a lot stronger than you think!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

With regard to the "old ways"

For a few years now, I have enjoyed building rustic furniture.  I started out making 3-legged stools, the first of which used square mortise and tenon joinery, with the tenons being roughed out with a hatchet.  Given the labor-intensive way I built this stool - not to mention, it was my first one to build - I started thinking about how I could speed up the process.  This led me to discover some of the nifty products such as tenon cutters that log furniture builders were using.

I soon purchased a Log Man tenon maker and a set of forstner bits.  At that point I was able to achieve round mortise and tenon joints very quickly, which led me to build a few more stools, some bedframes, and a handful of other items.

So I had this neat equipment that allowed me to churn out products more quickly, but I also had a constant draw back toward hand tools, and a more laborious (albeit enjoyable) way of working.

That first stool was a very rewarding project for me. I remembered the satisfaction I had when it was complete, knowing that - although it took some time - it was achieved with hatchet, mallet, drawknife, and chisel.  No screaming saws, no sawdust filling the air.

I guess you can say I came full circle, plus I've now added a froe to my arsenal.  :)  Yep... I've found great pleasure in riving (splitting with a froe) logs into chair legs, shelving boards, or any number of parts for a given project.

That "doing it the old/hard way" is the same mentality I carried over when I started building these wooden rings.  I wanted to sell items that were truly hand-crafted.  I knew that turning them on a lathe would mean I could churn them out more rapidly, and that meant I would make more money off of them.  However, I didn't want to create a 'disconnect' from the work.  Just like with the furniture and larger items, I wanted to be really involved in the shaping of the rings.  Granted, I do use a drill to start out, but most of the time I'm sighting down the ring as I turn it, sand, turn it, sand, aiming for a pleasing fit and appearance.

Some of our rings will be slightly out-of-round, not perfect.  But that's their appeal and charm!  In this way you will know they didn't come through a highly-automated assembly line.

Besides, our fingers were designed in a generally-round-but-not-a-geometric-circle shape.


We welcome you to check out our handcrafted wooden rings.

Thursday, April 23, 2009



I decided to start a blog for Stout Woodworks, our little home-based woodworking company.

he thought occured that maybe this would be good for our little business, since we're trying to get the word out about the handcrafted wooden items we build.

So here's where we'll share pictures of our work, the process, thoughts on wood and woodworking, and no telling what else.

Thank you for reading!