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It’s a wedding ring thing

August 5, 2010

Hear is a cool little project I was asked to do for a good mate  Adam “Ugly” in melb.

Ugly rang me and asked me to do a project for him ,as i had built him a frame in the past I figured it was going to be something bike related.

So I was a bit surprised and very honored to be asked to make his wedding ring for him.

I was a bit apprehensive as I had not built a ring before and really didn’t want it to get to close to his wedding and not have anything to give him, but he told me there was plenty of time so I thought ill give it a go and if it does not work there is still time  for him to come up with some thing else before the big day.

The materials he wanted to use where stainless   and brass the same as his bike was made of , I was very much into this concept and he had the idea of fitting a piece of brass into the SS ring.

I did a lot of research into what materials to use and how I was going to join the mediums together, I was going to use surgical SS for the body of the ring but this material turned out to be very hard to come by and after speaking to a machinist mate of mine who had the SS but told me that 316 grade was much better at resisting scratching and polished out much better.  So it was a lump of 35mm 316 grade stainless that I started with, I bored out the centre to the correct diameter in the lathe  then it was over to the mill to cut in the slot for the brass insert.

I was not sure what material to use for the insert. Ugly wanted brass but I was worried that it would leave a black mark on his finger and fixing it into the ring was going to be tricky. I decided to use gun-metal for the insert. I only came across this material a year or so when I was given a tube block from an old builder, It looks exactly like brass but as I was to find out when I drilled a hole in the block it is super hard stuff (insert drill blunting hard here).  Gun metal (GM) (called so as it was used to make cannons in the 1800’s) Had all the right properties looks like brass / does not tarnish/ very hard-wearing  and polishes out to a very high luster, perfect.

The next challenge was machining a very small piece of gun-metal to fit in the cut out of the ring. This turned out to be  very fiddle as my mill is taller than me and though its very accurate it is very tricky milling a block of material 3mm x 3mm, went through  Quite a few  cutters in the end but we got there.

when I had the gun-metal and the stainless ready it was time to join the two together. This bit was by far the most worrying and hard to do. Getting the SS to heat with out the GM over cooking and burning of the flux before I could get the sliver to flow took a few goes and a fair bit of  swearing in between, the GM would get red-hot almost instantly and would not take the silver, In the end I had to lay a pool of silver in the SS ring and heat it to melting then quickly fit the GM slug in and gently wash the flame over the to till they bonded this while holding the GM slug in place with a set of pliers . I could defiantly have used a nother set of hands for that operation.

When it was all bonded together it was back to the lathe to take off the excess GM and take the whole ring down to the required thickness. With that done I polished the ring to a high luster using many grades of wet and dry then wire wool then to polishing rag and finally finishing polish.

All this was done with the ring still attached to the main SS billet, It was now time to part the ring from the mother piece this step always makes me nervous as if any thing goes wrong here its back to square 1.

It parted ways with the mother billet cleanly and trouble-free thank (insert the god of you choice here). Next I had to make up a jig to hold the ring so I could face and chamfer the parted edge, when the material is only 6mm wide this turned out to be a challange, in the end I had to turn up a sleeve that fit over an expansion bolt from a 1″ steerer nut this locked the ring in to place and I could fit the jig into the lathe to finish the cutting and polishing.

All in all it took a lot of fiddling and gave me an appreciation of how far I could take my machines, I would love to have had a jewelers mill and lathe for the job but my partner threatened me with death should either items suddenly appear in my work shop.

I very much hope the wedding is a huge success and wish both Adam and Lari all the  happiness and best wishes

Stay up right..

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