The one ring

A man can provide a house, but a woman can provide a home. A woodworker can provide accessoires for the homemaking. Let’s make a table decoration thingy! E├Ąrendil….

I am a man of many talents, but home decoration is not really one of my strong suits. I did work in a furniture store many moons ago, so I am not completely clueless. But compared to my wife my level of home styling involves a brush, a can of paint and the face of a rock. You know, cave man style home fashion. Not that that’s a bad thing – people are paying good money to look at cave paintings, so I do see a business plan there. Albeit it is a rather long-term prospect, so no point in pursuing it.

I am, however, a decent woodworker – so when my wife showed me an image of a decoration idea I was not hard to cattle drive to the shop.

The overall idea is to make a ring with a hole (is the correct woodworking nomenclature “circular mortise” or “circumferentially stopped dado” ?) every 30┬░ that can hold a candle (using metal inserts), support a decorated egg, a rock, a figurine – what ever one fancies. The ring is made from four segments that can be arranged as a circle or an S-shape. The inspiration comes from BRIO wooden train tracks. The initial idea was holes every 22.5┬░, but I thought that would make the ring look more like a MFT – you know, one of those work tables someone has mauled with a Gatling gun..

Digression: I often see people write “MFT table”. What is a multi-function table table? Is it a table on which you place your multi-function table? I don’t see the usefulness of a MFT – or a table for one – myself (not for the type of work that I do), so I would not know.

I chose to make the ring 35cm (13 25/32”) in diameter and 5cm (2”) in width. The material is 18mm (3/4”) thick laminated and finger jointed beech hobby board. To minimize the waste, the segments will be stacked and cut from a square piece of wood (click on the image for a bigger version):

After a bit of head scratching, the geometry lectures from primary school came back and I made a template to set my compass to.

I could then draw each arc onto the beech board, placing each piece as close as I could to the others in order to minimize waste.

Using a steel ruler from the center point to the top of the arc, I could draw the 45┬░ lines for each end. And did you know that the Norwegian word for “center” is “senter”? Both are pronounced exactly alike. The more you know…

This is how the board looked after I drew in all the lines. I extended the beech board with some scraps in order to draw all the pieces accurately.

I used the band saw to cut the parts from the board. Note to self: 1” (25mm) blade is for resawing, not for curved work. Even the outside diameter of 35cm (13 25/32”) proved to be a bit too tight for the blade. Oh, well. I’ll swap blades next time…

In no time I had the four parts roughed out.

I then used the oscillating drum sander for the inside curvature. For the outside I used a spokeshave and a file to form the curve.

I did try to make one master (to rule them all) segment and a copying bit. Baaaaad idea! The way I have to cut the segments from the board means that half the curve will be rising grain – and you should only try to use a router against rising grain once unless you’re a complete nut-job. The corners are a weak point too, so I abandoned the router notion rather quick. Besides, router burn marks are not really that attractive..

Cutting close to the line followed with spindle sander and spokeshave proved to be very effective. Using the “double-sided taped pattern and copying bits” would be very inefficient, really. You would need two routers set up in router tables for that to be a viable option. That would quickly eat up any profit from making these for sale. Hand tools FTW!

I used my trusty 04 smoothing plane and my shooting board to square off the ends and to adjust them so that the two ends of each segment is at a perfect 90┬░ to each other.

I then installed a huge ball bearing on a roman ogee bit so that I could utilize the concave curved part of the bit. If you haven’t the tool and ain’t a tool, you modify a tool so you get a tool. Or something along those lines…

By lowering the bit slightly, I made a smaller curve at the bottom.

Some hand sanding to smooth everything over came up next. I use Mirka Abranet and a cork pad. Abranet is expensive, but the sheets lasts a long time and works really well.

I then marked the 30┬░ and 60┬░ positions by placing each segment to a big square, then my Limit dial protractor (great piece of equipment!) gave me the exact positions. I marked the center with my combination square and drew the outline for the holes. I mean circular mortises. Or was it CSD’s..?

I did not have a large enough forstner bit, but found a hole saw that had the perfect outer diameter. Not being an ex-marine, I improvised, adapted and overcame and used the hole saw to cut the correct diameter for the holes, and a smaller forstner bit hogged off the waste. Quick and easy, with streaks of smoke and an aroma of burnt beech to go with it… Oh, well. That’s the nature of the hole saw beast.

A quick de-burr of the edges, and it was time for finishing. I chose beeswax to bring out the luster in the otherwise plain looking beech, and to give a smooth satin texture to the wood. It is an easy-to-maintain finish too, which was proven when the kids tipped a small vase over and soaked the tablecloth. The texture of the tablecloth was imprinted in the vax, but a few swiffa-swoffa with sand paper and a wipe with beeswax proved to be a perfect evidence-getter-ridder-offer.

I then turned a small, domed knob to go in one of the circular mortises. I mean holes. It has a domed top slightly bigger in diameter and the “tenon shoulder” underneath the dome is undercut to make it rest perfectly on the surface of the ring. I cut an angled slot using my Veritas dovetail saw, in which one can insert a card or a piece of card stock with a quote or verse – or perhaps an image.

I pushed some metal candle holders into a few of the holes – I chose four, because we use four candles during the advent season to mark each Sunday in advent. The ring can then be used as an advent decoration. And if you do it just right, the ring can double-up as an OCD diagnostic tool; one of the candle holders is hidden underneath Ms. Yolk…

Since Easter came around just as I made the ring, my wife and my kids decorated it with her needle felt products and some other “easter-y” pieces. You can check out her work on Instagram: – be sure to look for Bernie Sanders!

In the following gallery you can click on any image to open a large version of it.

Since the ring is made from four segments, one could re-arrange the segments to form different shapes. I played around with it a little:

I might have a few home stylist genes after all!

One ring can hold up to 8 candles, so it could be a nice decoration for a birthday party for kids. One could also make straight sections or even larger diameter rings.

All in all, this was a fun little project. And although I prefer to use hand tools, this project was best done with the aid of some machinery.

The chicken looks menacing..

And if you wonder – yes, I contemplated inscribing the underside of the ring with “Ash nazg durbatul├╗k, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatul├╗k, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.” in Tengwar.

Man, I am a geek!

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