Canadian Woodworking

Laminated Ring Stand

Author: Allan Cusworth
Published: April May 2009

A ring stand is the perfect gift idea for that special lady who needs a place to put her rings on a nightstand or dresser when retiring for the evening.


This project is an opportunity to make a ring stand in which two pieces of contrasting coloured wood are laminated together, providing interesting colour variation as well as a strong design. The project combines spindle turning by making the ring post between lathe centers, and face turning by using a chuck to make a base for the spindle to fit into. I made two ring stands for this article to demonstrate different designs, wood colours and features. For the bases I used big leaf maple with black walnut for the posts.

You can add decorative design features as desired. These could include any number of beads, coves, grooves, burned-in rings, or any other variations on the ring post or base. The turner’s imagination can run wild here; just be careful not to make it too complicated. Often, a simple design is more graceful and appealing than a complex one. The turner must also be aware that the outside diameter of the ring post cannot be larger than the inside diameter of the rings that will be placed on it.

Post blank mounted

Post blank rounded off

Use ½" open end wrench as caliper to size tenon

Woodworm screw hole drilled on drill press

Spacer disk mounted on lathe

Base disk blank mounted on lathe

Laying out mortise with dividers

Mortise cut out

Pre-drill hole with standard twist drill bit 

Then finish hole with Forstner bit 

Hole for ring post tenon drilled

Ring post glued in and tailstock brought up to clamp

Top of base and post shaped to desires finished profile

Completed project on lathe

Make the Post First

Locate and dimple the centers on the ends of a 1 ¼” x 6″ billet and place it on the lathe between centers. Using a spindle roughing gouge, rough turn it round. The outside diameter is not critical at this point; just remove the corners. Do not destroy the center mark at the headstock end; it will be needed later for centering the piece after attaching it to the base.

Starting approximately ½” in from the tail stock-end, turn an exact ½” diameter by ½” long tenon. You can use a ½” open end wrench as a caliper. I used a Bedan scraper, but a 3⁄16″ parting tool or a small scraper will work. Using a narrow 1⁄16″ parting tool, part off the post at the tailstock end leaving a ½” long tenon for mounting it to the base later.

Next Turn the Base

The base will be turned in two steps. First, the disk will be mounted on a woodworm screw in a four jaw chuck, and then reverse mounted on a 50mm (2″) jaw in expansion mode. The dimensions described here are for a SuperNova™ chuck and may have to be modified if your chuck is different. A ½” deep hole will be needed for the ½” tenon we just made on the ring post to attach to the base. Therefore the hole drilled to mount the base on the woodworm screw in the chuck cannot be deeper than ½”.

To make sure the woodworm screw doesn’t penetrate too far, make a ¼” x 3″ diameter spacer disk to place on the woodworm screw to reduce its protrusion to ½”. This assumes that the woodworm screw threads protrude ¾” from the jaws’ face. The base disk is small, so the shallower mounting will be sufficient if you take light cuts.

Locate and dimple the center of the top side of the 4″ x 1 ½” base disk blank. Using a drill press with the drill set at exactly 90º to the table, drill a 5⁄16″ x ½” deep hole for mounting it on the woodworm screw. The diameter must be the size required for the woodworm screw for your four jaw chuck. I use green painter’s masking tape as a depth stop marker on my drill bit. A little flap of tape left on the drill bit will brush the shavings away as you reach the required depth.

With the woodworm screw in your four jaw chuck, place the spacer disk firmly against the chuck jaws. Then mount the base disk firmly against the spacer. True up the face of the disk; and turn the outside diameter to a little bit larger than 3 ¾”. A little bit of extra wood is needed here to true up the finished outside diameter later. This face surface will be the finished bottom of the ring stand. Make the bottom slightly concave to prevent the ring stand from rocking when you place it on a table. It will not be easy to re-chuck the piece when it is completed so you need to be careful when making these cuts. For re-mounting the base cut a 3⁄16″ deep mortise into the base to fit the jaws of your chuck when they’re almost closed. I made mine 2 ¼” diameter to fit the SuperNova™ chuck. It’s surprising how little depth you really need to hold the piece in place when you take light cuts.

Sand the bottom side of the base to as fine a grit as recommended for the finish you are going to apply. Don’t forget to run the grits from the coarsest to the finest while increasing the grit size no more than 50% each time you change grits. Apply the finish to this side of the base; you will not be able to sand and finish the bottom later. I use wipe-on polyurethane and friction-dry it with a paper towel so I can move on with the next step.

Reverse the piece onto the chuck jaws in expansion mode. Be careful not to over tighten the chuck or you may split the wood. I place a piece of paper towel between the jaws and the wood to minimize bruising the mortise. Remember, this part is finished. The lathe speed may be increased a little here to get a smoother cut. Take light cuts to true up the top surface of the base, and turn the outside diameter to its finished size of 3 ¾”. I take the sharp edge off the top corner for safety reasons.

Using as a guide the woodworm screw mounting hole made earlier, drill a ½” mortise hole to attach the ring post to the base. To do this, place a piece of painter’s masking tape on a ½” standard twist drill bit to indicate the ½” depth and place it in a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock of the lathe. Using a very slow lathe speed advance the tailstock quill to the ½” depth. Move very slowly as you don’t have a center mark for the bit to use as a guide.

Since the twist drill leaves a tapered bottom you will have to switch to a ½” Forstner bit to finish drilling the flat bottom. Pull the bit out and check the depth of the hole using the tenon on the ring post made earlier to make sure the post will glue into the base tightly. Do not over drill or you will limit the glue surface for the ring post and substantially weaken the finished piece.

Assemble the Ring Stand

Glue the post into the base. Use reasonably quick setting glue, like yellow Titebond II, or thick CA glue to fill any possible gap there may be. Titebond II will set up enough to work within about an hour, or so. However, I like to leave it overnight if I have time. If time is important, use thick CA glue, but remember CA glue dries brittle whereas Titebond II has some flexibility that may be a benefit to counter the different wood expansion rates when joining pieces with different grain directions.

Put the live center back in the tailstock and bring it up to apply some pressure to the glue joint. Use the center mark left on the post when you first rounded it off to center the tailstock. Now it’s time to go for lunch, or take a long coffee break, or leave it for the night, while the glue sets.

Finish Turning the Ring Stand

With the tailstock left in place to support the piece, shape the top of the base and the ring post to the desired finished profile. You can either feature, or blend in the glue joint where the post meets the base. Some designs have a concave tray added at the base of the post for placing earrings or other pieces of jewellery that won’t fit over the post. Add any decorative designs to the project at this time.

If you want to make some darkened grooves on the base or post you can burn them in with a burning wire. To do that I use a burning wire made from an old guitar string. I fasten the ends of the wire to pieces of dowel since the wire will conduct heat very quick and burn my fingers. A faster lathe speed is required to create friction. Do not apply too much pressure when working at the tip or the piece may move off center in the chuck. Let the wire do the work.

Check that the chuck jaws are tightly engaged in the mortise recess of the base.

Do not over tighten. Remove the tailstock so the top of the post can be completed. Carefully finish turning the tip, or finial of the post to the desired profile.

Sand the project to as fine a grit as recommended for the finish you are going to apply. Apply your favourite finish on the project. I like to use at least three coats of wipe-on polyurethane to the get a nice shine. A padding lacquer could be used if a speedy finish is required but it is not as durable.

All that is left to do now is sign and date your finished ring stand, and you have a wonderful gift that will be treasured for a long, long time.

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