How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

If you were an English servant in the seventeenth century, chances are you couldn't afford a pricey wedding band. But without a band, you couldn't wed! Many servants resorted to thievery, stealing silverware to fashion into elegant wedding bands. The practice became so common that in many places you could tell which house a servant worked for by the crest on his or her ring.

The so-called spoon ring—basically a cutlery handle bent into a circle—had a resurgence in the 1970s, when you couldn't really call yourself a hippie without a couple of lengths of sterling silver wrapped around your fingers. It's a classic that has stood the test of time; plus, this simple project is a great primer on how to cut and bend metal—skills that will serve you well in more complicated metalwork.

When you're choosing a utensil, keep in mind that you'll be using only the handle, so your spoon needn't be a spoon at all. A fork works just as well. But it's worth it to get a sterling silver rather than stainless steel utensil—stainless is much stronger and thus more difficult to work. Check thrift or antique stores, or even eBay, for sterling silver flatware—commonly stamped "sterling" or with the numbers 900 or 925. When you're buying, consider the aesthetics: Does the spoon have a decorative handle? Is the handle's width appropriate for a ring?

TOOLS:

• Measuring tape

• Hacksaw

• Angle grinder, half-round metal file, or emery cloth

• Safety goggles

• Insulating gloves

• Bench vise or clamps

• Butane torch (optional)

• Needle-nosed pliers

• Rawhide or wood mallet or a hammer covered in cloth

MATERIALS:

• Sterling silver spoon or fork

• String or paper

• Finger-sized dowel or metal pipe, or ring mandrel

• Silver polish or polishing cloth (optional)

1 Measure the circumference of your finger. Wrap a length of paper or string around the digit on which you'll wear the ring. Mark your desired length and then straighten the paper or string to use it as your length measurement. A spoon ring can either wrap up your finger (a wrapped ring) or wrap around until one end touches the other (a closed ring). If you want a closed ring, add ¼" to your paper or string length measurement. If you want a wrapped ring, the length needn't be precise as long as it's longer than your finger circumference.

2 Cut the spoon to length. Remove the "bowl" of the spoon, and as much of the top of the handle to make it fit as desired. A sterling silver spoon is easily cut with a hacksaw, but if you have an angle grinder, here's an excuse to use it. Grinding metal is likely to create sparks, so first, be sure to protect both yourself and your work area. Wear long clothing, safety goggles, and insulating gloves, and remove flammable items from the space. Then, install a metal cutoff wheel on your angle grinder. Secure the spoon with either a bench vise or a clamp, exposing the line on the neck of the handle where you'll make your cut. Start the angle grinder and drop it smoothly through the spoon, letting the weight of the grinder do the work.

How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

3 Smooth the cut end of the spoon. Cutting with a hacksaw or grinder is likely to leave a viciously sharp edge. If you have an angle grinder, switch to a sanding or polishing pad, secure the metal again, and polish the spoon's cut end until smooth. If you used the center length of a spoon's handle, not the decorative end, you can also use the grinder to grind one or both ends to equalize their shape. Be careful not to remove too much—you can always take more, but adding metal back is impossible! If you don't have a grinder, you can perform the same smoothing (but not necessarily shaping) with a metal half-round file or emery cloth.

How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

4 Shape the ring. Because you won't be soldering the ring closed, you can always adjust the diameter of the ring once you try it on. Still, it's worth trying to get close with your first attempt. There are a couple of methods you can try to shape the spoon into a ring. First, try using finger power to bend the spoon around a finger-sized dowel. If that doesn't work, hold the metal with needle-nose pliers and tap it carefully with a mallet to curl the spoon handle around the dowel into the desired shape. You shouldn't need to heat the metal unless you're using a stainless steel spoon, but if you do, use a butane torch (and the proper safety precautions). First, grip the metal with needle-nose pliers and heat it with the butane torch until pliable (but not glowing). Then, hammer it around the dowel or mandrel with the mallet.

How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

5 Adjust as needed. Once the ring has cooled, try it on your finger. If the size is drastically wrong, reshape the spoon using a different-sized dowel or another width of ring mandrel. In most cases, though, you'll be able to shape the ring to size with just a couple of taps. Use silver polish or a polishing cloth to buff the ring until it shines.

How to Make a Spoon Ring at Home

Paul Revere was a highly regarded silversmith—after learning the trade from his father, he spent more than 40 years in the trade, and even used it to cross over into dentistry, wiring dentures made of ivory or animal teeth into the mouths of his patients.

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