18 March 2009

A DIY engagement ring for him!

During the two months I was "waiting" for Mr. Cubbie to officially propose, my mind wandered [fairly] often to rings. Big surprise, eh? Which of you couldn't stop trolling ebay and etsy and millions of other resources for engagement ring inspiration? ;)

Mr. Cubbie was really good about by new hobby - he especially was trying to figure out if I wanted a diamond or another stone! Before I post about my engagement ring, I want to post about his engagement ring. I got kind of sick of thinking about the bling that would sooner or later be on my finger. A finger I've never worn jewelry on. Actually, I rarely ever wear rings at all! Don't get me wrong - I was still happily giddy at the thought of the eternal (sparkly!) sentiment I could always peer at on my hand! The trouble is, I get a little uncomfortable when all attention is on me. Why should I be the only one getting an engagement ring? Why should I be the only one to shove my left hand in someone's face as evidence of my new bridal gang sign?

To avoid the weightiness of someone thinking of me, I decided to craft my own little engagement surprise for Mr. Cubbie! I planned a weekend at home with my dad to hand-craft a wooden engagement ring!

My dad's a pretty decent woodsmith - when I was a kid, he made all my toy trucks (yes, trucks! :) ) and rocking horses from scratch in his "shoppe" called The Elf Works. He didn't make much when my siblings and I were in high school, but recently he's been crafting elaborate cutting boards like these:

Even though he's what I consider a master craftsman (of course! he's my dad :) ), when I popped the idea of father-daughter DIY ring-making, he was a little nervous of his skills. One of my friends from college made me a wood ring, and I watched them make it, so I told my dad all I knew. You need a lathe, though!

From what I saw, you take a small block of wood (approx 4 in on the side cubic?), and affix it into the lathe. Set it spinning. Take one of the lathe tools, and slowly work half of the block down to a cylinder (the other half is necessary to keep the block affixed in the lathe). A ring isn't 2 inches wide though, so there can be error in "height of cylinder" here. Once you've shaved off enough wood such that the height of the cylinder is relatively small (~ 1 in), then begin working on the inside. I think there should be another side to the lathe, something that resembles a drill bit? Bore a hole into the center of the cylinder (not too large, the internal diameter will need to be a little smaller than the diameter of the ring finger -- make it more accurate later by hand-sanding). Now the work with sanding begins. Take (roughly) coarse-grain sand paper. While lathe is turning, sand the outside and edges of "ring". The "ring" should now resemble a cylinder affixed to a wood block with a cylindrical hole bore in the center. Sanding the edges will make it smooth/rounded. Continue sanding, and increase grain density with sand paper (ie go towards more fine-grain). I think at this point, to work on the other side of the ring, it would be possible to take a very small/narrow lathe tool, and work down the other edge of the ring. This might not be entirely necessary, though. Once a desired outer diameter + (slightly larger than) inner diameter has been acheived, use a fine lathe tool (while the lathe is running) to detach the "ring" from the wood block. The finishing of the ring needs to be done by hand-sanding. Then oil (with olive oil?), and then seal, if desired. I believe it's possible to do in-lay (or to do two-woods together), but I'm not the expert with that, these people are.

The weekend after we got back from Thailand, I flew to my parents' home in Oklahoma for some good father-daughter DIY fun! (And some mom-sister bridal gown shopping madness!!) The size of his finger was a little tricky to figure out on the DL, but we got pretty close with our vernier caliper! What do you think? :)

Photo credit: Poppa Bear

We made two rings - one slightly large, and one slightly small, just incase the sizing was too off. The larger ring was also a little wider, so we put some beveled lines around it.

The day after I got back from my parents' home, I couldn't wait to "pop the question" to Mr. Cubbie! I have to admit, I felt a little sheepish! Especially considering he had proposed to me two weeks earlier. I even called his mom the night before, to "ask her permission" to propose to him ;). I'm very very lucky in the world of mother-in-laws - MIL Bear Cub is the sweetest ever, and thought it was cute of me to ask :).

So in my un-rehearsed, un-coordinated way, that night I put the ring in my pocket as we walked to the post office in our cute town of Mesilla, NM. Under the wide starry skies of Mesilla, I asked him if he would marry me, and I gave him the ring I made with my dad. And he said yes, too - he proudly wears it every day! :)

How did you feel about the moral weight of your engagement ring? Did you try to give your fiancé an engagement ring of his own?


  1. I didn't give him a ring, though we did talk about it. He doesn't wear rings now, and he probably wouldn't stack an engagement ring and a wedding ring, so I got him a custom pendant instead. He wears it every day. And it's okay that there's no ring on his finger because he shows the pendant and says he's engaged whenever he can :D

  2. This is one of the most genuine expressions of love I've seen in a long time. A wooden ring is fantastic, and to think that you and your dad collaborated to create it... so original and touching!