Bending wood has been around as long as woodworking itself, but prior to 2008 a web search for “bentwood rings” would yield zero results for wearable wooden rings.
The inspiration for making wooden rings came unexpectedly during a drawknife session. When shaping wood with a drawknife, thin layers are removed gradually, leaving you with a pile of wood shavings and spirals. These pieces of curled wood were the initial spark to try making actual wearable wooden rings.
There were already lathe-turned and laminate wooden rings available at that time, but I was convinced that bending the wood – orienting the grain around the circumference – would result in the strongest ring possible. I started doing research, though the only information available at that time centered around larger forms like maple drum hoops, banjos, chairs, hickory ox yoke bows, etc. Thus began the months of experimentation in making bentwood rings.
After many trials with getting the right thickness, steaming methods, choosing the most durable, waterproof bonding agent, and finding a finish that was both resilient, yet safe for skin contact, I was happy with the result. More testing ensued, including our own water + heat + friction trials, as well as giving rings to friends and family for wear testing.
To help differentiate our rings from the standard lathe-turned or cut-wood variety, we started calling them “bentwood rings”.