The original bentwood ring? (How bentwood rings got started.)
As stated elsewhere on our site, bending wood has been around as long as woodworking itself. The technique of applying steam to wood, making it pliable enough to bend around a form, has been used in boats and chair-making for many years.
In 2008, I didn’t set out to make wooden rings. I was actually working on a piece of furniture. This particular chair would be made from pine, and I was using a drawknife (handed down to me by my dad, and to him from his dad) to shave layers of wood from the outer surface. A wood spiral, which I happened to pick up and put around my finger, was the inspiration for a ring. Of course, shavings this thin wouldn’t work… so the process of splitting wood to the right thickness began. If the wood is too thick, it won’t bend to such a tiny, ring-sized diameter without breaking. Too thin, and it doesn’t have enough structure to hold up, even when many layers are used.I found out which woods were more suited for bending, and what thickness each type of wood bends well at. For example, Hickory and Oak can be fairly thick, while Walnut needs to be a little more thin. Months of trial and error went into developing my technique for making bentwood rings, including testing bonding agents and finishes.
Gradually I reached a point where I could repeatedly make rings which I felt would not simply be a novelty, a piece you wear for a few months and switch back to metal. In fact, my wife and I made our own wooden wedding rings and stored away our original gold wedding rings as keepsakes, to prove to ourselves that bentwood rings last a long time. (We’ve both been wearing our same Santos Rosewood bentwood wedding rings for 8 years, at the time of this writing). More time passed, with our rings worn constantly – during handwashing, working, everyday life – even swimming, an activity in which we wouldn’t normally wear a ring. There were also the “washer and dryer” tests. 🙂 I gained enough confidence in our bent wood rings to begin selling them. We started locally, then opened a shop online in 2009.
Of course, wooden rings, and even wooden wedding rings, have been around for years. Historically, even bent Birch bark rings were used in some circumstances. More modern wooden rings were being made on lathes, whether from solid turned pieces, or glued laminate layers cut into a ring. But ours are made from layers of wood bent and coiled tightly around itself to form the strongest wearable wooden ring possible, so we opted for a name more specific than just “wooden rings”. The term “bent rings” was also not descriptive enough, so we decided on a simple combination of “Bentwood Rings”. We did some internet searching for this term, to be sure it wasn’t already a business. The only search results for “bent wood rings” or “bentwood rings” had to do with making banjo hoops or maple drums. So bentwoodrings.com was registered, and away we went, never anticipating it would eventually become our full-time job.
If you’re looking around for wooden rings nowadays, you’ll notice a lot of options out there. Bent wood rings have even caught on to the point where they can be purchased in bulk from China, in much the same way cell phone accessories and toys can be purchased for pennies and branded with the logo of whoever is buying them. The major difference is, ours are well-made, have been time-tested, and we stand behind our work 100%. Janna and I insist on offering the best customer service you’ll find anywhere. When you buy a ring from us, you are supporting a family business, you’re not taking some big purchase risk, and you will receive a wooden ring made with the finest, safest materials and finishes available.
We remain extremely grateful to each and every one of our customers! And if you are not yet a customer, thank you for considering us!