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They’ll stare in wonder at how you got the unbroken ring around your creation, but you’ll know it was easy with just a little practice and the right tool. That tool is a captive ring cutter like this one from Robert Sorby. And you’re not just limited to making captive rings — with these tools you can also make other rings like bracelets, napkin rings, or even wheels.

Sorby’s captive ring tools can carve 3/16″, 1/4″, 3/8″, or 1/2″ rings, depending on the size you choose.  Each tool uses the same handle which accepts interchangeable cutting tips. The finely-honed tips give you a clean cut and can be sharpened with a diamond file.

If the normal retail price of $60 for the full set is too steep, you can buy the set on sale at Hartville Tool for $50, or buy a single size for $25 and add additional sized tips for around $10 as you need them.

Captive Ring Tool Set [Robert Sorby]
Captive Ring Tool Set [Hartville Tool]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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7 Responses to Create Captive Rings

  1. Clint says:

    I have one of these and the technique to getting clean ring is not simple. This tool essentially provides a scraping cut which some woods will tear out fiercely regardless of technique.

  2. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @Clint:

    The “easy” part was my assumption and not a statement from the manufacturer or retailer. I know better then to say stuff like that. Maybe a better way to say it would have been with the right tool, a bit of practice, and some trial and error and leave out the “easy” part.

    Can you give examples of what woods you have had successes with and which woods just shouldn’t be used?

  3. Clint says:

    I have used this with decent success on tighter grained wood like maple and walnut. When I was first getting into turning I only had sycamore which is probably the worst wood to use for turning. Since it has an interlocking grain pattern it is very prone to tear out.

  4. Gary says:

    Anything with interlocking grain or with figure (curly, quilted etc) will tear out when being scraped unless you use a very light touch and maybe not even then at times. I’d think the spalted maple example piece above would also tear simply because spalted wood can have such variations in density.

    You’d probably want to go oversize and sand the ring down to eliminate tearout.

    I wonder if there are any captive ring tools that aren’t scrapers…

  5. Extremeframer says:

    Gary said: “I wonder if there are any captive ring tools that aren’t scrapers…”

    Yes, they are called skews. I use a detail gouge for the outside shape, then undercut/release the ring with a 1/4″ skew with a long angle. A bit of sanding to blend the facets, but no tearout.

  6. Gary says:

    Yeah, good point. I’ve been meaning to practice with my skew more.

  7. Les says:

    Ah, captive rings… My grandfather made many, many of these and I prize my collection of them. His tools were home made, and his lathe was made of a washing machine motor, and (allegedly) parts stripped off a Model T….

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