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Lathe turning rings


Hello Martyn and welcome to Orchid. I turn all of the bands that I make,
as do several of the people on the list as it’s come up before. You can
cast a tube in metal and hold it by collet chuck or with a screw chuck,
although the collet will work better, I think, as it will close on the
tube and have it running reasonably true everytime, where with the screw
chuck, 3 or 4 jaw either one, you will have to dick around with it to
get it to run true by indicator, etc. I personally make more gold and
platinum rings, so a metal tube is not always practical. In these
cases, I turn the wax from a ring tube. You can chuck it up like you
would metal, but I always have a tendency to try and hog too much off at
one time and throw the entire tube out of the lathe most of the time.
You must make very small cuts and not let the wax heat up. The optimum
holder for wax ring tubes for me is one that I make that is similar to
the one that comes with the Matt lathes. It is basically a t-molly and
screw. A t-molly is a fastener used in making furniture and it looks
like a nut that has on one side a flat plate that the corners of are
pointed and cut like a tack and folded downward along side of the nut.
When you screw a bolt into the nut in the right direction, it causes the
tack part to dig into whatever the bolt is put through until it is
tight. They use them a lot for fastening seat cushions on chairs. Get
one of these and solder it together, the nut on the bolt, with the tack
part point away from the head of the bolt. Then cut the bolt head off. I
use bolts that aren’t threaded completely as this shaft of this soldered
bolt with no head is the part that you chuck on after heating the whole
part and letting it melt itself into the end of the ring tube with the
non threaded portion protruding out, trying to center it as close as
possible so that it will run true. This is the only hard part and takes
some practice. I usually put mine in the lathe while still warm enough
to move around slightly as this helps me to get not only the diameter
trued, but the length as well as I run the live center in the tailstock
into the end of the ring tube, and I use ice water to harden the wax
while it is turning true by hand turning the lathe. Sort of tricky to do
unless you’ve a friend. Also the Matt lathes come with a similar holder
and have diagram instructions, in case you have access to look at one
where you buy your supplies.

Sometime I also use a tube that has a taper bored in it and a
corresponding taper that fits inside. The outside tube is split to allow it to
expand as the inner taper is drawn into it by screw.
You can hold a wax or a ring this way from the inside,
but is no good if you must bore the piece for size. These t-molly
holders can be used with any lathe, even a watch makers or miniature
lathe, and in a pinch, work very well in the handpiece of a flex shaft
which is held stationary in a vise or similar arrangement. I once turned
a piece for an inlay on a pool cue that had to be turned and tapered
inside and out to match the profile of the cue. It was just under the
length of ring tube, which is what I used. The wax tapered .100/inch and
was .032 thick after turning. I turned the inside taper first and the
the outside taper. Then I cut it off to length. I held it in a collet as
I only could chuck on the last 3/8 inch. It was very testy, let me tell
you, I had to cut it 3 times to get it to come out, a learning curve, if
you will. The wax was then cast in 14k yellow. The gold was split up one
side to allow it to drop into a similar profiled hole cut into the
wooden cuestick, as the diameter of the gold was slightly smaller than
the cue. These days I have a line of gold and platinum rings that fit
together one inside of the other which are soldered from the side after
all of the outer bands are put on the inner one. Between the outer bands
I use rings of twisted wire, platted strips of different color
golds,etc. sort of like the Eli rings from New Orleans, that you see in
JCK, Nat. Jeweler,etc. They are all made in the fashion I’ve described.
Good luck with your lathing ;^)

Regards- RL in Houston, Texas USA