How to Make a Crushed Stone Inlay Ring (Without a Lathe!)

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Today we’ll be taking a look at a tutorial video from GoMeow Creations on Youtube. This handy tutorial shows you an easy-ish way to make a crushed inlay ring without needing to use a lathe, which is taken as a given in the majority of tutorials on the subject.

So, let’s take a look at the video and I’ll break things down for those who are a bit impatient so that you can give it a shot!

How to Make a Crushed Stone Inlay Ring

What You Need to Follow Along

To follow along with this video you’ll need the following materials and tools.

  • Sheet Silver, 20g-22g- The silver in the video is 0.65mm, or 22g, but you can use slightly thicker metal. Just remember that you need an exact measurement for your 
  • Sterling Silver Wire, 16-18g- The wire in the video is a bit bigger than 18g, but you can get a bit bigger. Just remember this will make the band taller and the silver will take up more of the band’s width.
  • Jeweler’s Saw- Any frame will work as long as it holds the blades well. High-quality 4/0 blades are ideal for this particular project and are good all-around blades.
  • Stone for Crushing- This technique is suitable for almost any stone, with only a single exception. Turquoise, chrysocolla, and other soft stones are used most frequently, but you can use agate, opal, or anything else you might have around.
  • Fill Powder- To make this you can further crush your stone during that step, making it a finer powder. Alternatively, you can simply use metal filings from your workshop like the brass and silver used in the video.
  • Mallet- A rawhide or rubber mallet is pretty much a requirement. You need it to form the rings around the mandrel without marking them like a normal hammer would.
  • Ring Mandrel- Try to find one which has smooth sides and is made of a strong metal instead of having a light aluminum wrap around a plastic core like some. Any will work for this project.
  • Super Glue- You’ll want the runny kind so that you can let the drops run onto the ring. The gel type won’t work well.
  • Activator- Alternatively called super glue accelerators. These cause the glue to harden more quickly. Consider them optional, unless you’ve got a tight deadline to keep.
  • Sandpaper- In progressive grits from 220-1200 or so.
  • Hand File- Hand files are the larger type of file, generally about a foot in length and at least an inch across. It should only be used for precious metals, but you can brush off most steel contamination with a wire brush.
  • Digital Calipers- The best way to get a millimeter scale measurement is with these. Even a cheap set will do.
  • Soldering Setup- Torch and a safe soldering spot. The video uses a few other pieces, but they’re not necessarily required if you know how to solder.
  • Gloves- You’ll need some latex or nitrile gloves to keep the super glue off your fingers when doing the inlay.
  • Flex Shaft (Optional)- With radial sanding wheels in appropriate grits. If you’ve got a deft hand these can make sanding go faster at the end, and you need one for a good polish, but sandpaper may be easier for newbies to use.

A Quick Overview of the Steps

If you need a reminder after watching the video, this is how they undertake the project:

  1. Using calipers, measure the internal diameter of the ring size that you plan to create. Multiply the diameter by pi (3.14) and then add the thickness of the material you’re using. This gives you the length you’ll need to cut for your ring to be at the proper size.
  2. Lock your calipers at the calculated size and use them to scribe the length on a piece of sheet silver. Lock your calipers to the desired thickness of the band (8mm in the tutorial) and create another line.
  3. Cut the band’s depth into the silver, then cut the length. On a square piece, you should only need two cuts, but if you roll your own you may need to cut off a bit more to get a clean band.
  4. Deburr the metal with a file and then use the file to ensure you have uniform straight edges on the band template.
  5. Wrap the metal around a mandrel, annealing first if required. Use a mallet to get a roughly round shape with your wring, and then a pair of chain nose pliers to get the pieces flush together.
  6. Use your jeweler’s saw to ensure you have flush ends by cutting through the metal while it’s together.
  7. Solder the ring band closed. The video uses a third hand to hold it with a solder chip on the interior, but you can use any method you’re comfortable with.
  8. True up the ring on your mandrel. Use the mallet to beat it into shape and ensure that it’s completely round before moving on. Then make sure the sides of the ring are uniform by using a piece of sandpaper.
  9. Take measurements for your wire from the outside diameter of the band. Add the material thickness and then multiply by pi to get your final measurements for the exterior bits that’ll hold in the inlay. Cut the wire at the appropriate length.
  10. Use the handle of the mandrel to do the initial forming on the rings, since you don’t want any taper on them. Get the ends together and then use the saw to get a uniform cut on the joint.
  11. Solder the rings closed. Quench and pickle them.
  12. True the rings up on a mandrel. Both they and the band need to be perfectly round for this to work properly.
  13. Fit the first ring over the side of the band, making sure it’s flush with the exterior edge. Solder it in place, using medium solder. Flip the ring over and repeat with easy solder.
  14. Sand the sides of the ring until the solder joint isn’t visible. Then scuff up the interior with an 80 grit sanding wheel or equivalent sandpaper.
  15. Crush your stones (in this case turquoise) until they’re an appropriate size to fill the band up. The video covers the turquoise with a napkin and crushes it on a bench block with a hammer.
  16. Put gloves on and suspend the ring mandrel over something where you can turn it and access the ring without it coming into contact with any surfaces.
  17. Put a drop of superglue on the top of the ring and put a pinch of stones on the glue. Do the same for the rest of the ring, slowly turning it and stacking crushed stone into the band’s hollow.
  18. Go around the ring once more, this time adding small amounts of glue and whatever powder you’re using (brass filings in the video) to get the ring band completely filled in.
  19. Use an activator to make the glue harden more quickly.
  20. Use a hand file to work the stone down to the edges of the ring, ensuring a uniform edge. A steel file is fine for turquoise, if you’re using harder material see my tips below for alternate tools.
  21. Check the edges to see if there are any remaining gaps. If so, use glue and your fill powder to make sure the ring is completely filled in. Re-file the ring if required.
  22. Sand the ring through progressive grits. The recommended tool is sandpaper, but you can also use a flex shaft or Dremel with rotary sanding wheels.
  23. Clean up any remains of the solder joints on the ring and give it a final polish all around, including the interior.

Some Extra Tips and Troubleshooting

For the most part, the process described in the video is straightforward. The biggest difference from making it without a lathe comes in the sanding process, which takes more time regardless of if you’re using a flex shaft or not.

That said, there’s a bit more to cover if you’re going off-script with this project.

Using Harder Stones

Stones that are harder than about a 5.5 on the Moh’s scale aren’t really capable of being sanded down with a steel file. You’ll need to try something different if that’s the case, such as using agate or labradorite for this kind of inlay.

Lapidary files are your best bet. These are flat “files” impregnated with a diamond powder in various grits. The 10 hardness on the diamonds allows them to work any other stone with ease. It will still take some time to file down particularly hard minerals.

You can also use plain sandpaper on most stones, but it will end up taking a lot of time. Especially if your stones are as high above the edges of the ring as those in the video. If you’re working with anything that’s 7.0 or higher you may want to crush your stone a bit more thoroughly to ensure that there’s less time spent filing or sanding the ring down.

Sanding for a Level Finish

Because this ring requires such exacting measurements you’ll be leveling things out several times across the course of its creation. The creator of the video uses sandpaper on a flat surface, which is a great idea.

The one thing not mentioned is that a lightly held figure-8 pattern works incredibly well to level things. Just doing circles or going back and forth can cause slight discrepancies in edges that should be uniform due to too much pressure being placed on one side or the other.

For rings, I personally go through the figure-8 pattern 2-3 times, turn the ring by 90°, and repeat until it’s level.

Polishing

The author of the video shows the polishing process, but doesn’t mention a compound to use. In this case, you’ll want to use what you’re most familiar with. Anything that shines silver will also shine the hardened cyanoacrylate glue.

If you’re completely new, I recommend giving Zam a shot. It’s a green, wax-bound polishing compound that’s recommended for soft stones and silver in particular.

Subscribe to GoMeow Creations for Technical Tips

GoMeow’s channel is great for those who like to use gadgets in their crafting or just want to learn the basics. While most of the channels you’ll find focus on traditional silversmithing methods, a quick look over this channel will show a wide variety of different things being used from laser cutters to UV resin.

If you enjoyed the video, then make sure to visit and subscribe to their channel!

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