How to Make Wooden Jewelry

Spalted Birch Pendant
Wooden Jewelry makes a great gift, and can be a quick and inexpensive project for the weekend woodworker, and also a great way to use up those interesting scraps of wood.

Great pieces of wooden jewelry display and accentuates the natural beauty of the wood it is from. Because of this the best wooden jewelry need to be made from the most interesting and striking woods. For most woodwork, uniformity is required, but for jewelry it is interest, burls, bright colors, extreme grain, spalting that are all important.

Oak Branch Earrings and Necklace
Selection of the wood to use is ninety percent of the craft, paying attention to grain pattern and color, the beauty of the wood really is all in making great jewelry. For most of my work I use spalted birch, and spalted oak. Most of the wood I use is gatherd from the forest, as windfall branches, or the odd  spalted oak stump. Also scraps of exotic woods or even laminated scraps of veneercan be excellent.

Drop Earrings from Spalted Pear

Design and Shaping
Once you have selected your wood, you need to cut and shape it. The design for my jewelry is normally suggested by the wood itself, I may leave a piece of wood laying around the workshop until I get inspiration, the interaction of grain and shape or the color.
Once your decided on the design shaping is a simple if mechanical process of cutting, filling and sanding using scroll saws, files, rasps and sand paper. Because of the small size of wooden jewelry it will be viewed close up, it needs a really smooth finish, so sanding is carried out with many finer and finer grits of paper, usually down to 1000 -1200 grit. This part of the process can be fiddly, I often end up sanding more off the ends of my fingers than the work itself!

I normally do not use any stains or dyes as these obscure the natural beauty of the underlying wood. The main finishes I use for wooden jewelry are tung oil, shellack, bees wax and clear lacquer. Each have their own merits and faults, you need to experiment to get the look your after. Most often I go for a high gloss finish as this really shows the beauty of the wood.
Spalted Birch Pendant
Once the woodworking is done you need to add the metal fittings ear-hooks, chains, pins, beads and straps. Chose these with care, some pieces will look better with gold some with silver or copper. Often a piece will be accentuated with a bead or two. The fittings I usually attach with epoxy resin, other glues I have tried tended to fail for one reason or other.

I hope this article has given you some insights in to the making of wooden jewelry. If you are inspired to make some wooden jewelry, send us a photo, and I'll post it here.

Woodworkers Sites: Colin Bird Miniature Furniture

Colin Bird Miniature Furniture

Here is a  interesting woodworking site Colin Bird's Miniature Furniture.

Colin Bird makes makes a range of miniature dolls house furniture from the 18th to 20th century, Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian periods.

His furniture includes tables, dressers, desks and a wide selection of chairs. The level of detail and skill involved is amazing. If you have ever tried miniature woodworking you will know how difficult it is, your joints need to be 12X more accurate, you finishing needs to be flawless.  For his finish Colin uses several coats of very thin coats of shellac cut back with wire wool and finnished with wax.

Also making you models look like full sized furniture is difficult due to wood grain. Over sized grain will ruin the effect of scale. To get round this problem this Colin uses closer grained woods like cherry and pear, and yew for the turnnings, which when scalled to 1/12 size with the right stains can look like walnut or oak.

All Colins turnings for his chairs is done on a Unimat 3 model making lathe. In 1993 Colin won a gold medal at the National Woodworker Show.

Youtube's Woodworking Videos: How to make a Rosette, by Michael Thames

Have you ever wondered how they make the incredible classical guitar rosettes? Heres a great video, showing how one Lutiher Michael Thames achieves it.

All Michael's rosettes and purflings are hand-dyed, and hand cut. Each time he  make a new batch of rosettes, they will differ slightly. A few examples can be found on his website. he likes a more understated rosette, and feels the beauty of the classical guitar lies more in the balance and proportions rather than a lot of gaudy colors and inlay. 

This process is not just limited to luthier's but could be used to create inlay for any woodworking project, In the 19th century it was common to cover entire boxes and picture frames with this type of built up inlay.

Woodworking Books - The Workbench Design Book, the Art and Philosophy of Building Better Benches

"The workbench is the most important tool in your shop.

While the statement is absolutely true, it doesn't help you answer the more important question: Which workbench should I build? 

 Chris Schwarz’s  book provides plans and details for eight different workbenches. These benches range from a Roubo bench, in which Chris builds entirely by hand, to a workbench assembled in 24 hours

What's inside

Centuries of workbench history that has been boiled down so you can easily separate the enduring bench designs from the bad ones. 

Complete plans for shop-tested workbenches that you can build – plus real-world critiques of these benches that point out the types of work at which they excel. 

The latest information on vises and other workholding devices, plus plans for simple shop appliances that improve any bench. 

Chris also includes a section on how to build a sawbench as well as  information about how to upgrade your existing workbench.

Real-world advice on the best woods to use, the correct dimensions for benches and how to make your bench knockdown or mobile. 

No matter what sort of woodworking you do, inside this book you'll find the tools, detailed information and inspiration to build the right bench for your workshop, your budget, and your projects.  

Find out more at Barnes and Noble>

Find out more at Shop Woodworking >