July 11 2019 – Mike Yarbrough
As a married man, I know all too well the feeling of having to pick out a ring that you:
- Don't really want
- Don't really like
- Don't want to pay for
- But still have to do it because society says so
Honestly, picking out a ring from a typical jewelry store is one of the things most men can't stand about the marrying process. So, when alternative rings came on the scene, they exploded with popularity. Finally, we have a choice!
Wood wedding rings, in particular, have a number of benefits (more on that below) but also some things you need to be aware of so it will last and so your expectations are met.
What You Should Know Before Purchasing a Wooden Wedding Ring
Part 1 - Not All Wood Rings Are the Same
Bentwood vs. Drilling a Hole
Prior to launching Rustic and Main, I made a simple wood ring and wrote an article about it. It soon became #1 on Google for "Making a wooden wedding ring" and #1 on my site, Wolf & Iron. I knew I had something special here, but I also knew that the process of drilling a hole in a piece of wood in order to make a ring wasn't going to yield a good product.
Drilling a hole in a piece of wood to make one of the first wedding rings. That's not the way we do it now, but it's fine for an at-home project.
Why is drilling a hole a bad idea for a ring?
You may not be able to see it in the picture above, but the grain runs in one direction. This means that there are essentially cracks in the ring already. If you've ever tried to split wood or karate chop a board, you know that you do so "with the grain". You can find a lot of these mass produced wood rings that are made this way. Unfortunately, they are giving wooden rings a bad name and you should stay away from them.
What is bentwood and why is it better?
Bentwood rings actually wrap a single piece of wood (or multiple pieces) in layers around themselves. This produces a plywood type of strength. Because the grain runs in one direction, the ring is incredibly strong. These are the types of wood rings you should buy, and that's how we make them.
A tightly wrapped bentwood ring (unfinished)
Not All Finishes on Rings are the Same
Over the years I've been in this industry, I've seen wood ring finishes range from beeswax to epoxy. However, most wood ring makers use a type of cyanoacrylate glue (aka, CA glue, which is essentially super glue) to coat the rings and give them a sheen and protective finish. While the thought of super glue coating your ring might seem cheap, it's really an incredible product for hardness, clarity, and durability.
The typical store-bought glues are not as high quality as what we use. To increase shelf-life they add in chemicals that dilute the cyanoacrylate. We use only the highest quality CA available and have had years of testing the finish in many conditions. That being said, there isn't a holy grail for ring finishes that prevents any damage. Wood rings do have some things to take into consideration.
Part 2 - The Drawbacks
Yes, we make wood rings for a living, but we also acknowledge there are some significant differences between them and metal rings. Read this section carefully because you will want to make sure a wood ring works for your lifestyle and activity level.
I'll also provide some recommendations below in case you're on the fence about purchasing one.
They Aren't Metal
This is obvious, but important. Because they aren't metal, they are a softer material. Granted, wood is very strong, but wood rings can be chipped and even broken (though it's rare). Thankfully, they can be repaired in many cases so long as the damage isn't too severe.
This means that you shouldn't go rock climbing with your wood ring. You should probably not work on your car with a wood ring. In fact, you shouldn't do any rough work with a wood ring.
But, in many cases, you shouldn't be wearing a ring you care about to do these things either. With any ring and serious work, there's a chance to damage it, or worse, ring avulsion. (Don't look it up. Trust me.) In other words, we typically wear rings in many circumstances where we shouldn't. If you absolutely must wear a ring, get one of the cheap, silicone rings.
Some Chemicals Can Harm the Finish
Any ring you get that has a finish of CA or epoxy, can be damaged by chemicals that are designed to remove such a finish. This includes some hand sanitizers and other solvents. Salt water eats through just about anything, including metal, so most alternative rings aren't great in the ocean.
Part 3 - What to Love About Wood Rings
If you're still reading this article you're likely all-in on a wood ring, or at least a ring that has some uniqueness and story. Here are the reasons we love wood rings and why we stand behind them.
They Aren't Metal (and that's a good thing)
Wood rings are lightweight, colorful, and warm. Since most men have never worn a ring until their wedding, the feeling of a heavy chunk of steel can be off putting and distracting.
Unlike metal rings, a wood ring doesn't steal the heat from your skin, so it feels warm and comfortable; not cold and heavy.
They Were Once Living
I like the thought of the piece of wood on my finger having stood tall in the forest at one point. For the ring makers, like us, we see the history of the wood, know the age of it, and can appreciate that it used to be a living tree and part of our ecosystem.
People Ask About Them
Over the 20+ years of wearing a typical gold ring, no one ever asked me about it. Why would they? But, the day I wore my first wood ring out, people asked about it. Customers tell us this is their experience as well. They just stand out, and since they are often customized to you, they allow you to share a bit of your interests when talking about your ring.
They Have a Story
We started Rustic with the goal of making rings with a story; something you could connect with. Many of our rings are made from whiskey barrels, which have a history that ties to the distillery and the forest from which they came. Other rings are made from old walnut rifle stocks, barn wood, flooring from old cotton mills, and more.
Our customers can provide woods that have a personal meaning to them, like wood from grandpa's barn, or a piece of wood off the tree in their childhood home. The stories go on and on, and we love being part of them all!
Here's an example of a custom ring with a lot of meaning. The inside is from an M1 Garand rifle stock (circa WWII) the outside is weathered whiskey barrel, red uniform inlay with double sterling silver and then a USMC uniform edge. What a beaut!
Most people purchase a wood wedding ring because they want something unique; a ring that has a story. That being said, a ring like this ought to be appreciated and thought of as special...because it is. If you're in the market for a unique wedding ring and are considering a wooden one, go for it! Just like anything else, be careful who you purchase from.
Now that you know a bit more about wooden rings, the pros and cons, hopefully you can see how it will fit into your life.
If you're on the fence about getting one, here is my suggestion
Get a cheaper ring to wear for any rough work and save your one of a kind, wood ring for the nights out and other special occasions. As mentioned above, people will want to know about your ring, so they are best when you can sit and talk. Telling the story of your ring tells a bit of your story as well.
This article was written by Rustic and Main Founder, Mike Yarbrough. Mike is a Christian husband, father, leader and entrepreneur with a passion for creating things that matter.
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