The other day I was lecturing in class and I said something that was just plain wrong. And several students justifiably called me on it.
What I said was that if you make a round ring that fits your finger, you can make it any other shape and it will still fit. In hindsight, that was a really stupid statement! I mean, I know that if I take a ring that fits my finger and bend it into a star shape, it will not fit anymore – and obviously if I take that same ring and hammer it flat, it won’t fit, either.
So that got me to thinking. How far can I push the shape before it does make a difference in the shape?
I know from experience that if I am using the square ring mandrel or the trapezoid ring mandrel, I can make the ring to fit as if it would be round, shape it on any of those three shaped mandrels and it will fit the same. But what about flattening the top of the ring? How far can I push that before it no longer fits well or feels different than the round one?
What I decided to do is to test. Now I often tell students that they need to test things out before doing what ever it is on a final piece. And I often do just that – even though it’s hard to take the time to work on something that isn’t a “real” piece.
This is the documentation of that test:
1. I made seven blanks out of yellow brass – all the same size, same shape, and same length. I chose yellow brass because it wasn’t as likely to stretch as I was working it.
2. I soldered all the blanks into rings and shaped them all round. About the time I was shaping the sixth one, I thought it might have been a good idea to use a pipe and cut off sections….. oh, well….
3. I checked the size again once they were round to make sure they were the same size.
4. I left one round, made one square and one trapezoid on the mandrels I have. The question became how to accurately flatten different portions of the various other rings.
5. I used the circle divider sheets I have to mark the remaining rings at the following sections:
- • 1/8th of a circle (45°)
- • 1/6th of a circle (60°)
- • 1/4th of a circle (90°)
And left the last one as a spare (in case I messed something up or needed to do more testing).
6. Now the testing:
- • The 1/8th flat felt the same as the round
- • The 1/6th flat felt the same as the round
- • The 1/4 flat was difficult to get on, and felt very tight when it was on
7. So I decided that I needed to test between the 1/6th and the ¼ and chose to make the last blank a 1/5th flat (72°). It was noticeably snugger than the round, but not uncomfortable to wear.
What did I learn?
First, that I should think a bit more before I talk!
Secondly, that you really can move a ring quite a bit before it alters the way it fits a finger.
I do believe that while this experiment worked well for me on my fingers, it could have a very different result for other people’s fingers or even for different width bands on my fingers. I would guess (notice the equivocation) that a wider band is less forgiving than a narrow band… but that’s another test!