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Learn the basics: stacking rings

Hand making a peace sign, middle finger has wax stacking rings, index finger has silver stacking rings

You want to learn wax carving, but since you’re new to it you’re not really sure where to start. Stacking rings are the perfect introduction to wax carving. On the surface, it might not seem like a very exciting project. But you learn a lot of basic and essential skills that you use for everything going forward.

And that is exciting right!

Because learning the basics is the first step in becoming a confident and independent wax carver. And that is something we all want to be! Someone that can carve any piece that comes to mind.

So what are these basics you learn?

Pierce a ring tube

A bench peg and someone is just beginning to pierce a ring tube

If you’ve never pierced wax before, it’s both easier and more difficult than piercing metal. It’s easier because it’s softer than metal. It’s more difficult because it’s thicker than metal.

What’s the thickest piece of metal plate you’ve pierced? 3mm maybe? Remember how difficult it was compared to piercing 1mm plate?

A standard ring tube (there are different sizes) is 27mm at its widest point. While you’re making sure you’re piercing to the line at the top, your saw blade is doing who knows what 27mm away at the bottom! There are different guidelines to follow when piercing wax to make sure you pierce as straight as possible. And you learn them here.

Filing a flat and parallel surface

A bench peg and someone is filing the side of a ring

Filing flat doesn’t sound hard. But it can be tricky to figure out how to evenly distribute pressure on the file, throughout the entire file stroke. That sentence does make it sound hard! Not to worry, you learn a few techniques that help you get that perfectly flat surface.

On top of filing flat, you also want to file parallel. Most rings are the same width all the way around. How do you get that even width? By filing the sides parallel to each other.

And measuring. Lots and lots of measuring.

Measuring

Hands measuring the width of a ring with a pair of callipers

Yes, there is so much measuring involved in getting rings the same width all the way around. No matter what you make, you will be measuring at some point. Why not practice that skill right from the start!

Filing a comfort fit

Hands on a bench peg filing a comfort fit

When you give the inside of your ring a slight curve it’s called a comfort fit. The name says it all: it’s more comfortable to wear that way. Put in a little extra work to make your rings as comfortable as possible!

Different ring profiles

Finger with 3 wax rings out of purple wax with different ring profiles: court, knife edge and flat

Sure, flat profile rings are nice. But why not add in a court shape from time to time. And maybe even an exciting knife-edge? You can use these ring profiles on all your future rings. So learn them now!

Ring sizing

Hands on a bench peg sizing the ring with a wax ring sizer

If only we all had tiny fingers that fit the standard size the ring tubes come in. Until that happens, you need to get the ring to the correct size. It’s not that difficult!

In summary

In short, you learn how to pierce, file and measure. All very basic AND important skills that you use all the time in wax carving.

And when you have your rings, you can experiment with texturing and finishing them. Ball burr dappled look, rough file strokes, granulation, filed pattern? Whatever you feel like, customise the rings to your liking!

Feel inspired to learn all this? You can buy the stacking ring class now!