Guide to Wood Ring Styles
The reason no two WedgeWood rings are ever alike, and what makes them stand out from the traditional wedding band is ultimately the wood. Unique, beautiful, and rare are the woods I deal with. I let nature do the work. The most common question I receive about the wood in a ring is about durability: which wood is the most durable choice. That’s an easy one- it doesn’t matter. Every wood ring I make is finished with a proprietary blend of epoxy resins used in the construction of hot tubs. They take special techniques and conditions to cure fully. Once cured they are stronger by far than the wood they used to protect. Aesthetically the choice is more difficult. Below, I give a sketch of the available types of wood. If you have something special in mind, by all means contact me and I will make it happen.
Whiskey Barrel Oak
WedgeWood Rings was the first to ever offer wood rings made with a used whiskey barrel component. For this reason, you will find here the widest selection of styles and metals; the most complete selection of distilleries. Click here to see the ever-growing list.
Whiskey represents an intersection of ancient traditions, woodworking and brewing. A great deal of work and attention goes into cooperage (the making of barrels) and barrel selection. Quite simply, second to water and the mash bill, the barrel makes the whiskey. My customers enjoy wearing this convergence on their finger and find it to be the perfect conversation piece. The the large list of staves I have in stock does no have what you are looking for, you should feel free to look into sourcing material from a local business that is special to you! I have found distillery owners, especially local small distilleries, to be very accommodating by nature.
One of my favorite materials to use in my wooden rings is Koa. The reason is a little odd, and a little personal. When I was first starting out woodworking, I was a graduate student and most decidedly unable to afford premium materials. Sure, there is low-grade Koa out there (in droves), but the extremely curly, high altitude stuff is what really seduces me. After a bit of success with my business, and as these materials became tax-deductible and justifiable… well lets just say cost is never a consideration when I source material like this. It not only makes me happy because its a kind of luxury, but it also provides the —and I will stand by this— absolute best quality material for my customers.
Wedgewood rings are lined with the absolute highest grade Koa. It has a gorgeous, deep golden color and unbelievable curl. Koa is known for its "curl," which is very difficult to capture in pictures. It has the sort of shimmer of a cats-eye gem. This character is typically found in high-altitude trees that are OLD GROWTH (80+ years).It is a uniquely Hawaiian wood, and is one of the most prized natural products from the islands. It was used by ancient Hawaiians to build waka, or canoes, and papa heʻe nalu, or surfboards. In the Hawaiian culture, koa is a hardwood that represents integrity and strength, which are foundational qualities of marriage.
The material is truly rare. I have a decent horde of top grade material right now. But when true 5-star material is available, one has to stock up! There can be extended periods of time where high quality Koa is unavailable.
There are many woods that fall under the broad classification of “rosewood,” which is to say belonging to the genus dalbergia. In my shop I have, off the top of my head, Cocobolo (dalbergia retusa), Kingwood (dalbergia cearensis), African Blackwood (dalbergia melanxylon), Tulipwood (dalbergia decipularis), Indian rosewood (dalbergia latifolia or sissoo), Brazilian Rosewood (dalbergia nigra), and possibly others. I am a collector and hoarder of quality materials.
These woods are prized for their beauty; they are generally characterized by colorful, banded coloration with dark, pronounced grain. They are also desirable because they are durable. Many of these woods are used most prominently in quality furniture building, especially in Asia, as well and the crafting of instruments like woodwinds and stringed instruments. Guitar-makers (luthiers), in particular, compete with me to source the best material because of the superior tonal qualities of rosewoods. Finally, rosewood is popular because it is dense and durable. This is because it is saturated with water-resistant oils that are the source of the color as well as the wonderful smells that usually accompany the wood as it is worked.
There is ironwood, then there is IRONWOOD. Many woods are generously called ironwoods simply because they are so hard and dense. Among these woods, those that have earned that reputation and are in my inventory would include Ipe (Handroanthus serratifolius), Lignum Vitae (both Argentine Bulnesia Arborea and Genuine Guaiacum sanctum), but most importantly, my favorite wood of all time, Arizona Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota).
This slow-growing tree can only be found in the Sonoran desert. Its colors and grain, in the case of exhibition grade material, are unmatched by any other wood in the world. It is so durable and rot-resistant that standing logs have been found that are over 1600 years old. Sadly, it is expensive and smells like burning popcorn when you work it. Neither of these facts are your, the customers’, problem. If I gave up woodworking today, I would still be collecting the best examples of this material. I find it irresistible. You can see it used in virtually every style ring I make.
The appearance and quality of the wood of the olive tree varies greatly by region. I am not impressed by the look of Italian, Californian, or African olive wood, so I don’t deal in them except in cases of custom orders. All the material I use, I import directly from Israel.
Bethlehem Olivewood is characterized by dramatic, black lines that suffuse the grain (or perhaps constitute the grain, it is hard to say). Like all fruitwoods it is stout, heavy, and colorful. Olivewood in particular is very oily and water resistant. Also like other fruitwoods, it can be a challenge to dry. When I make an order from Israel, I typically order three times more than I need specifically because much of it is going to crack in transit or in storage, despite my best efforts. Souring truly dried material has not been realistic.
It is said that the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was an Olive wood tree. Holding significance in many religions, it is a wood that symbolizes healing, cleansing, nourishment, and peace between God and mankind. Paired with hand-wrought damascus, and you are sure to have a one of a kind wooden ring.
Burl is not a species of wood. I am not a dendrologist, so I can say for certain, but I believe any wood can demonstrate at least a small degree of burl, though it is common in some trees and vanishingly rare in others. It forms as a sort of deformity or damage that causes the tree to grow into itself, resulting in wild, unpredictable grain and “eyes”. Because I am above all a collector of woods, I have many examples of burl stock. There are the common burls: maple, cherry, black ash, claro walnut, redwood, and buckeye. I have also very rare burls like amboyna, afzelia, desert ironwood, Honduras rosewood. Finally there are the profoundly rare burls which, as far as I can tell, cannot be purchased. The only way to get them is to buy that wood and find small examples of the burl within. These include black and white ebony burl, African Blackwood burl, kingwood burl, and a few others. Occasionally a customer (wood enthusiast) will contact me looking for something truly unique and rare. I direct them to these woods.
At least a few times a week, a customer contacts me with a request for something special. Often, this means a wood particular to the region they are from, like redwood symbolizing California, or a particular pine endemic to Colorado, or a wood from New Zealand. I can certainly make this happen.
Some of my favorite projects have been for customers who want to provide their own special woods. Examples would include wood from a family farm, wood from a demolished barn or building, the deck of a skateboard or the deck of a ship. For these projects, essentially all I need is enough material dimensions to make the ring. If I have that, I am happy to make your one of a kind ring a reality.