Using a Ring Mandrel
by Dale Armstrong
Question #1:

When I place a ring on the ring mandrel, at what point of the ring do I measure the size? The center of the shank, the top, or the bottom?

-Lindsay in Elkhart, Indiana

Question #2:

Is it necessary to have a steel ring mandrel? I have a black plastic one and the wire seems to slip. Would this happen with a steel one?
Instructions
Answer #1:

Due to the width of some rings, this can be confusing. To measure a ring on a ring stick or mandrel, use the measurement that is in the center of the shank.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong
Answer #2:

Thanks for the opportunity to talk a bit about ring mandrels! Although the plastic one you mention is called a 'mandrel', it really is a ring 'stick' which is great for finding out the size of a ring that someone wants to have measured, or for making certain designs such as smaller style rings or some seed beaded rings, but not very stable for beating metal or wire rings.

A wooden ring mandrel is a tool used mainly by the artist who does lost wax designs, PMC, clay, etc, but can also be used in the above mentioned scenarios. A metal ring mandrel made of copper, aluminum or stainless steel is best when working in our medium of metal wires, (and over time, those made of copper or aluminum can become dented and scratched).

There are also several styles of ring mandrels to choose from. A graduated mandrel, (stainless steel), is my personal choice for making wire rings. The graduation allows a wire artist to push or slide the ring form down as a pattern may call for, to help with sizing the shank, whereas a 'stepped' mandrel will not, (it resembles the stepped side of 3-step round pliers). A grooved ring mandrel is nice for the person who makes a lot of bead rings, (and sometimes I like it when making cut stone rings to help protect the culet of a stone). There is also a ring mandrel with one flat side, for the person who frequently makes Pharaoh's cabochon rings. In my opinion a wire artist only needs one graduated, stainless steel ring mandrel.

To summarize, although a plastic ring stick is less expensive than the other options, as with any tool choice, think about what you want to make/do with the tool before you purchase it. Rather than having to replace a less expensive tool every few years, sometimes it's better to spend a little bit more on a good product that will last a lifetime!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong
Dale Armstrong's Using a Ring Mandrel - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, , Steel Ring mandrel
Dale Armstrong's Using a Ring Mandrel - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, , Wood Mandrel
Dale Armstrong's Using a Ring Mandrel - , Tools For Wire Jewelry, , Plastic Ring Stick
Some additional information from an earlier post of Dale's on the different styles of Ring Mandrels
Plastic/acrylic and wood: most of these mandrels are great for using as a ring "stick," to see what size of ring a customer has who wants you to make one the same size, or to check and size rings you have made. They can also be used for making what I call simple rings, where a thin strand of wire is wrapped around the mandrel one or more times to shape and then form into a ring (with or without beads).
Hollow nickel, solid brass, and solid stainless steel: metal is the best to purchase, as it is a "one-time-purchase" that will last a lifetime! Thinking about most of the rings I make and teach, most of them need to be forged and or shaped by using a mallet (rawhide or nylon/plastic) to beat the ring while it is on the mandrel, a metal mandrel is the proper surface to do so. It will not dent; splinter, crack or "give," and it still can act as a ring stick. The metal choice is yours; the Wire-Sculpture Faculty and I prefer using a stainless steel ring mandrel.
While we are on the subject of ring mandrels, I would like to mention the shapes available. The two basic ring mandrel shapes are stepped and graduated.
A stepped mandrel is one that actually has a defined step for each whole size (like 3, 4, 5, etc) there are no half or quarter sizes (similar to the stepped jaw on the 3-step round pliers). One cannot make a ring and slide or force it down this mandrel to size or work harden the wires.
A ring mandrel that is graduated resembles the jaw of regular round-nose pliers. It also has more size possibilities such as quarter and half-sizes. This is my favorite ring mandrel shape as one can really make rings "to size" by being able to slide them up and down during creation.
A ring mandrel that has a flat side is perfect for making the Classic Cabochon Ring. If one is going to make this style exclusively, then purchasing one is a good decision, however a regular, graduated metal ring mandrel will also do the job nicely. The flat side can also be used when making rings with faceted stones as the culet of the stone will not be damaged during the creation process.
The ring mandrel that has a groove running along one side is great for making rings that contain a focal bead, or for making rings with faceted stones. Just keep the ring positioned so the focal item is within the groove.
With all of these choices, I will tell you that I personally use a graduated stainless steel ring mandrel about 98% of the time, although I do have another (same material and shape) with a flat side, but I usually forget I have it!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

Materials

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Tools

Stainless Steel Ring Mandrel Sizes 1-15
G7-2
  • G7-2
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $32.95
  • Gold Club Price: $24.71
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Wood Ring Mandrel - Pack of 1
G7-55
  • G7-55
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $11.95
  • Gold Club Price: $8.96
Out of Stock
Plastic Ring Stick - Pack of 1
G7-1
  • G7-1
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $5.97
  • Gold Club Price: $4.48
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Ceramic Ring Mandrel
HOL-155.00
  • HOL-155.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $18.95
  • Gold Club Price: $14.21
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360 Degree Mandrel Vise with Mandrel
G7-11
  • G7-11
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $43.95
  • Gold Club Price: $32.96
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  • Category: Tools
  • Technique(s): General Education