Making a Wedding Ring from a Wheelchair?! – Titanium & Gold!

by birtanpublished on October 2, 2020

I love it. I think it's super unique. And I thought when I first started dating
that my wheelchair would deter people from dating me. I never thought it would be something
someone would want to put in their wedding ring.

Today we're going to do something a little bit different. I get married in a couple
days and instead of going out and buying a generic wedding ring, I'm going to make something
that's a little bit more personal.
Cambry, my fiance, got hurt in a horse riding accident about 15 years ago and this is her
very first wheelchair – made out of titanium. I'm going to take a strip of that titanium,
inlay it in this 14 karat gold, and make a ring that has more of a story…more of a
connection for me and her. Let's get started.

So obviously a solid strip of gold is nowhere near ring ready. I can't just plop this on
my fingers and be ready to go. It takes a lot of steps and special skills to be able
to get it to that point. Luckily one of my good friends for the last 5 years knows quite
a bit about making rings.
And the first thing we need to do is anneal this metal, which is basically softening
it so that we can start working with it.
So when you get flat stock like this gold, it comes from the factory pretty hard because
of the way they extrude it and the way that they process it. So heating it up with a torch
disperses those molecules and makes it soft again and makes it more workable.

Heating it up also makes the gold black, which takes away the shininess for now, but
we'll fix that later.

Next we'll take a jeweler's saw with a very fine metal cutting blade and cut through each
end of the ring so that the tips will line up and we can bring it to size.
Okay, so we've got it all pretty much lined up. We've got a little bit of a
lip on the top side that's sticking out, but we need to take a file and file that down
anyway. Solder won't bond with dirty metal so we need to remove this top layer of black
oxidation so we can get a really strong bond with the gold.
The reason that we have to line the ends up is because solder isn't like welding where
welding fills gaps. In welding, if you've got a little bit of a gap…this is the ends
of the metal…you can fill that gap with weld. But with solder, you have to have all
the metal touching because if it's like this and only a single point is touching, only
that single point is going to bond. The solder's basically just like a glue.
Solder is an alloy of gold and other metals that has a lower melting point than
the actual gold ring itself.
So when we solder this together we need to use flux and flux is an anti-oxidation
agent. And so it keeps the metal clean so you can get a really clean bond with the solder.

Okay…ooo went anyway!

More than anything, I'm just trying to see if the solder really made a good connection
with the gold. So that looks pretty good. Pretty happy with that.

So we want the ring to be divided up evenly into thirds with an equal amount of
gold on either side of the titanium center piece. So we're using the calipers set to
two and two-thirds to create a dividing line between each of the segments, so we can use
the lathe to cut out the center.
So I'm just going to start moving this forward.

So we have been saving the scraps of gold from the lathe because this can be melted
down and reused later.
So this is Cambry's very first wheelchair that she got 15 years ago. It's made of titanium.
And the reason it's made from titanium and not something like steel is because titanium
is 40% lighter than steel while still being as strong as steel. The reason wheelchairs
need to be so light is that the people in them are usually constantly moving around
and transporting themselves and the chair at the same time. And the more the chair weighs,
the harder it is to move.
So we're going to take a piece of this chair and inlay it into a gold ring. Another cool
thing with titanium is that it's biocompatible, meaning that titanium can be used inside of
your body, whether it's for like screws or rods. And it's also non-magnetic which means
if you get an MRI it's not going to mess with the titanium inside of your body. Because
of all the cool properties and the high strength to weight ratio, titanium is quite a bit more
expensive than, say, steel. But because of how lightweight it is, it's totally worth
Cambry's upgraded her wheelchair several times since this first one so she won't mind if
we take a little sliver.

We're going to put this into the lathe, get this squared away really nice,
and then we're going to take this and cut off the 2 millimeter slice that we need to
inlay it into the ring.
So right now we're measuring the distance inside of the groove of the 14 karat gold
ring so we can take that measurement over to the titanium insert and mark it along the
edge of the ring so we can cut it off in the right size.

There it goes!
So now we have the gold that we've been working on before and the titanium insert which is
extremely lightweight. And even though it's made of metal, it's about the weight of a
toothpick – which is crazy. Lucky for us, the diameter of the wheelchair is almost the
same diameter of the ring. With a little fancy metal manipulation, Weston should be able
to get it to fit around the outside.
Alright, show us how it's done.
To avoid cutting the titanium we're going to shrink one side of this ring and
slide the titanium over top and expand it back out. The way we're going to do that is
with this ring re-sizer. And these little holes are cone shaped so that as you push
the ring down, it forces the ring to fold in on itself. Once it's shrunk enough, we're
going to slide the titanium over the top into the groove and expand it back out on the ring
So we've been compressing one side of the ring and now it's just small enough
to allow the titanium insert to cross over. So now that the titanium insert is on the
ring, you can see one side is much more compressed than the other side. That's because of the
ring smasher. So now we're going to put it back in the ring stretcher and bring it back
so it looks like it was before.
So after each couple passes with the ring stretcher, we go back to annealing it to soften
the gold to make sure it doesn't crack on us. Then it goes back on the ring stretcher,
and then back to annealing. And repeat the process probably 20 times. The black oxidation
over the gold and the titanium should come off after we're done polishing it when it's
all formed again.
These titanium shavings are so light…like basically holding air… or like Styrofoam.
It's kind of like metallic cotton candy. Now both sides have been equally stretched. It's
uniform. Titanium's in the center. Now we just need to size it. I'm a size 10 and right
now this is about a size 9.

So after a lot of sanding with the flex shaft rotary tool we finally have the
ring to size. Now it is time to clean it up and level out the top.

So we've lathed down the titanium center piece and now we just have the gold. We're going
to sand off the oxidation and leave it with a brushed finish.

There you have it. The ring is done. 14 karat brushed gold with a titanium inlay. Weston,
on a scale of one to ten, how hard of a project was that?
I'd give it a solid 9, maybe 10. It was a lot harder than, you know, some of
the other inlays I've done where it's like antler or turquoise, some of these other softer
things. You know, it was pretty difficult.
That's true cuz titanium is like…it's up there in the hardness scale and it's like…it's
super compact and brittle I guess. So we had to be careful when we were like bringing it
down. But I think it turned out pretty sweet. It pays to have friends with skills.
If you want to see some more projects that Weston's done, his Instagram is @rose_anvil.
You know mine: @ZacksJerryrig.
It's crazy to think that this ring was once a part of Cambry's first chair.
So Cambry what do you think? Was it worth cutting off a sliver of your old chair?
Yep. I love it. I think it's super unique. And I thought when I first started
dating that my wheelchair would deter people from dating me. I never thought it would be
something someone would want to put in their wedding ring. And I love it.
It makes for a good story and it's something that was like a big part of your
life a long time ago.
Well…it's a big part of my life right now.
Well that particular chair!
We're already going to be married by the time you guys see this. But one of
our favorite wedding gifts was from the What's Inside channel.
They gave us something super special.
They gave 2 classrooms full of desks with our name on it to a school in Kenya.
And as a result of that, we fundraised over $20,000 to build an entire school in Africa.
An entire school. So I'm going to take Cambry to go see the desks that What's Inside
donated to the schools in Africa and see the school that you guys paid for. And the donations
are not over yet. We still have time to maybe, I mean this is a stretch, fund a second school
in Africa. And even if we don't fund the school, the money will be used for like water storage
or water filtration.
Or books for the library.
Every single penny is going to be used for the schools in Africa. So if you haven't
seen it yet, I'll leave a link for the What's Inside Family channel where they revealed
our wedding present. I'll put a link for that right here and down in the video description.
Make sure you see it. It made me cry, so it's super special.
Thanks a ton for watching. We'll see you around.

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