After making a wooden hoop to test out how the circle cutting jig works, I thought it is a shame to do nothing with it, so I think that making a wooden choker can be a curious project to make and show on this woodworking blog. And the best part is that the most difficult part, making the hoop, was already done.
If you saw how I made the wooden hoop, you already know that after cutting the inner circle it has a small imperfection at the beginning and the end of the cut.
So to fix the inside of the wooden hoop, first I use a chisel to cut the protruding wood, and then with a fine file I finish getting the area smooth. Now, after sanding the entire surface of the hoop, I can start making the wooden choker.
If I left the edges straight, it would be a very awkward choker, but with the router table and the roundover router bit with bearing shown in the picture it is easy to round the edges of the wooden hoop. To route the outside of the hoop I turn it counterclockwise on the router table, while to round the inside I turn it clockwise. I have to rout it little by little, without pushing the bit too hard or trying to go too fast, or the router bit will grab the wood and throw the wood hoop out of my hands. Some sanding and I am ready to continue working on it.
In order for someone to put this ring around their neck, I have to cut it into two equal halves and put some kind of hinge and a clasp. With the help of a square and a ruler I mark a couple of lines that divide the hoop in two exactly equal parts. And I use a fret saw to cut it carefully.
The cuts do not come out perfect, and probably are not exactly in the same plane (I mean that both cutting surfaces of each half sure are not perfectly aligned). So to fix that, with the help of the square I put a piece of board perfectly vertical on a sheet of sandpaper, and like this I can use the board as a guide fence to rectify the cuts and leave them smooth and in the same plane at 90 degrees to the semicircle.
Now I need to make some holes centered in the cuts I made. These holes are to put the hinge to open the choker, and to put the magnet to keep it closed. For this I have to make a drilling jig that allows me to correctly drill the hoop halves in the drill press.
This drilling jig should keep half of the hoop to be drilled perfectly vertical, and with the surfaces I want to drill perfectly horizontal and also at 90 degrees to the drill bit I will use in the drill press. Explaining step by step how I made this drilling jig would make this post too long, but in the video I think you can watch pretty well how to make the drilling jig.
In the first half I will drill a deeper hole for the barrel hinge at one end, and a shallower hole for the magnet at the other end. The depth of the holes depends on the length of each barrel of the barrel hinge and on the thickness of the magnet. In this case the hole for the barrel hinge is approximately three times deeper than that for the magnet.
With the first half of the ring drilled, now I have to drill the other half so that both parts are as well aligned as possible. The problem is to mark the exact points where to drill. After drilling I realized that I don’t have dowel centers of the diameter of the drill bit I had used, and the best I could come up with was to improvise a center point with a piece of nylon plug and one screw. I put the nylon plug in the hole and with both halves on the table top and the other end of the hoop halves together and against the square, I close the hoop until I mark with the screw the point where to drill. And I do the same for the other drill I have to make. I must not forget to make a pencil mark to know where to drill the hole for the barrel hinge and where to drill the hole for the magnet. And with the help of the drilling jig, I drill the holes on the drill press.
I can now sand the wooden hoop and apply a coat of stain and varnish. I let it dry, sand it gently with very fine sandpaper, and apply a second coat of stain and varnish. The result was pretty decent, but using a spray or spray gun would make the paint job look perfect. Onces the varnish is dry I can put the barrel hinge in the corresponding holes. And I’m also going to put the magnets in their holes gluing them with epoxy. As soon as the epoxy is dry I can already see if the wooden choker opens well and if it is easy to put around the neck.