Thursday, July 24, 2008

Turk's Head Knot Ring

It's been a while since I posted on my blog but I've tried a new technique inspired by the metal working turk's head knot guru Loren Damewood on

It has been a very long journey since I first saw Loren's website and then started searching the internet frantically to find out how to do this elusive knot (see below for where I found tutorials). I made about 4 leather knots to get the feel of the technique before trying it in silver wire. the above photographed ring is 0.8 mm gauge sterling silver wire and is a single strand of wire passed through the knot twice.

Here's some things I've learned on the way:
1. Gauge of wire discussion. This 0.8 gauge was too thick. Even for fine silver I reckon. Use 0.6 gauge maximum and you can go down quite thin to do more pass throughs. I found the 24 gauge (what's that, 0.4?) was too thin for a loose ring, that would need to be a really tight ring.

2. Ring size: These rings act like Chinese finger traps - if you open the lattice up the ring gets taller and thinner, if you squish it down it gets shorter and wider. If I were to anneal my ring I could potentially squish it down to 1 cm tall and a size 7, or M. I could open it up and make it smaller too. This is the good thing about these rings if you don't solder it all together - they are adjustable by plus or minus 1 ring size!

3. Mandrel versus ring size versus how much wire to cut? The 16 mm dowel mandrel gave me a size 6, or L ring that is 1.5 cm tall on my finger. The 19 mm dowel mandrel would give you a size 9, or like P, that would be 1.5 cm tall on the finger. On golden_knot (see below for web address) there is a good page there that he uses geometry to figure out wire length to cut for what ring size. I cut 2 meters here and ended up with half a meter left after the double pass on my ring.

4. Drilling holes spacing on mandrel: the further apart the two peg rows are, the more lacey and open your ring is going to be. this also means that a lacier, taller ring will adjust better to say plus 2 or even 3 ring sizes more. In a wire that stiffins up nicely, that's okay. But with fine silver or thin gauge wire you will find your ring bending out of shape, ring size a lot.

5. Number of passes: This is up to you. If you're going to do one pass only, use sterling silver or a wire that will be stiffened so that your final ring doesn't distort at the end. If doing multiple passes, like on golden_knot (see below) then you will want to use fine silver and a thinner gauge.
5A. If you will be doing multiple passes around your mandrel, do not use tight tension on your first pass around the knot or this will warp how your second and third passes will sit nicely. Let it be a little loose so that on the second pass there is space above and below your pegs to lay the second row of wire nicely. My ring looks wonky a bit because I pulled way too tight the first pass around the knot (so my second row wants to sit parallel to my first pass, not snugly next to.)

How to do the Knot:

Get to know this knot first. The Turk's Head knot is fun and incredibly varied. I'm still trying to figure out the underlying over and under pattern but - aside that there are two three resources I found um... (forgetting word again) can't do without them... INDISPENSIBLE!!!

First He is the god of doing metal work and turk's knots. He gives a LOT of information on what makes up the knot, the terminology and is very free with showing different knots in string - but very stingy with the metal tips. Read through all of his information so you can become knowledgeable about the knot structure and what's going on.

Now how a turk's head would transfer to wire. On, donbscout has done a fantastic series of 9 videos to teach you how to do a 7 bight, 6 lead turk's head knot using his "recipe" book he is advertising here. It's great because it transfers directly to wire and tells you where you're supposed to go under and over and what pins to go to.

Write down donbscout's instructions.

However, while donbscout uses a square template jig, you need a round jig for a ring - do a trip to your local hardware store (gotta love them!) for 19 mm diameter wooden dowling and 16 mm wooden dowling and a 1.2 or 1.3 drill bit.

Here is how you make your wooden dowel mandrel: (please note this is a 5 bight, 9 lead ring. Just adjust the number of lines on your paper to equal 7 instead if using donbscout's instructions.)

The idea is the holes you drill into the doweling needs to be the same size as the wire you have to stick in. I drilled with a 1.2 bit and poked 1.25 (14 guage?) copper wire as pegs, snug but can take them out again.

Now refer to for someone's tutorial on actually doing a turk's head ring in wire. This person has used the same number of pegs from donbscout's tutorial on youtube. So you see the necessity to view all these resources.

You really will find a combination of referring to all three above resources helps set out understanding of how to do multiple passes through a knot rather than doing 3 separate wires at once.

If you try, email me a photo I'd love to see!