Skull and Dead Eye Tavern Ring Tutorial

Starting a new tellurium copper Tavern Ring, this time a single large skull, with a few surprises yet to come. Stay tuned…

Tellurium copper machines and carves more like brass than copper. Pure copper is really gummy, but tellurium copper is great! PS – don’t confuse tellurium copper with beryllium copper. The beryllium copper is a health hazard…

Beginning the cut with my Nomad 883 by Carbide 3D. This is a 1/8 inch diameter end mill. I lean toward the 2 flute coated carbides. I’ve been using 9200 rpm and very conservative feeds for 1/8 and 1/16 inch diameter end mills. 250 mm/min feed and 25 mm/min plunge, 0.1 mm step downs.

After a few passes with a 1/16 inch diameter ball end mill.


, the machining of the skull is completed. Tomorrow, I’ll machine the teeth at the top. All together, this will be about six hours of milling for the skull and teeth in total.

Here I’m using a jeweler’s saw and 2/0 blade to cut the remaining material of the teeth profiles.

Above is a closeup of cutting the teeth profiles, removing the material left from the milling.

Now I need to remove the center material from the finger hole. I leave a thin web of material on the bottom so that center circle of copper won’t bind the cutter when the last little bit is removed and shear off the brittle (and expensive…) carbide end mill.


, I’ve added a texture using a round nosed punch in my Lindsay Airgraver, and added a little patina to get rid of that raw copper color. Rather than my usual round of using flat faced punches to remove the CNC milling marks, I’ve left the tiny marks in place. I’ve decided I like that effect here…

Hand engraving a cracked mud surface on the tellurium copper Tavern Ring.

Here I’ve darkened the freshly engraved cuts and finished and signed the back side. Tomorrow, I’ll start a little bit of extra fun…

The tellurium copper Tavern Ring needs a creepy double inlaid “dead” eye…I’ll create it from a tapered peg of naturally shed moose antler and a really tiny taper of ebony. These double inlaid eyes are a holdover from my netsuke carving days. For a look at some of my netsuke carvings, please go here: Above, I’ve turned a tiny tapered peg from a piece of naturally shed moose antler. The taper creates a very tight friction fit, and I’ve sealed the deal with some epoxy glue.

Here I’ve carved off some of the excess antler with my NSK Electer micromotor grinder and tiny carbide ball burs. Don’t bother with anything but carbide burs, because metals and abrasive materials like antler ruin steel burs very quickly.

Above I’ve carved the white of the eyeball to the correct size, and carved (not drilled) a hole for the ebony pupil.

Here I’m using a tiny Sherline™ metal cutting lathe to machine a very tiny tapered ebony peg. Tapered again so I’ll get such a tight fit you won’t be able to detect a seam where the black ebony contacts the white antler. Turning such a tiny tapered peg takes a good bit of finesse…

I’ve glued the ebony peg in place with superglue. These tiny double inlaid eyes are about the only place I find superglue useful for anything other than a temporary hold.

Here’s the finished, really creepy double inlaid eye.

And a few more views, just in case you haven’t gotten bored with it so far…

The tellurium copper Tavern Ring turned out so well it needs a desktop stand. Above I’m creating the stand out of black walnut and naturally shed elk antler.

Here’s the Tavern Ring temporarily installed in the walnut display box. I need to add a turned round of moose antler over the round central area, so I’ll be able to use a tapered antler peg to retain the Tavern Ring.

Above are all the pieces of the stand.

How do you hold a Tavern Ring (which is actually a small single finger brass knuckle). Like so…

And the finished tellurium copper Tavern Ring in its’ stand.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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2 Responses to Skull and Dead Eye Tavern Ring Tutorial

  1. Steve says:

    Wow, It has been a while sense i looked at your work… that ring is fantastic. the detail is amazing and your finishing touches just make it over the top.
    Nice Job.

    • metal_musings says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! This one was a whole lot of fun, and a great learning experience for me.


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