Introduction: Custom Cut Coin Necklaces

Picture of Custom Cut Coin Necklaces


I got the inspiration to use coins three years ago when I was in high school. It was my girlfriend's birthday the next day, and being the procrastinator that I was (and always will be :P), I hadn't considered her birthday gift yet! In panic mode, a quarter was the easiest necklace material to come by. Not the most glamorous of metals, but hey, It worked <3. Lets hope she doesn't see this Instructables..... :')

In this Instructable I show you how you can make your own cut-coin pendants and interlocking necklaces with a few specific tools and others you might already have as a DIYer. This is a great way to impress anyone, its a truly versatile type of gift! We've all had the struggle of not knowing what to get someone besides a gift card. This is something not many people have seen before., so an investment in cutting tools will allow you to make gifts for people for the years to come. Slap on a key chain, or a necklace, OR a bracelet and give it to a special him or her. This gift will showcase not only your creativity and aptitude, but your attention to detail and exquisite dexterity.


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
The following links show examples of what you could (but are not limited to) use:

Step 2: Create a Cut Pattern From an Image

Picture of Create a Cut Pattern From an Image

Possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing a pattern to cut. In this instructable I'll show you how to make a cutting pattern from almost any image on google. Preferably one with a white background. If you want to skip straight to the cutting without worrying about making a custom pattern, check out the final step where you will find some premade patterns.

If you found a silhouette online that suits your needs:

  • Import the silhouette to Photoshop
  • Skip to the step where the elliptical marquee tool is used to crop the silhouette
  • Proceed through the steps to resize the image and print it out (I recommend printing out multiple copies of the pattern in case you make a mistake and need to start again)

Now, import the photo into Adobe Photoshop, or any other image editing software of choice (Gimp, Inkscape, MS Paint, even PowerPoint works for this project). The idea is to silhouette the image so that we have a solid border to cut along when we print out the pattern.

To silhouette the image adjust the threshold of the image until it is a solid silhouette:

top menu > image > adjustments > threshold

Pick a notable part of your silhouette to pattern. In this case I want to make a necklace of the dog's head, so I will use any of the three Lasso tools to cutout the head.

toolbar > lasso > polygon lasso tool

Next, we need to isolate our selected region. To do this:

right click on region whilst still using the lasso tool > new layer via cut

You will notice that a new layer has been created in the "layers" window. If you don't see the layers window:

top menu > window > layers

To delete everything but the selected region, we need to delete the background layer. To do this, unlock the background by clicking on the lock icon in the layers window. Then hit delete.

Right now, the isolated region is just "floating in space." In order to tell Photoshop we want to keep this region:

right click on the layer in the layers window > Flatten layer

This pattern is enough to get started with. To take this project to the next level, you can consider cutting out different cavities within the solid as well as refining the contours of the pattern using the brush tools:

toolbar > brushes > Brush tool

To change the color of the brush to white (if it isn't already white)

hold Alt Key + click in a white area to "copy" the color into the clipboard

When drawing internal cavities, consider having a smooth contour without sharp kinks and corners (sharp corners are difficult to cut around without the risk of twist snapping the blade which may get caught in the corner).

Pro-tip, ensure that the corner radius is at minimum, equal to the "diameter" of the saw blade). I won't bore you with the details of refining contours and drawing cavities, but this is the final pattern I came up with (for download at the end of this instructable):

Now we need to resize this image so that it prints to the correct size (the size of a quarter, or another coin). The diameter of a quarter is 0.955 inches, so this is what we will use. First, using the elliptical marquee tool, draw a circle around your pattern -- centering the pattern with the top and bottom edge just contacting the edges of the circle

Toolbar > marquee > elliptical marquee tool

to crop the current artboard to the size of the pattern:

top menu > image > crop

this will crop out everything, leaving the enclosed region of the circle:

We now size the image to fit within the edges of a quarter with diameter 0.955 inches:

top menu > image > image size

Input 0.955 inches into both the height or width boxes -- ensuring the chain link is broken to break the aspect ratio lock.

If you're using Photoshop, you can print directly:

top menu > file> print

Double check to see that the pattern size small relative to the letter sized paper. Doing this ball park check, will prevent you from accidentally wasting ink on a full sized pattern.

Step 3: Prepare the Coin for Cutting

Picture of Prepare the Coin for Cutting

It's time to overlay our pattern on the coin. First, cutout the pattern. It doesn't need to be a clean cut, as excess paper surrounding the pattern will give the pattern more surface area to stick to the coin. Apply a liberal amount of stick glue and quickly dry it with a heat gun or a blow dryer. As the glue dries and contracts, it pulls the paper tightly against the coin, which helps the paper from peeling off due to the oscillatory motion of the saw that is to follow.

Next, cut a "V" notch about an inch long and half an inch wide on the edge of a wooden board. The board can be anywhere from 1/4"-1" ideally. The purpose of this notch is to give the sawblade room to move while still giving the craftsman a supporting platform to hold down the coin.

Now, clamp down the coin over the V-notch with a pair of vise grips. We'll need to drill small holes in the coin where the cavities will eventually be cut out. These holes are necessary for the saw blade to be threaded through. Below is a diagram with hypothetical drill points depicted by red dots

Drilling Tips:

  1. DO Use very light pressure when drilling metal coins.
  2. DON'T Push too hard. This can over torque the bit and snap it in half. DO handle this drill bit as you would a piece of 0.5 pencil lead.
  3. Use a center punch to make a pilot hole. This will prevent the drill bit from wandering around the surface of the coin.
  4. After you drill through, DO remain calm. Pulling the drill bit back out is often when it breaks. Slowly pull the drill bit back out, perpendicularly to the face of the coin. Do this while the dremel is still on to reduce the friction between the hole and the bit.

Below, you can see some holes drilled where the cavities would later be cut out. It doesn't hurt to drill extra holes. DO remember to prolong the life of your drill bit with cutting oil. Broken drill bits = frustration (Trust me!)

Next, feed the hair-thin saw blade through the hole. Reattaching the ends of the saw blade to the saw. I forgot to document this step before cutting part of the coin, but the following should get the point across.

To learn how to use a jewelers saw, refer to this instructable. It goes into detail about how to use the "V" notch base, as well as proper blade mounting. Essentially, we want the blade teeth to be facing down so that the cutting stroke is a pull downward with gravity. This makes for a smoother cut and less likely to snap the thin blade.

Now you may begin to cut along the inside edge of the cavities. A diagram below depicts one potential route to take, when cutting out all the cavities.

When starting a cut from a pilot hole, remember that you don't need to make one continuous perimeter cut. You can make a cut, return to the pilot, and begin a cut in a different direction. Below are diagrams to demonstrate this:

The latter cutting approach takes slightly more time but is easier to do and reduces the chance of breaking a blade while taking a corner. The latter approach keeps the blade traveling in a straight/semi-straight trajectory -- reducing torsional load on the blade. As you cut and travel along a curved trajectory, lift and turn the coin to reposition it on the V-notch.

Step 4: Cutting the Coin

Picture of Cutting the Coin

Now you can add a drop of vegetable oil or cutting oil to the blade using a cotton swab, and begin cutting. Do not add any oil to the coin itself. This may cause the pattern to come off the coin. Remember to:

  • Use constant up and down strokes when cutting
  • Apply even pressure as the blade glides through the coin to prolong the lifespan of the blade by wearing each tooth on the blade an equal amount per pass
  • Keep in mind that the saw doesn't cut in the reverse direction, so remember to
  • Ease off on the pressure for the up stroke
  • Reapply even pressure on the down stroke
  • Add more cutting oil when a more distinct grinding noise begins, or when you feel more resistance (some of the cutting oil is taken away by the falling dust).
  • Keep your strokes as collinear as possible to avoid bending the blade which can lead to snapping

Below, is a diagram for one potential cutting path you can take. You can technically start anywhere and connect the dots depending on where you drilled your holes.

  1. If you choose to take the perimeter cutting approach, here's the strategy for going around sharp corners:
  2. As you approach the root of the corner, maintain a consistent up and down motion in place
  3. As you continue to oscillate up and down in place, slowly rotate the saw blade about the corner (WHILE MAINTAINING up and down strokes).

As you turn the blade, the sides of each tooth will carve a very small circular profile in the corner, allowing you to take the corner without twisting the blade. Repeat this process for each cavity - working your way from the center out. DO NOT cut the outermost profile first, you won't have anything to hold onto. Finally, after cutting out each cavity, cut the outermost profile of the entire pattern until you're left with the above solid.

Just like filing your nails, you can use a pair of mini files to deburr the sharp edges left behind by the jewelers saw blade. To be more precise, use a conical, pointed diamond coated rotary bit:

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Once you're satisfied with your work, you can link it to a necklace chain with a ring. I typically use 6 mm rings because they're large enough to have some play when looped around the chain, but also small enough to not outshine the pendant itself.

VOILA! You just made a one of a kind necklace! (Aside from the one I made). Feel free to use any of the patterns I provided. If you have any questions, let me know where you're stuck in the comments below! I appreciate all of the feedback!

Step 6: Pattern Files


CraftAndu (author)2018-01-15

Really nice! Voted

theatre_tech_guru (author)2018-01-14

This is awesome (searching through the couch) haha I got one well it's not shiny but it will do!

Mr.Sanchez (author)2018-01-13

Congrats ! You made it...into the finals.

Vortetty (author)2018-01-10

how about a lazer cutter, easier in half the time

mraaronhung (author)Vortetty2018-01-11

HAHA, true. Handmaking it was more impressive and meaningful though!

Vortetty (author)mraaronhung2018-01-11

I would do this that way but between school money and fun, it will be easiest to borrow the cutter

koehril (author)2018-01-11

How thick does the design have to be to where you don't worry about these breaking?

mraaronhung (author)koehril2018-01-11

At the junction between the ears and the ring, I'd recommend 1 mm. Quarter are copper core so they are a little more malleable, you're right

roseapom (author)2018-01-11


leowolf (author)2018-01-11

This is sooooo cute!!!

lindaschenk (author)2018-01-11

Amazing!!!!!!! I love it! Voted.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2018-01-09

These are amazing! I don't think I've seen such a detailed piece of jewelry made from a coin :D

LeslieGeee (author)2018-01-07

Lovely work, but, what drew me into reading the instructable was the picture you posted of what I thought was the finished product. I wanted to see how you attached the discarded pieces. I was disheartened to see that you did not incorporate the outside pieces into your final pendant which would have made it more interesting and would have become a conversation piece. You could have soldered wire pieces to the head and the discarded pieces to make it look like a blowout schematic which is what intrigued me in the first place. Might be a good idea for future reference.

mraaronhung (author)LeslieGeee2018-01-07

That's a great idea! I'll try it out for the next pendant I make. Any suggestions for patterns?

LeslieGeee (author)mraaronhung2018-01-09

You can make anything from animals, birds, insects skulls, Asian and European Zodiac signs, It is all in your imagination and the internet is a great source. I was also thinking crests and emblems, such as the Tudor Rose. You don"t need to use coins all the time you can expand and get jewelers sheet metal in silver, gold...even anodized titanium would be great. Good luck:)

Doug Paradis (author)LeslieGeee2018-01-07

It would be interesting to see if you could achieve the "exploded coin" look by gluing the pieces to an undersized very thin piece of acrylic or similar transparent material.

Another possibility would be to have a "raised from the background" look by placing something under the surrounding pieces and soldering them to the central piece on the backside.

Silvester10528 (author)2018-01-08

Great work!!!

this makes me want to try doing it!

Highly recommend! Also highly rewarding to do

Yonatan24 (author)2018-01-08

Gives me an idea. I think I could cut the outside use a cutoff disk in my Dremel, and then drill a hole in the coin and file it by hand.

I like how you made the thumbnail!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242018-01-08

Voted :)

jessyratfink (author)2018-01-08

What a great idea!! Love seeing your process. :)

buck2217 (author)2018-01-06

Very cool, don't know if I would n

have enough patience to do this, have voted for you even though I have entered the same competition!

David Bachrach (author)2018-01-06

looks good...Just be careful cutting or distorting American money without permission is illegal

I thought so at first too, but as long as there is no fraudulent intent*

(18 U.S.C. §331)*

GideonH (author)2018-01-06

Gotta say, that's freaking amazing!

YaronShemesh (author)2018-01-06

Very nice! we try that...

inconceivable1 (author)2018-01-05

wow that is amazing!

darrenah (author)2018-01-05

These are really neat. Nice work! Have you considered using pre-1965 quarters so you're working in solid silver? (Of course, those coins have a collector value that would be ruined if you cut them up.) Or you could purchase sheets of solid silver from a jewelry supplier or website.

3366carlos (author)2018-01-05

that's some awesome work dude.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2018-01-05

That looks really nice. You should enter this into the Metal contest that is currently running.

Just did!

About This Instructable




Bio: Currently a Mechanical Engineering student at UC Berkeley, AIMING TO WIN the Instructables Metals contest of 2018, to win my student engineering team a welding ... More »
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