Looking for the ultimate safety for your money? How about sealing it in a layer of clear resin?!
You suggested I give this a try and so here we are! It came out excellent. In the video I say, "4 tries" but I'm pretty sure this was only number 3. I must be getting better at this...
Step 1: My Concept & the 1st Layer
I've had a couple false starts with this project. The first attempt I tried to paint on a thin layer of resin and tried this as a bent lamination, but it just wasn't thick enough to hold it's shape. The second time I made a thicker but straight casting and tried to bend it after the fact with heat and clamps. It ended up cracking in half.
So attempt number 3 I decided to try and make a casting with the shape of the clip in the block, and then I could just cut all the unneeded material off after it cured.
So, that means I will need a 3 part pour. The mold I'm using is a 4oz mold, and the first pour will just be 1oz. This will just be a base pour.
I mixed up some Polyester resin, poured it into the mold and waited about 20 minutes. You can tell you're ready to move on when you get to that jelly stage. The resin isn't hard but it's firm.
Step 2: 2nd Pour
You can now set your casting in and it will adhere to the resin without sinking in. I simply folded a dollar in half, then folded over the ends to make it a reasonable size clip. You want to push it down a bit to eliminate any bubbles you might get.
Mix up 1.5 oz of resin and pour it over the top. Now, polyester resin will catch on fire if you try the light trick on it. So I just try my best to pour slowly which helps minimize their creation.
I used a dowel to give the dollar bill it's bend. Now that I've completed the project, I'm not sure this step was really needed. I think I could have skipped it.
Step 3: 3rd Pour & the Waiting
After another twenty minutes I was once again at the jelly stage, but due to my process of getting the camera setup I let it go a little long.
I almost missed the window as you can see in the pictures. It was very hard to get the bill down into the resin, and I was worried that I might have ruined my effort with the extra minutes.
I mixed another 1.5 oz and crossed my fingers. Nothing to do now but wait till the resin cured.
Step 4: Shaping & Drilling
The next day I was delighted to see a very successful casting! I couldn't even make out the layers on the side!
I took the block to the band saw to make a couple cuts on either side of the bill. Here is the reason for that. When I cast the dollar it was not perfectly centered or straight in the mold. If I tried to drill a hole for the larger end of the clip, it wouldn't be centered and might come through one of the sides. If you can manage a perfectly straight casting, this step can be skipped.
I then drilled a 1/4" hole through the back of the clip. This will act as the hinge for the money clip. All you really need to do now is cut a wedge from the front to this hinge and you have a functional clip.
Back to the band saw for the wedge cuts and some bulk removal of resin from the sides. I'm using a clamp to hold this. It's too small to make cuts without one! A money clip is hard to use without any fingers...
Step 5: Sanding & Finished Product
I took the roughed out clip to my belt sander and lightly sanded it to the final shape. The belt sander removed material in a hurry. Be patient and slow. You'll be happier with the results in the end.
Lastly I turned to my micro-mesh pads. They're a set of wet dry sanding/polishing pads made especially for plastics. They claim to go from 1500 grit to 12000 grit, but I've been told that might not be accurate grits. Regardless, they polish acrylics to a mirror shine. I took me about 20-30 minutes to sand through the grits.
The end product is pretty neat looking! I'm quite happy with it. I have no trouble with holding a stack of bills and a few credit cards. The one thing that I will say is that it doesn't spring back as well as a wood one I made a while back. That is just the nature of resin though, and a small price to pay for such a cool looking accessory.