Five-Cent Wedding Band





Introduction: Five-Cent Wedding Band

About: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.

Tired of gold and diamonds? Perhaps you're a bit cool on that whole "diamonds are forever" bit? Maybe you're reluctant to prop up the De Beers cartel? Gold is nice, but doesn't it leave a bad taste in your mouth to be such a conformist consumer?

Well this is the project for you, the progressive, self-sufficient DIY'er! Show your love and lasting commitment in the way you know best: by making your own wedding band from a Genuine US Nickel! (or other coinage of your choice)

This is a great beginner wedding band project, suitable for a first engagement or wedding. By the time you're ready for your next wedding band, perhaps i'll have written up how to make something a bit fancier :)

Note: In all candor, I do not personally find this to be an especially attractive ring although I do wear it daily. I think it would be a lot nicer if you can find a thicker coin to use.

Step 1: The Parts

You will need:

A nickel (or other suitable coin). You only want to use coins made from a relatively inert metal: Copper/Brass/Bronze, Silver and Gold are all fine. A US Nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel) will work for ring sizes 7-10 or so (see the comments about possible nickel allergies though). Most other US coins are not suitable because they have a Zinc core, which corrodes rapidly and is bad for you. The Sacagewea dollar is a bronze alloy, so that will work nicely for large fingers. Several of the EU coins are made of bronze alloys, and they come in quite a few sizes.

There are a couple of different fairly easy ways to make the band. You'll need: a vise, a dremel tool (small rotary tool), a drill and a small hand file. Nice to have but not required: a center punch, a reaming tool, a micrometer for measuring the hole size.

Step 2: Mark the Center of the Coin

Use a center punch to make a starting point for the drill. You can use a nail or other pointy thing. Just make sure you get the notch in the center! If you are off, start over on a new coin.

Step 3: Drill a Pilot Hole

Start by drilling a small hole through the center, this will keep any further drilling or reaming on-center. Use cardboard to sandwich the coin when gripping it in the vice to protect it from nicks from the vice.

Step 4: Enlarge the Hole

This is the trickiest part. You need to make the hole large enough to get the dremel tool into it. Once you can get the dremel tool in you make the hole large by grinding away with the dremel, but before you can do that you'll need to enlarge it enough some other way. There are a couple possibilities: you can drill it, use a reamer, or even an industrial hole-punch. Drilling it is a bit tricky because there is not much of the nickel to hold onto while you are drilling - but it is possible if you are slow and careful and don't go too close to the edge with the drill. It may take a few tries to get this done without mangling the coin.

Step 5: Enlarge the Hole More

Use the dremel (rotary) tool with a grinding bit to enlarge and shape the hole to the proper size. Check the fit periodically.

Step 6: Round the Inside Edge

Use the small hand file to round the inside edge of the ring so that it goes on and off smoothly and doesn't cut your finger. You could probably do this step with the dremel tool instead.

Step 7: Buff the Ring to a Mirror Finish

Use a buffing tip on the dremel tool to buff the ring to a mirror finish. You'll want to use buffing compound for best results.

Step 8: Done!

Marvel at your new look!

Note: In all candor, I do not personally find this to be an especially attractive ring although I do wear it daily. I think it would be a lot nicer if you can find a thicker coin to use, I'm currently looking for a thicker bronze coin to replace it with.



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402 Discussions


2 years ago

Comments are LOL.

Just a thought on that thicker coin thing, how about laminating several coins together before taking the file to it near the end?

  It is most defiantly illegal.  Title 18 United States Code, Section 331  Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or  Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened -  Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both  This statute can be found online on Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute website:
17 replies

Actually it's - Title 18, Chapter 17 US code. And it's only illegal if you do it to defraud or pass the coin for more than it's value.


Wrong wrong wrong. First of all, the word is "Definitely". Not "Defiantly". What are you defying?

Second, the law refers to counterfeiting, and has nothing to do with making jewelry from coinage.

It is illegal to deface a coin with the intent of continuing to use it as currency, If you are permanently removing it from circulation, as this coin obviously is, (its barely recognizable as a coin anymore, and is definitely a ring), then you are free to modify a coin to your purposes.

OH for goodness sakes, nobody cares about the illegality of messing up a stupid NICKLE.

What about all those machines at the zoo and other amusement facilities that you can place a penny inside of it, and it will flatten the penny and emboss a cool design into it?

I mean they have MACHINES publicly that you pay to have your money 'stamped up' - so seriously - I thought eveyone knew it was illegal, and when it comes to penny's and nickles NO ONE, probably not even the national 'mint' cares.

Actually you can flatten a penny. If I recall the information (Abe and such) must remain visible. If you look at the pressed coins the original images are still visible. (at least they are on all the coins I've ever done. It remains as kind of a ghost image.)

You are not allowed to melt down pennies (at least until they modify the amendment) and likewise you cannot (to the best of my recollection)remove legal currency from circulation through it's destruction. All destruction of legal tender must be done through official channels.

On a side note... No one cares, as was mentioned before, what happens to a few pennies and nickels. Oh well lol.

What about the machines that press pennies into fun designs? I have some that are from the us mint! :) went there and defaced money right in front of them

that sucks. Remind me not tp do this and then show it off to a lawyer that hates me. That would really suck. I can always use sheet metal though :D or like abvnatter said some washers.

if anyone is worried about getting in trouble just get a bag of washers and go from there. nice thing is there is a pilot hole drilled to guide you in your quest for a well centered hole.

As a Judge I can tell you your not going to be arrested for defacing US money. You would only get into trouble if you were to deface US money to make is appear worth more than the amount it is worth. like making a one dollar bill worth ten. or taking US money defacing it so it's not worth the amount is says it is and spending it as such. Title 18 United States Code, Section 331, was a law put in place when quarters and dimes were silver. people would run a knife along the outside of the coin and keep the silver shavings, then spend the quarter or dime. well at the time a quarter or a dime was a quarter of a dollar's worth of silver. if you shave some of the outside of the quarter off it's no longer a quarter of a dollar's worth of silver. that is what this law represents, also that is why there are ridges along the quarter and the dime. so if one was to shave some off, you could tell.

That is so cool.... I love learning history. Thank You. I remember somewhere about they stamped a lower % of gold on a coin to avoid taxes too.

wait, would it be illegal to make money appear less than its value? although im not sure why someone would do that i am only curious.