Introduction: Give a Hot Tip: Peel a $2 Bill From a Pad!

Picture of Give a Hot Tip: Peel a $2 Bill From a Pad!

Unless you are a stiff and never tip any service people, you probably are accustomed to shelling out a few bucks for wait staff, a valet, concierge or some other service. You break out your wallet, or pull out a wad of bills you’ve stuffed in your pocket just for that purpose, discretely select an appropriate amount and pass it over to the recipient with a hearty thank you. A ho hum exercise in civil society that’s a bit more painful for those of us with less means that those with plenty. OK, so how can we make it a little more jovial? How about pad of $2 bills. Seemingly just off the press, ink freshly dry, all serial numbers sequential and in numerical order, neatly assembled and connected together at the top like a good legal pad, each note ready to be peeled off and disbursed in grateful manner to the deserving party.

“Why thank you my good man. Let me give you one of these, fresh off the press last night”.

You retrieve your innocuous pad of bills and proceed to peel off the remuneration, handing it over to the wide eyed recipient who is now puzzling whether it’s real. The almost certain question arises and you get the pleasure of either A) passing along the reality that $2 bills are legal tender, still in circulation, and encouraged to be used by the US Treasury, or B) explaining how your nefarious uncle printed these up last night in his basement. (Selection B is discouraged as you may have some explaining to do to the Secret Service later.) In any case, the novelty of the pad thing adds to the levity of the moment. Feel weird about using $2 bills, you can do the same thing with ones, fives, tens, and so on. If you decide to do it with hundred dollar bills, I personally accept tips. :-)

Step 1: Materials and Tools:

Picture of Materials and Tools:
  • Fresh, uncirculated $2 bills (or whatever denomination you desire)
  • Non-corrugated cardboard pad backing
  • Padding compound
  • A padding press, or two straight wood blocks with sharp corners on the long sides.
  • Scissors
  • Razor knife
  • Clamps
  • Small paint brush

Step 2: Acquire Your Bills

Picture of Acquire Your Bills

The bills must be fresh and uncirculated. Why? So they’ll pad well and so their serial numbers will be sequential (for effect, of course). So where do you get fresh, uncirculated $2 bills? Your bank! While there may be exceptions that I haven’t experienced, you simply go in and requests a to withdraw $100 from your account but specify you want a bundle of new $2 bills. I’ve done this three times and on one occasion, the bank had them in stock, on two other occasions the bank said they needed to order them and they’d call me when they arrived. In both of those cases, the new bills arrived within a couple of days.

So now you have your fresh $2 bills, hot off the press (the US Treasury’s press, of course).

Step 3: Cut the Pad Back

Picture of Cut the Pad Back

Make sure your bills are neatly stacked and trace their outline on the cardboard that will be used as the pad’s back. The cardboard should be of the non-corrugated variety, essentially what you see on any paper writing pad. Now carefully cut the cardboard so that it is the exact size of the bundle of bills.

Step 4: Assemble the Pad Bundle

Picture of Assemble the Pad Bundle

Place the cardboard pad back behind the last bill in the bundle, and place the whole thing in between the wood blocks. Now carefully tap the whole assembly several times on your work table with the bill tops facing down to bring all the bill top edges, the cardboard backing and the wood blocks in line along a common plane. Carefully clamp the blocks together so that the whole thing feels pretty solid. The side of the blocks that was tapped down on the table should feel pretty much as a single surface if you run a finger across the wood, bill and cardboard edges.

Step 5: Compounding the Pad

Picture of Compounding the Pad

Padding compound is the magic ingredient that brings the whole project together (yeah, awkward pun). The padding compound I used was a many years old jar that I retrieved from the nether regions of our workshop, but it’s available all over the web and in most retail office supply stores.

Place the clamped stack of bills on its side with some newspaper under the whole thing to protect your table. Using a small paint brush, simply paint a medium thin layer of compound across the clamped edges of the bills and cardboard bundle.

Tip: Brush from the center toward the left and right edges to avoid getting the compound on the sides of the bills. Don’t make the compound too thick as you want the bills to tear off neatly from the pad with little or no residue.

Now set the assembly aside now and let it dry for a couple of hours.

Hot Tip: Want to speed up the drying? Carefully use a hair dryer, gingerly moving it back and forth across the moist compound so as not to overheat it. Should dry in about 5 minutes or so. Be sure it's dry before moving to the next step.

Step 6: Remove and Have Some Fun!

Picture of Remove and Have Some Fun!

Once the compound is dry, disassemble by removing the clamps and using a sharp razor knife to cut the now-padded bills from the wood blocks. Done. Now assemble a set of stories about where in the world you got that pad of bills and the recipients will remember you forever. Have fun!


StandsWithABeer (author)2015-07-12

LOL! This is the best yet.

lgooms (author)2015-07-12

I love this! I agree about the school glue. I use it to fix my magnetic refrigerator note pads. I clamp them with clothes pins and run a bead of glue over the ends. Taadaa!

TheCheesemakersWife (author)2015-07-12

When i worked at Kinkos the stuff we used to make pads of paper was just Elmer's glue. It seemed slightly watered down, though.

AndyPipkin (author)2015-07-12

Steam iron old notes to make them flat, their crispness doesn't suit their appearance, which makes them strange.

69Chevy (author)2015-07-05

Cut the cardboard back a little shorter on the long end, center it to bills and put it in a checkbook cover. Plasti Dip also works for padding compound.

Instructomaker (author)69Chevy2015-07-06

How cool is that! I didn't even need to trim the cardboard back off mine. It just fit right in my checkbook cover. :-) Thanks for expanding the concept Chevy!

MikB (author)Instructomaker2015-07-11

OK, so now you can have a half-and-half pad: Cheques up the front, cash up the back (or v.v.) -- when someone needs paying/offer a tip:"Would you like a cheque or cash?" ... and then whichever they say, pull out the chequebook, show the "wrong" end first and flip through to the right end :)

Magicians (and geeks) have been using rolls-of-notes to freak people out for a while. Rubber cement to join them into a long roll, tear off like toilet paper.

I've also seen people use a money-printing press to "print" a blank sheet of paper into currency, which although perfectly real currency, gets a funny look and a call for a manager!

Instructomaker (author)MikB2015-07-11

Oh will the fun never end! That "Money Maker" thing is hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

blackjack929 (author)2015-07-07

I like it. Not too much effort, pretty cool and has a snap to it. I might use it as a template for a smaller form business card/resume to hand out. Thumbs up.

Great idea for business cards!

GingHeskett (author)2015-07-08

A man after my own heart! I am the queen of $2 bills. Great idea, thanks for sharing.

Thanks. A pad of bills for the Queen! :-)

NewY1 (author)2015-07-08

This is so ridiculous, it's brilliant. This is my next project.

grangerknives (author)2015-07-08

Great and fun idea!

dustinbikes (author)2015-07-07

Hilarious video. Thanks for sharing.

cv66seabear (author)2015-07-07

Fun! Nice job!

bhermance (author)2015-07-07


mateoj517 (author)2015-07-04

A co-worker has been doing this along time and he gets a kick out of it. It does raise eye brows. So please if you will do this for your self. Be ready to speak with local authorities before you leave the store or business. Being in banking myself, yes it's possible to have the secret service involved as well. They do handle all fraudulent currency in this country! You most likely won't get in trouble for doing this. They are real but if you have something else like a warrant or expired tags. You may not want to call attention to your self.
Side note.... those liquor stores that you see them taped up on a wall or cash register. That's actually against the law. By law they needed to be sent direct to the secret service and no they won't reimburse the dollar amount.

pete.hohensee (author)mateoj5172015-07-07

a long time

pnosko (author)mateoj5172015-07-07

I don't understand your "side note." Typically, when you see a small currency bill posted on a wall at a business, this is their way of showing the "first dollar" they made when they opened shop.

Yandle (author)pnosko2015-07-07

Some businesses will also post fake bills on the wall near the register to act as a deterrent. Kind of a way to say to any would be conterfiters "Yes we know what these look like, dont try it"

bgipson1 (author)2015-07-03

Do you how people don't know what a 2 bill is I almost got arrested trying to by a coffee with funny money

pete.hohensee (author)bgipson12015-07-07

Do you how people?

jalexander23 (author)bgipson12015-07-07

Too true. The only people I have seen who didn't believe $2 bills were real were people under 30.

pete.hohensee (author)2015-07-07

...with less means that those... Hunh?

jalexander23 (author)2015-07-07

Too, I have carefully glued the bills together on one of the short edges to give a "roll of money" type look. If you get really good service, just unroll 3 or 4 of the bills and tear off the strip, letting them dangle. Real attention getter. Have NEVER had a problems from "authorities", but HAVE had tips rejected. LOL.

desertdog (author)2015-07-07

Nice. Must try.

jalexander23 (author)2015-07-07

I have used these every time I go to Las Vegas for years. I always get interesting comments!

Old cooper (author)2015-07-07

Clever idea. I have been getting straps of $2 bills for tips for a couple of years now. I used one in Panama, where the dollar is the legal currency, and the waiter was very excited. Said that he had a $3 at home too. We had to assure him that the $2 bill was real and legal. I saw the wait staff discussing it as we left.

I may just try this for added fun. Thanks.

bfry (author)2015-07-07

As a long-time 2 dollar bill tipper, I really enjoyed your instructable!

I do have a suggestion to make the description a tiny bit more clear. In the materials section you list

  • A padding press, or two straight wood blocks with sharp corners along the long edge.

I would suggest revising that to say

  • A padding press, or two flat wood blocks with sharp edges on the long sides.

The latter way is more correct, although the former shouldn't prevent anyone who is really interested from completing the well illustrated steps.

Thanks again, nice work!

Dwargh (author)2015-07-07

Grrrreat idea! :D

Jake_Makes (author)2015-07-04

Do they still make two dollar bills? How do get them?

maxgork131 (author)Jake_Makes2015-07-04

Did you even read the instructable?

Jake_Makes (author)maxgork1312015-07-07

Yeah, should have read more carefully. Just surprised that they are still in circulation, I've never even seen one.

Jake_Makes (author)Jake_Makes2015-07-07

btw, great instructable. I'd love to try it sometime.

RenMandFx (author)2015-07-07

oh, pishaw.

I've been making custom pass pads for use at school for years with nothing more than

binder clips to clamp
plain old white glue (dries over night)

bcrocker1 (author)2015-07-06

Brilliant! Great way to keep cash together in a messy car for tolls and such

ethan_hair7 (author)2015-07-05

Lol. This is awesome.

itmmckernan made it! (author)2015-07-05

Instead of using padding compound I used rubber cement. Also instead of using bills, I used index cards.

youngpatriot (author)2015-07-05

Here's a tip from a former printer who made pads for years...instead of a sharp razor, which easily cuts into the chipboard, use a dull, smooth butter knife with a quick motion. It will split the padding compound clean as a whistle.

Great tip! Thanks so much. Though I haven't run into any trouble yet using a razor knife, I look forward to trying the butter knife method next time. Thanks again.

bravoechonovember1 (author)2015-07-04

nice first instructable! it is extremely easy to read!

but it seems to be a lot like this.......

Nice from 5 yrs ago. As they say, great minds think alike! :-) Thanks Ben.

exerp made it! (author)2015-07-04

Gave to my children as spending money on our family vacation.. They loved it...

mweiss7 (author)2015-07-04

Secret Service, not FBI, investigates counterfeits. Neat idea though, makes a great prank.

AntonConte (author)mweiss72015-07-04

is this legal?

how would it not be legal?

MM18 (author)mweiss72015-07-04

This isn't illegal. The bills are in no way defaced.

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