Introduction: Handmade Conchos and Snaps

Picture of Handmade Conchos and Snaps

I have seen these in a number of catalogs and on the internet, but they looked easy to make....and yes, they are easy to make.

Step 1: Dome Out the Coin

Picture of Dome Out the Coin

This is a doming block (from harbor freight tools) that is one of those tools that you use very rarely, but when you need it, it is essential.

I typically use a quarter when I am building these conchos or buttons, mainly because I like the designs on the state quarters. My favorite are Texas and Wyoming.

It is a simple as putting the coin in the doming block, taking out one of the punches (largest possible) laying it on the coin, and whacking it with a hammer a few times. This quickly turns the quarter into a nice dome shape.

Step 2: Solder on the Backing

Picture of Solder on the Backing

I have a couple different devices that I connect on the back:

Brass Rivets

Each has a different use and ability to be removed.
Snaps: temporary as expected
T-nuts: semi permanent (screws will stay in)

It is a matter of laying the device in the cup side of the coin and soldering it in. I have also used silver solder, definitely stronger, but you do need higher heat. With the solder, a small butane torch did the trick.

Step 3: SNAP Backing

Picture of SNAP Backing

Here is the coin and the snap hardware soldered on and the actual snap pressed on.

Step 4: Buff and Polish

Picture of Buff and Polish

With any of these methods, the coin gets discolored by the heat, but a quick buff with a polishing wheel and it looks great.

I have used these on leather guitar straps, belts, or other leather crafts.

Good luck....


tribalfiendevents (author)2017-06-26

Amazing! Thank you so much for this! This is exactly what i've been looking for.

Do you know how to attach them to leather cuffs or belts? Just punch a hole and hammer it on, or would you be careful to make sure it doesn't snap off the solder? Thank you :)

catlynn (author)2016-11-26

Awesome post:):) Been wanting to learn how to do this, THANK YOU for taking the time to share this post:):):)

hilojohn (author)2013-12-28

Ok guys, this is from the US Treasury website.

Defacement of Currency

Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret Service. The United States Secret Service web address is

Nick_Tesla (author)hilojohn2014-01-03

Ahh, but paper notes (dollars) and coins are very different things.

hilojohn (author)Nick_Tesla2014-01-03

but other evidence of debt says nothing about paper as far as I can tell.

gecko_girl3 (author)hilojohn2014-01-02

Notice it says bill or note, nothing about coins per say.

If the Feds come a knocking it's probably because they want the buttons for themselves. If they took this warning seriously every magician in America would be behind bars.

Craft away! :)

hilojohn (author)gecko_girl32014-01-02

I think that the list says "any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System" So wouldn't the part that says "or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System" cover coins since they are evidence of debt and are issued by the Fed?

thinkdunson (author)hilojohn2014-01-02

How do you explain those machines that flatten out a penny and stamp a logo on it. There's one at The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

sconner1 (author)hilojohn2013-12-29

They have bigger fish to fry.
Defend your art/craft under the first amendment, it is covered by freedom of expression.

hilojohn (author)sconner12013-12-29

Oh I never said it bothered me, I just wanted everyone to know that no mater what anyone says, it is illegal to change any legal tender in the united states so that it can not be accepted as usable currency. You can mount a U.S. coin in a frame where it can be removed etc. but you can not change it. That is why the coin looking buttons etc. are so expensive because they are actually copies of coins not the real thing. There is nothing to keep you from using a coin from another country..... Just not one from the U.S.A. if you are here.

lbrewer42 (author)2014-01-02

There is nothing illegal in altering coins as long as the intent is not to deceive (such as somehow making a coin look like a higher amount than it is worth - look up the 1883 Racketeer Nickel). So actions such as altering a common date to look like a rare one (hence worth more to collectors) is illegal. But altering coins for jewelry etc. is NOT illegal since the coins in your possession are your own property. This is why magician trick cons can be made by the truckload and sold.

The term "currency" is used a term used for speaking of the Federal Reserve (worthless - backed by nothing at all) Notes we use ... aka "paper" (actually cloth) money. The quote from the website refers to currency - paper money.

gecko_girl3 (author)2014-01-02

I've had better luck with epoxy and would recommend it to anyone leery of or inexperienced with soldering.

kwhitacre (author)2013-12-28

My grandmother made pennies into buttons during the great depression for a coat for my mother. My mother gave me the three buttons she had left. I used them to replace some toggle buttons. I was visiting a large business with my daughter intow. I was told she would be watched while we talked. When I picked her up all the buttons had been cut off her coat! No one knew anything. (of course) As to cufflinks… make double buttons. You don't need the bar that swivels. We have always called the shirts French cuffs. And using two buttons sewn together makes for a nice cufflink and wouldn't that be sweet with eagles on them?

sconner1 (author)kwhitacre2013-12-29

Always name the businesses you find to employ low-lifes.
Now you know not to trust your child to strangers.

kwhitacre (author)sconner12013-12-29

Actually, they weren't strangers totally. I knew the person who took her hand and when reunited she was with the same person. I noticed the buttons gone when we got home and I took off her coat. I called the company and asked who had been so close as to remove the buttons but the person could not answer. It was 30 years ago and I'm fuzzy about all the details, but I told the story because some unique buttons are a temptation to others.

netkravler (author)2013-12-26

I dont know if it is legal in the US. Here we cannot do that, since we do not own the coins or bills for that matter.

We only own its value, not the coin it self.

sconner1 (author)netkravler2013-12-29

Theoretically that is true in the U.S. too. But not in practice.
Once upon a time, cash was representative of gold or silver in the Federal reserve.
And only so many bills were printed representing a certain portion of the precious metal.
Coins were themselves made of precious metals that had intrinsic value.
Inflation happened when more bills were printed representing the same amount of bullion, meaning each bill represented a smaller portion as the division would be amongst a higher number of bills. Hence the billion in a coin would be worth more than the value on the face. So instead of taking steps to avoid inflation, they use cheaper metals for making coins and so on...

Nowadays paper money is "Fiat" money. In other words, papers that are worth something only because you believe a government that says it is worth something. Fort Knox and every other Federal Reserve vault could be empty (and probably are) because the money isn't representative of bullion anymore. Probably that gold was spent long, long ago to subsidize cheap goods from overseas made by slave labor so that Americans can have inexpensive [insert-disposable-non-essential-luxury-item-here]s, mortgaged against the earned income of [many] future generations.

astral_mage (author)2013-12-24

yes destroying federal currency w/o a permit can land u in jail. just to u know. best to do it with older quarters , like those from the sixties or seventies.

sconner1 (author)astral_mage2013-12-29

These laws are intended to stop people from destroying coinage to sell as scrap during times of high inflation when the raw materials in a coin are worth more than the face value.
It's their own fault though, because the Fed keeps on with "quantatative easing" which is doublespeak for having the Treasury print lots of money to give to wall street in order to artificially pump up the stock market so the current Administration can claim the economy is "Booming". But the problem is that it causes inflation which makes our hard-earned salary worth less and less, which means we can't buy the same amount of goods and services with it as we could yesterday, which is bad for the economy as a whole, because we're not buying as much and the stock market suffers and they print some more cash to pump it up more, but that means more inflation and less purchasing power and ...
You get the picture.

supesazpd (author)astral_mage2013-12-26

Redeno is right, as long as you aren't using the currency as currency it is ok, converting currency into art/jewelry/etc is legal. Modifying it and passing it off as other currency is illegal.
This is an awesome idea and will be heading to Harbor Freight for a block ;)

redeno (author)astral_mage2013-12-26

No, it won't land you in jail. People keep repeating this after some random person misread a law; now it's enshrined in the public mind and can't be corrected. It's illegal to alter US or foreign coins or currency *with the intent to defraud*. So as long as you're not trying to add zeros to bills or such you're fine.

Stone_UFO (author)astral_mage2013-12-24

so can a lot of other trivial things, doesn't mean we should stop breakin' the law :P

uncle frogy (author)2013-12-26

I have found that I can place a piece of drywall on a flat surface when I am soldering with a torch and place the work on it. The drywall does not burn just the paper gets scorched and my bench does not get damaged. I have used drywall to protect a truck body when using a cutting torch also.
great work!
uncle frogy

sconner1 (author)uncle frogy2013-12-29

Nice tip.

valkgurl (author)2013-12-26

I had a gorgeous necklace made of old domed pennies soldered together at the edges and drilled in the center to make beads---these were strung with some old African Trade Beads. From the late 1960's. No reason I know that someone could not do this with these coins or older (copper) pennies and even other coins out there.

Pretty sure you could also use a CHICAGO SCREW for the fastener here---(this is a threaded tube with flanged ends --- one side has threads the other accepts the threaded piece and has a screw driver slot---great for harness decoration and can be changed out if wanted.

This is a cool idea!!!!!!!

seadraggin (author)valkgurl2013-12-27

I tried to accomplish what you talked about, with dimes. I put the two concave sides together and welded, soldered, silver soldered etc. No luck yet, but I will keep trying. Cool idea.

sconner1 (author)seadraggin2013-12-29

when soldering or brazing, flux is your friend.
Dimes may prove more difficult because in "silver" coinage later than 1965 the outer is nickel. You may have to sand or file the edges to expose more of the inner copper to get solder to stick. If all else fails, there's always epoxy.

ddj0195 (author)2013-12-26

This will work with current quarters, dimes and nickels. They are 75% copper which is malleable. However, pennies are currently zinc with a copper clad. Zinc is very brittle and attempts to dome a penny will result in the coin splitting. If you want to dome pennies, choose dates before 1982.

inthedesert (author)ddj01952013-12-28

You can use newer pennies, you just have to go slower. Start with the largest dome and then keep working to smaller radii. Starting with too small a radius has caused me to crack several pennies even though they were the full copper (i.e. pre 1983).

shizumadrive (author)2013-12-26

I want to make cufflinks but finding the backings is a pain

seadraggin (author)shizumadrive2013-12-27

This should be VERY easy! I am going to place an order. Good luck!!!

shizumadrive (author)seadraggin2013-12-28

Hmmm those are the right things just what I was looking for. Have you shopped with ali express im always weary of shippers ive never heard of.

j626no (author)2013-12-26

@astral_mage....that's completely false. in the united states, you own your currency and can deface it or destroy it in any way as you see fit so long as you do not try to pass it off as legal currency. go to the treasury departments site and read around before making outlandish statements.

killbox (author)j626no2013-12-26

You are also nor allowed to profit off it for its contained materials. (this is hunting for silver quarters and melting them down, or actual full copper pennies.), but yes rendering money not fit for circulation, only renders it something other than money. and has been cleared by the treasury and federal reserve, as long as its not in an attempt to defraud someone.

j626no (author)killbox2013-12-27

Correct...I didn't mention the harvesting of materials because it didn't apply to this instructable, but yes.

agis68 (author)2013-12-26 my country is againts the law to destroy any kind of money

BeoWulfe (author)2013-12-26

I've been using nickels as screw post buttons for a long time much like this. Great 'ible! You save a whole lot of money just using real money rather than buying buttons for up to $5 a piece!

marcellahella (author)2013-12-24

Wow! I would like to make them with the nickel one with the indian face or the buffalo!
Thanks! Cool instructable!

sebastian22 (author)2013-12-24

That turned out awesome! Really dig the one with the eagle side out. Ps nothing illegal about doing this.

seadraggin (author)2013-12-24

Looks like you're good to go.
Can I make jewelry from U.S. coins?
Yes, but your business should be careful not to imply any endorsement by or association with the United States Mint in its advertising and marketing materials.

DiamondBack (author)2013-12-23

What a neat idea!

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