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Let's get the legality out of the way, first and foremost.

The process of creating elongated coins is legal in the United States, almost all parts of Japan[citation needed], South Africa and parts of Europe. In the United States, U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331 prohibits "the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage." The foregoing statute, however, does not prohibit the mutilation of coins, if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently, i.e., with the intention of creating counterfeit coinage or profiting from the base metal (the pre-1982 copper U.S. cent which, as of 2010, is worth more than one cent in the United States).[7] Because elongated coins are made mainly as souvenirs, mutilation for this purpose is legal.

Thank you, Wikipedia. Nothing fraudulent going on here. Now, back to the fun.


Whether you want to invest a lot of time and materials, or create a simple project with only a few items, this Instructable will provide the how-to, you provide the creativity and a few supplies.

A basic, lightweight, dainty chime can be assembled and hung the same day. Grab a few handfuls of pennies, some fishing line, a stick, and a drill bit. The rest is up to you. Add beads, sparkling things, copper adornments, these are just a few ideas. Although the pennies do not have to be pressed, they do make a lovely sound. They can otherwise simply be drilled, and suspended.

Come along, and let’s have fun while making a quick treasure for the garden, front porch, deck, or window. Hang one from a limb of a tree in your back yard, front yard, or both. Make them as gifts. Start now, and by the time the holidays arrive, you'll have plenty to give away.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools


The Horizontal Piece
– Cost: free for the searching

You’ll need a stick, a length of bamboo, or other item to serve as the support for all of your wind chime strings. For this project, I chose a piece of driftwood, found lying on the shores of Lake Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.

Look for a piece that is long enough to hang pennies that, when spaced close together, will touch one another, resulting in a chime. Pennies hung too far apart will depend on a strong breeze to make noise, which may result in a tangled chime you may not have the patience to straighten.

Fishing line, or invisible thread – Cost: Low. Likely in your tackle box, or sewing kit

Provided you aren’t hanging hundreds of pennies on your chime, a simple roll of 10 pound test fishing line should suffice for stringing the pennies. A stronger line is advised for the hanging of the chime, as it will be supporting the entire weight of the chime.

Invisible thread may also be used, though be sure it is strong, and consider doubling it for the weight of the entire chime. A single strand should be fine for the strands of pennies. You could also use nylon-coated craft or beading wire.

Pennies, pennies, pennies! – Cost: 1 cent per penny. This project uses 45 pennies, thus 45 cents.

Whether you hand smash your coins, or use a press, any coins will do, but consider using pennies with higher copper content. Pennies minted in the years 1962 through 1982 are great for projects like these, as their copper content is 95%, with 5% zinc. Curious minds, you may want to visit Penny Collector's page for additional information on metal content in pennies.

Is smashing / pressing / squishing a penny legal? Yes - Penny Smashing Legality

Beads, baubles, and bling! – What is a project without a little sparkle? Perhaps you have junk jewelry, boxes of beads, or other trinkets lying around the house that would work wonderfully in this project. Glass, or even faceted plastic beads will work beautifully, as they will reflect sunlight.

TOOLS & other components of the project:

  • Necessary -

    If using a sledge hammer to press pennies, please wear ANSI-approved safety glasses.
    Look for safety glasses that feature the ANSI title

ANSI - The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

Please be extremely careful when using tools. Just one small incident could cost your vision.
Be smart, be safe, and wear the right safety glasses.

  • Suggested - Electric drilling device such as a hand drill, or Dremel Rotary Tool

    Add the handy Work Station, and you'll be drilling with ease.
    This is the extra hand you've always wanted. I'm not kidding.

    Be certain to check the numbers on your rotary tool to be sure they are compatible with the drill press attachment.

    Drill bits for wood and metal. Consider the useful Drill Bit Set for use with a rotary tool.
    Scissors
    Measuring stick / tape, or ruler

Hand-held sledge hammer (about 10 pounds), anvil or other thick piece of steel

  • Helpful – Crimping pliers, crimping beads
  • Optional – paint brush (if urethane or polyurethane is used), copper cleanser
<p>Thanks for the legal reference :)</p>
<p>I love it! I just have one suggestion for the cord. I'v fixed many using beading wire (multi-stranded) with crimp beads and they last a lot longer. Supper job!</p>
Hi Carol, I'm so sorry, I overlooked your message until now. Thank you so much for your suggestion. :-)
No worries, late is better than never! ;-)
<p>Very nice instructable. As one who enjoys the beauty of simplicity and not a lot of distraction, I think mine will be without the beads and embellishments. Now to just find some driftwood...</p>
<p>Hello Guinaevere, thank you so much! I hope you find some driftwood, and you are able to make a wonderful chime. :-)<br></p>
It is illegal to destroy currency. Doesn't that just seem like it's something you shouldn't do?
<p>In the U.S., it's only illegal to modify currency to make it into something that passes for another denomination. In other words, changing a $1 bill to appear to be a $20 bill and passing it off as a $20 bill. Other than that, you can just go nuts squishing coins, making rings out of them, drawing on paper currency, etc.</p>
<p>You mean like dipping old UK pennies in mercury to pass them off as half crowns?</p><p>Have to do some sums here - half a crown was two shiilings and sixpence, so that's 24 + 6 = 30d, which was a lot of money back then. Instant 29d profit.</p><p>I chucked a whole load of old pennies the other day, kept a few, should have waited for this instructy.</p>
<p>Hello Phil, chucked them? As in, tossed them to the wind? :-) </p>
<p>No - binned 'em</p><p>As this stuff goes to landfill - I know, I <br>should have recycled it - someone in centuries to come will have the <br>pleasure of finding some Edwardian and Victorian copper pennies.</p><p>I<br> had quite a few of the &quot;old&quot; coinage and you only need so many to look <br>at, that the worn and pretty much valueless ones had to go.</p><p>Their discovery value will be much more than the copper value so I will sleep easy.</p><p>Come<br> to think of it, the other type of chucking would have been more <br>satisfying. There is a section of UK football fans who like to take out <br>the opposition goalie by chucking coins and apart from crowns and half <br>crowns, the old penny had a bit of weight behind it.</p><p>The Royal <br>Mint used to be quite sniffy about defacing coinage and tearing up <br>notes, but I think you would have to go back a few centuries to find the<br> last hanging. Knicking (cutting) bits out of silver coins used to be <br>popular with the riff-raff.</p>
<p>Thank you, Schuylergrace! :-)</p>
<p>It isn't illegal.</p><p>Here's a cut an paste from the US Treasury's website.</p>Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?<p>Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who &ldquo;fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.&rdquo; This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent. </p>
I don't know how you don't consider this mutilating. The coins are now destroyed, unusable and the physical medium is now out of check with accounting. It's illegal.
<p>GTO, while I appreciate your concern, the key words in the law regards 'fraudulent intent'. There is no intent to harm anyone, nor gain from altering the pennies. One obviously can no longer use the coins as currency. <br><br>Think of all the amusement parks with penny squishing (elongating) coin machines. If these were illegal, Disneyland, Six Flags, and every place that has a machine would be in court, including the people that owned the pennies. :-) No harm intended = not illegal. </p>
<p>Thank you, Skylane. :-)<br><br></p>
<p>If it was illegal, I do rest easy with one thought, that Disneyland would sitting in the slammer next to me. ;-)</p>
<p>Due to this being outdoors, I would recommend using SPAR urethane which is rated for just that. I have gotten even paper mache' to resist rain with SPAR. Anyone at the store can point it out to you.</p>
<p>Hello, Chris, I truly appreciate your comment. I'm always afraid to leave something outdoors in harsh weather, but SPAR would definitely put my mind at ease. Thank you so much for posting. :-)</p>
<p>What size drill bit did you use. I've tried to drill pennies with a 1mm bit and they broke!</p>
<p>Hello, Carol, </p><p>The pennies broke, or the bit? :-(<br><br>A 1 mm bit is roughly 0.0393701 <br>inch, which is pretty tiny. Although the hole does not need to be very <br>large, it is better to go a bit bigger in order not to ruin your tiny <br>bits. <br><br>You'll have to drill slowly, no matter which bit you use. <br>It also helped that I used a Workstation, which turned my Dremel into a <br>drill press. Though a 1/32&quot; bit is what I think I used, it is overkill, but doesn't hurt anything. I chose it, because it was available in a length that was long enough to drill through the driftwood I used for the hanger. <br><br>:-)</p>
<p>Thank you for the reply! Alas, it was the bit that broke )-; I was trying to make earrings out of them. I'll try a larger bit next time. I also used someone else's drill press(no longer available). I wish I had a place to set up my own...</p>
<p>seems like a great use of my smashed penny collection instead of sitting in the little albums made for them!</p>
<p>Hi, Brusa, I've been thinking the same about my collection. No one asks to see it, but if it was on a chime they had to walk by, it might serve as not only entertainment, but as a conversation piece, as well. :-)</p>
<p>Yea, I'm getting mine out of those albums...I'm thinking dremel in the drill press attachment and start drillin'!</p>
<p>I thought that defacing federal currency was a federal offence. I know we used to put pennies on railway tracks as kids and it was an offence back, way back then. In the early 50s.</p>
<p>Wow, I've thought about this day after day since I have moved to a town with a train&hellip;I go over the racks 2-4 times a day and I think I might try to place some on the rails to see how they look, or, tape some down&hellip;which might lead to total disintegration. Might have to throw a nickel in there too. Thanks for a fun project, very clearly written and illustrated.</p>
<p>Hello Chefspenser, thank you so much for your post. Just be extremely careful, please. I once placed a few keys on the tracks, but they ended up looking like blobs, and sounding terrible. Lucky you to be around the tracks that often. Hope you have fun! :-)</p>
<p>i wonder if you could use different coins for different tones.</p>
<p>Hello Leo, that is a great idea. While I do know that silver coins will give a delightful ring, I'm not sure if you meant a specific note. Although more difficult to achieve, that would be wonderful. I tend to save a lot of coins, but somehow, never managed to save any silver ones. :-)</p>
<p>This is pretty neat. I wonder what might work well in addition to pennies, as I don't see myself being able to press all these! Maybe seashells?</p>
<p>I found lots (meaning more than one lot) of 10, 25, 50,100 or more elongated stamped pennies on Ebay, very reasonable. Some from all parts of the country, some all Disney or all zoos, west coast, etc. I think they will be a nice touch, I'm ordering mine today! About $20 for 100 with shipping. BTW, a pressing mill is over $200!! Good luck!</p>
<p>Great score on the elongated pennies! A lot is a great way to get a lot of new coins, and have plenty of likely duplicates for trading or selling. Congrats!</p>
<p>Oh, yes, seashells would be very pretty, and delicate, too! Lovely!</p>
<p>I like your video - it sounds great in the wind.</p><p>Some 1982s are zinc. Stick to ones before '82 to guarantee copper. The zinc will decay over time and outside it may not take very long.</p><p>Another thing people may want to watch out for, although highly unlikely: Check if you are using wheat cents that its not a rare one. Numismedia.com and the collectors guide is an online source that will allow people to know the rare ones by the values listed.</p><p>Trivia - most people know of the 1943 &quot;steel&quot; cents - but not a lot of people know some of the 44s and 45s were made from recycled shell casings from the war.</p>
<p>Thank you for your interesting comment! I love when people provide trivia, and I did not know that about the 44s and 45s. Recently, I sorted through almost one thousand dollars worth of change, and found a mere nine wheaties, so it looks like at least some folks are keeping them. ;-)<br><br>I completely forgot to mention the PING test, too! On the note of the 1982 pennies, though I'm used to them and can often sort by sight, dropping them onto a countertop covered in Formica will reveal quite the difference in ring. <br><br>Many thanks for your comment and compliment. I appreciate it!</p>
<p>You could do time in the Tower of London for bashing UK coins - it's called defacing the coinage of the Realm,</p><p>UK coins up to 2p value used to be copper based, but the tightwads changed them to copper plated steel some years ago, as detected by magnet.</p><p>Now they're worth less than washers, which is what they came in handy for.</p><p>As a kid, the copper coins used to go the on railway line which was a quick but dodgy way of flattening them, just get out of the way of the train.</p>
<p>What a neat bit of information about London. Thank you, Phil! Love the idea of using them for washers, LOL. </p>
What a well organized, detailed instructable. Very clear and inclusive. I like the way you explained how to determine the size drill bit instead of just calling out a size<br>This is a lot of detail, but it is so nice to have more information than less. Often I wonder about some of the chosen materials and you explain why you chose and even the thinking into ordering the project<br>Good work!<br><br>And<br>I am inspired to go smash some pennies
<p>David, <br><br>Having been told that I talk too much most of my life, it is encouraging to receive a compliment on my habit of overdoing the word count. Ha! <br><br>Thank you so much! I truly hope you will smash some pennies, and perhaps make something with them. :-) </p>
<p>I wonder if anyone has thought about how annoying wind chimes are to neighbors. </p>
Really? Really? If that's the case why did you even spend time looking at this great idea?
Well I didn't read the idea since it's not a new idea. Has been done over and over. Just saw the picture and headline. <br><br>I've actually made some chimes in my life. Some that were quite melodious. My neighbors to the person did not like them after a few days. They used the word annoying. <br><br>
<p>Your neighbors would really hated my wind chimes which were made from the valve end of various sized gas cylinders. They were hung on the side of a steep hill and worked best in a strong wind. You could tell the force of the wind by which bells were sounding.</p><p>You can save a lot of pounding by using a railroad track to flatten your cymbals for the article's chimes.</p>
<p>Wow, those sound really cool! For those of us living in the country, those would be perfect chimes! </p>
<p>I didn't propose this was a new idea, just a fun one to create and share with others in hopes to inspire them to make something themselves. <br></p>
<p>Thank you, Jeff. :-) </p>
<p>If our neighbors can hear a few tingling pennies on the porch, they are too close. </p>
<p>Beautiful </p>
<p>Hello Karen, nice name! (mine, too!) Thank you so much. :-)</p>

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Bio: Let's skip the pretentious titles. At present, I am a paper pusher for a manufacturing plant. In the remainder of my life, I am ... More »
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