Introduction: How to Make a Ring From a Coin

Picture of How to Make a Ring From a Coin

A few years ago I made my first coin ring out of a golden dollar by following along to a youtube video. Today, I've made about a dozen or so rings using this method and have some tips and tricks to share that weren't in the video. In this tutorial, I will walk you through my refined method of producing a high quality ring from a coin.

There are two types of rings made from coins. One is where you punch out a large hole in the middle of the coin, and then proceed to start turning the coin inside out, such that the faces of the coin become the top and bottom of the ring band. This method required more specialty tools. I will be showing you the alternative method, where you hammer the coin along the edges to make a ring out of the edges, and then remove the center.

Step 1: Know Your Laws

Some people might be concerned with 'defacing money'. I researched the laws in my area, and so long as I don't intend to pass the currency off for higher value, it is not illegal to deface it in this manner. It would be illegal to, persay, make a 5 dollar bill look like a 100 dollar bill. Or if I melted down pennies and sold the copper for more money than the pennies were worth. But just destroying a coin to make a ring for yourself or as a gift that you don't profit from is legal where I live.

You should research your local and state laws first though to make sure their definition of defacing currency doesn't include what we are going to do in this tutorial.

Step 2: Getting Started: What You Will Need

Tools:

You will need a hard metal surface to work on.

A hand held drill (or a drill press, which is better)

A circular file and a flat file

A small nut and bolt

A punch

A hammer (claw or ball peen is fine, but not a rubber mallet, it has to be a metal hammer)

Materials:

A coin. If you have small fingers, use a quarter. If you have larger fingers, use a golden dollar or a silver half dollar. If you want to spend a few extra bucks for a nicer ring, buy a coin from before 1964, as it will be mostly pure and not have any copper. A 1964 quarter (for small fingers) or a 1964 Kennedy half dollar (for larger fingers) will be 90% silver and make excellent rings. A random quarter or golden dollar from today though is mostly copper, and still looks nice but isn't as high quality. The copper can also make the skin under the ring turn green (which is completely fine, you won't die. I wore a golden dollar ring and had a green finger for a whole year haha).

Sand paper

Jewlery polish (tooth paste works as a substitute)

Step 3: Hammer Away

Picture of Hammer Away

Place the coin edge down onto your metal surface. I used the base of a table vice. For this step, you will slowly roll the coin while tapping it with a hammer. Don't hit it too hard. Take your time on this part, as you want the coin to form uniformly. After a dozen or so taps, I like to flip the coin around to keep the edges from favoring one side too much. As you progress, the edge of the ring will become wider and wider, and the diameter will become smaller and smaller.

You will want to periodically check the size of your coin ring using a ring you have that you know fits you. This is to make sure we make a ring that is the correct size. Once the coin ring's diameter is the same as a different ring that fits you, you will want to stop hammering and move on to the next step.

Step 4: Putting a Hole in the Center of the Coin

Picture of Putting a Hole in the Center of the Coin

Grab your punch and line it up on the center of the coin. Once you are satisfied that it is as close to dead center as you can get, tap the punch with your hammer. This will create a small indentation in the center of the coin, so that your drill bit won't wander and will drill clean through the center.

After the coin is tapped with the punch, grab a pair of pliers to hold the coin with while you drill it. Don't worry too much about being orthagonal here. Put a piece of scrap wood underneath if you are using a hand drill, so you don't accidentally drill into the table.

If you are fortunate enough to have a drill press, use that in lieu of a hand drill.

Step 5: Shaping the Ring and Polishing It

Picture of Shaping the Ring and Polishing It

In this step, you will need the nut and bolt mentioned earlier. Slide the bolt through the hole, and put the nut on. Tighten it up so that the coin can't spin. Next, insert the shaft of the bolt into the chuck of your drill or drill press. The drill press is better here because it leave both of your hands free.

First, we will shape the ring. The edges are kind of bent and non-uniform due to the hammering. To remedy this, we will spin the ring in the drill, and shape it with the flat file. You'll want to hold the file such that the ring is turning into the file. Hold the file flat against the top of the ring, and curve it to the edge of the ring. This will slowly produce an arc shape instead of a flat edge. Periodically check on the shape of the ring by slowing the drill down.

Once you are satisfied with the shape, grab some sand paper. Spin the ring up and sand it. You will want to continue this process until the ring's edge is completely uniform and smooth. After this is done, grab a paper towel and some jewlery polish or toothpaste. Squeeze a little bit of polish or tooth paste out onto the paper towel, and spin the ring up again using the drill. Hold the paper towel up against the ring. The grit in the tooth paste or polish will smoothen the surface, and eventually you will achieve a mirror finish on the ring. Note: it usually takes several minutes of high speed polishing, as well as several paper towels with polish, to achieve a nice polished look, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen immediately.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

Lastly, we need to remove the remaining metal from the inside of the ring. To do this, grab the ring in a table vice as shown above. Here you will want to push a circular file back and forth, slowly removing the interior of the coin. Be careful once you get close to the edges. The inside of the edge will contain the text from the edge of the coin, and you will want to preserve that. To be clear, the text will have wrapped around to the inside band of the ring, and is no longer on the face of the coin. Thus you don't need to leave very much material in the ring to preserve the text. Once you get really close to the edge check the coin after each swipe with the file. Once you start hitting the top of the lettering, stop filing on that side.

Once all the interior of the coin is filed out, your ring is done! You can also polish the inside with tooth paste or polish, but the inside will also become very smooth from use if you wear the ring alot. My ring has been worn for 3 years now and the inside has worn to be very smooth, but the lettering has remained legible. You may also need to hand polish a section of the ring or so if it got scratched in your vice or by the file by accident. You can also use a dremel with a drum attachment to smoothen out the interior of the ring.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. If you have any questions or feedback, I'd love to hear it in the comments below.

Comments

humanbios (author)2017-08-15

I think the texture should be saved

jkmoule (author)humanbios2017-08-15

That one looks awesome, did you make it yourself?

humanbios (author)jkmoule2017-08-16

Unfortunately no. Met on the Internet.

Here is gif as it happens:

sconnors (author)2017-08-03

Sailors have made these for years holding the coin between thumb and finger and hitting the edge with a spoon (stainless steel spoon, not silver)

m_jorge (author)sconnors2017-08-12

Great instructable. An elderly coworker from Juarez made rings like this using the spoon technique. And rather than drill & file the center he pounded a punch thru the center, and somehow pounded the center out to become the bottom edge of the ring. The outer rim of the ring became the top edge of the ring. You could still faintly see some of the coins original embossing on the surface of the ring.

jkmoule (author)sconnors2017-08-03

Wow, thats a cool bit of lore, I did not know that. Do you know how they would remove the inside of the coin?

sconnors (author)jkmoule2017-08-07

Drill and file. The advantage of the spoon approach is that you can control the expansion better. Less distortion. Note that it is easy to make one of these rings bigger by inserting some sort of mandrel and tapping the ring. A tapered mandrel makes it easier, but a rod will work.

jkmoule (author)sconnors2017-08-07

Interesting. I had always controlled the ring size by hammering until I achieved the desired radius. I'll have to try expanding one using your method sometime. Also, thats a cool fact about sailors. I bet it takes longer with a spoon, athough I can imagine why it would be easier to control the form then.

MiniatureM (author)2017-08-10

there is a typo in step 5. not trying to be a grammar nazi but it confused me when I read it. it said Filel instead of File

jkmoule (author)MiniatureM2017-08-11

Hi MiniatureM, thanks for catching that! I appreciate that you let me know. I try to proofread everything before I post but sometimes typos slip through the cracks. I'll fix it asap :)

Beware_the_Fish (author)2017-08-10

So Much Taping with hammer. cant wait to Finnish making the ring

jkmoule (author)Beware_the_Fish2017-08-10

Glad you're making one. It does take a lot of time to get the form right using the hammer. I'd love to see a photo of your ring when you finish making it :)

iritm (author)2017-08-07

Very nice

jkmoule (author)iritm2017-08-07

Thanks iritm!

chingada (author)2017-08-04

cool just a hint for the finishing up step you can use a dremmel instead with a sand drum atachement

jkmoule (author)chingada2017-08-07

Hi chingada, I hadn't thought of that. In hindsight, it would make cleaning out the inside much easier. Thanks for the insight! :)

agis68 (author)2017-08-04

love it thanks! voted

jkmoule (author)agis682017-08-04

Thanks, glad you like the project :)

COOL AND FUNNY HOBBY!!!!

EXCELLENT MY FRIEND!!!

: D

Thanks mate, I like your enthusiasm :)

edupim (author)2017-08-03

Hi, just to say. Don't worry about it. What you are doing is good to your country. It will be richer. In other words, if you destroy money, it's equivalent in the gold reserve increases. Except if you use the real gold coin. In this case, i think, the coin is worth more then the ring. Just don't forget to keep the rest of the raw gold. :) Good handcraft, you know the benefit to your mind.

poza (author)edupim2017-08-03

The author used a US quarter. The US does not use a gold standard. That is, there is no supply of gold in ft Knox or anywhere else that your US money can be traded for. The US uses a "Fiat money" system.

jkmoule (author)edupim2017-08-03

Thanks for your take on it edupim, never thought about it like that :)

BryceJ6 (author)2017-08-03

With the Quarter, what internal diameter did you get out of it? Planning one as a surprise gift so I need to figure out the coin size from the get go.

jkmoule (author)BryceJ62017-08-03

I stopped at about .65". With a quarter, you can stop hammering sooner and have a thinner ring, which will have a diameter upwards to .7", or you could hammer more and make a wider ring but it will have a diameter downwards of .6". By wide and thinner rings I mean the size of the band, not the radius.

Fathomlis (author)2017-08-03

you actually made a ring from a coin...Well done! Nice!

jkmoule (author)Fathomlis2017-08-03

Thanks Fathomlis!

watahyahknow (author)2017-08-03

i seen sumtin simulair once but it kept the impression of the coin visible

think they basicly stretch and push the center out to the edge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiCFOwChJwA

jkmoule (author)watahyahknow2017-08-03

Yes, that's a really cool method for making a coin ring. I dont have the tools needed to make that type ring though :(

Ace Gambit (author)2017-08-03

Pretty cool! I love how shiny it looks.

jkmoule (author)Ace Gambit2017-08-03

Yes, after tons of polishing I got it to be very shiny. Unfortunately it tarnishes after a few weeks and needs to be polished again due to the high amount of pollution we've put into the air. Thats why the value of silver has gone down a lot.

Gloria E (author)2017-08-03

What can I use in step 6 instead of table vice?

jkmoule (author)Gloria E2017-08-03

You can try clamping the ring to the edge of the table or something similar and try that. Its also possible to clamp the file to the side of the table pionting upwards and then holding the ring and sliding the ring down the file to file away at the inside. This one is a little bit trickier of a method, but I have done it for one of the rings I made and it worked out fine.

stumitch (author)2017-08-03

Well done! I think this would be a great project to do with a tech metal class. If I do it I will send a set of pics your way if you are interested.

jkmoule (author)stumitch2017-08-03

Hi stumitch, I agree, that would be a fun project for your class. They would get to keep something they can wear out of it. If you do make it a class project, I'd love to see how they come out.

Modsavant (author)2017-08-03

The coin looks really nice from the outside, but do you have any close-up pictures of the inside diameter? You say that we should try to preserve the lettering - this makes me think that the wall thickness of the ring is substantial, which in turn makes me wonder how comfortable it would be to wear. Do you round the edges of the inner diameter? If so, how do you manage to preserve the lettering? Thanks for a great instructable.

jkmoule made it! (author)Modsavant2017-08-03

Hi Modsavant, thanks for your interest in my project. My apologies for not including pictures of the inside. I gave the ring I made in the tutorial away as a gift, but I can show you pictures of a different ring I've made using the exact same method. I did polish the inside down to smoothen it more (which was a pain since it had to be done by hand). You can see the ring is not prohibitively thick. I have worn this one comfortably for two and a half years now. You can file away a lot of material before you hit the lettering. The letters are very small so you wont need to keep the ring very thick to preserve them.

The inner edges were not rounded in my project, but significant polishing will smoothen them. One way you could round the inner edges is to wrap sand paper around a drill bit, and put it in your drill, then spin the drill and carefully stick the drill bit through the ring and move the ring around to wear down the edges.

Modsavant (author)jkmoule2017-08-03

Ah, ok...if I understand correctly, the hammering action has caused the lettering to rotate by 90 degrees from the coin face. I kept thinking that they were still parallel to the original face of the coin, but now they are perpendicular. Thanks for the extra photos - that made all the difference!

jkmoule (author)Modsavant2017-08-03

Yes, precisely. The lettering warps around to the interior of the ring. I'll edit the instructable to make that clear, thanks for your feedback! :)

Alex 2Q (author)2017-08-02

Nice work! I like the fact that you used mainly basic tools for this project!

jkmoule (author)Alex 2Q2017-08-02

I've made several rings over the years, with many different methods. One was on a lathe, a few with a drill press, and a couple using only hand tools. The nicer CNC tools make it quicker, but I wanted to show how anyone with basic hand tools can make this project. Thanks for commenting :)

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