U.S. coins, as well as many other countries’ coins, used to be made out of silver and not what we see today: combinations of nickel, copper, and aluminum.
So, seeing this bag of coins I’ve collected, I decided to try to make something out of them. I don’t cut up the Mercury dimes or Buffalo nickels, but I do use the quarters and nickels from the late 50′s and early 60′s. This is a project I wrote about on my blog, Sir Richard's Tool Kit.
These two crosses were textured with a propane torch.
Step 1: You will need...
small drill bit and drill
jeweler’s saw and block or a hack saw
maybe a pin vise
If you choose to partially melt the silver for texture, you will need a propane torch.
safety goggles- plase wear them. I've gotten metal and wood in my eye before and scratched my cornea. It is not fun. It will ruin your day.
Step 2: Marking
Step 3: Cutting
If you can do the cutting at the back of the cutters, it’s easier. That can be done a little later.
Using the saw and the block, which clamps to the table, cut out the shape of the cross. Using beeswax to lubricate the blade helps to prevent binding and breaking the blade.
If you don't have a jeweler's saw, a hack saw can do the work if you clamp the coin in a bench vise.
Step 4: More Shaping
It is possible to shape the cross entirely with a triangular file, if that’s all you have. It will take longer, but it can be done. I would recommend clamping the coin in a vise to do that.
Step 5: Drilling
Step 6: Hammering
On the crosses I originally did, I didn’t hammer them. I heated them with a propane torch and melted them enough to reflow the surfaces and create some nice texture. Try it, but be careful. It also allows you to pretty much skip the next step of filing and smoothing the edges. That’s what is called a fire polish.
Using some small files clean up the edges of the cross. You can also introduce some texture to the cross with gentle taps from a ballpeen hammer as well.
Step 7: Texturing
A 1/16″ drill bit has been ground on the back to a 45° angle with a Dremel bit.
I chucked the bit in a pin vise and did a final sharpening on a fine oil stone to remove burrs from the edge. That’s all there is to it. This makes a cutting edge that can be used to chip away a stipple texture. It takes a little practice, but it only takes a couple minutes to create a random pattern. If you really want to go cross-eyed, you can make a pattern that simulates a basket weave or linear pattern.