Make a Silver Cross out of a Coin

Picture of Make a Silver Cross out of a Coin
A couple of years ago I made some small silver crosses for Easter for the family. I’ve done silver casting and soldering before, but wanted to do something a little more quick. I have a bunch of silver coin in a collection of coins I gathered during my days as a cashier years ago. People would come through the checkout line and somehow at the end of some nights I would have either a foreign coin or old silver.

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. 
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Step 1: You will need...

Picture of You will need...
The process is rather quick and doesn’t take many tools.

You’ll need:

a coin
wire cutters
small drill bit and drill
jeweler’s saw and block or a hack saw
small files
a hammer
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

Picture of Marking
Start by making the shape of the cross on the coin with a pencil. The pencil wipes off easily with your finger, so you can mark it with a perminent marker or a scribe.
showfire4 years ago
Isn't it a crime to deface federal currency?
Yes, United States currency and coinage are governed by federal law through the U.S. Treasury Department. Generally, it is illegal to fraudulently deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify, scales or lightens any coins minted or "coined" in the United States or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in use or circulation as money within the U.S. (18 U.S.C. 331) It is also a crime to fraudulently possess, pass, publish, sell or attempt to possess, pass, publish, sell or bring into the U.S. any such coin with knowledge that the coin has been altered, mutilated, defaced, etc. (18 U.S.C. 331) Defacing currency with the intent to alter the bill to gain a benefit is illegal. If someone alters a written instrument (such as a check) without permission and with the intent to gain a benefit, then it is called forgery, which is a crime. If one tried to alter a cash bill (like changing a $5 bill to a $20 bill) for the purpose of presenting the altered bill to gain a benefit, then that could be considered a forgery. Forgery of United States Currency in this manner is called counterfeiting and carries with it very stiff penalties.
-JMS- anthea151 month ago

It is legal to deface money if it is not going to be used as "money" when you are done with it its perfectly legal to make jewelry out of coins.

RVogel (author)  anthea154 years ago
Well, if that is the case then I think we shall be seeing a major crackdown on all of the penny smashing machines that are stationed at all the major theme parks, zoos, science centers, and tourist traps around the nation. I probably possess enough flattened pennies from the Woodland Park Zoo to have me put away for life. I'm flushing them down the toilet right now. i.e.- I don't think it's a big deal.
paqrat RVogel2 years ago
Oh, don't do that. You'll have the EPA all over you for dumping possibly toxic elements into the environment. ;)
It's illegal to attempt to make a fraudulent coin or to make a cheap coin worth more (try to make a nickel into a dime or quarter). You can however burn/melt down/ destroy your money if you so choose. You just can't attempt to spend it afterward.
Oh here we go again.....
Awesome job! I've been wearing a cross made of nails and wire for a while, and it's becoming tarnished/corroded. I've gotta try this sometime!
Using any kind of coin 1965 & earlier is not using commen since. Selling it & letting someone else enjoy it in there collection. Some coins can be worth $1,000.00's of dollars. Please check into pricing of the coin before u destroy it. Or use something besides a coin with silver content. Or better, just let me enjoy it in my collection.
If ur going to destroy it.
ninjanody1 year ago
very good idea.... thanks for sharing
bluemoon61 year ago
Great idea for a beginner or anyone...and great instructions..thanks for sharing..
XxZombiexX1 year ago
Hopefully you still check messages on this post...

I like the project, very nice result from simple steps!

Question: Could you (or anyone!?) help me out with the name of the mini hand drill pictured in step #6? Looks like the type you push and it cranks itself around with a spring and spiral action, but I don't know what to call that type of tool!
paqrat2 years ago
Well executed design, well done instructable. If I had a helm I would doff it to you, sir.
MegaOne3024 years ago
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What about fake? what about other country? what about Canada? What about uncirculated? and really? destorying a nickle goes to prison? that honestly sucks lol
bcoderre none922 years ago
"So how'd you get ten years in federal Pen.?"
"I cut Jeffersons face...but he was askin for it!"
Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
Lol I have now counted 6 of the same post, and I haven't gotten to the bottom yet!
Very well said!
...So You're saying that using those penny-flattening machines at the local zoo is a felony? Interesting...
I don't care people, this is beautiful. Again, as with MOST of my POSTS, I think it would be fabulous done with alcohol inks!
sunshiine3 years ago
I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.
I still don't get it. What does that letter "t" stand for and why do so many people wear it?
It's not a letter, Tyler, it's a representation of the cross on which our savior Jesus Christ was crucified for our sake and for our salvation, under Pontius Pilate. The reason that so many people wear it is because crosses are a constant reminder of the day that Jesus died for us. I'm still half-assuming that you just posted that as a joke, btw.
So you think
Yup. Just because you don't think so doesn't make it untrue. On the same note, me believing it's true doesn't make it true.
I wasnt trying to say that you were wrong, its just that you were saying that like it was fact. Which it isnt. Im also glad to find someone as open minded as you.
Nah, it really is refreshing to find someone who accepts the possibility that theyre wrong.
Ahh. Well I can fully accept that there's a chance that I'm wrong. I've studied sufism, Bhuddism, Islam, the Jews, Jehova's Witnesses, the Amish, etc. etc. so I have a generally unusual perspective on life. On the other hand, I'd rather live my life believing that there is a god and be wrong than live my life believing there was no god, then coming face to face with god. But yeah, I can fully accept the fact that there's a good possibility of me being wrong. From your mistakes, you learn. From succes... not so much :P
No, judging from your previous comment, the main idea of your belief is impossible to assume that it is wrong.

God Bless

My devolving-thread sense is tingling!
RVogel (author)  TehAwesome4 years ago
Chill pill people. It's a craft project on making a necklace. This ain't the crusades.
Well spoken.
I thought it was a symbol of the quartering of the universe into active and passive principles... Silly me and my primitive superstitions!
Nice! :)
Natasha Dee3 years ago
Lol... Take a look at any 'ible that involves a coin or currancy of any sort. The same argument is on every single one. EVERY ONE!
Highball3 years ago
You may give it to someone as a gift, if they are old enough, you may choose a coin of their birth year and arrange so that that date is visible and then not defaced. A nice extra touch.
rjyoung674 years ago
The coins are hardly worth anything anymore so you might just as well make something nice out it!!
they are worth way more! Is silver....worth more than copper? nice job watson haha
its worth a dollar whats its always been smart one!!
Love the texture... thanks for the instructable!
are you really allowed to do that? isn't destroying government property illegal?
Its legal. Because if you have money, you own it and can do everything you want.
you dont own it its the governments you dont keep the money until the world ends its not burryed with you now is it??
IT'S LEGAL! U.S. Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331: Prohibits among other things, fraudulent alteration and mutilation of coins. This statue does not, however, prohibit the mutilation of coins if done without fraudulent intent if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently.
Awww, yeah!! ;P
I see, sorry, makes sense. U guys are clever. u actually research it, unlike me,
Lol no problem, I was suprised myself by Bryan Smith's reply ;P
not govt property, silver coin is not legal tender anymore. It's identical to the current stuff but some of the vending machines won't accept it due to mass/density differences. It's still accepted in face-to-face business because it's too much trouble to weed through by hand.
I also thought that, even if it isn't illegal it still seams wrong..
From my understanding, it voids the currency value, and it is then only illegal to try to pass it off as currency. IOW, it's no longer a minted, silver coin, but a piece of silver art. At least this is my understanding behind the legality of this or similar things (different stores used to sell "pocket penny crosses" or some such thing that were a penny with a cross cut into the middle, laminated on a card that would fit in a wallet). As long as you don't try to pass it off as currency (especially as currency of a higher value, like making a nickel look like a quarter), I think it's legal. Of course, take this with a grain of salt. I'm no expert, so this is all just he-said-she-said sort of stuff I'm telling you. If nothing else, I would at least say that, were I to see the silver crosses featured in the Instructable, I would say, "Those are really nice pieces of wearable art! Great craftsmanship!" and wouldn't even think that they might have been coins originally (had I not seen the project, of course). To RVogel: Great project! I know of a guy who, while on-ship in the military, would take old silver dollars or somesuch coin and make a ring like this: holding between index finger and thumb, tap the rim with the back of a spoon, over and over, around the edge. It supposedly flattens out the rim into a plain band type of ring (think a plain wedding band). Then you just have to drill out the center and smooth it out. He never showed me the end product (he did it 40+ years ago), but did say it got annoying on ship with a bunch of Marines constantly tapping on coins!
MegaOne3024 years ago
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Be nice now... You can deface currency from a different country then you are currenttly in. We have a machine at our local railway museum - with a jar of American pennies to put in - you pay your Canadian Loonie ($1 coin) and get a choice of which stamp to press into your penny. Years ago many Canadian dimes went south of the border and were melted down for their silver content and shipped back. Loop-hole but legal.
actually, we have these in america. you basically destroy your penny for fifty cents and get a nice souvenir. and I've seen them at almost every tourist trap out there. so it's definitely not illegal. because if it were, some coin-sqoosher company somewhere would be getting a veeeerrrryyy hefty fine.
i always thought those were fake, you put the 51 cents in and crank the handel and it spits out a copper thing.
they've got ones with clear plexiglass walls. you can see your penny drop down and out the gears. also, sometimes, if you put a really dirty penny in, you can see the grime on the back making a stretched-out abe lincoln.
yes but its only LEGAL with pennys not any other coins
we've got machines like that here in the US too at a lot of touristy places like zoos, aquariums, and theme parks because it is completely legal. not only is that guy rude, he's also wrong!
One of my friends told me that those are fake, u don't even get ur own penny back, there are ready made things in the machine.
Most of the machines let you see the penny go through.
no its not only if you try using it after is it a crime and i dont belive its a felony more of a misdemeanor
it actually is a felony the country is in dept and burning money isnt going to help that at all and in fact there is no point for it im sure christ woundnt want you to make a cross illegally now would he?
Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
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Get a life dude, and while you're at it, you might want to begin a thorough search for logic. Seriously, dude, wake up with your commenting!!!
repetitive moron. Defacing currency for the purpose of defrauding another by altering the apparent value of the currency is a felony, both as counterfeiting and fraud. fortunately for you, being a jerk is still legal. I hope you grow up and have a kid just like yourself.
get a life
I like the medival look it has to it :)
vhcl4 years ago
Excellent work! I will definitely give this a try, maybe even make one for my mother in law. A million thanks for sharing this!
bojopopo4 years ago
you are a beast.... i read your blog and wish soooo badly i had as many tools/freetime/historic lineage/beast skills! keep up the good, no scratch that, amazing work!
beast XD
who cares if you do it not like the government is going to track you down and punish you, they got better things to do.
Culturespy4 years ago
That's great! Now you can build a furnace and cast ingots with the leftover silver.
that would be awesome a mini furnace for casting old coins
American pennies made after 1982 are zinc. They melt quite nicely in a pot over a bar-b-q and will forever cost $1.82 per pound (that is about how many pennies make a pound, if I recall.) The metal pours like silver vodka and when it cools, is very strong. I don't know if you can hammer the zinc, though. I have hammered Canadian pennies made of copper (bronze?) and they flatten out nicely. After they are flat, it is easy to snip them with tin snippers.
ok and how strong is it after it could you pour it into a knife shaped mold and make a knife with it or is it too soft?
RVogel (author)  zipzapper8594 years ago
That would be too soft. You need to forge tool steel to make a knife.
ok thanks but how hard is it when it is cooled?
Zinc has about 80% the strength of cast iron, and almost 100% of the weight. You can cast a knife from it, but the knife will be very brittle and probably won't hold an edge. It wouldn't work well for a knife. Remember, cast iron and steel are very different metals, even though they are almost both pure iron. A cast iron knife would be super hard, but would crack too easily. The advantages to zinc casting: Melts at lower temp than Aluminum, though similar heat. Stronger than cast aluminum. Much easier to melt than cast iron. Can be poured to make very thin webs. Not as toxic as lead when liquid. Easier to pour than lead, since it weighs less. Easy to keep liquid than lead, since it holds so much heat. Disadvantages: When zinc "fumes", watch out! It can make you sick. Don't let it boil. Still not super strong. Corrodes like mad. It needs to be kept painted or waxed. You don't need to forge tool steel to make a knife. You can simply buy a piece of "carbon" steel and grind it to a knife shape. I have done this three times now, and all three times were shockingly successful. The knives hold their edge very well. I got the carbon steel from a lawn mower repair shop - it was a worn out old blade from a lawn edger! I found it on the ground outside the repair shop. New, the "edger blades" cost about $6 and are usually rockwell 50 or above - very hard! My knife still has the "serial number" on it - from the lawn edger. It looks and works fantastically. It looks like a mini ka-bar. with a super fancy handle. I highly recommend lawn mower edger steel for your first (or 100th) knife project.
Make the mini furnace USB and you have another Instructable.
Ima do that today. . . Except I might need a few dozen ports to power this thing. . . Um, never mind, I never said I was going to build this, now did I? ;P
wocket Brad I.4 years ago
oh, love this idea. ha!
arnab3214 years ago
fantastic... especially the texture.
Musicman414 years ago
For all those still having legal issues with this process (*cough* MegaOne302 *cough*, here is some proof. Below is written a paragraph from Kenneth B. Gubin: Counsel to the Mint. In other words, the Department of the Treasury: "As you are already aware, a federal statute in the criminal code of the United States (18 U.S.C. 331), indeed makes it illegal if one "fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or lightens" any U.S. coin. However, being a criminal statute, a fraudulent intent is required for violation. Thus, the mere act of compressing coins into souvenirs is not illegal, without other factors being present."
Thank you for that information. For craft use, you don't need to worry. These laws originally applied to the practice of filing off the edges of coins, which was the reason for milling them--to prove they hadn't been filed. At present, it mostly applies to the smelting of mass quantities of coins in order to sell their component metals at a profit. That's illegal. It's done legally with coins thrown into fountains though, but only through the mint. Those coins are often so corroded that they're taken back and paid for by weight.
iac4 years ago
Just so you know. Cut up / melt a rare silver coin and you've lost a small fortune !
ursostupid iac4 years ago
how would u know if its "rare"?
maruawe iac4 years ago
I cannot agree with you more. I sold a 1954 dime for $50.00 $50 x #of crosses =Y These could be expensive to make I believe that silver jewelry would be better . Mold are easy to make and jewelry is easy to melt. The idea is good it 's just the wrong type of stock.
A crummy looking silver dime from the 1950's is about 3 bucks. A worn out old silver dollar is about $25. Using coins is nice because you know EXACTLY what the coin is made of. The stamp on the coin and the year "certify" the metal.
RVogel (author)  maruawe4 years ago
I don't think I'm advocating the cutting up of rare or expensive coin. Obviously don't cut up a coin that is of value. That being said, don't discount the value of an art object. Personally, a cross or star or peace symbol for that matter, made out of something with a personal history and crafted by hand can be of much greater value than an appraised value for resale. And to be honest, I've sold coins before and it is rare to have one worth more than a couple bucks. Who's to say that one of these crosses, made with love and fine craftsmanship, couldn't be worth more than it's value as a coin? If it bugs you, make it out of a penny, just not a copper 1943 one.
yoyology RVogel4 years ago
Well said! Beauty and craftsmanship have value. It may not be monetary, but it's still value. Great instructable. Thank you!
What was the little hand drill you used in step 5?
RVogel (author)  engineerboy7284 years ago
Got it at Micro-Mark. Wow, I step away for a day and people are freak'n about the legality of making a necklace. How exciting.
thanks, i'm not freak'n, i'm just curious. I've never seen anything like that.
MegaOne3024 years ago
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Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
The simp0lest thing to tell MegaOne302 is this. If he does not currently work for the Department of the Treasury, then he is merely speculating and needs to relax. The facts speak well enough for themselves if you go looking for them. MegaOne is wrong, pure and simple and needs to do his own research before spouting his vitriol... All his repeated posting has done is point him out as a MegaDork. Perhaps he will think about this and perhaps learn some manners or at least a modicum of respect.
I do too.
Leosmama4 years ago
Great instructable, thanks! There is a guy I came accross at a craft market in Cambridge, UK who makes stunning recycled jewellery out of old silver coins, forks, spoons etc. Here is his website: Might give you some more idea for designs. XX
weibbed4 years ago
In response to the comments on the legality of altering coins, here is the info from, the people that keep track of smashed penny machines in the world: Per this, yes, you can use a U.S. coin, and a British coin, but not a Canadian one.
MegaOne3024 years ago
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Spam, anyone? And not the food kind. . . ;P There is a [flag] button under everyone's posts, and I'm pretty sure it's not just there to be an eyesore. . .
Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
brandon92714 years ago
That's absolutely NOT true. Ever see those vending machines that you put a coin in, turn the crank, and it mutilates your penny into a souvenir? Do you think those would be around if it were illegal? NO Even if it were illegal it would be taken as seriously as ripping the tag off the bottom of a mattress. saying ". Hope you go prison." well, that's a real A-hole thing to say
Those originally were illegal, but they have legalized them.
MegaOne3024 years ago
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oh for crying out loud, take a chill pill Mr. Grumpy Gills. Jeez. You know, it is possible to share your opinions/knowledge WITHOUT being cruel. Try it some time. :) They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Besides, you just broke the "be nice" comment policy....
Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
well said
What a great idea. Thanks for sharing this. That said, I can't believe all the people who are concerned over the legality of defacing their own pocket change. What a bunch of sheep. Just for that I'm going to pull out a dollar and draw rabbit ears on George Washington
In Canada we can turn our fives into Spock with nothing more then a black inked pen...
Spock . . . I love it!
MegaOne3024 years ago
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Hey dude... it's only a felony if you do it with the intent of making a profit or selling the original amount of money for more than it's worth. And commenting five times doesn't help make a point. Especially if you're wrong.
meralgia4 years ago
wonderful idea! i may try it for Christmas gifts this year. my father once made a wedding band by drilling a hole in a Sacagawea dollar and hammering it to the right inside diameter. Eventually it turned his finger green, and he stopped wearing it. a person could get around the guilty feeling of using US currency by going to the coin store to get some foreign coins. Some countries even have larger silver currancy with which to make a bigger pendant.
so you have to do it with old coins and not new ones?
RVogel (author)  zipzapper8594 years ago
Yes, pretty much. The older coins are silver and nice to work with. Newer coins are harder, but it could be done all the same. I'd say try it.
odd, it posted one comment twice and ate the 2nd one. I suggested annealing the 1965-2010 Dime (that's mostly made out of copper) in a blowtorch to anneal it. You don't need to quench, but quenching is OK. Copper gets harder again as it is worked.
ok i will try it with both coins and tell you how different they are
RVogel (author)  zipzapper8594 years ago
That'd be cool. I can tell you though, the silver ones melt quite nicely. The are easier to engrave as well. Hammering the new ones might be more cathartic.

If you want to see what coins have silver in them, you can go to this page and scroll down to below the fold. (second table)

Currently a 1946-1964 Roosevelt Dime has $1.32 worth of metal inside, based on spot price.
i think i might have to make one for a certain lady, and one for myself too. very nice instructable! i can't wait to try it out!
shveet4 years ago
in the second image, what kind of drill is that? never have i seen something like that before.
RVogel (author)  shveet4 years ago
They sell them at Great little drill. Hold it at the end of the handle and slide a ring up and down the handle with the other hand spins the drill. It spins both direction so it only cuts as you push the ring down.
11richie214 years ago
i once made a ring out of a quarter the only problem was that it was not my ring size
Instead of a cross, I'd like to make a star :D
RVogel (author)  dinodroppings4 years ago
Excellent idea, I was going to mention that not everyone may be interested in a cross. Whatever floats your boat. :-)
kill-a-watt4 years ago

If you want to see what coins have silver in them, you can go to this page and scroll down to below the fold. (second table)

Currently a 1946-1964 Roosevelt Dime has $1.32 worth of metal inside, based on spot price.
RVogel (author)  kill-a-watt4 years ago
That's cool! Thanks. I wouldn't have guessed it would be worth that much.