Introduction: Penny Desk!
My hubby John and I made this fun penny desk for my office. The pennies are covered in bar top epoxy, and it isn't nearly as heavy as you might think. The process is a little tedious, but not overly difficult except for the wrapped edges, which you can always skip. Keep reading to see the step-by-step instructions.
Also, this is my very first Instructable, so my apologies if I manage to mangle it horribly. ;)
My original post regarding this desk can be found over on my blog Epbot. If you like geeky girly stuff, please drop by to say hello!
Step 1: Material Girl
First and foremost, you'll need lots of pennies. I think we used about $35 for the desk, which is approximately 40 by 22 inches. Don't have a massive change jar handy? Just swing by your local bank.
I polished half of our pennies with Tarn-X. It's super easy to use: just pour it over the coins and then rinse. Polishing some of the coins gives the end result a pretty mix of shiny and tarnished finishes.
Step 2: Prep & Landing
John built my desk from scratch to fit the space we needed, but you could use a pre-existing table top or desk no problem. We painted it black before starting to set the pennies.
Start placing your pennies on the front edge, securing them with a small dot of super glue. We clamped a straight edge ruler to guide our first line, and bent our first line of coins to fit around the rounded edge of the desk. You don't have to do this, though: you could place the pennies just on the top, and snip them in a straight line.
Step 3: Getting Bent
If you decide you do want to bend your coins to wrap the edges, here's how we did it: We wrapped a small piece of electrical tape around one of John's titanium rings to pad it slightly. (He wears a size 10.5 ring, if that helps.) Then John used pliers to bend each penny to the inside curve of the ring. Just stick the penny inside the ring, and clamp down with the pliers.
Fair warning: this requires a LOT of hand strength. Much more than I, weakling geek girl that I am, could ever manage. John wore heavy leather work gloves to protect his palms, since he had to bend a bunch of coins.
Step 4: Mind-Numbing Tedium Is Your Friend
Now, start gluing! I spent about four nights working on arranging and gluing down each coin. It would have gone much faster, but I was carefully arranging the different colors and mixing in "special" pennies (wheaties, other countries' coins, etc.) in at regular intervals. As you can see from the second picture, it only took a tiny spot of glue to secure each coin, but you *do* need to glue them all.
Step 5: Mind Your Edges
If you have a Dremel, glue the pennies on first - hanging over the edge - and then trim them off later. (first pic) If you don't have a Dremel, use heavy snips to cut the coins before gluing them down.
In the second picture you can see how John bent and snipped the pennies to wrap around the desk's corner edge. This was the trickiest part, and again requires plenty of hand strength (and strong snips!)
Step 6: Prepare to Pour!
When your surface is ready, prep your area for pouring the epoxy. You need someplace you can leave it undisturbed for about two days, and that is relatively dust-free. We set up in a back room of our house.
Cover the floor with lots of heavy plastic - very, VERY, important - as the epoxy will be dripping down to the floor - and set your desk top on some sawhorses or other stands, making sure that the edges are free.
Step 7: POUR!
Mix and pour your two-part bar top epoxy. I'm sorry I don't remember the exact brand we used, but so long as you use the stuff restaurants use for their tabletops, you'll be fine. Our epoxy was old - left over from another project - so it had yellowed a bit. You can see the golden tint in the photos. Usually epoxy is crystal clear, though, so don't let my photos scare you. :)
Once you've poured it all on (use as much as the label dictates for the amount of area you're covering), start tipping your surface to get the epoxy all the way to the edges. You want it to drip *over* the edges, in order to coat them. (See why you need all that plastic on the floor?)
Step 8: Even Things Out
To get an even coating on your edges, you may need to scoop some epoxy off the floor with a metal spatula or spoon and dump it back on the edge. Do this as often as necessary to get a smooth covering.
Also, keep in mind that the pennies on the edges will prevent the epoxy there from being glass smooth. My desk has a slightly ripply effect to the front edge, which I actually think feels really cool. Just be sure that the epoxy gets in all the cracks, and that you don't miss any areas.
Step 9: Torch It!
This part is surprisingly fun: use a small blow torch (like the one you have in your kitchen for toasting the creme brulee) and pass it quickly over the surface of your epoxy - about 6 inches above it - to eliminate all the air bubbles. (And there will be a LOT of air bubbles.) The bubbles will rise and pop like magic, leaving a glass-smooth surface. Like I said: fun!
Step 10: I Hate Waiting
And now: you wait.
Your epoxy should take about a day to set up, and two days to cure. Check the label of your epoxy, and go by that to be sure.
When it's fully cured, use a utility blade to cut/scrape off any excess epoxy drips from the bottom edges of your desk, and install it as you would any other surface.
And you're done!
Go show off your new desk to all your friends. Be sure to mention how much "cents" it makes to make a "change", etc. etc.