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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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.
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with epoxy it looks like you used some kind of penny foil

DanielR175 months ago

Awesome Job done. :)

Peejus6 months ago

That is awesome, thank you ! :)

NIce job and good use of the penny. Makes cents.
Pun intended?
midnite172 years ago
How did you bend the coins around the edge after they were super glued? I've been trying to do this project, and ended up using a vice and hammering the coins over, which gave some really unreliable results.
I think they were bent first and then glued onto the rounded front of the table edge. The ring was used as a form and the vicegrips were used to bend the coin to fit the curve of the ring, so they all were an identical radius bend.
bobzjr2 years ago
Thanks for posting this inspiring Instructable. I was thinking of doing one with lego bricks. Do you think that would work, or do you think the Lego "studs" would prove to be problematic? For example, would it require multiple coats of the resin? Would multiple coats of resin work well? (if needed)

Keep up the good work!
Epbot (author)  bobzjr2 years ago
Hmm. Well, the resin is self-leveling, but the LEGO studs are fairly shallow, so I *think* the resin would still cover them. A second layer of resin would certainly do the trick, though, if there are any pokey-parts sticking out.

Another option is to build up the sides of your surface with wooden or metal trim, almost like a tray, so that the resin will pool inside and not drip over the edges. That way you'd get a nice smooth table top in one application.

I hope you'll post a photo if you try this; I'd really love to see it!
simonb3453 years ago
Find a penny, pick it up.....

Hey look, I just found 3500 pennies...
I thought you (the creator AND the viewers) might like to look at this if you enjoy this project. These people did basically what she did here, but with their kitchen floor tile!
blodefood3 years ago
You might want to do this. The penny will be phased out in Canada in late 2012.
mary candy3 years ago
Beautiful Job !
fridelain3 years ago
Thought you'd like to know. TL;DR: It's against the law.
nerys fridelain3 years ago
Incorrect. it is not against the law. its only against the law to "deface currency" is there is an intent to defraud.

this is why where's george stamps are legal and why penny smashers are legal and why making "coin jewelery" is legal and why this table is perfectly legal.

Please stop propagating that myth.
Epbot (author)  nerys3 years ago
Thanks for pointing this out, nerys. I initially had a paragraph in my intro about the legality of coin craft, but then took it out because I didn't think it'd be an issue here. Guess I was wrong! (It still amazes me how many people think this could be illegal with all the penny smasher machines out there.)
J-Five Epbot3 years ago
Well you don't need to use pennies; you could use buttons, old playing cards or any other small things. They could work.
you wouldnt do thi table because it againt the law?
use in an open space, use a respirator and common sense. use safly.
It's against the "law" to deface currency... and I am SO going to do this for a small table... in Mexico! lol... I think I'd be safe from prosecution here. ;-D
tjesse3 years ago
I voted for you, too bad your going to prison for life! Just kidding! I love when nameless, faceless experts on all things come out of the wood work. I hope the feds don't throw the book at you!. Someone said they are going to make a frame, that seems more practical for me.
ctrejo3 years ago
I hope you looked through the pennies first for old wheat/ Indian head pennies lol
Epbot (author)  ctrejo3 years ago
I did! And then I mixed them in at regular intervals throughout the desk. :D I also planted a Bahamian penny right smack in the middle. (It's the same copper color, but with a pretty starfish design.)
ctrejo Epbot3 years ago
nooooooooo! those are worth money!! :P I hope there werent any rare ones cause imma be sad lol
Me, too, ctrejo! I used to have a HUGE collection of wheat pennies, as well as some 1942 lead pennies. My older sister broke open the container and put them all thru a coin-star machine, and ...poof! ... gone. BROKE MY HEART!! I've forgiven her, though. :o)
lisagems3 years ago
Okay, everybody who's jumping on the OMG This Is Illegal train. Chill.

Have you never dropped 2 quarters and a penny into a little hand cranked machine? It's a rolling mill which imprints an image of some particular attraction onto and squished and elongated penny. These machines are ALL over the country, at various attractions large and small, there's even one on an overpass north of Chicago that prints and image of the skyline. Brookfield Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, most museums, every amusement park in existence, including both US Disneys have these little souvenir makers. Do you actually think Disney would put itself at risk from the Federal Government over a squished penny?

The deal is, you cannot melt them to recycle the metal, so as to extract the value of the metal from the coin. And these days, it really wouldn't be worth trying, anyway. The micro thin copper coating of a zinc blank doesn't melt, it burns. Impressively.
Mar HK lisagems3 years ago
It depends on the country. In Canada, it is actually illegal to deface the coins. Those little machines use blanks instead of pennies.
lisagems Mar HK3 years ago

The blogger lives and writes in the US. And not even one of the US/Canada border states. Not even a US/Mexico border state. So, it's pretty much a given that the laws in question are US laws. I'm saying the the blogger in question is not breaking any US laws. No disrespect to Canada or anything, but totally meaningless to the discussion.

Personally, I think Canada has the right of it. If you allow something small, it's harder to stop something large. But, in the US, what the blogger in question did does not violate any laws, anymore than the rolling mill coin smashers do.
build523 years ago
awesome! got my vote.
FrozenIce3 years ago
ohh look!! a penny!!
where, I can't find it
bmelton13 years ago
I will do this with pennies from the year my Wife and I were born.....1972.
Good luck. JK
Pennies before 1982 were 95% copper and 5% zinc, and are worth approximately 2.5 cents (see www.coinflation.com).
Perhaps I will do a frame for one of our wedding pictures.
A picture frame! That's a great idea! One could also make a frame for a baby shower gift! Love that!
That's a brilliant idea! About how big is the frame?
That's for the pure copper value.

This goes back to the legality of removing the coins from circulation without a permit from the Feds...
Say What?
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