!!!Caution!!! Melting pennies will release Zinc Oxide fumes which cause flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, nausea, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. Use a well ventilated area with power assisted ventilation to avoid breathing these fumes.

That being said, this is ring made from pennies. You can smelt the copper coating off leaving you with zinc. Pennies minted after 1983 are all made like this.

You don’t have to have a lathe to do this. You could always hammer the ingot flat and follow the nickel ring instructions. A surprising thing is how lite it is. My wedding ring is the same size weighing 8 grams. This ring weighs in at 3.

Step 1: Smelt

Picture of Smelt
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smelt 1 (sm lt). v. smelt·ed, smelt·ing, smelts. To melt or fuse (ores) in order to separate the metallic constituents.

I placed 10 pennies on a spoon and heated them with a propane torch. The spoon was held with locking pliers, which was held by a wooded clamp. Once the zinc liquefied I removed the copper with a metal probe (I used a light tester I had near by).

I then poured it into a section of ½” pipe and let it cool off.

Step 2: Cut a ring blank

Picture of Cut a ring blank
Here I machined the ends off the blank then drilled a hole through it. I chucked the same drill bit into the lathe. Next I wedged the blank on by placing a plastic bag over the bit. Finally the outside was machined.

Step 3: Size the ring

To expand the blank I hammered it over a pry bar. I started out with a small bar then moved up sizes as the ring expanded. To get to my ring size I eventually had to hammer over a ½ socket bit.

Of course to get your size simply stop hammering once it fits.

Step 4: Polish

I evened out the ring with a file. I then spun it on a ½” socket bit and sanded it with 1000 grit then 200 grit sandpaper.

Lastly I buffed it on a buffing wheel.

Thanks for reading.
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yoyolo17 days ago
use canadian pennies, if you can find any, to avoid zinc poisoning as they do not have any zinc in them.
starwarsgeek12 months ago
this is totaly awsome I havent ever had experience with smelting so it will be a first
rashoot1 year ago
Why would anyone want a zinc ring? Sounds toxic! Wouldn't it be easier to get a piece of scrap Stainless steel tubing and do the same stretch and polishing technique? Seems like a waste of time?
lazemaple rashoot4 months ago

I wouldn't want to take the chance. Our skin is a direct route to the blood stream [rather than dilution and being broken down by digestion] which is why many medications are dosed via a patch on the skin.

lazemaple4 months ago

I too would be very concerned about Metal Fume Fever - statistics don't mean anything if you are the one in your grave like Paw-Paw who was a very experienced metal worker and had in fact sent his employee's out of the shop!

Another concern is the amount of zinc ingested, inhaled as you lathe, polish and handle the zinc. Its not uncommon for birds to contract zinc poisoning from the zinc coating on cages and such. We had a parrot poisoned by a bell clapper in the bird bell in his cage. Scary! First presenting symptom was strong seizures the vets insisted on treating as 'calcium deficiency' until the 4th vet we took him to thought to take an Xray which showed the metal all throughout his body.

Stick with silver... you can smelt it with a plumbers torch and some borax.

Jasonlju115 months ago

Question since i dont have a lathe could i cast the blank in a ring form before pounding??

Mrballeng (author)  Jasonlju115 months ago
Yes that would would great.
maxpcuser10 months ago
Any time you work with zinc in a heated form drink a couple glasses of whole milk you will be fine still try and avoid the fumes.. it is an old welding trick i learned a long time ago
that isnt a true remedy its just old wives tale that won't work

It has worked for me for years.... Im not saying ignore the use of PPE just that it helps.

DustyJK9 months ago

sorry my mouse got stuck on the post button

DustyJK9 months ago

a stove gets adequitly hot to melt them. combined with a home brew fume extractor and a window you really got something

*my favorite word and i can't spell it

fish_dude1 year ago
could i use pure copper pennies and make a copper ring
This is what i'd do. Use pre 1982 pennies
MrE shizumadrive9 months ago
NO! you cannot use pre 1982 pennies! :) j/k But that is because those are pure copper. This instructable is for zinc pennies. It's kind of hard to make a zinc ring from copper. And actually if you read my other comments there is other sources of zinc that are much easier to get.
Yes you can make a copper ring if you want, but really all you have to do to make a copper ring is get some copper tubing and cut it to size and sand it down. Then you don't need to smelt anything.
shizumadrive MrE9 months ago
Hmm ywah I was just trying to avoid the problems with zinc fumes. Pipe is good idea though pennies are cheaper to get. And I just like melting things.
lwallace512 months ago
Zinc fumes ll kill u. I went to a blacksmith meeting once n a smith had burned coating off of a steel pipe n died next day. Aluminum not much better . The cheaper metals suck. If ur gonna put thAt much work into it learn silver working.
Mrballeng (author)  lwallace511 months ago
Thanks. Fortunately a propane torch does not get nearly as hot as a black smith's furnace. Also, zinc fume deaths are very rare.
fish_dude1 year ago
Also could i use aluminum cans cut up into small pieses
tmos5401 year ago
Hm. For something for daily use, you really should use something a lot less reactive than zinc, or at the very least, use a really really durable coating reapplied regularly. I know Nickel causes problems with jewelry, even in an alloy. I know you can take too much zinc in supplement form, and that can be toxic, and when you weld galvanized steel, you need ventilation, because the zinc fumes will make you sick. I don't know if wearing it does the same, but they use zinc as a sacrificial metal to keep the hulls of ships from corroding. There is a reason they use precious (read-nonreactive) metals in jewelry. Just be careful.
Nice job. How long does it stay shiny? When I've casted zinc it always oxidized in a few days or weeks, but I never polished it either.

If you're looking for a protective coating that wears well, check out Protecta-Clear. Easy to use and wears very well to protect the shiny finish. However, no solution will permanently protect so it may need to be reapplied.
This idea is really cool, but I don't wear rings. So, I used this idea to make a pendant version of the Miyamoto Musashi style Tsuba, or sword guard.
pyrorower1 year ago
I'm looking forward to doing this! My only concern is corrosion. You mentioned that wearing the ring on a daily basis keeps it from getting dull, though I would think some corrosion would happen since zinc is somewhat reactive. I would think that exposure to sweat and the like would cause some form of corrosion. Have you experienced this?
Mrballeng (author)  pyrorower1 year ago
I only wore it for a week. But during that time I never noticed any corrosion. I didn't even see any trace metal on my finger like a nickel ring would leave. Most important is that every surface is polished. I'll post a picture soon of what the ring looks like today. I polished a part of it so people can see the difference in how it dulled vs a fresh polish. Really the difference is not very noticeables. Good luck.
black hole1 year ago
What sort of cutting bits do you use with your lathe?
poofrabbit1 year ago
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the hack it contest! Good luck to you!
schumi231 year ago
Nice! If I had all the supplies (torch, tools (I only have a dremel) and driveway (Outdoor area) I might do it!
Though... it is technically illegal, I believe - destroying currency :) Should be fine as long as you dont post it online or something... (just kidding - though I do think it is technically illegal...)
In fact, it is legal to make jewelery from US coins. It's a gray area concerning melting pennies; there is a law against melting coinage in order to sell the metal content, but I doubt anyone would worry about half a dozen pennies (especially since the zinc obtained from that number is probably worth two cents).
Interesting... I didnt know that - here I am, enlightened! Thanks :)
jack3939391 year ago
before i start this, is there any chance of the zink flowing out of the edges of the pipe?
i don't want to get the zink all over my driveway.

also, dose the zink dull very fast
Mrballeng (author)  jack3939391 year ago
Molten metal has a surface tension. Just like water stays together as a drop. Even if there was a leak it wouldn't flow uncontrollably. Concrete can pop up when heated. As a caution I placed a piece of hobby brass under the pipe. Zince does dull but while I was wearing the ring it stayed shining. My guess is that just wearing it in everyday life causes it to be polished.

Great Instructable! You made the steps simple and easy to follow. I have but one suggestion: your caution about the zinc fumes is just a little too tame. It should read like this:

"WARNING! Breathing zinc fumes can KILL YOU! If you decide to do this and find yourself feeling flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, nausea, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough, go directly to the Emergency Room. You may have just contracted Metal Fume Fever."

Here's just one tale about a blacksmith who died from Metal Fume Fever:
Paw-Paw was an all-around great guy. BTW, Anvilfire is a great resource for blacksmithing and metalworking.

Zinc fumes are bad...mmkay?

I've enjoyed your other instructables. Keep 'em coming.

All the Best,
Mrballeng (author)  KoomoriForge2 years ago
Thanks or the comment. I tried looking up statistics on metal fume fever deaths and found nothing except for the anvilfire example. OSHA had this though didn't list death. I'd be very interested on more information. I don't want to leave Earth any faster then needed. 
You're welcome. As a hobbyist metalworker, I find it's easy to disregard safety rules through ignorance or complacency (it won't happen to me). Your caution may be apropos for occasional smelter hobbyists who make one or two rings, but if the smelter has preexisting conditions (like Paw Paw) or if, like a couple of your commenters stated, they want to make lots of rings, metal fume fever may turn into a serious condition.

I found a Scandinavian journal that documented the death of three metalworkers:

Here's an extract: "...The warning follows three independent reports of deaths from pneumonia with septicemia to the NLIA since 1997 among previously healthy men 50 to 55 years of age. All three men were exposed to welding fumes immediately before they fell ill. Two were experienced shipyard welders. According to their widows, they used to have bouts of metal fume fever several times a year..."

Many people survive metal fume fever, but like you said, I'd rather not find out how many times I can survive it. I appreciate your positive reply. Keep up your great work!
Mrballeng (author)  KoomoriForge1 year ago
I'm with you. I'm not taking any chances. Looks like this ring will be the only one I make from zinc.
MrE2 years ago
I share the same sentiments of KoomoriForge. Be safe. Also I was watching "How it's made" the other day. They did a segment on pull handles and knobs for desks and drawers. almost all of this stuff is brass or copper plated Zinc. So another reason to not destroy pennies and recycle some old pulls off of old furniture. So save your pennies to buy junk zinc and help the economy a little, as well as making some cool jewelry.
valveman2 years ago
I can see other possibilities for melting pennies. Great Instructable!
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