Star Trek Pin! From a Nickel and a Copper Pipe





Introduction: Star Trek Pin! From a Nickel and a Copper Pipe

Recently I've been learning lots of skills from all other authors here. Special thanks to one of my favorites, Mrballeng, who deserves much of the credit for the methods I've used. This instructable is kind of a mashup of his teardrop pendant and copper rocket locket. I've been pleased with the results I have gotten, and I figured I'd put these skills together to make something of my own!

I decided to make the cool little insignia worn on the uniforms of characters in Star Trek! I was able to use cheap and easy to come by materials. The total cost was maybe $5.05 (including the nickel).

Hopefully this instructable is of help to some people, and anyone is welcome to make any changes of their own! Please share if you do!

Step 1: You Will Need:


•A nickel

•Copper pipe (around 1" in diameter, a couple inches long will do)

•A pin-backing (optional)

A variety of tools can be used, but these are what I used:

•Dremel/Rotary tool with cutting and grinding bits

•Bench grinder

•Drill press



•Anvil-like surface (I used a sledgehammer)

•Tin snips/shears

•Sandpaper (180, 400, 1000, 2000)

•Buffing compound

•Propane torch & silver solder

•Super glue/5-min epoxy

Step 2: Top Layer: Flatten a Nickel

Place a nickel on a hard, flat surface such as an anvil or sledge hammer, and carefully flatten with another hammer. I heated the nickel until it was red-hot with a propane torch to speed the process. The surface area of the coin should be noticeably greater, and the details of the coin will be gone.

Step 3: Draw Pattern and Rough Cut

Use a black sharpie to draw in the outline of the top layer of the insignia. I sanded the surface a little to make the marker easier to see first, because the nickel will likely be blackened after heating and hammering. You can use a template or not (I didn't). Use shears or tin snips to roughly cut out the shape.

Step 4: Refine the Shape

Use whatever combination of Dremel tool and bench grinder you like to shape the insignia more finely.

Step 5: Back Layer: From Pipe to Sheet

Take a section of copper pipe a couple inches long and cut down the length of one side using tin snips or a cutting bit. I used a combination of pliers, a small bench vise, and the "anvil" to flatten the pipe into a sheet. Be aware of damage you cause to the surface, as any marring will take more time to buff out later on. Sandwiching the pipe between pieces of leather could be a good way to protect the metal.

Once you have the sheet, trace the top piece and draw in the back oval. Once you have the outline, use the same shaping process as from before.

Step 6: Make the Parts Look Pretty

I don't have much equipment for sanding and polishing, so I used what I had. I took a wooden dowel, wrapped a sheet of 180 grid paper around it with tape, and chucked it into the drill press. The result is kind of a makeshift flap sander that is surprisingly effective. Be careful to notice which direction it will spin when wrapping. If you have more robust methods of doing this, by all means, use them.

Use this dowel sander to smooth the surfaces and edges and remove marring from the two pieces. Start with the 180 grit, then move on to 400, 1000, and 2000. With the copper piece I stopped at 400 grit, because I wanted the top layer to be shinier.

Step 7: Solder Them Together and Add the Pin Backing.

Apply flux paste to the front of the copper and the back of the nickel, place a small piece of flattened solder in between, and heat with the propane torch. After a few seconds the solder will melt and the nickel will settle into place. Stop the heat and cool off with water from a spray bottle. The metal will oxidize and change color from the heat, and going over it with the 2000 grit sandpaper will remove the color.

I got this pin backing from a random pin I had (I used a lighter to melt the glue holding the pin on and it came right off) and super glued it onto the back. You could solder it on, I just wasn't confident in my ability to do so without ruining the other bond.

Step 8: Finished!

There it is! A nice-looking, little Star Trek insignia pin. I think it looks kind of steampunky. Maybe it was from the early, slightly less-shiny federation days. I'm super pleased with the way it turned out, and I'll be experimenting more right away.



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would it be possible to use brass or something goldish in color being how being how it was mentioned to be partially made out of gold?

Hey, great project. It looks really sharp polished out like that. Shiny stuff is cool :-)

Here are a couple things that will be handy for future projects.

If you electroplate the nickel piece with copper, you'll be able to solder it using plain old 60/40 solder. You can use a swab to apply the copper solution so it only covers where you want it to.

Once everything is polished up just as you like, clean it throughly with a solvent and soft cloth then spray on a couple careful light coats of transparent conformal coating. That's the stuff that is sprayed onto circuit boards to prevent corrosion. That'll stop it from tarnishing and getting dull. Most of them are removable with the 99% isopropyl alcohol you get from a paint store/aisle. (I strongly advise against using rubbing alcohol)

Soldering the pin to the back would be simple; even if the the first sweat solder reflows, it will solidify again when the solder on the pin does. I've heard soldering described as the art of creative stacking. So you just need to place the pin on your soldering block in a way to let gravity hold the pieces in place while your solder flows and hardens.

I am SO going to have to make one of these for our middle son! Great 'ible and very followable! Thanks for the excellent description, photos, and details. I have always said that my husband was not thinking when he named our (now) middle son James! No, his middle initial is not T but the James part just fits too well with the rest of our name (he was named after our family doctor, who became James's godfather). Because he grew up with the inevitable nickname Captain, he had the Star Trek badge tattooed on his chest. He'll love wearing a strategically placed pin on his jacket! I'll add photos when I get this project all together. Thanks again for such an inviting project!

Excellent project thank You. ~(:-})

Make it so!

The more I think of it, the more those three words apply in numerous ways to this.

You get an honorary diploma from Starfleet Academy :^)

Great instructable! Think I'll make one of my own now. Love the improvised flap sander.

I like that, very nice

Thanks! I only made it a few days ago, so I haven't really gotten to see how it will/will not react. I expect that it will eventually, because I didn't put any sort of coating on it. I guess we'll have to see!

Awesome! I love this. Imagine the possibilities...if you can draw it (well, shape it) you can make it. Super, super awesome.

I have a couple of questions though. How long ago did you make it? Have you noticed any oxidation of the copper or of the nickel/silver part?

Way cool! Thanks for the shout out. Brent.

I used to flatten my copper pennies and nickels on the train tracks, but then the results were nothing like this! Very nice!

Being a Trekie, I approve! Nice job for
your first piece. Keep up the good work!

Looks like a lot of work, but worth it! Make it so!

That is so cool! Nice ible too!

Gorgeous work! You should wear this beauty with pride.

I also love that you shouted out to your source of instruction and inspiration. That's very thoughtful!