Picture of The $4.20 Windchime

Hey All,

First, I would like to thank Make magazine (issue no. 21) for the idea of this wind chime...

The wind chime cost a total of $4.20 to make.

(not including the the swivel or fishing line)

If you like my instructable, please take a second and vote for me!

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Step 1: Items you will need to make the $4.20 Windchime

Picture of Items you will need to make the $4.20 Windchime
The items you will need will be:

  • 16 quarters

  • 2 dimes

  • Monofilament line (fishing line)

  • Fishing Swivel

  • 100 Car-coal train to flatten your coins.

Some patience...(but well worth it)

I used a small grinder with a buffing wheel
and a dremel tool, with cutting attachment.
You will also need a blow torch and some
flux and solder

Step 2: The flattened coins and how to flatten them!

Picture of The flattened coins and how to flatten them!
Now, you have to go find some railroad tracks
and place your quarters and dimes on the track.

Here is where the patience comes in...

Hopefully, come back the next day and retrieve
your flattened quarters and dimes.

No two are alike.
You will have big ones and small ones...

I decided to add a little flare and added
a brass key...

The flattened coins will be dirty, so you will want to
buff and clean them up. (next step)

Step 3: Drilling the holes and cleaning up the flattened coins.

Picture of Drilling the holes and cleaning up the flattened coins.
Now, to polish and drill tiny
holes in the flattened coins.

Any small drill bit will work.
I found that putting the drill bit in
the Dremel, makes it, a lot easier.

I used a little elbow grease and my buffer
to clean up the coins.

Notice that nice copper ring around the flattened coins.

Step 4: Putting the notches in the coins

Picture of Putting the notches in the coins
You will have to grind the
notches in the coins.

You could use a hacksaw, but I find the
Dremel does a better job.

I just eyeballed them.
You could use a Sharpie and mark them, if you wish...

racoontnn3 years ago
One more good presentation. Keep going...
Ok, as to coins being run over by a train... You can, ostensibly, get busted for such a thing, as it is defacing currency, but you can get that too, supposedly, for drawing a mustache in on Lincoln on a $5. It's not gonna get you arrested. It's not an enforced law.
I'd be more worried nowadays around any train, the concern of someone on the engine thinking you had nefarious intent... I don't want the TSA and the FBI showing up at my house asking me what I was doing at the local railyard!
You can do whatever you wish to do with your money. It's unlawful to then try and trade with it afterwards as currency. Such as taking a five dollar bill or a one and making it look like a twenty.
Why Not use the BOWL of spoons. Just do it. I did this on a RR line, using duct tape to hold them down, going across the track to hold each down. Our trains run several times a day, so it wasn't hard to do. But the bowls of spoons work well, as well as forks, flat part of butter knives... think past the money, and you are still LEGAL and yet, have a one of a kind piece! just a thought.
Greasetattoo (author)  shelley echtle3 years ago
GREAT idea, Shelley!

But, spoons are so the same!!!
Suppose you could use different size spoons!

Thanks for the tip!
Isn't it illegal to damage coins???
Pretty windchime, but it is definitely illegal to deface U.S. currancy.
Please refer to this site:

It is definitely illegal!!!
Do you take wiki as fact also?
Actually no its not - many listings on ebay prove that out. Its Canadian currency its illegal to deface

It is and isn't, depending on your intent in "altering" the coins. This is from

1. Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?

Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States. This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.

So, basically, as long as you're not altering the coins and then trying to pass them off as something other than altered coins, you're golden! Or, should I say, nickel! ;D Sorry, terrible pun... ^_^

splazem3 years ago
This is awesome!
allyj3 years ago
FYI this is a dangerous thing to do, the coins can shoot out from the wheels like bullets. It is also illegal to put items on railroad tracks, and you can be charged with tresspassing/vandelism on private property. In extreme cases items placed on tracks can cause problems with the train and can cause the engineer to try and implement an emergency stop if he spots items on the rails. Is making a craft worth the potential difficulties and legal implications...
dread3 years ago
For Canadians interested in the legalities of this there is a law in the criminal code section 456:

In the unlikely event that you are charged with this offence the maximum sentence is 6 months and / or $5000 fine as this is a "summary conviction offence":

If you were to start mass-producing these things the RCMP might come knocking at your factory door. Deterring large scale destruction of coins is the intent of this law. However, nobody is going to arrest your for defacing a few coins. There is also going to be no way to prove that you defaced them in this case.

I can think of many other suitable materials for this project however. When I first saw the photo I actually thought the coins were oyster shells.
KittyF dread3 years ago
I thought they were spoon bowls that were cut off from discarded spoons.
Greasetattoo (author)  KittyF3 years ago
GREAT idea!
Spoon bowls!
smitty3133 years ago
according to the History Channel, a representative from the US Mint said coins that you posses, you own and can do what you like as long as you do not try to recirculate them. Paper money is a different story. and putting them on train tracks is ILLEGAL!
Greasetattoo (author)  smitty3133 years ago
"Paper money is a different story. and putting them on train tracks is ILLEGAL!"

Damn, I put a $5 bill on the tracks yesterday, and still can't find it!!
I spoke with a few guys at the local train yard and they said that you would have to weld a VERY large lump on the track in order to even come close to being able to damage/derail or even make the train operator even notice that the track had something on it. They have run over chains left on the tracks from when they were replacing the ties under the rail, people placing bullets (not a loaded one, just the copper slug) and other things on them have absolutely no effect on the train in anyway whatsoever.

The only thing that they get you on is trespassing--and that's only if you are trying to jump on the train and catch a free ride.
Greasetattoo (author)  smitty3133 years ago
You could get out your trusty maul...
And smash away.

I tried running them over with my truck, with no luck.
So I head to the railroad tracks near by..
Thanks for the comments!
olvegrn3 years ago
Pretty strait to the point. I like it. Just finished mine with some nickels and quarters I smashed about 20 years ago. I don't know why I kept them around.... I used 2 quarters at the top to help spread the "jinglers" apart a little....they still get all tangled up though.
Neat able. I will have to make one soon. As for all the comments about it being illegal to alter coins, if it is SOOOOO ILLEGAL why are there so many machines at Amusement parks and big museums all over the country where you can pay to have a penny or a quarter smashed and imprinted with a design from the park or museum?????
markhutch3 years ago
Couldn't you use the "bowl" end of some old spoons?
Greasetattoo (author)  markhutch3 years ago
Yes, you could. Great idea..
But, that kinda takes the fun out of it!
Thanks for the kind comment!
My mom does stuff like that, she makes braclets though
Melt2233 years ago
My only request, Grease...would be to include a clip of the sound it makes. I've made many flattened coins as a kid...might do it again, too!
pwasniewski4 years ago
How does the chime sound?
Greasetattoo (author)  pwasniewski4 years ago
Not bad...

Kinda low pitched....

It is actually hanging in my mother in laws, house.
This is a great idea,  I would like to make this with my after school students, but with the torch it would be to much of a responsibility , but thought I could do that part at home and they would finish the rest as a group.

... epxoy ?
Kiteman4 years ago
If you're leaving coins (or anything else) on railway tracks, please note that (in the UK) you are committing a prosecutable offence.

Also in many areas of the US - even some places where it is not technically illegal.  I've seen people get arrested for this.

General rule of thumb: pennies = OK, anything larger = Not OK.
Putting coins, or anything on rails is ILLEGAL EVERYWHERE in the US. There are both state and federal laws that cover it.

You can flatten coins with a sledge hammer too.
Greasetattoo (author)  skylane4 years ago
Just don't get caught! lol
Then again, pennies are still a pretty bad idea.
st.paul4 years ago
i clicked on this because it said 420 :)  anyway really cool looking wind chime
Greasetattoo (author)  st.paul4 years ago
Yeah, I was looking for a Budweiser cap to hang from the middle!
But, couldn't find one. Suppose I could have went and bought a 6 pack.

Get it?
$4:20 with a