Picture of How to make a Vintage Locket
No special tools or know-how needed.

Everything I could find about making lockets required fancy tools or know-how. So, I set out to make one without them. I’m sure it’s been done for hundreds of years though, for me, figuring this out took about 20 hours, a dollar worth of nickels, and half a box of paper clips. It’ll be well worth it if someone else makes one.

Step 1: Hammer Out Two Nickels

Picture of Hammer Out Two Nickels
Use a smooth faced hammer on a smooth surface. I like to start out by placing a smaller ball peen hammer on the coin and using a larger hammer to pound it. This helps keep the coin in place and better directs your blows where you need them. Wear your safety glasses.

Once the detail of the coin begins to disappear, hammer along the edge. Notice that the coin has a tapered edge in the fourth picture. After you taper the entire edge of the coin, go back to the center with hammer on hammer. Do this until the coin is an 1¼” in diameter.
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This is gorgeous! But if everybody starts making antique jewellery in their own homes with nickels, I might just find myself out of business haha! The truly antique stuff come with a bit of history too actually and hopefully that will be enough to keep people coming to the stores! Haha!

Edbed2 months ago

This looks so cool.

TalontheShade4 months ago
This process could be used with any type of coin, (Such as half-dollars and quarters) right?
MadisonH15 months ago

I haven't been having much luck, but then I started frim actual bottel caps... I can't figure out how to get the bumps out... they just don't turn out smooth like yours! its kinda bugging me, but i'll figure it out.

MangrumD1 year ago

I would like to say, I did this project. Theses steps are very well done, and I produced an amazing locket for my son to give to his mother, for mother's day. I will note the hardest part of this project is making the hinge, and getting it correctly. You absolutely need to have the nose cone pliers, even though I managed without them, I had to be creative to do it without them, but my life would have been 10 thousand times easier had I had the nose cone pliers!

Corinbw MangrumD6 months ago

I have started making jewelry also and after a ball peen hammer the next thing I got was a pair of cone nose pliers. Men are really small, but they are great for making jewelry, I use them all the time.

kaitlyn.4 years ago
isent it illigal to do that?
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 U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.

Then what about the penny souvenir transforming machines? Are those illegal too?

does that mean this is illegil?? i was wondering cuz thousands of people do this by squishing coins on a railroad or those squished penny machine's
No it is not unless you want to still use it as a coin.?
Thinks of all those machines that turn pennies into souvenirs for $1.00, I guess Disneyland and others would be in a heap of trouble...
Not to state coins, from what I recall

Those of us in Canada and Britain are out of luck though D:
riocruz made it!9 months ago

This instructable got me hooked on this site. Just had to make one. Gave it to someone special too. Thank you Mrballeng.

amarshall211 months ago

Thank you so much for this instructable. I was trying to find something nice to do for my girlfriend. Tomorrow is our 1 year anniversary. The only thing is the doming process, which I completely screwed up the first time, so on my second attempt I ended up just leaving the 2 pieces flat. I like the look of it though, and am very happy with the final product. My only concern is how durable the paperclip hinges will be and how well they stand up to time and wear and tear.

RingoWild1 year ago

Brilliant man, brilliant!!


Did you decide on a nickel just for the size or was it also for the malleability?

You must have good paper clips -- I've tried some gentle bending with clips and snapped them. Did you anneal the paper clip? (I'm guessing not because you probably would have mentioned it, seeing as you covered everything so beautifully!)

Many thanks for this EXCELLENT instructable! People like you make this site a great place for quality info! -- Lori

Mrballeng (author)  RingoWild1 year ago
I used nickels because the are readily available. That way getting in the practice to make one doesn't cost a fortune. No annealing, just the plain ol' paper clips I got at the store. Thanks for comment.
GomSeMaRi4 years ago
OMG... i never imagined something this beautifull would come out of a couple of coins... and free time... i`ll have to do do this project too... but i`m missing some tools... and im a girl ... my dad wouldn`t let me handle a hammer... I`ll try this at some friends... Thank you for the Instructable... Ure great
im onle 10my dad lets me use it whenever alsong as he know what im doing
LOL same here but my dad would let me use a hammer if he is right next to me...... trust me you can make it im currently making mine at the moment and im 13 LOL
pmae1 year ago
How does it stay closed?
Mrballeng (author)  pmae1 year ago
It just hangs shut since the hinge is on top instead of the side.
I'm astonished, I can't believe that a similar jewel can be made freehand!
calebghall2 years ago
I'm having some issues rolling the edge over the coat hanger. I'm not sure if I have enough of an edge. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about making the hinge and trying to glue or solder it somehow. I just can't find a way with my tools to butt it up against anything enough to hammer the edge down.
Mrballeng (author)  calebghall2 years ago
That seems to be the most difficult part. For the the trick was to make sure the edges was cut square but putting washers inside the cap while filing. Some times I sit Indian style and use the sole of my shoe to keep one hammer from moving while I hit the piece with another hammer. I made this before I knew how to solder. That's why it's all cold joints. Solder might be tricky with paper clips but it is possible with practice.
Wohlrab2 years ago
How Long Does The Nickel Last InLocket Form? Does It degrade? How Often Should It Be Polished?
Mrballeng (author)  Wohlrab2 years ago
It will last for as long as you have it. How often you polish it is really a matter of preference. It's been a couple years since I've made a few things out of nickel and I still haven't polish them. They look just fine.
Did some more work and here is the final product
Here is mine so far. I want to sand and polish a little bit more to get rid of the black spots. I have a lot of work to do on the hinge. I just cannot seem to get it to work right. Perhaps a different design.
Here is a photo of my completed locket. I opted not to sand it down, and rather enjoy the roughness of it...I believe my lady will as well, heh. There are few things I would definitely spend more time on if I make another (really filing down the cusp evenly before folding it over the wire form, and spending more time on the wire form folding. I would also buy another file to make the little hole with, as mine is kind of...rough). Overall I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Any tips on how to 'easily' alter a photo to be the size of a nickle? My photoshopping days are long past, and I'm curious if there is a simpler method.

Thanks for the great Instructable!
What year nickels would be best to use? I like the way yours turned oit by the way.
Mrballeng (author)  VailenDersate2 years ago
I don't know for sure but any current nickel will do. Nothing special about them.
gnarledwolf2 years ago

This is staggering! I've got so many ideas from this. thank you for posting!
Mrballeng (author)  gnarledwolf2 years ago
Great! Don't forget to share your pictures.
spgem2 years ago
Absolutely genius!
luluka2 years ago
beautiful but hard!!! :)
greenjedi2 years ago
This is fantastic!
This is such a great instructable, shame I don't live in the US - hopefully our local coins will work or I may have to buy some nickels! Brilliant Idea with the hinge, I have been wondering for ages how I could make one. Adding a magnet is a great idea too
hello mrballeng,
im nearly done with my necklace and im wondering if theres any way you can make a tutorial to make a latch to this necklace.
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