Introduction: How to Knuckle-Roll a Coin Like Doc Holliday

About: I like to make things
If anyone who is still breathing has not seen the movie Tombstone this may come as a surprise, but you can, indeed, roll a coin down the knuckles of your hand. It's very simple to learn, but takes a bit of patience and practice.  This instructable will teach you how to do it.

Okay, so I really don't know if the real Doc Holliday ever actually rolled a coin across his knuckles while playing high-stakes poker, but it could have happened, right?  Frankly, who cares?  Val Kilmer did it while portraying Mr. Holliday in the movie and it has been cool ever since.  It may have been cool before, but things only get cooler after a movie star portraying a quick-drawing, intelligent, articulate, irreverent, hard-drinking, heavy gambling, and yet very sick gun fighter does it on the silver screen. 

This is not a terribly easy thing to describe in the written word alone so I have included a brief video of me performing the feat somewhat poorly, though passably.  But don't forget the Tombstone video either, as Val does a great job!  I apologize in advance for my ineptitude.  In my defense, however, I used to do this much better, but simply fell out of practice.  So now I can't do it well.  Add that to a growing list of things I used to be able to do and let's start!

(And yes, I know I need lotion.  It's cold in Indiana right now.)

Step 1: Choosing a Coin

The first step is choosing a coin.  The coin size is important, as you will find out.  Too big or too small of a coin will not roll the correct way over your knuckles.  This is going to be an individual decision as we don't all have the same size fingers.  I find that an American half dollar works for me.  You may need something a little smaller or a little larger.  Experiment.  If you can't find something in your own nation's currency you can always try something from a different country.  Coin value makes no difference as people will be mesmerized more by your technique than the fact that you are in possession of a Golden dollar or whatever else you may procure (unless you are spending time with numismatics).

Step 2: Heads or Tails?

The amount of fingers most of us have means the coin will be in the same position each time it is rolled across the knuckles.  In other words, if you start with it heads up on your index finger it will return to that position each time you reset to start another roll.  This, incidentally, is the way I like to do it.  Why does it matter? you ask.  For one reason: friction.  Perhaps having something to do with the amount of surface area touching skin.  The head side of the coin seems to stick to my skin more when returning it to the starting position.  This will vary with different coins, of course, and personal preference.  Just see what works for you.

As well, if it is humid, you've just washed your hands, just applied lotion, or any other scenario you can think of to make your hands sticky, this does not work well.  The coin only has to roll across your knuckles, yes, but it also has to slide across a lot of skin to get back (as we will see).

Let's move on so you know what I'm talking about.

Step 3: Starting Position

Hold the coin between your thumb and the side of your pointer finger (hereafter referred to as 'pointer,' with other fingers 'middle,' 'ring,' 'pinkie,' referred to in like fashion) just like in the pic.  This is the starting position.  From here you will move the coin up and over the top of your pointer and let it roll over your finger.  As it does so you raise your middle finger (not too much, don't want to offend anyone. . .) and catch the coin as it rolls over.  You'll catch the coin with the side of your finger just a bit below the mid-point.  Look at the pics to see what I mean. 

Step 4: Give 'em the Finger After All

After catching the coin on the side of your middle finger, bring your middle finger down to meet the rest of Rosie's sisters and the coin will flip over the finger and roll on to the next one.  This is repeated one more time over your ring finger and then we reach the pinky, which will be detailed in the next step.

Step 5: The Drop

And now we have come to the pinky.  If you simply roll the coin over your pinky like the other fingers, the coin will roll off onto the floor or your lap and you will not be able to repeat the rolling, which is not a good thing (see my final video. . .).  To be able to do this over and over we must return back to the starting point.  This is the first step to a repeat performance.

Having reached the gap between your ring finger and pinky, let the coin drop through the crack between the two.  This will take a bit of practice to keep from, once again, dropping it.  Check out the second picture to see how you catch the coin with your thumb as it falls through.  You're going to have to spend some time with this.  An online tutorial with pics and vid will never make you a master.  Doing it and practicing it is the order of the day.  But I digress.  Let's get on with it!

And without further ado, I bring you [Drum-roll please!] the return. . .

Step 6: It All Comes Back Around

Now that you have let the coin drop between your ring and pinky finger and caught it with your thumb, simply slide the coin back up to the starting point.  This is where the particular side of the coin makes a difference.  For me, the tails side slides easier across the bottom of my fingers than the heads.  Heads tends to stick to my skin a bit more and the action is not as smooth.  And as I stated before, with the amount of fingers most of us possess, the coin will be in the same orientation every time you do this.  Choose the side that works best for you.

At this point we are back to the beginning and after a bit of practice the whole thing can become fluid and be repeated over and over to the cheers and applause of your friends and the consternation of your enemies. 

Step 7: So What Have We Learned?

I am no Val Kilmer.  And as I said before, I used to be a lot better at this, but have fallen out of practice a bit.  I have found, however, that after a bit of brushing up I can get pretty close to my former glory in a short period of time (I did practice a LOT before I was able to do this with any precision).  This video shows the basic moves, but does not reflect that brushing up I alluded to.  It's a bit rough, but will allow you to see me do it so you know I can:

You probably really don't care if I can actually do it or not, though.  I don't blame you.  But Doc Holliday (aka Val Kilmer) did it, and that's all that really matters, right?  Besides, it's just a cool thing to be able to do sometime randomly and freak some people out.  Have fun!  And practice!  You don't wanna look like this:


P.S.  If you think this instructable is cool please feel free to vote for me in the contest.  I would appreciate it.  Thanks so much!
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