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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