You can make a custom ring out of most coins with less than a $50 investment in some tools. You can make one form start to finish in about an hour after your are familiar enough with the process and then you can make them for family, friends, or even sell them for a good profit.
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Step 1: Tools You Will Need
Here are the recommended tools for the project:
There are more expensive tools you can get, but this is the starter set
1. Nylon Hammer
2. Steel Mandrel (For Sizing the ring) - You can use a drill press if you have access to one
3. Punch Set
4. Propane or Map Gas Blowtorch
5. A Coin - I am using a post 1964 quarter for this demonstration
6. Mother's Polishing Compound
7. Board with hole (For punching the mandrel through the coin)
8. Standard Hammer
9. 1/4" Section of PVC Pipe with cap (For driving the coin down the mandrel)
Step 2: Choose Your Coin
I will be using a post 1965 quarter for this build. Any quarter that was made before 1965 quarter is approximately 90% silver and can still be forged into a coin, but it is more vital to watch the temperature of the coin so you do not scorch it.
Step 3: Measure for Punching Out the Center
Using you calipers and measure the diameter of the coin and then measure the diameter of the punch.
Here is the formula to get the center measurement:
Diameter of Coin - Diameter of the punch / 2
Set the Caliper to the final number
With the caliper set, set the coin in the edge of the caliper and draw a line, rotate the coin about 15 degrees and draw another line. Once you have moved the coin in the full 360 degrees you should be left with a completely centered circle ready to punch out. If you want to see a better demonstration of this step, watch the video.
Use a paper towel to help set the coin up so it does not slip around on the punch platform.
Step 6: Punch the Coin
With everything line up, use a heavy hammer or small sledge to knock the punch through the coin. You can do this on the top of an anvil or just on the ground, but it will need to be on a solid surface to prevent the coin from moving around.
**Make sure that you take your time to set all of this up correctly. If you punch the hole off center, it will never look quite right when done.
Step 7: Anneal the Coin
The annealing process helps to set the coin up for bending into shape. Heat the coin up with the torch and quench it in water just when it starts turning red. If you heat it too long, you can ruin the coin. Once quenched in the water, it should be safe to handle.
***Please be careful while working with the flame, the coin will get extremely hot. Use a pair of long reach pliers or other insulated device for holding the coin while heating it up.
Step 8: Set the Coin on the Mandrel
Drill a hole in a board that is the same width as the end of the mandrel. Place the coin on the mandrel and with your hammer, drive the mandrel through the coin. Now the coin is ready to begin folding over into a ring.
Step 9: Folding the Coin Into a Ring
This is the process that takes the longest and it is somewhat repetitive. Begin by using the nylon hammer and striking the coin towards the center while pushing outward to the edge of the coin. Take your time with this step - if you try to hit the coin too aggressively and try to bend it too quickly, then you can be left with a mishapen and then it's nearly impossible to recover.
Step 10: Sizing the Ring
When it feels like the ring is not moving much, remove it and anneal again. When you place the ring back on the mandrel, use the PVC pipe and cap to drive the ring further down the mandrel. Continue to do this until it is the desired size.
***Be careful not to stretch the coin too quickly, it can crack and ruin the coin. One way to help prevent this is to use a small file and file the inside of the coin.
Step 11: Final Sizing
When you reach the desired size, you will notice that part of the ring is flared out like a bell. Flip the coin upside down and fold the proud edge towards the mandrel
Step 12: Final Touches
At this point, your ring is probably looking a little dirty and grimy, it's time for polish. Use just a small amount of polish on the coin and thoroughly rub and buff the coin. The coin should look infinitely better, but if you want it to have something that is even closer to a jewelers shine, take it to a buffing wheel or use a buffing bit on a rotary tool and it should look like a brand new ring.
Step 13: Tips and Suggestions
Your experience will vary depending on what coin you use. If you are using foreign coins, try to test and experiment beforehand, some may not bend as easily as others.,
Check your national laws for modifying coins. The United States allows this as long as you are not changing the inherent value of the coin, but this does not apply to other countries, do your research.