Geocaching Wooden Nickels




This instructable is for those of you who what your own personal geocoin, but don’t want to pay that $200 price tag to go with it. 
It’s A LOT cheaper to make your own wooden nickels than it is to have them made.  Most companies on the net have a min. order of 500 and can cost about 50 cents each to make.  With this instructable you can make start making your own coins for less than $10 worth of supplies, then after that make them for less than 20 cents a piece.

Step 1:

List of things you need:
Computer & printer or memory device
Laser photo copy  (about 9 cents at your local copy shop)
Non poly nylon paintbrush  (sometimes you have these laying around, or about $1)
Regular paintbrush or foam brush  (sometimes you have these laying around, or less than $1)
Wooden disk (about $2-$3 at Michaels or Joanns)
Glass jar with a lid  (you might have 1 laying around, or $1 at Joanns)
Acetone  NOT NAIL POLISH REMOVER ($2.50 at Wal-mart)
Polyurethane (clear coat) or clear nail polish (Polyurethane $3-$5, clear nail polish $1)

Step 2:

On your computer make the design you want on your geocoin, remembering to keep it simple, and to remember that black and white copies work best, but color will work.  When you do color it doesn’t transfer as well and as clear.  Sometimes being too light to show up.
I use paint  when making my coins, but any photo shop program will do.

Step 3:

I then print one picture to make sure it’ll fit on my coin by holding the paper up to the light and the coin behind it.  After making sure it fits, I copy it and make as many as I can fit on a piece of paper,  Which is usually 6 across and 8 down.  Then you need to mirror the whole page.  I then print it, or you can save it to a memory device and take that to a copy store like Staples or Office Depot, and have them make me a copy on their laser printer.  Ask for copy paper, they now have this shinny paper and it don't transfer as well. ALSO MAKE SURE THEY PRINT IT ON THE BLACK AND WHITE PRINTER, not the color printer, as alot of the color printers won't transfer the image. (the best copies for this come from those cheap copiers at your local convenience store for like a quarter.)  If you have a laser printer at home, you can skip this step.  Next cut out your pictures.

Step 4:

DO NOT USE NAIL POLISH REMOVER WITH ACETONE IT WILL NOT WORK. They sell acid tone at Walmart by the fake nail section.

Pour your acetone into your glass jar, making sure you have a lid for your jar. If you don’t have a lid have something handy to put over your jar, as acetone evaporates faster than rubbing alcohol! I then take my non poly nylon paintbrush or natural bristle paintbrush and brush a light layer of acetone onto the coin. (Make sure you use a non poly nylon paintbrush with the acetone or the bristles will melt.)

Step 5:

Take your cutout and place over the coin printed side down. Then brush a layer of acetone over the back of the cutout.

Step 6:

Next take the end of your paintbrush and burnish the paper, using med. pressure, until it dries. Which will happen quickly, about 30 seconds to a minute.

Step 7:

Peel the paper off right away, or it won’t come off.

Step 8:

After you let the coin dry for about 2 or 3 minutes you can do the other side if you want a 2 sided coin, repeat steps 2-5 on the other side.

Step 9:

I then take clear coat polyurethane or clear nail polish and coat the coin to keep it waterproof. Which keeps the wood from cracking, and/or warping.

Step 10: Geocaching Wooden Nickels

Lastly enjoy your new coin, and Happy Geocaching!



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16 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

tried to do, but unfortunately it was difficult get to acetone. I was looking for something simpler and easier way may be found. procedure is the same but instead of chemicals I used laser printer and flatiron. just iron out the image on the wood (takes about 2min)
some thing like this
that's just a suggestion for making nickels :)

5 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

*Laser print image (b&w or color) (mirror if needed)
*Use some tape to hold paper to the wood(wood must be flat as possible)
*Heat with flatironand use some pressure and move iron until the image is projected onto wood

Same can be found on youtube i will try to find link and post


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Hiya, acetone is readily available in the form of nail polish remover, perhaps that could work?


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Yes. You must contact go to the trackables page. There where they sell the trackable, they also sell trackable numbers. but the only way to make them trackable is to have a number. They usually sell them in bulks of like 50 or so. But if you don't want to spend that much you can also buy any trackable item and print the trackable number on the "coin" just don't turn the original loose or it'll cause confusion in the tracking field.


6 years ago on Introduction

Couldn't you just use a rubber stamp to stamp the wooden disks? Seems like it'd be a lot easier.

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

You can, but it cost between $15 and $25 to get your stamps made, if you like to change your design alot that would get expensive really quick! and a copy only cost 9 cents at Staples.


7 years ago on Introduction

I'm very temped to start geocaching myself. From what I read it is fuuun :)


7 years ago on Introduction

Cool stuff! Crazy idea: have tried printing directly vernier (thin sheet of wood used in decoration of furniture)? I'm am still new to Geocaching, looks very much fun!

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I got this idea from someone who used it to copy plans on vernier to make model airplanes, to cut out, it worked easier than tracing them, because they were exact copies.