Give a Hot Tip: Peel a $2 Bill From a Pad!




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Unless you are a stiff and never tip any service people, you probably are accustomed to shelling out a few bucks for wait staff, a valet, concierge or some other service. You break out your wallet, or pull out a wad of bills you’ve stuffed in your pocket just for that purpose, discretely select an appropriate amount and pass it over to the recipient with a hearty thank you. A ho hum exercise in civil society that’s a bit more painful for those of us with less means that those with plenty. OK, so how can we make it a little more jovial? How about pad of $2 bills. Seemingly just off the press, ink freshly dry, all serial numbers sequential and in numerical order, neatly assembled and connected together at the top like a good legal pad, each note ready to be peeled off and disbursed in grateful manner to the deserving party.

“Why thank you my good man. Let me give you one of these, fresh off the press last night”.

You retrieve your innocuous pad of bills and proceed to peel off the remuneration, handing it over to the wide eyed recipient who is now puzzling whether it’s real. The almost certain question arises and you get the pleasure of either A) passing along the reality that $2 bills are legal tender, still in circulation, and encouraged to be used by the US Treasury, or B) explaining how your nefarious uncle printed these up last night in his basement. (Selection B is discouraged as you may have some explaining to do to the Secret Service later.) In any case, the novelty of the pad thing adds to the levity of the moment. Feel weird about using $2 bills, you can do the same thing with ones, fives, tens, and so on. If you decide to do it with hundred dollar bills, I personally accept tips. :-)


Step 1: Materials and Tools:

  • Fresh, uncirculated $2 bills (or whatever denomination you desire)
  • Non-corrugated cardboard pad backing
  • Padding compound
  • A padding press, or two straight wood blocks with sharp corners on the long sides.
  • Scissors
  • Razor knife
  • Clamps
  • Small paint brush

Step 2: Acquire Your Bills

The bills must be fresh and uncirculated. Why? So they’ll pad well and so their serial numbers will be sequential (for effect, of course). So where do you get fresh, uncirculated $2 bills? Your bank! While there may be exceptions that I haven’t experienced, you simply go in and requests a to withdraw $100 from your account but specify you want a bundle of new $2 bills. I’ve done this three times and on one occasion, the bank had them in stock, on two other occasions the bank said they needed to order them and they’d call me when they arrived. In both of those cases, the new bills arrived within a couple of days.

So now you have your fresh $2 bills, hot off the press (the US Treasury’s press, of course).

Step 3: Cut the Pad Back

Make sure your bills are neatly stacked and trace their outline on the cardboard that will be used as the pad’s back. The cardboard should be of the non-corrugated variety, essentially what you see on any paper writing pad. Now carefully cut the cardboard so that it is the exact size of the bundle of bills.

Step 4: Assemble the Pad Bundle

Place the cardboard pad back behind the last bill in the bundle, and place the whole thing in between the wood blocks. Now carefully tap the whole assembly several times on your work table with the bill tops facing down to bring all the bill top edges, the cardboard backing and the wood blocks in line along a common plane. Carefully clamp the blocks together so that the whole thing feels pretty solid. The side of the blocks that was tapped down on the table should feel pretty much as a single surface if you run a finger across the wood, bill and cardboard edges.

Step 5: Compounding the Pad

Padding compound is the magic ingredient that brings the whole project together (yeah, awkward pun). The padding compound I used was a many years old jar that I retrieved from the nether regions of our workshop, but it’s available all over the web and in most retail office supply stores.

Place the clamped stack of bills on its side with some newspaper under the whole thing to protect your table. Using a small paint brush, simply paint a medium thin layer of compound across the clamped edges of the bills and cardboard bundle.

Tip: Brush from the center toward the left and right edges to avoid getting the compound on the sides of the bills. Don’t make the compound too thick as you want the bills to tear off neatly from the pad with little or no residue.

Now set the assembly aside now and let it dry for a couple of hours.

Hot Tip: Want to speed up the drying? Carefully use a hair dryer, gingerly moving it back and forth across the moist compound so as not to overheat it. Should dry in about 5 minutes or so. Be sure it's dry before moving to the next step.

Step 6: Remove and Have Some Fun!

Once the compound is dry, disassemble by removing the clamps and using a sharp razor knife to cut the now-padded bills from the wood blocks. Done. Now assemble a set of stories about where in the world you got that pad of bills and the recipients will remember you forever. Have fun!

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61 Discussions


3 years ago on Introduction

I love this! I agree about the school glue. I use it to fix my magnetic refrigerator note pads. I clamp them with clothes pins and run a bead of glue over the ends. Taadaa!

When i worked at Kinkos the stuff we used to make pads of paper was just Elmer's glue. It seemed slightly watered down, though.


3 years ago

Steam iron old notes to make them flat, their crispness doesn't suit their appearance, which makes them strange.


3 years ago on Introduction

Cut the cardboard back a little shorter on the long end, center it to bills and put it in a checkbook cover. Plasti Dip also works for padding compound.

3 replies

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

How cool is that! I didn't even need to trim the cardboard back off mine. It just fit right in my checkbook cover. :-) Thanks for expanding the concept Chevy!


Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

OK, so now you can have a half-and-half pad: Cheques up the front, cash up the back (or v.v.) -- when someone needs paying/offer a tip:"Would you like a cheque or cash?" ... and then whichever they say, pull out the chequebook, show the "wrong" end first and flip through to the right end :)

Magicians (and geeks) have been using rolls-of-notes to freak people out for a while. Rubber cement to join them into a long roll, tear off like toilet paper.

I've also seen people use a money-printing press to "print" a blank sheet of paper into currency, which although perfectly real currency, gets a funny look and a call for a manager!


3 years ago on Introduction

I like it. Not too much effort, pretty cool and has a snap to it. I might use it as a template for a smaller form business card/resume to hand out. Thumbs up.

1 reply

3 years ago on Introduction

This is so ridiculous, it's brilliant. This is my next project.


3 years ago

A co-worker has been doing this along time and he gets a kick out of it. It does raise eye brows. So please if you will do this for your self. Be ready to speak with local authorities before you leave the store or business. Being in banking myself, yes it's possible to have the secret service involved as well. They do handle all fraudulent currency in this country! You most likely won't get in trouble for doing this. They are real but if you have something else like a warrant or expired tags. You may not want to call attention to your self.
Side note.... those liquor stores that you see them taped up on a wall or cash register. That's actually against the law. By law they needed to be sent direct to the secret service and no they won't reimburse the dollar amount.

1 reply