Penny Buttons




About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.

Saturday night, about to head out. No jeans.

I am incapable of buying new jeans, after the last time, looking a few pairs of simple, black jeans I went through three shops looking for jeans that'd have the right waist and fit my calves in, apparently regular cut jeans are skinny now too. Or it has something to do with the foolish shape my body describes.

These jeans had a big hole where the button should be. Not a quick repair with no rivet buttons and sewing skills that aspire to mediocrity.

The jeans also have some teeth missing on the zip, a safety pin acts a stop on the busted side, so the zipper doesn't fall off. I need new jeans.

Looking at my change jar created a five minute fix that really did work, survives the washing machine and all!

Video if you'd rather see and hear me be awkward about my trampy buttons...

Step 1: Holes in Pennies

To make the holes in the pennies I didn't do too much hoking about, I grabbed a 4mm drill bit - a cheap Bosch one.

I sprayed WD-40 on to the penny, letting the rim of it hold a puddle to help keep the bit cool, since I hadn't drilled much metal with these bits.

3 in 1 or WD-40 are fine in lieu of cutting fluid for little things.

I held these with my carpenter's pincers since the vice wasn't out and this was a rush effort, on a cutting mat with the leg of a picture frame removed during my last project.

When drilling metal with no vice there's a sweet spot, I had the drill on the faster gear but didn't keep the speed particularly high, too low and the cutting edge gets a chance to dig as you hold it, too high and you'll just cook the bit.

By the by, a guy I used to work with put a snapped drill bit through my thumbnail while drilling a hole to repair a stainless chimney pot by leaning on it too hard, it took three months to get the last of the shards of metal and nail out as it grew forward, so don't wail on it either.

Step 2: Begin the Button

The first bit of the button is the front of it, with the front penny hanging loose against the head of the bolt.

Behind it is a nut threaded on as far as the thickness of another penny and another nut to the end of the bolt. (this nut gets pressed against by the penny and another nut)

Step 3: Add the Button

Slip the bolt through the hole in your jeans and put the second penny on, thread the second nut on behind the penny.

There's a photo of it stacked up sans jeans to be clear.

The second penny could be a washer or both of them for that matter, it just stops the whole lot from slipping through the hole in the jeans.

Step 4: Tighten Until You're on Fleek

Tighten the back nut up against the first one as tight at possible.

Now you should have a tightly locked backing penny and a loose front one for a button.

You're now fashionable. Or at least you're not accidentally exposing yourself to people.

Metal Contest

Participated in the
Metal Contest

Unusual Uses Challenge

Participated in the
Unusual Uses Challenge



    • Pets Challenge

      Pets Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Sensors Contest

      Sensors Contest

    25 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I love this! great idea! thanx! :)


    3 years ago on Introduction

    lovlylocs0 seconds ago

    of using a nut and bolt to attach the penny, I'd drill 2 small holes in
    the penny, 1/8" inch apart and sew in on like a normal button. Just
    make sure you smooth the drill holes so the thread will not be cut.

    1 reply

    I'd like to do that with something, the nut and bolt serve to make this a replacement for a broken out rivet button - the penny was larger than the torn hole.


    Why drill your pennies? Simply create a base and then glue them on for a full faced penny rather than an ugly screw going through the middle. Oh and BTW it's not ileagal to drill pennies from other sovereign nations. :) at least not here;)

    2 replies

    Did you see the bit about this being a last minute solution to not exposing myself to people at the bar?

    Creating a base for them would look better - a normal sewn button from a penny too, but this was to replace a torn out button in a few minutes.

    Generally putting holes in things is usually a short answer to problems :)

    It is an interesting point, though. A stylish limey with American pennies on your buttons, and chinos made with our nickels. I guess our presidents are just more resistant to damage by drilling.

    I hate to play the typical American here, but I thought it had to be said. Cheers, and wonderful idea. I actually have some dress pants I'd fix with a nickel. Thank you, Killerjackalope.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Simple solution is using old money no longer in use or fake money (we have all found it from shops annoyingly)

    4 replies

    Well what I did here doesn't have to be pennies at all, any metal, strong plastic or even wood will work as long as it's strong enough and roughly disc shaped.

    Presumably coin flatteners have licenses? Either that or the legal issue is centred around scrapping or otherwise passing pennies off as more than they're worth.

    Strong flat discs in to buttons just didn't have the same ring as Penny Buttons :P

    In America, there are a handful of policies about defacing currency that largely resemble humble requests, the last pleading wishes of a long dead busybody.

    In practice, you can do whatever you want to your currency. I've seen some lovely artwork on bills. My mums actually named Penny, and she has a belt buckle made of pennies welded together. I can braid a dollar bill by slicing it down the center but not cutting all the way through the top and bottom. Normally this is called a magic braid, and done with leather. Anyway, the message here is feel free to deface your currency. It is your currency, after all.

    I can understand why they say it but surely they have more of a problem with people chucking pennies in the bin or loosing them than people drilling into them?

    Thought the idea was great generally through! Maybe shouldn't be done but ease of using Pennies (as correct size) is a lot better haha - and cardigan buttons could use 5ps (and probably cheaper to use this small coinage than actual metal disks)

    Pennies are just a problem anyway, so I'm helping...

    Well thanks, it fixed the problem I had at the time. Well there's the point, what else am I going to get that's the right size already, sturdy and smooth edged for 2p?


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Also just out of interest does that make penny flattening machines into a shape illegal?


    3 years ago

    isn't it illegal to drill current currency? please see below: Section 10 of the Coinage Act 1971 is the most relevant law you're after"

    And Section 10 of the Coinage Act 1971 says quite categorically (if at some length)...

    "Restrictions on melting or breaking of metal coins..

    (1)No person shall, except under the authority of a licence granted by the Treasury, melt down or break up any metal coin which is for the time being current in the United Kingdom or which, having been current there, has at any time after 16th May 1969 ceased to be so.

    (2)Any person who contravenes subsection (1) of this section shall be liable—

    (a)on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £400;

    (b)on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

    (3)If any condition attached to a licence granted under subsection (1) of this section is contravened or not complied with, the person to whom the licence was granted shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [F1level 5 on the standard scale]unless he proves that the contravention or non-compliance occurred without his consent or connivance and that he exercised all due diligence to prevent it.

    (4)The court by or before which any person is convicted of an offence under this section may, whether or not it imposes any other punishment, order the articles in respect of which the offence was committed to be forfeited to Her Majesty.

    (5)Where an offence under this section committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly."

    Defacing by drilling a hole through the coin (and through the Queen's head) would count as destruction.

    5 replies

    It clearly states:

    (1)No person shall, except under the authority of a licence granted by the Treasury, melt down or break up any metal coin which is for the time being current in the United Kingdom or which, having been current there, has at any time after 16th May 1969 ceased to be so.

    Unless you have a licence then it is illegal.

    I can see that, however I doubt the legislation is aimed at this sort of thing.

    Maybe on a grander scale, or with some potential for monetary gain.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I suppose I'd better stop using £10 notes to wipe my arse on then...


    I will gladly trade you as many ten pound notes as you like for rolls of soft pliable paper that will wipe your arse so much more effectively than money.


    3 years ago

    If those are the newer pennies they are a flash coat of iron over zinc, & they will dissolve in the washing machine.

    Use older ones that aren't attracted by a strong magnet as they are made of copper alloy which is tougher and won't react with hot water.

    Any decent metal drill bit will chew through any penny easily.

    Great idea. I did some 50p buttons years ago, in the old giant sized ones, & they came out great.

    1 reply

    Aye, I was willing to take my chances but actually they seem to be ok, not like it's an issue to do it again, rather than give the pennies to the big button industry...

    On the drill bits I just wasn't sure if those were decent, because quality is ridiculous unpredictable now...

    The big old 50p pieces would be great, would love to do that for a coat I have...