This is an Instructable on how to make your own coaster out of pennies. Before I get started, I need to give credit to the maker of this Penny Spiral Instructable. I happened across this Instructable, and upon seeing his picture immediately thought that this would make a great coaster. So, I made one, then I made more, because they are so easy and fun to do.
What you will need:
76 Pennies (4 layers, 19 pennies per layer)
Super Glue, I prefer The Original Super Glue, available at most dollar stores.
Epoxy Resin, I used Amazing Clear Coat, available at craft stores such as Hobby Lobby.
A Utility Knife
And finally a cup to put on your coaster when its finished.
Step 1: Collect Your Pennies
You have to get pennies.
For each coaster you do, I recommend at least $4.00 worth of pennies. Beware that bank tellers rarely get people asking for $20.00 in pennies, and they will look at you weirdly, and ask why. Luckily I already had a lot of them, having made numerous different coasters.
It depends on how you want your coaster to look, you can always use older pennies, for a more vintage look, but I prefer the look of shiny copper pennies, they really gleam.
If you are going to use old pennies. Make sure you don't use the heavily scratched up ones. They don't play nicely with other pennies, and cause problems with the overall structure of the coaster.
My first time making a coaster, I used 76 shiny pennies, for this Instructable, I made four coasters and tried not to be too picky about the types of pennies used.
Disregard the scar in the center of my palm, that is the result of the first 5/8ths of a pencil, and my own careless stupidity.
Step 2: Super Gluing Your Penny Layers.
Begin with super gluing your pennies together. Ultimately, you need four layers, so for the two inside layers, I use older pennies, because they won't be seen.
Regarding super glue, the type I use comes in little bottles or tubes (kind of like toothpaste tubes), I highly recommend the little bottles, they require more control, and thus make less mess, especially if your heavy handed like me.
1.) I start with the inner portion of each layer, consisting of seven pennies, and make all of them I will need. I first tried setting them all out then gluing them. The problem is that the glue will seep through. There fore I go through this, by supergluing one penny at a time. First, I have two pennies side by side, then a triangle (3rd penny), then a rhombus (4th penny), then eventually a hexagon of pennies (5th-7th pennies).
As I super glue each penny, I slowly move the pennies around the work space so the pennies won't get stuck to the paper. This process works well. After I have the first 7 pennies, I follow up with the final 12 pennies for the outside, maintaining the hexagon. I use nicer pennies for the outside, because they will be seen.
2.) After I have the two inner layers, I begin on the layer for the bottom and the top. For the top layer, I follow the same process but use my cleanest pennies, for the bottom, I try to use clean pennies, but it really doesn't matter.
3.) For the top layer, put the side of the pennies that you want shown on the top of the coaster, face down. The glue, when beaded onto the penny makes a bit of a mess, and you want to avoid getting too much glue on the side you want showing. However, if some glue does get on the portion you want showing, the epoxy I use doesn't let it show, I actually think it dissolves it somewhat. In my pictures you can notice this a little bit.
4.) When you have the four layers then it is simply a matter of super gluing them together, one layer at a time. Note that you want to spiral the layers as you go.
When you have your individual layers, note that they are fairly stable, but they can break if you are a bit heavy handed like myself. Its no problem, just reglue them then you are set to go.
One thing to beware of with the super glue, is that you need a work space you don't mind getting messy. I have stacks of old recycled papers, at least two pages are needed.
Additionally, the fumes from this particular super glue give me a headache if I use it to much, so you want to be cautious of how much you are breathing in. This whole process takes about an hour for one coaster, that's a lot of time to breath glue fumes.
Step 3: Epoxy and Patience
When you have your coaster, or in my case four coasters, you are set to begin epoxying them.
The type of epoxy I use leaves a hard clear finish. Epoxy will bond to anything, so you need to work on something, you don't mind throwing away, but won't allow any seepage. In my case, I have found tinfoil to be perfect. Simply tear of about a foot per coaster to work on, make sure there are no wrinkles. I ran a ruler with a straight edge over each sheet, to remove wrinkles.
Then take a good dollop (roughly a 1/2 tablespoon) of Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) and spread it in the center of the tinfoil. You absolutely need some medium to keep the epoxy from bonding to the tinfoil, Vaseline works best for me, though PAM cooking spray works fine.
Place your coaster in the center of the Vaseline, gently and do not push it down.
Mix up your epoxy and spread it on, making sure to get the sides.
Any spill over can be cut off easily with a knife.
PATIENCE is key here. Allow the epoxy to harden, in the case of this epoxy, it takes 24 hours to do so. I will be honest and tell you that I do not have the virtue of patience. On my first coaster, I touched it after 6 hours, thinking it was probably done, it was not.
When the epoxy is done you should be able to simply peel them off the tinfoil.
Take them to a sink and clean the Vaseline off thoroughly, a soft sponge or tooth brush works well for this.
Finally, cut off the excess that spills over with a a utility knife. I've tried cuticle scissors and other implements before, but the utility knife gives it a clean cut.
Step 4: Test Out Your Coaster
Place your mug/cup/glass on the coaster and behold the joy of the penny spiral coaster.
All told the cost of this for four coasters will be under $4.00, I already had the epoxy, superglue etc. I'm a tinkerer, and love super glue, so I usually clear out a dollar store of the super glue in the little bottles.
For four coasters, I went through about four bottles, and used 1/3rd of my epoxy bringing total cost to roughly $10.00.
My wife has really encouraged me to make more of these to sell on Etsy, but I simply don't have the time. Therefore, I made this instructable to share my idea to any who want to give it a try.
(If I see these pop up on Etsy or elsewhere, my hat is off to you.)
Ultimately, the four coasters will become a gift for my brother and sister in law, for Christmas.
What I plan to do next:
I am slowly collecting pennies in good shape from my wife and I's birth year, so I can make us a set. I will also get some uncirculated 2015 pennies when they come out next year, and make those for a baby due in the new year. (Probably a cool graduation present for the future.)
Regarding other implements, i.e. nickles, dimes, and quarters. Nothing comes out as nice as the penny, although that is probably because I enjoy the color so much.
I am playing with doing a square coaster out of nickles, but I just can't get them to be straight. Try it out and send me any pictures of your results.