Seahorse Coin Cutting Pendant




Introduction: Seahorse Coin Cutting Pendant

I decided I was going to try coin cutting, so I chose a coin with a design that would cut out well, something with a figure that has distinct boundaries, not some design that is integrated into the background filling the entire coin.  I chose a 10 cent piece from Singapore made in the 60s for this reason, and I thought it would look better than just cutting out a random portrait.

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Step 1: Materials

The first thing you will obviously need is a coin to cut, remember that a more detailed figure will be harder to cut.  If you use a fairly common non precious coin, you can find one that will have a very nice end result for maybe $2-4 with shipping.

For tools, you will see I am using a simple v block to cut the coin on made of a piece of oak.  It will really help having this to support the coin as you cut it.  You will see other people using a device that sort of pinches the coin while you work on it.  That will save you a lot of strain, but if you hardly ever cut coins it might not be worth the investment.

The three main tools you will need for cutting it out will be a drill with some pretty small bits, a jeweler's saw, and a bunch of files.  I used a dremel with a 61 gauge drill bit I think.  While using the jeweler's saw, you will go through blades extremely fast.  I think I snapped about 5 blades, so have extra blades, 4/0 size is probably the best.  Files may be useful to help smooth things out when you are done, but I didn't have too much need for them.

I also used a bit of silver plated wire to create something to allow this to be put on a chain.  I think the drill hole was about 1mm, finding a chain that thin would be a pain, so creating something to allow this coin to hang from will make this a better pendant.  I used a toothpick to bend the wire around, and a pair of wire clippers to cut the ends off.

Step 2: Drilling the Starter Hole

To cut out the coin using the jeweler's saw, you have to start by drilling a hole you will then thread the jeweler's saw blade through.  I often find that when drilling on metal I skid around trying to start the hole a bit, so to make sure I didn't scratch the design I found the area I wanted to drill through and drilled through on the back, so if I couldn't screw up the seahorse.

It would be helpful to put the coin in some sort of vise while you do this step, as well as probably safer.  Safety goggles are a must though as when drill bits are this thin they are very prone to snapping and you don't want either a piece of the coin or a drill bit in your eye.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Coin

Here is where the bulk of the work is, actually cutting out the design.  for some designs, it is easy to just follow along the object you are cutting out with the blade.  I am not sure if it is because of the lack of skill or just the design of this coin, but that wasn't working for me.  I found it easiest to actually just cut away the coin in parts, first just getting the bulk out of the way and then cutting out the fine details second.  Turning the jeweler's blade while cutting is possible so you can follow some curves, but I don't think I could turn the blade around in the small spaces along the body of the seahorse.

One major consideration when looking at what you can and cannot cut out is the thickness of the piece.  You will have a very fragile pendant if you make very thin parts in your design, which can bend or snap off.  Looking at my design, you can see the tail gets fairly thin by the end.  I ended up slightly bending it downward cutting the tail out, so I had to bend it back.  If it was any thinner it might just have snapped.

To use the jeweler's saw. you first clamp down the top of the blade in the top screw, making the teeth of the blade face outwards.  You then thread the blade through the hole if you are cutting the inside of a coin.  You then clamp the bottom of the blade.  The screw on the back of some saws can be used to adjust the tension of the blade.

Saw blades should be lubricated when you first use them, but you can use wax to re-lubricate it later on.  To saw, you keep the blade perpendicular to the coin, and then you start just sawing up and down with a smooth motion.  You will be able to hear and feel when the blade is sawing correctly, it will not be a jarring motion and it will have a distinct sound.

While cutting with on a v block you hold the coin against the wood with one hand while sawing with the other.  I found I can do this pretty well using either hand holding or sawing.  The coin is held so most of it is supported on the block while the part you are cutting is inside the v.  Your finger holding the coin down might get pretty strained, I found switching which hand is cutting and which is holding the coin helps alleviate this.  Of course getting one of the devices that holds the coin hands free would be also easier if you want to pay for one of those 

My first pass at cutting the ring out particularly on the left side was pretty bad, so I had to go back in and saw out more to make it more smooth.  One thing that kind of screwed me up is I let to much metal filings build up on the top of the coin and I couldn't see exactly what I was doing, so my accuracy suffered a little bit.

An important thing is to remember to enough metal attaching your coin to the rim.  This should also be wide enough that you can drill a hole to mount the pendant from.

Step 4: Finishing the Cutting and Drilling the Hole for the Wire

This hole will be what the wire will go through if you are making a little loop with wire to hang the coin from, or if you want to make a bigger hole you can just thread the chain right through the coin.  I thought the first option would look better in this case, so I used the same bit I used for my starter hole to make this one. 

I drilled this between two spikes on top of the head of the seahorse.  As you can see in the picture on the previous picture I had left some work cutting to the left of the drill hole.  I finished this up. but by this time I actually had run out of saw blades, so I had to recycle one that had snapped off already.  It works in a pinch, but I would recommend starting with a dozen or so blades so you don't run into this problem.

Step 5: Wiring the Pendant and Presentation

My camera's battery died while I was wrapping the wire, so I only have pictures of the final product.  I took a bit of wire maybe 2 inches long and first threaded it into the middle and bent the wire so the coin was hanging at the center of the v.  I bent the coils around a toothpick, and pulled that out clippers and cut the ends off.  I filed the edges a bit here so the ends wouldn't be as sharp

I thought making a little gift box would be nice for this pendant, so I made the masu box out of a 6 inch square piece of purple origami paper and made the matching lid to go with it.  I also made a little seahorse I looked up on youtube out of a 2 inch square of paper.  this I glued onto the box with rubber cement.  I put some blue tissue paper in the box when I was done to rest the coin on.

Thanks for reading my first instructables, I hope this is helpful.  It might be helpful to look up a few videos on using a jeweler's saw to help you, I'm not sure how well I could explain it, this is my first time doing a project with one.  The project takes a few hours and requires a jeweler's saw which you may not have, but I think these make very nice gifts.

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    7 Discussions


    Guys how do you get it so smooth, I am using a .5 and .7 cutting blades, and mine are jaggered, even using bees wax doesnt work. any advice please

    Islam Safir
    Islam Safir

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice ible , allow me to suggest a solution for the metal filings problem you had , mainly i use an aquarium air bump, but also you can use a fine artist brush , because if you can't see the details you can't cut it , also this coin is hard alloy and it needs lubrication -a lot of it- for me i use a WD-40 oiling pen you can see a picture of it in my ible here
    and with practice you won't break hardly any blades , most of the times i replace blades because they have gone dull not broke


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I used a tealight candle and just rubbed that on the blade. It helped a bit. It seems they mainly snap when I try to turn the blade to much to the side while cutting.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is really cool! Does the design already have to be on the coin or can you do your own design?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You can make the design on your own, completely make your own design, or add things to the design of the coin. There are several designs of presidents smoking things I have seen where they just added a bit to the portrait, Lincoln smoking a pipe and Washington smoking a blunt.