The Inexpensive Pinky Ring




About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Aerospace Engineering. I like to make things and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am a Community Manager for Instructables.

My girlfriend loves rings! I guess it's not a bad thing, but it can take a chunk out of the monthly budget. Wanting to do something nice for Valentines Day, I decided that a pinky ring would be a pleasant gift that wouldn't break the bank. Having seen some people make rings from old silver quarters, I thought that making a ring from a Nickel would be just right for her size 3 pinky.

Step 1: Tools Necessary

There are only a few things needed to make the ring:

  • Nickel
  • Two Hammers
  • Machine Screw and Nuts
  • Jewelers Mandrel
  • Dremel
  • Drill
  • Sand Paper
  • Polishing Compound
  • Rag

Step 2: Form the Ring

Hold the nickel on it's side over the first hammer/anvil. Form the ring by striking the side of the nickel while rolling it to ensure an even 'mushroom'. After some time, the ring will form. Stop when the desired ring size is achieved.

Step 3: Drill and Pollish

Drill a hold the size of the bolt you are using. Using a larger drill bit, de-burr the hole so that the nickel sits flat in the bolt.

I used a threaded arbor in order to protect the threads of the bolt and the drill chuck.

I didn't like the hammered look on the ring, so I sanded it off using the following grit sand papers:

  • 220
  • 320
  • 400
  • 600

Remove the nickel from the bolt, place the sandpaper on a flat surface and rub the side of the ring to flatten it using the same range of grits as before.

Place the nickel back in the drill. Using a rag and buffing compound polish the outside of the ring.

***Remember to do this and subsequent steps in a well ventilated area****

Nickel dust can be hazardous if inhaled. For more information about this check out this page from the CDC.

Step 4: Remove the Inside

Using gloves and a dremel, remove the inside of the ring. I used an old pair of welding gloves to keep from burning and accidentally cutting my hands. Remove until the ring is the correct size. Size 3 in my case.

I used my variable speed dremel and turned down the speed to about 10,000 RPM as to keep from loosing control, scratching the outside of the ring, and stabbing myself with the high speed cutter.

Step 5: Polish It Off

All that's left is to sand and polish the inside. Sand using the same grits as before.

To polish, wrap a strip of cloth around a big drill bit and shine the inside.

Nickels from the United States are made with 75% copper and 25% nickel. Since the copper will inevitably leave marks on your skin, a common way of preventing this is to apply clear nail polish to the inside of the ring. This will create a thin, clear barrier between your skin and the ring.

Give it to that special someone in your life and sit back and enjoy!

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88 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

Neat! Great clear photos too. I might set my boyfriend on this project...


4 years ago on Introduction

Very cool. I love how in the 3rd photo in the intro, you can still see the writing and marks from the faces of the nickel!

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

That's the coolest part! You can still see that it was a nickel if you know what you're looking for.


1 year ago

Tried a couple of nickels and quarters. The rings keep breaking after drilling out the center to ring size. Any tips/tricks? better hammering techniques or coreing out the center?


Tip 1 year ago

Just a bit of info on nickels, Wartime nickels, 1942-1945 have 35% silver and less copper due to the copper shortage.. That might help save some fingers from turning green.


1 year ago


Usually coins have nickel, which is poisoning. Long periods using that ring means having absorving great quantities of it. This may originate skin problems, or worse.

Do not make this ring to use.


Tip 1 year ago

Buy cheap foreign coins on Ebay by the pound - cheap and you sometimes find silver coins in the mix.


4 years ago on Introduction

These are very cool, but just an FYI, According to Title 18, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code, which sets out crimes related to coins and currency, anyone who “alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens” coins can face fines or prison time.

6 replies

Under U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331 it says: “Whoever fraudulently alters,defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” (

What this is referring to is anyone that changes money in order to get gain is participating in illegal activities. For example, someone that cuts down a penny to the size of a dime is counterfeiting, or someone who melts down pure copper pennies in order to sell. These things are the illegal mutilation of coins that the government is talking about. If creating rings out of coins is illegal then penny smashing machines would not be around at all, and I would have never been allowed as a child to place pennies or other coins on the railroad tracks.

Correct! You can not 'legally' sell these for more than 5 cents. The US Government doesn't like the general public making money off of them.


Reply 1 year ago

You may sell them for any price you wish. Once they are no longer coinage, they can be sold for whatever the market will pay. It's common to wire wrap an older silver coin and then sell it as a pendant for$18.00 and more. As long as it isn't being passed as a coin, the value is market value. This includes coins collected as a memento, antique, or gold/silver content. Shaving silver off a coin to sell, and then placing the diminished back into circulation is illegal as the coin is defaced or reduced in monetary value.


Reply 4 years ago

Actually, you can.

Look at ned103's post for an accurate interpretatation of the code section you posted. The key term used to differentiate from doing this legally or ilegally is whether you act in a "fraudulent" manner.

So long as you disclose the actual nature and value of the material used to make the ring, you are not in violation of any laws. As such, selling yours as a "silver ring", for example, without clarifying that you "are only referring to its color as being silver whereas it was originally a nickel" would be one sure way to violate said code.

Nevertheless, thank you for sharing your special skill with us... I'd imagine a size 3 ring to be somewhat smaller than average. However, I also came across a Youtube collection of vidoes where this guy manages to stretch the outside edge of a coin to whatever size ring he wanted to make. He was mainly using quarters though. And just like the picture of the rings with the writing still showing (posted above), his would retain whatever pattern they originally had printed thereupon.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I've seen people down at the boardwalk sell pennies that they used a jewelers say and cut out the persons name in the coin. And then sell it for $5. You can sell the item for more than face values. Because you are also selling your labor and artistic talent. You are not being fraudulent in that way. Just like any amusement park that lets you stretch out a penny, in that crank machine, into an oval with the parks logo now on it. And they sell these for 50¢. Just sharing that.