I love making rings. It's so rewarding to make a beautiful piece and then see the reaction you get when you give it to someone you love. When I saw the ring contest I knew I wanted to do something different than I have done before. I have been making bent wood rings for a while and I love how they turn out, but I wanted to try something new.
So I came up with this idea to make a ring out of a penny and then wrap it in wood. It sounds like a great idea. Then I went to find some examples. To my surprise I couldn't really find any rings made out of a penny, at least not how I wanted to make them. So I tried it myself, and now I know why I couldn't find any.
Turns out, penny rings are not super easy to make. I broke quite a few before to found out how to do it correctly. Now that it's done, I am so thankful that I stuck with it. It turned out beautifully and I can say that my wife has a ring made from a penny. Thanks for looking and enjoy.
Disclaimer: a lot of people think that this project would be defacing public property. Just to be clear this is covered in 18 USC 331. It says that whoever fraudulently alters coins is guilty of a crime. The key word there is "fraudulently." If you alter a coin with the intent of defrauding somebody, you're guilty of a crime. If you alter or destroy a coin you own for reasons other than committing fraud, then you're just wasting money.
Step 1: What You Need
A deep well socket
Step 2: The Penny
You want to make sure that you have a penny that is a 1982 or older. These pennies are still all copper. I tried and tried with a newer penny but it broke on every occasion.
First I used a drill press to drill a small hole in the center of the penny. Then grab it with a pair of pliers and start to heat it up with a small torch. You must do this step if you don't want your penny to break.
When it is nice and hot, insert a punch into the hole of the penny and place the pvc over the penny and start to hit with the hammer.
You want to take this step slow. Hit the top of the pvc a few times, stop, heat it with the torch again and repeat the process.
When the penny is curved over about half way, carefully remove it from the punch and put it back on the opposite way. Heat again and hit with the pvc. When the ring is flat, remove it from the punch and start to shape.
Step 3: Shape the Penny
When you have your ring to the appropriate size, it is time to sand. After this stretching process the ring does not look too good, but have no fear. With a little sanding it will look good as new. I used a bench sander but regular sand paper will work, it may just take a little longer.
First you want to sand the top of the ring so you have a smooth surface to place your veneer on. Make sure that if you are using a power sander that you don't stay is one spot too long. You may make a thin spot on the band or worse yet sand right through it. Once you get the top flat you can move to the sides.
Again, I used the bench sander for this step but you could very well use a piece of sandpaper on a hard surface and lay the ring in the side. Make sure that the band is even all the way around and it is on to the wood.
Step 4: Prep the Wood
I get my wood veneer from woodcraft. You can buy a variety pack for about $35 and it has lasted me a very long time. Use a straight edge and a razor blade to cut the veneer. The key to cutting this is just a little pressure and multiple passes.
Once you have the veneer cut, you have to soak the wood to make it pliable. Boil some water and get the strips ready. I use a fork to hold down the strips of the veneer so they don't float to the top. Keep the strips in the water for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the strips out and wrap them a round A deep well socket. You want to wrap very slowly so you don't crack the surface of the veneer. Wrap painters tape around the veneer so it stays rolled.
Let that dry for around two hours and you are ready for wrapping.
Step 5: Wrap the Copper
Before you start to wrap the ring, be sure that you sand down one edge of the strip very thin. This will prevent a bulge where you started to wrap. place a couple drops of super glue on the sanded side of the strip and place it on the copper ring. Hold for about 10 seconds to make sure that it's stuck.
As soon as you are sure that it is stuck to the copper, you can start to wrap the rest of the ring. Place a couple drops of superglue and slowly start to wrap the veneer around. You will get some sticky fingers from doing this but it happens. Just try not to glue your fingers to each other or to the ring.
For this ring I wanted the band to be a little thicker so I wrapped the veneer around the ring 3 times. When you have all of the wood on the ring, cut the excess off and you can start to sand.
Step 6: Sanding and More Sanding
Start by sanding the edge of the ring so it is the same diameter as the copper. You can use a bench sander or lay it flat on a piece of sand paper. Once the sides are sanded down, you can start on the top.
The glueing process may have left some humps or bumps in the surface of the ring, so this is the time to even those out. Sand for a short time and then check your ring to make sure that the band is even all the way around.
When everything looks even around the ring, you can start to shape the wood. Carefully sand the edges of the ring until you have your desired shape. After that, start hand sanding from 100 to 600 grit. You want to take this process slow. Make sure that the surface is as smooth as you want it and you can spray it with poly, and be done with your beautiful ring.
Step 7: Poly and Finish
I use minwax gloss polyurethane spray. There are a lot of different choices when it comes to finishing a ring but this one works very well for me. I usually put 3 coats on about 2 hour apart from each other. Lightly sand in between and you will have a finish that is like glass.
Step 8: The Pallet Box
If you have looked at some of my other instructables, you know that I love to use pallets. They are free and beautiful, and I love reusing something that would have been tossed away.
I had a bunch of pallet scraps from some of my other projects. They had already been planed so I didn't have to go though that step. I glued 5 pieces of pallet together and lined up two of the sides. I put them in order so the different colors would contrast with each other. After gluing I took them to the miter saw.
Step 9: Cut the Box
I cut the boards so there was a clean cut on all sides. After you have the size box that you want, use a 3/8 drill bit to drill the hole for the wood dowel. Then you can cut for the lid. I cut about 3/4 in off for the lid. After the lid is off, I used a 1 3/8 fostner bit to drill out the center of the box for the ring.
When all that is done, put the box together and insert the dowel, cut it to size and the box is done. Give it a spray with the same poly that you used for the ring and you're good to go.
Step 10: Enjoy!
This was such a fun project! I learned how to do something new and had a blast. The penny was a bit of a challenge but it was totally worth it in the end. Not everyone can say they have a ring made from a penny. Thank you so much for looking at my ring, hope you have a great time trying this one out.