25¢ Ring From a Quarter (No Fancy Tools)

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Spare change has become rather obsolete in the modern day and age of the credit card. So why not turn that pocketful of change into something more practical?

To say that the idea of making rings out of quarters is my own would be a flat out lie. There are hundreds of articles and videos out there with various techniques for turning coinage into jewelry. My method is by no means the fastest, the prettiest, or the most efficient. The thing I strove for in creating this Instructable was the one thing that nearly all those other sources lacked - simplicity. It's one thing if you have all the fancy tools of a jeweler at hand, but for us in our little basement or garage workshops with little or no access to expensive tools, this can be a bit of a letdown. When I was first researching how to make quarter rings, I was crestfallen when I saw lists of tools and materials that racked up to several hundred dollars in equipment. So I set out to make a ring using only the tools available to the average joe - nothing more. This ring should cost you no more than time, patience, and the quarter you make it out of.

Supplies:

Step 1: A Quick Note

*A quick note before diving in for those with concerns about the legality of defacing US quarters:

According to Title 18 U.S.C., Section 331:

"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; or

Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

This law poses a threat only to those who alter a coin's appearance then proceed to fraudulently misrepresent that coin as something other than the altered coin it truly is. As long as the altered coin is not being represented as legal tender or anything else with fraudulent intent, there is no law against such action.

(If you still aren't sure about this, don't take my word for it. I am by no means an expert on this topic. Do some research and make your own decision based on what you find.)

Step 2: Supplies

What You'll Need:

A quarter (A lot of tutorials recommend finding a silver quarter, but keeping with the spirit of this project I went for a plain old copper and nickel quarter. It also adds a color variation to the ring that I think looks pretty awesome.)

Sandpaper (various grits)

Hammer

Drill and drill bits (various sizes)

Vise

Odds and ends: Wood scraps, permanent marker, painter's/masking tape, a cloth

You'll also need some way to tell how big you want your ring. I used a circle template because I didn't have a ring on hand (pun intended). If you have a ring that fits you, just use that.

What You Won't:

  • Spoon
  • Dremel
  • Ring Mandrel
  • Step Drill Bit
  • Digital Caliper
  • Round File
  • Punch and Die
  • Anvil

Step 3: Safety

While this project is relatively safe, I would still recommend taking precautions. During the process of making the ring, I would recommend wearing the following:

Protective Eyewear (Keeps metal shrapnel from penetrating your eyeballs)

Face Mask (Keeps ground metal dust from finding it's way into your lungs)

Gloves (Keeps jagged edges from slicing open fingers, hammer from smashing your hand, and burning hot metal from eating away your skin)

Shoes (Keeps burning hot metal, blocks of wood, drill bits, and hammers from falling on your toes)

I learned a very valuable lesson when working on this project. It turns out there's this little thing called friction that happens when two objects come in contact. When those two objects happen to be metal, said friction is considerably more powerful, and when one of said objects is spinning at a very high speed, it is even more powerful. Interesting fact: friction creates this thing called heat. Enough heat, it turns out, can actually burn you. I know, right? Who knew?

Anyway, I made the brilliant move of picking up the freshly drilled coin with my bare hands. Time slowed to a crawl and I could feel the metal slowly sear itself into my finger's flesh. Thankfully, I have incredibly quick reflexes, and dropped the coin a split second after it came into contact with my skin. Right onto my bare foot.

After cleaning my wounds, I spent ten minutes trying to find the coin which had bounced and rolled to some faraway corner of the earth (aka under my work bench). The point here is that it never hurts be safe.

Step 4: Marking Ring's Center

Figure out how big you want the inside of your ring to be and mark a circle that size on the quarter. If you have a ring that fits you, you can trace the inside of it onto the coin. If you don't have a ring, you can use a circle template to find your finger size, then draw the circle using the template.

Step 5: Hammering the Coin's Rim

To create the outer walls of the ring, place your coin on its edge on a hard surface (I used my concrete basement floor.) Then take your hammer and start to tap it agains the ridged outer edge of the quarter, rotating it slowly as you strike.

You don't want to hit the coin too hard, or the quarter will start to warp. The slower you go, the more even the sides will be. You also want to make sure you keep rotating the coin to prevent one side from becoming flatter than the rest.

Keep pounding until the flattened edge approaches the edges of the circle you drew in the coin's center. (Keep in mind that as you hammer, the circle will shrink slightly, so leave a little extra room.) Use the drawn circle as a guide to keep the coin as close to a perfect circle as possible. It's much easier to make adjustments to the coin's shape now than later, so make sure you're happy with the way it looks before moving on.

Step 6: Drilling Out the Center

Place the quarter between two blocks of wood in the vise. (Don't make the vise super tight or the ring may start to bend.) Use a reasonably large drill bit to bore a hole through the center. After you have this hole, you can begin removing the rest of the material inside the circle drawn on the coin's face. You may want to use a variety of bit sizes to get as close to the circle as possible.

Once you reach the edges of the circle, let the coin cool off and try it on to make sure it comes close to fitting. Keep in mind that the next step will make the hole slightly larger, so if the ring just barely fits, go ahead and move on to sanding it; if it's a good bit smaller than your finger, drill some more material out of the center, keeping the hole nice and even.

Step 7: Finishing Inside

Tightly wrap a piece of sandpaper around a large drill bit counterclockwise (to keep it from catching and tearing) and stick it in your drill. As you tighten the drill bit, make sure the sandpaper gets held in place, too. Then begin smoothing out all the rough edges on the inside of your ring. Use increasingly higher grits of sandpaper as you go along, making it as smooth as you want it.

Step 8: Finishing Outside

Wrap your tape around a large drill bit so that it is slightly larger than the inside of your ring. Twist your ring onto the bit, making sure it's held firmly in place. If it's still loose, add more tape then try again. Once the ring is on the bit, turn the drill on and presto!, you have a lathe (of sorts).

Use sandpaper to smooth the outside of the ring as it spins. Just like on the inside, use increasingly higher grits to get it nice and smooth. Use a rough cloth once you're done sanding for a finishing touch. If the edges of your ring are rough at all, lay your ring flat on a piece of sandpaper and rub it back and forth until it's smoothed out.

Step 9: Admire Your Work

And that's all! Your ring may not be the most perfect ring in the world, but imperfection adds character. Plus, for 25¢, it's pretty hard to beat :)

Thanks for taking the time to read my Instructable! If you liked it, show some love by voting for me in the Jewelry Contest by pressing the "Vote Now" button or leave a comment down below. If you end up making a ring of your own, I'd love to see it - show me your pictures in the "I Made It" section :)

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35 Discussions

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KimberlyP90

5 weeks ago

Having worked in a bank, even writing on bills (or altering them) takes the bill out of circulation. They just go back to the federal reserve for them to handle. But, it is illegal to change or alter money for art or jewelry, etc. It's just not enforced. A bank took 100 pennies, all the same date, and had them set into a resin square tile. They wanted to put it in the sidewalk in front of their newly built bank. That was a big no-no. They put the tile on display in the bank, and again, nope. They had to send it back to the federal reserve. Keep in mind, if the government wanted to enforce this, it's a felony.
So, it's all illegal under the federal law, but it's rarely enforced.

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BarkfinKimberlyP90

Reply 27 days ago

You know how they say, "don't take any wooden nickels"?
If some guy tried to pass me a wooden nickel as 5¢ I'd not only take it, I'd ask if he had any more!

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m_shannonKimberlyP90

Reply 5 weeks ago

I found this on the treasury.gov website:

"Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?
Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent. "
( https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/coins/pages/edu_faq_coins_portraits.aspx )

So, from my understanding, it is only illegal to deface coins if it is done so with fraudulent intent. Making jewelry out of coins is perfectly inside the law as long as you don't fraudulently misrepresent the coin for something it isn't. While the U.S. Mint doesn't promote it, they have no laws against the making of coin jewelry. You said that they just don't enforce the law, but they can't enforce a law they don't have in place to begin with.

Like I said, I'm no expert on this, and I value your view as someone who has a little more experience in this area. I just haven't been able to find anything that implies that it is illegal to make a ring out of a quarter. But if you can find something in writing that disproves me, by all means, please share it. :)

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KimberlyP90m_shannon

Reply 5 weeks ago

What you have referenced here makes sense. Of course, working in a bank, they are ultra conservative. And, their rules could be as old as dirt. Either way, if I saw something made out of coins or bills and I liked it, I'd buy it. In fact, my Mom gave me a pendant that has an old Roman coin in it. Italy will have to come at me if they want it. But, I'm not giving it up willingly! :D

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NightcrawlerNKimberlyP90

Reply 5 weeks ago

I have flattened many a penny in souvenir shops in those machines that flattens them into an oval and mprints the Park's logo on the front of the penny, so I seriously doubt it is actually illegal as long as it's not fraudulently traded as currency and taxes are paid on any monies made from it :>

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NightcrawlerN

5 weeks ago

I absolutely love the drill bits and sandpaper and lathe hacks! that's fantastically brilliant!

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m_shannonNightcrawlerN

Reply 5 weeks ago

Thanks! It's not perfect, but if you don't have a lathe and don't feel like shelling out several hundred bucks to buy one, then it's a pretty good substitute. :)

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jessyratfink

6 weeks ago

I've been saving silver quarters for a long time with the intent to do this! Thanks for sharing your version - I admit I do love the copper peeking through in yours :D

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jdeatonjessyratfink

Reply 5 weeks ago

The great thing about the silver quarters is u can use a spoon and twirl coin between your thumb and pointer finger and it will leave date,in god we trust,etc. still visible on inside of coin....all silver quarters after 64 will also have some copper showing thru....i think this is up until 1968 or 70?.....i think the silver version is easier to sand,etc...it also makes a very smooth surface,and the visible writing kinda tells a story as well....

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m_shannonjdeaton

Reply 5 weeks ago

I didn't use a silver quarter because I wanted to only use materials that most people have lying around their home. If you didn't sand the inside quite so much though, the writing would still be on the inside of the ring with any quarter - not just silver. I've left the writing on the inside before and you're right - it does tell more of a story and it looks pretty neat. With this ring, though, I decided to try something different and make the entire inside completely flat, giving it that copper stripe around the inner circumference.

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m_shannonjessyratfink

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thanks! I love how the copper showed through on it, too - it gives it so much character =)

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m_shannonVirtuallld2

Reply 5 weeks ago

Haha, thanks! No, I haven't tried selling them :)

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TheBespokeBird

Question 5 weeks ago

Shouldn't you sand it before trying it on? I would be concerned about jagged edges.

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m_shannonTheBespokeBird

Answer 5 weeks ago

The edges on mine were fairly smooth after drilling, but it's your call. Sanding beforehand certainly wouldn't hurt anything!

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StormC6

5 weeks ago

I noticed you excluded a spoon from the tool list. Replacing the hammer with a stainless steel soup spoon gives good results with less chance of deforming the ring. Don't use a silver spoon as it will deform first.

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m_shannonStormC6

Reply 5 weeks ago

The upside to a spoon is that it makes a nicer circle than a hammer. The downside - it takes a really long time. If you have a couple of days free to work on a ring, by all means use the spoon. I wanted to finish the ring in an afternoon, so I went the quicker route (the hammer), which took me roughly an hour to pound out the coin's edge.

I've read stories of soldiers during wars sitting in trenches with a quarter and a spoon, making rings for loved ones back home. But these guys sometimes went weeks with absolutely nothing to do, just sitting waiting for something to happen. So, if you're sitting out in the trenches in a dead warzone, then the spoon may become your weapon of choice. I don't have that kind of time or patience so I opted for the hammer. But your point still stands - it probably would make a better ring :)

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impact.oldb

5 weeks ago

Thanks for your awesome Instructable! I spent the better part of two afternoons making two rings. One from a european 5ct (copper colored) and another one from a 20ct (golden) coin. Was pretty fun and the result fits perfectly, is super smooth and looks pretty neat imo. Thanks dude!

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