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.
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)
Drill and drill bits (various sizes)
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:
- Ring Mandrel
- Step Drill Bit
- Digital Caliper
- Round File
- Punch and Die
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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Warlord14 made it!