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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.

Step 1: A Quick Note

Picture of 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.)

KimberlyP9014 days 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.
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!
m_shannon (author)  KimberlyP9014 days 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. :)

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
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 :>
m_shannon (author)  KimberlyP9013 days ago
:-)
I absolutely love the drill bits and sandpaper and lathe hacks! that's fantastically brilliant!
m_shannon (author)  NightcrawlerN10 days 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. :)
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
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....
m_shannon (author)  jdeaton10 days 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.
m_shannon (author)  jessyratfink17 days ago
Thanks! I love how the copper showed through on it, too - it gives it so much character =)
Virtuallld211 days ago
Fun sense of humor. Do u have these on eBay?
m_shannon (author)  Virtuallld210 days ago
Haha, thanks! No, I haven't tried selling them :)
Shouldn't you sand it before trying it on? I would be concerned about jagged edges.
m_shannon (author)  TheBespokeBird10 days ago
The edges on mine were fairly smooth after drilling, but it's your call. Sanding beforehand certainly wouldn't hurt anything!
StormC611 days 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.
m_shannon (author)  StormC611 days 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 :)
Warlord14 made it!13 days ago
this was a very fun project. it came out a bit rough but looks and fits pretty well! thank you for the instructable!
P1200099.JPG
m_shannon (author)  Warlord1413 days ago
Awesome! Glad you liked it :)
impact.oldb13 days 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!
ringe.png
m_shannon (author)  impact.oldb13 days ago
Those look great! Thanks for sharing!
Tim_Tof14 days ago
Drill a small hole in the centre of the coin and put a nut & bolt long enough to grip in drill chuck through it. Tighten the assembly (bolt + coin) in the chuck and use this to turn coin as you tap it. This helps to keep it even and keeps your fingers away from the coin/hammer impact point, much less painful!
m_shannon (author)  Tim_Tof14 days ago
I was going to try this, but there were a few things that held me back:

1. When hammering the coin on a hard surface, the coin takes the full force of every blow; plus, opposite edges of the coin are flattened at roughly the same speed. With a hand drill, the drill body itself takes the majority of the impact unless you have the drill bolted down somehow. So it might actually end up taking a lot longer.

2. When holding the ring in your hands, you have much more control over the shape of the ring, as you can make sure the sides are getting pounded down evenly and inspect it every so often to pound down the higher parts. With the drill, unless you're turning it super slow and hammering quite fast, there's no guarantee as to where on the ring you'll end up hitting, so it could end up being misshapen.

3. I didn't have a decent sized nut and bolt on hand.

So I'm sure this could work - I just didn't think it was the most effective method for me. :)
Yes i suppose doing them at home it would be easier your way. I made a few when i was an an apprentice in the early 1970's using a wind powered drill, these have a narrow body and when not connected to compressor turn with little resistance.
m_shannon (author)  Tim_Tof14 days ago
I only had a hand drill available to me, but if you had access to a workshop with better tools, then this is a great idea =)
m_shannon (author) 17 days ago
As with a lot of jewelry containing copper, nickel, silver, and even gold, after wearing the ring for a while, you may begin to notice a dark green coloration on your finger. This is caused by a reaction between your skin or something on your skin and the metal in the jewelry. As long as you don't develop an allergic reaction such as a rash or itchiness, this coloration is totally harmless and will go away a few hours after you remove the ring. I don't wear my ring 24/7 so my fingers don't turn very green, but it really bothers some people. The most common solution I've found to help prevent it is applying a coat of clear nail polish to the inside of the ring and replacing it as often as necessary. You should also avoid washing your hands or applying any kind of lotion or hand cream while wearing your ring, as these things can react with the ring, too. :)
Actually, the greenish tinge is caused by oxidation (basically rust) of the copper from exposure to moisture. Prime examples of this can be seen on the copper domes on many public buildings erected in the 1800's, which have become green over the course of time, mainly from moisture in the air, for example the public library in Bangor, Maine or the legislature buildings in Victoria, BC. Similarly, moisture from one's skin causes the copper to oxidise, which rubs off onto the skin. That's not to say that certain skins are not sensitive to that oxidation...
m_shannon (author)  butterworthmeister14 days ago
Thanks for clarifying!
ClayW1214 days ago
I've NEVER picked up a hot object in my shop before. And it was usually a welded piece I NEVER picked up.
m_shannon (author)  ClayW1214 days ago
I'm so glad to hear I'm the ONLY one a bit lacking in the common sense department :D
Warlord1414 days ago
this is really nice. I will have to make some of these. thanks!
m_shannon (author)  Warlord1414 days ago
Glad to help! :)
Lizzzitish14 days ago
I love this Instructable! The instructions are clear and easy to follow...cannot wait to try it myself!
m_shannon (author)  Lizzzitish14 days ago
Thanks so much!
jpharkey16 days ago
Approximately how long did it take to do the hammered edge? This looks fun!
m_shannon (author)  jpharkey16 days ago
If I remember correctly, it took me about an hour or so, but I was stopping every few minutes to take photos so I'm sure it could be done a bit faster; just don't rush it or it might come out a little sloppy :)