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Two Sided Coin Rings

Posted by Brad smith on

What are Two Sided Coin Rings and how are they made?

If you haven't seen or heard about these interesting and unique rings, prepare to be amazed. I hand form these beautiful rings from common U.S. coins.

By carefully manipulating each coin, I am able to have the details of one side of the coin remain clear on the inside of the ring while the other side remains clear on the outside


  •  Start by selecting a coin to craft into a ring

Any coin can be made into a ring but size matters. Also the composition, or what the coin is made of, matters.

Since 1965, most silver colored coins, (dimes, quarters and half dollars) are made using a combination of copper and nickel. A copper/nickel alloy is sandwiched around a copper center, (like an oreo cookie.) These coins are commonly refered to as "clad".

1964 and earlier, silver colored coins, were minted using 90% silver. ("sterling" is 92.5% silver) These coins were minted for, and placed into circulation to use as "pocket money". As silver prices went up, the value of the silver was worth more than what the coin represented so many of these coins were removed from circulation and melted down for the silver content. Others were pulled out of circulation and held as an investment in silver. These coins are commonly called "Junk Silver" and are bought and sold as an investment in silver. Very few of these silver coins are still being used as "pocket change" but I have found a few.

Every year a relatively few coins are minted using 90% silver, mainly for collectors, and some are minted using bullion (99.9% silver), mainly for silver investors. These coins are available through coin collectors and investors, for a premium.

Before 1982, pennies were made using mostly copper. (95% copper and 5% zinc) Since 1982, pennies have been made using zinc plated with copper. (97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper)

A smaller coin will typically make a smaller ring. If you try to stretch the smaller coin to make a bigger ring, the details will be streched and less prominent.

  • Then remove the center of the coin and anneal the metal.

I use a set of "hole punches" to remove the center of the coin but you could also use a drill.  It is very important to have the hole in the very center of the coin. If it is off a little, you can use a small round file to center it.  Also you will want to file the inside edges of the hole smooth.
hole punch setcoin ready to punchplacing the coin into the punch
The size of the hole will determine how wide or narrow the finished band will be. The smaller you make the hole, the wider the band will be. For a quarter, I generally use a 1/2" hole.
When certain metals are bent, they become brittle. This is called "work hardening". By heating these metals up, they become pliable again. This is called annealing. I find that annealing the coin right after punching the center out helps keep it from cracking or tearing when I start to form the ring.  I use a propane torch to heat the coin. Be careul to not heat it too fast, or too hot, just till it starts to glow. then you can drop it in water to cool.
  • Forming the ring

Now you should have a coin that looks a lot like a washer.

coin with center removed

There are several ways to form the ring. One way is to take the "washer" and put it on a metal mandrel (a tapered cylinder, used to size rings), then using a rawhide or nylon mallet, hit the edge of the coin driving it down the mandrel. The coin should start forming a bit of a cone shape as it opens up the center hole. By hitting the coin evenly all around the sides, it will flatten out the cone and form a bit of a cylinder. By carefully driving the ring down the mandrel the ring will be stretched to the desired size.

When I first started making these interesting rings, I had only a hole punch and a doming block set. By using these two tools and a plastic mallet I was able to form a common coin into a unique and beautiful two sided ring.

doming block and punch set     coin on doming block

Place the "washer" onto the doming block so the coin fits completely in the dish-shaped hole. Use the punch that is a couple of sizes larger than the hole in the coin. Hit the punch staight down with a mallet. It is important to keep the coin straight when forming so that it bends evenly. Continue tapping the punch until the coin is close to the bottom of the dish-shaped hole in the doming block.doming the coin   When the coin comes close to bottoming, stop, if the coin bottoms out you will flatten the details of the coin. If you can, move to a smaller dish-shaped hole on the doming block but the coin must fit completely in the dish or you will ruin the edge of your ring.
You should have an evenly bent cone shape.  cone shaped coin

Now flip the coin over so that the wide part is down in the dish shape that is just large enough to accommodate it completely.  cone shaped coin bottom side up in block  Select a punch that is a couple sizes larger than the hole in your "cone" and start tapping it straght down forcing the cone open. This will not only open the hole, it will "shrink" the wide part somewhat. By increasing the punch size as you progress, the cone should start looking more like a ring.

Once the walls of the ring are more or less straight, you can increase the ring size by using a larger punch to stretch it a little on one side then flip it over and stretch the other side. Continue this stretching until the correct size is achieved.

If your ring needs to be made smaller, you need to force it straight down into a hole on the doming block. Place it in a hole that is the smallest that it will fit into. Then taking a flat piece of steal or something that covers the ring completely, cover the ring and smack it straight down. Flip the ring over and continue. Keep in mind, this will eventually damage the reeded edge of your ring. To minimize this you can use a bench vice to gently press the ring deeper into the block. I found this part the most difficult and frustrating step in sizing the ring and led me to finding an easier, more gentle way to form these rings. Keeping everything straight is crucial to properly forming and sizing the ring. 

Every time that the ring is bent, the metal is "work hardened" a little bit more and so it will need to be annealed several times throughout the ring making process.

There are specialty tools that can help to form the ring as well as stretch or "shrink" the ring to the appropriate size. While these tools make the process easier, they are not absolutely necessary.

  • Smooth and polish

Once the ring is the right size, the sharp edge will need to be rounded over and sanded smooth. I use a small half round file to round over the inside edge and a flat file to round the outside. I use very fine sand paper to smooth the edge a bit more. 1000 grit works well for a nice smooth feel. Now you have a two-sided coin ring.

I have made a few of these rings and I learn from each one that I make. You too can make these unique and beautiful rings from just about any coin. Clad quarters are a good coin to start with. They are relatively inexpensive and I have found them to be the easiest to work with.

If you are interested in these beautiful rings I have several available on our website 

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