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