Saturday, March 6, 2010

How To Make A Ring From A Silver Coin

Here is a step by step tutorial on how to make a ring out of a silver coin. In this lesson, I am using a Kennedy Half Dollar, but a silver quarter works just as well. In the United States, the U.S. Mint stopped making silver coins in 1965, so the coin must be 1964 or older. Generally, for a larger men's ring you would want to use a silver half dollar. And for a smaller women's ring, you can use a silver quarter. According to, the meltdown value of a 1964 silver half dollar is $6.28 as of March 5, 2010.

There is no perfect way to make a ring out of a silver coin, so practice will improve your skills, and if you don't have all the best tools, just use what you have. I was taught by my friend Dave Reader, who said he learned in prison using a tablespoon and the cement floor. But to make things a bit easier, you will need a few common household tools.
The most important tool is a small hammer, like a tack hammer or a baby hammer from a cheap tool kit. You want to use a light weight hammer so that you do not distort or warp the silver coin by striking it too hard.

Step 1 is to hold the silver coin on edge between your finger and thumb on a very hard surface like a benchtop vise, or yes you can still use the cement floor.

Take your tack hammer and lightly tap on the top edge of the silver coin as you are rolling the coin. You actually want to hit the top center of the coin, for example if where the bottom edge of the coin is touching the vise is 6 o'clock, you want to strike the coin at 12 o'clock. You want to tap lightly as not to warp the coin. It seems like you could get the job done quicker if you hit it harder, but the silver coin will start folding in half. Keep tapping and rolling the coin and the edge will start to roll over.

The above photo is after about 2 hours of rolling and tapping.

The above photo is after about 3 1/2 hours. I am making this ring for someone who wants a big ring, so I am nearly done with the hammering. If I was doing a men's pinkie ring, I would probably need to hammer for another hour.

When you are happy with the width and (approximate) size of your silver ring, clamp it a vice as shown above preferably using a soft metal or wood to clamp it into so that you do not smash the ring. The aluminum angle I am using is from an old screen door I found in the trash.

Drill a small hole in the center of the coin. Be careful not to let the drill bit slip and damage the inner ring of the silver coin. Part of the beauty of using a silver half dollar or a silver quarter is that you can still read the writing on the coin where the edge has rolled over.

You only need to drill a hole big enough to fit a rat tail file in the hole. Silver is pretty soft, so resist the temptation to enlarge the hole with the drill bit. Use the rat tail file to carefully file your way towards the edges of the silver coin.

Keep filing in all directions until you are about 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch from the edge.

You could probably file a bit closer than the above photo, but as you can see, the writing on the edge could be easily damaged.

Now you switch over to sandpaper to smooth out the inside. I like to use emery cloth, but using 80 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit would do the same thing.

Another trick I use is to wrap your emery cloth around a drill bit and use it for a dremel tool. Be sure to wrap your sandpaper around the bit in the direction the bit is spinning. Take your time and even out the inside lip to be about 1/16 all the way around. Then switch to a 240 grit sandpaper to smooth the inside. Be careful not to damage the writing inside the coin.

To start on the outside, depending on how deep your hammer blows are, start with about 120 grit sandpaper or emery cloth. If you have some deeper gouges, you may need to use an 80 grit paper to start. Work your way to up to a 180 or 240 grit until the outside is smooth, but not necessarily shiny. You can also lightly smooth over the outside edges a bit if they seem excessively sharp.

Now you are ready to start the final finish. I use a fingernail emery board or emery block. I like the 4 step system. Use the roughest surface first and graduate to the smoothest surface. Take your time with these steps and buff out all the scratches from the prior step before moving on.
Above is the final product. Total time about 6 hours. Polish with some automotive chrome polish and you are done. If the silver coin ring seems to have sharp edges, do not worry. In a short time, just by wearing the ring, all the edges will smooth out and it will wear comfortably.
Happy Birthday Arika!


Arika Robison said...

thank you thank you thank you thank you times a million!!!! i love it sooo much! its amazing! it fits perfectly! i love you! thank you :)

men rings said...

Oh those are fabulous! I think you did an excellent job!