How Coin Rings are Made
Turning a coin into ring is by no means a “one size fits all” process there are a variety of different methods, tools and materials that can be used. This simple guide will explain the processes and tools we use at Halls Customs.
Almost any coin can be turned into a ring but some work better than others. The first point I would like to make is that the research should always be done to ensure that a rare or highly collectible coin is not being used. Some coins can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars and altering the coin could ruin the numismatic value. It is also very important to know what the metal content of the coin is and how this can affect those who have certain metal allergies. For instance: a 2019 half dollar is a “clad” coin, this means that is has layers of copper and nickel. If the correct protective coating isn’t used, this may leave a green or black line around the wearers finger. Steel bearing rings may leave a black or brown line and for some wearers, it may even cause a rash. The best coins to use are either 90% coins such as Morgan silver dollars and half dollars and .999 pure silver coins.
As stated before, there are a large variety of tools and techniques. I would just like to explain some of the more commonly used methods for achieving a beautiful and comfortable ring. These tools include Swedish Wrap Dies, Center Punch with Spacers, Ring Stretcher, Doming Block, and a variety of hand tools.
Punch the center
Choose the coin and punch or drill a hole in the center. Here at Halls Customs, we use centering punched and spacers to get a perfectly centered hole and this also allows us to save the center piece for use in other projects. These punches come in different sized ranging from ¼ inch to ¾ inch. The coin is placed in a spacer and set in the punch housing.
Arbor or hydraulic press
After the coin is set in the punch housing and the punch rod is set, either an arbor press or a hydraulic press is used to press the punch rod through the center of the coin and out the bottom. Remove the coin from the punch and use a deburring tool or sandpaper to smooth the cut edge of the coin.
Swedish wrap dies
Now that the coin has a hole, it is ready to start forming into a ring. I recommend the Swedish wrap method for shaping the flat coin into a cylinder. This method consists of a series of angled dies which are used to fold the outer edge of the coin inward until the size desired is reached. The coin will first need to be pressed into a doming block to form the initial fold and give the coin a cone shape. After the initial fold, the coin needs to be checked for cracks and sanded if needed. Next, the coin needs to be annealed and quenched to soften the metal and prevent it from splitting. Use a propane torch or heating and a fire brick to heat the coin evenly then quench in water. Now the coin needs to be wrapped in Teflon tape (20-25x) or shop towels to prevent the details of the coin from being destroyed while being pressed though the Swedish dies. Place the cone side down in the die and press using aluminum or brass press rods. Anneal and rewrap after each die. If needed, the cone may need to be put in upside down to even out the sides of the ring.
Prepare the edge
By this point in the process, you may notice that one side of the coin is much thicker than the other. This is the result of the outside edge of the coin being compressed as it is pushed through the dies. This must be adjusted or the ring will be too uncomfortable to wear. In order to thin the outer band, a simple deburring tool from any hardware store will work. Use the deburring tool around the thick edge to remove excess metal and produce a more comfortable fit.
Size to order
Anneal the ring once more to keep the ring from cracking while being stretched. Using a ring stretcher, you will stretch the ring to the desired size and check again for any rough edges. You may need to thin the thick edge a bit more to create a more even size. You can expect to see a bit of size variation from one side to the other. Be sure to wrap the ring stretcher with shop towels or cloth to protect the inside of the band from damage.
Shine and Show
Using buffing wheel and mag polish or jewelers rouge, polish the ring to perfection or rub with #000 steel wool to produce a brushed metal appearance. For a brilliant shine, mag polish from your local auto shop will work perfectly. Simply add a small amount to the buffing wheel and polish the ring as desired. To polish the inside of the ring, a buffing bit in a Dremel works best. Now that you have crafted a beautiful ring, its time to wear it with pride or maybe give it to someone special.
I hope this short guide has helped you to understand the process by which these rings are made and possibly inspired you to attempt your own creation.