Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coin Ring for Your Toe

 Toe rings are very popular with those who like to wear sandals and open toed shoes. This old silver Roosevelt dime was handcrafted into a wonderful size 3 toe ring. The small opening in the bottom of the ring allows the wearer to open it slightly and then close it to just the right fit. Check out all the unique coin rings available from the Ross Coin Rings website, or the Ross Coin Rings Etsy shop.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ross Coin Rings Available on Etsy

In the last couple of weeks I have been putting some of my coin rings up on my Etsy shop. My rings are now available from two locations; Ross Coin Rings and the Ross Coin Rings Etsy shop.  Stop by either one and let me know if you have a special request, or perhaps you will like one of the rings already made up and in stock. They make great gifts and remember they can always be worn on a small chain as a necklace.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - #5

Next comes the fun part.  You can put down your hammer and mandrel and start finishing the now fully shaped coin ring.

There are at least two ways you can finish inside and outside surfaces of the ring. Generally, the annealing process will leave a certain amount of colored residue on the outside surface of the coin.  Depending on what the base metal is, the color of this "jewelers scale" will range from dark grey (almost black) to a lighter range of grey or possibly a brown color. In either case, you may finish the coin so that much of the background retains the darker color; or alternatively you can choose to polish the entire surface to a mirror finish.  The choice is yours.

If you leave a lot of the color in the background of the coin, the details of the original engraving will be more prominent. To acheive this finish you need to first lightly sand only the tops of the highlights with a very fine grit sand paper or emery paper. Then apply some metal polish to the ring and polish until the highlights and edges are quite shiny and prominent. This leaves the background darker.

Alternatively if you want to go for the mirror finish; use a fine steel wool and polish the entire surface of the coin, thereby removing much of the background color as well as polishing the highlights. Then apply some metal polish and buff the ring until it reaches a mirror finish. One of the most popular metal polish products is called Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish. It is usually available anywhere auto supplies are sold.

The details on the inside of the coin ring may be finished in the same manner as those on the outside of the coin.

There is also something known as a Jewelers Polishing Cloth. This cloth is actually a two-part item where one half of the cloth is impregnated with a metal polish, while the other half is merely a buffing cloth. The shine of any ring can be restored with this type of cloth.

This completes this series of postings. Bear in mind, I have iterated only the very basic steps and most coin ring craftsmen will use them as a start and then modify and alter them to form their own techniques and methods.

Also, there are several good videos on YouTube that describe this basic process or some form of it. I would recommend if you are just starting, to watch one or more of the available videos. Here are a couple that will get you started. My coin rings are available at Ross Coin Rings  or Ross Coin Rings Etsy Shop

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - #4

The next step in the creation of a double-sided coin ring is a process known as annealing the coin, in order to soften it. Annealing the coin is where you hold the coin in the flame of a propane torch until it just begins to glow. If the coin is copper, bronze or nickel-copper clad, you need to heat it up until it glows a bright cherry red. If the coin is Silver or 90% Silver it only needs to turn a dark red color. Generally, this step is done in a darkened or semi-darkened room in order to see the color changes more easily. A pair of locking forceps or jewelers tweezers are used to hold the coin in the flame.

Once the correct color is reached, remove it from the flame and let it cool naturally for a few seconds; then dunk it in a small container of water in order to finish cooling it to a point where you can safely handle it. (This annealing step will need to be repeated several times until the final shape is achieved.) Please note the annealing step will cause the coin to end up with a blackish (or brownish) scale after annealing. This is normal, and it will be used to create highlights during the final finishing and polishing step.

With the coin annealed, slip it over the small end of your ring mandrel. If you have drilled or punched a hole approximately 1/2" in diameter, it should just fit over the tip of the mandrel. Using your composition hammer (plastic, leather or nylon) begin hammering the edge of the coin, causing it to bend down and move down the mandrel. Do this lightly at first, because the coin is very soft. Try to hammer evenly around the entire perimeter of the coin. Gradually, the coin will begin to fold down closer to the mandrel, and will resemble a cone shape. As you hammer the coin, the metal will "work harden" and eventually you will need to repeat the annealing step. After you remove the coin the first time, you will want to file the cut edge until it is fairly smooth all around. This will keep the coin from splitting as you continue forming it down the mandrel.

Keep repeating this hammering step and annealing step until the outside perimeter of the coin is nearly touching the surface of the mandrel.

Anneal the coin once more. This time when you put it on the mandrel; place it so the cone shape is the reverse of how you have been placing it on the mandrel. That is with the large end of the cone facing up instead of down.  Now, keep hammering the perimeter of the coin until it flattens against the outside of the mandrel. Keep in mind you may have to anneal it again before it can be flattened completely against the mandrel.

In the next posting I will explain how to finish the coin ring.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - #3

Now that you have a list of the basic tools you will need, I will next elaborate some on how you will use them.

To begin with the fabrication of your coin ring, you will need to remove a small amount of material from the center of your chosen coin. The size of the hole will usually be just large enough so that it will fit over the small end of your tapered steel mandrel.  Most common ring mandrels will require that the hole be around 7/16" to 1/2". If the final ring size you are trying for will be a size 9 or larger, then generally you could make the hole in the coin a bit larger than 1/2". As you gain more experience, you will learn better how much material needs to be removed to achieve a certain ring size.

Some will anneal (soften) the coin before attempting to drill or punch the hole.  Again, it depends a little on the type of material the coin is made out of whether you will need to anneal it first. In most instances, you will not need to anneal the coin first. The hole in the coin can be done in essentially two different ways. You can either punch the hole with a punch and die set, or you can drill the hole using a powered hand drill or a small bench mounted drill press. After drilling or punching the hole, usually the cut edges will require a little deburring. This can be done with a small rat-tail file.

The placement of the hole should ideally be as near as possible to the exact dead center of the coin. There are several methods for locating the center of your coin, and here is one. However, DO NOT obsess over the placement of the hole, if it does not end up exactly in the center. There are at least two ways to fix a hole that is slightly off center.

Here are the two ways to fix the hole in the coin if it is slightly off center.
  1. The first involves using a small rat-tail file to remove metal around the hole on the side where it is the thickest. You can usually do this by eye, or you can use a calipers to measure the distance from the outside edge of the coin to the inside edge of the hole.
  2. The second way is to wait until you start forming the coin down the mandrel. As the coin is being formed you will notice that one side of the ring is thicker than the opposite side. Using a flat file you can remove material from the edge of the hole where it is the thickest, until the width of the sides are more even.
In the next posting I will discuss the first annealing and initial forming of the coin on the mandrel.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - #2

The entire basic concept of creating a double-sided coin ring revolves around starting with a flat object (a coin), and transforming it to a circular ring shaped object. The transformation will result in the features on one side of the coin to be visible on the outside of the ring band; while the features on the other side of the coin are visible on the inside of the ring.  Refer to the picture here as an example.

There are four basic steps to achieve this transformation from coin to ring. They are listed below:
  • Removing some metal from the center of the coin
  • Softening the metal (annealing)
  • Shaping or forming the metal
  • Finishing and polishing
Each of the four steps above, involve certain basic tools in order to complete the process.  The following list represents the minimum set of tools. It should be noted that although each coin ring craftsman start out with this minimum set of tools; as they gain experience, develop and refine their own techniques and methods, generally they will add other tools to suit their own needs.

The basic set of tools involve the following:
  • A metal punch or drill (or both)
  • Small propane torch
  • Small selection of metal files, ie. rat-tail, flat mill bastard
  • A nylon, leather or plastic hammer
  • A hardened steel tapered mandrel
  • Two or three different grits of sand paper and some steel wool
  • Metal polish and/or metal polishing cloth
In the next part of this instructional material, I will cover how these basic tools are used to create a coin ring.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Token From The House on The Rock

 The House on The Rock is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin. These tokens make excellent coin rings and forever will remind the wearer of their visit to this unique bit of modern architecture. Visit Ross Coin Rings to see other examples of my work.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - #1

Just to be sure everyone understands the term "double-sided", it will next be defined. Coin rings have been fabricated for literally decades previous to this current flurry of interest. But it is only recently that the technique known as "double-sided" has gained in popularity. Probably the last 10 or 12 years.

Rather than repeat what I have already written on this subject, I would refer to a page that is located on my Ross Coin Rings website.  If you will click on this link, it will open a specific page on my website, that talks briefly about the history surrounding the making of coin rings.

In essence then, a "double-sided" coin ring refers to a ring made from some type (or denomination) of coinage, whereby details of the original coin engraving are visible both on the outside of the band as well as the inside of the band. It should be pointed out that some "makers" tend to ignore the details on the inside of the band, and usually destroy most if not all of them because of their methods of fabrication. In those instances, the inside of the band ends up perfectly smooth or nearly smooth, leaving only the details on the outside of the band to be visible.  Of course these examples could not rightfully be considered double-sided, according to the above definition.

I should mention there is one other type of ring that is termed as a "coin ring", and these consist of the entire coin being attached to or set in the top of a ring mounting. In these rings, the coin is not damaged or changed in shape, but it is merely captured and set into the top bezel of a manufactured ring.

The next part of this discussion will begin to describe how to get started, if you are interested in trying to make a coin ring for yourself or as a gift to someone. There are certain basic tools that you will need to obtain, and you will need to learn certain basic procedures.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tennessee Statehood Coin Ring

If you are looking for a petite coin ring for that special gift, this may just be the ring for you. This ring is sized at a 4-1/2 and is custom crafted from a clad US Statehood Quarter. To order this ring, or any of the other coin rings in my shop; just click on this link.

How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings - Intro

Making coin rings out of ordinary currency, be it US or foreign coinage, is becoming a very popular hobby. However, only a scant handful of all these fabricators could actually be considered artisan craftsmen (and women).

Probably you will not be able to completely learn this craft just by reading about it. Nevertheless, for those who really have no idea where to start - perhaps I can give you a good start by sharing some basic information.

This first posting is merely my introduction to the information I will be sharing. In order to keep these postings from becoming excessively long; I will try to cover only one facet of the process in each posting.  Stop back often to read all of the postings and thus gain the knowledge to get started making your own coin rings.  Each posting will have the phrase "How To Make Double-Sided Coin Rings" in the title.  That way you can keep track of what you have read, and recognize when I have added something new.