A quality coin ring will take at least 2 hours for an experienced coinsmith to turn (give or take depending on coin size). Yes they can be made quicker by taking short cuts, but they will not be as crisp nor as good of quality.Below are step by step instructions of what I personally do to craft a ring. Eventually I will do an instructional video but not until I can figure out how to keep an audience occupied to watch it completely. There are a few tips and tricks not listed in this instructional that I am saving for the video. I am doing this because I find them easier to explain in person rather than via word text.No part of this step by step process can be reproduced without my prior consent. 1. Select a coin with sharp, clear details as these are essential to the quality and look of the finished product.
- 1A. - I personally use uncirculated or almost uncirculated coins whenever possible so I can provide the highest quality end product I can. DO NOT turn a coin with high numismatic value into a ring.
2. Once you have selected a suitable coin you will want to anneal it to straighten out and level the structure of the silver in an effort to prevent any chipping, splitting or breaking during the forging process.
- 2A - Set the coin flat on a fire brick. Using a torch slowly heat the coin until it is dull red in color, do not overheat the coin or it will melt. Then quinch it in a mason jar of clear distilled water.
3. Once the annealing process is complete you will want to find the dead center of the coin and remove only the portion you need to form the ring.
- 3A - 3/8", 7/16', 1/2" or 5/8" are normal hole sizes used on a variety of coins. It is important that you are as close to EXACT as possible when creating the center hole. This will help cut down on final finishing time.
- 3B - The slightest mispunch or lag of punch power during the strike will ruin the final look of the ring.
- 3C - On average, a coin should be reannealed BEFORE it becomes "work hardened" to prevent hairline cracks and splitting. Anneal more often than not, I anneal about every 2-3 sizes gained. Let the coin "speak" to you because there is a fine line between over and under annealing.
4. Take a rounded needle file and rheem the edges of the punched hole, removing any imperfections from the strike.
- 4A - If the hole is not dead centered, take the time now to correct it. You can do this by using a dremel or standard round file and enlarge the hole until it is corrected.
5. Now it is time to start folding the coin on the madrel.
- 5A - Decide which side of the coin you would like as the outer band and place it facing upwards on the mandrel.
- 5B - Using a nylon or rawhide mallet SLOWLY begin working the coin down the mandrel using even strikes.
Note: The mandrel work is indeed the most demanding part of making a coin ring. It is also the part where skill and craftmanship really come into play. The quality and look of the ring is not obtained solely by the use of proper tools. It is determined by the craftsman's ability to work with and understand the structure and metal content of the coin being used while adding just the right amount of pressure during each stike with the mallet to prevent chipping and deformation of the ring. 6. Once your coin is tapered to about 45 degrees it is time to flip it over and start the process again.
- 6A - Keep the finished size in mind. You can also switch to a mandrel with a more tapered profile to help ease the closing of the ring against the mandrel. Use a patch of leather in between the coin and mandrel to preserve the inner details.
- 6B - The mandrel work is finished once you have obtained a straight and slightly tapered appearance to the ring.
7. Use different grit sand paper to level and smooth any irregularities to the non-factory side of the ring.
- 7A - Start with a medium grit and work your way to an extra fine grit sandpaper for the best results.
8. A Dremel can be used to remove any excess material and to help round the non-factory edge.
- 8A - Take an artistic approach to the overall balance of the final size and appearance of the ring.
- 8B - Some grinding may need to be done to remove any scratches or marks left by the forging process.
9. Move to your ring stretcher/reducer and create the final size/look of the ring.
- 9A - Use leather to protect the coin details from coming into direct contact with the stretching mandrel. This will preserve the inner details of the ring.
- 9B - You may need to stretch and reduce the ring many times until it becomes simetrical and has lost it's conical shape. Be sure to anneal the coin during this stage as well to prevent mishaps.
10. It's time to clean the ring from any dirt or grease left behind during the forming processes. Note: CHEMICAL/NITREL GLOVES ARE RECOMMENDED FOR THE FOLLOWING STEPS
- 10A - Dip the ring into an acetone solution and wash the ring using a soft bristled toothbrush until it is cleaned. Use tweezers to insert and remove the ring from the solution.
- 10B - Add patina to the ring by dipping it into a liver of sulfur solution. You can also add liver of sulfur to your quenching water to patina the ring as you go.
11. Polishing your finished ring
- 11A - Once polished it is recommended that you seal your ring with a clear coat finish.
Sounds easy enough doesn't it?The key element is PRACTICE. Start with clad coins from your pocket and once you have mastered a technique that suits you, move on to silver coins.