How To Make a Hole in a Pressed Coin

Drilling a Penny
Image via Rain Blanken

Machine-pressed coins make great bracelet charms. In fact, you can make a collectible charm bracelet by using pennies smashed and etched with a picture of your favorite tourist destination with a hole hammered into each one. Start out with just a few, and then add to your collection as your travels bring you to more places. Theming them is fun, too. Imagine, a bracelet with all the top U.S. sites or a European-themed bracelet. If you stick with it, you'll have a collection that can be passed down to future generations, inspiring kids to complete their own someday.

Hammering a Hole in a Pressed Coin

To put a hole in a pressed coin, you don't need an electric drill. Since the metal is already thin, a nail will drive right through it. This simple technique is easy to tackle for those who don't have a machine shop or tool bench, as well. Just take your project to the back porch and turn your treasures into charms.

  1. Locate a scrap piece of 2-inch by 4-inch wood and a work table that can take some abuse. (A gardening table works great!)

  2. Attach the board and the penny to the table with a metal clamp. Keeping the pressed coin still and close to the nailing surface is imperative to effectively hammering it.

  3. With a marker, make a dot in the location that you'd like the hole to be, bearing in mind that the hole will be slightly larger (and closer to the edge) than the diameter of the nail. Be generous and allow at least 1/8-inch edge spacing for a small brad.

  4. Make a few precarious taps to dent the metal in the desired location, anchoring the tip of your nail.

  5. Hammer the nail until the full diameter moves through the penny and out the other side.

  6. Remove the nail and flip the penny over. Gently hammer down loose metal chards. If they cover up the hole, tap the nail through the opposite way.

Drilling a Hole in a Pressed Coin

Beware of Metal Spirals

Drilling pressed pennies will produce little metal corkscrews that can become lodged inside your foot (or a pet's foot), should they get stepped on.

Drilling has its place in jewelry making, but in the case of making holes in pressed coins, enlisting the help of a drill just makes things more complicated. A hammer and nail work just as well and won't create tiny metal chards that seek out human flesh.

That said, should you choose to drill your holes instead of hammer them, you can follow the same methods as above (but use a drill instead of a hammer and nail). Be advised, however, that the act of drilling pennies will produce little metal corkscrew shavings that can fall on the floor and become lodged in your foot. These shavings will need to be diligently picked up and disposed of immediately after each drilling. Additionally, any tiny specks of lingering metal should be carefully cleaned up. And, always make sure you wear protective footwear and clothing when operating power tools, in general.