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First, as I explain to many people starting out in this hobby a "perfectly centered hole" is not necessary. It just isn't. It can be slightly off. And can easily be corrected with the use of a round and flat file before and after the coin has been folded by filing the non factory side of your piece. Over the years I have watched many ringers come and go with different ways to center the hole in the coin. And youtube is full of these methods and even tools, so I understand why so many are confused about it. There is no one way to do it. There are many. My way, or ways are just simply that. My ways of doing it. But they work for me. And my pieces, I hope should reflect that I know a little bit about coin ring making. There are makers of a punch tool specifically made to punch a dead center hole in coins like half dollars, dollars ect if you want to spend 300$. I am not against these tools. They are brilliant. But as I have heard from many people. Nearly impossible to obtain. I figure with a tool like that, they are just swamped with orders. And like me. Have to turn the work away. Would I like to own one, sure. Am I willing to spend 300 dollars? No. Again. My method has worked for me for a very long time. And it will for you too. However, there are a lot of people who don't want to put in the work or discipline into hand made pieces. They want short cuts. They want fast results the easy way. But the fact is, when it comes to making a hand made artisan coin ring there are no short cuts. And its only as hard as you make it. These tips will show that it is actually quite easy with a little work. And you might just come up with an method that works so well, you could teach us all a thing or two.
The finished 1894 Newfoundland Coin Ring. Sz 9. For Sale on Etsy!
How To Find The Center In Your Coin:
As mentioned before. Your initial hole does not have to be perfectly centered. Only as centered as you can get it. Of course a perfectly centered hole is ideal. But with minimal tools at minimal cost, its more of a challenge, but not hard to do. I have tried many ways to do get my holes more perfectly centered. From use of calipers, templates and more recently the use of a centering tool made for finding the center of round flat objects. This tool has proven to be extremely useful and very inexpensive. And so that is what I am going to share here so you can use the same type of tool to locate the center of your coin no matter its size. And I highly suggest getting one like it.
Shown left is a Robert Larson Brand Circle Center Finder tool.
I picked this tool up from Jerry's for 4 dollars. And I have to admit. I don't know why I never gave it any thought until recently for use in my projects. Its brilliant. Easy to use. And it really does get you as close to dead center as you can get. I have used it on many coins with great success. The video below will demonstrate it for you. Combined with a circle template its a powerful combination of tools that are readily available at your local home improvement stores. Once your center is located. You should have greater success centering your hole no matter what tool you use. Drill, Die Punch or Jewelers saw. The use of calipers and a round file are also tools I suggest using as you can actually get a nearly perfect centered hole by measuring and filing the hole if it is off center. A good eye and rolling the coin in your finger tips against a flat colored back ground will show any wobble in the hole if it is off. Correct what you can. Because later in the process you will be making use of a flat file to finalize the last steps in getting a uniform band in your rings anyway.
The use of a round file to correct any unevenness in your center hole.
The use of the round file is an easy way to adjust any off center hole in your coin. With the use of calipers, file it out until it is as even as you can get it. Again. Does not have to be perfect. You will correct this after your fold by using a flat file by filing the non factory side of the coin until the band is uniform in shape. As shown below, I am in the process of filing the non factory side of this Australian florin evening out the band. It doesn't take much filing. The bonus to this method, is you will get the non factory side to be about as thick as the factory, or reeded side of the coin. This also helps make for comfortable band, as a ring band should be. Of course there is other steps involved. But I will get to that later.
Use of a center tool video
As explained above, this video simply shows how you would use your center tool to find the center and how great of a inexpensive tool it really is.
Wrapping your mandrel in leather video
I am asked this so often its amazing. So somewhere along the line I guess I didn't explain it and many of you became confused. I apologize. Its really a simple method. And the idea is to prevent the inside details of the coin from marring from the pressure created between the mandrel and the mallet during transformation. Leather has many great uses in making coin rings. And we will tackle that in future posts. For now. See the below video for a simple explanation of how to wrap your mandrel.
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TIP: Checking For Hairline Cracks in your work.
As you work your piece, I think its vital you check for any hairline cracks in your coin to prevent the coin from splitting in half. I do this by use of a loop to see if any cracks are evident in the coin before use and as I am transforming the piece into a ring. If a hairline crack becomes to big, and goes unnoticed your ring is surely to crack and break. This can be fixed if caught early. This is one part of the reason I use only high grade coins. And am extremely picky the older the coin. If you are coin shopping, avoid buying coins with dents or dings or anything that tells you the coin has been damaged. The video below is an example of how I periodically check my coins for cracking as I work them. I can't tell you how many times identifying a crack before it really opened up and split saved my pieces. This was a hard lesson learned early on. I've cracked a few coins over the years, and its an awful feeling. So I am posting this tip here so you will hopefully never have to go through that. And I will elaborate more on it in the future. For now. Keep an eye on the small details.
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BE SURE TO CHECK MY PREVIOUS POSTS FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COIN RING MAKING.
Tools of hand made coin ring making