The Making of a Coin Bead

March 9, 2015 , In: Inspiration, Metalsmithing, Tutorials
Give a bead addict a handful of coins and they will either buy beads or turn them into beads and here is how I do it….

This works better with the older solid metal coins, it can be done with the more modern plated type but that does throw up a few issues such as splitting when doming and the plating wearing off with soldering and polishing.


I start with a handful of copper farthings (so far I have found these to be the easiest coins to work with, being made from copper they are rather soft and easy to shape with out needing to be annealed first and they are a nice size) Each coin is domed using my doming block.

filing a bead

The edges of the coins are then sanded flat using a sheet of sand paper, the coins need to have a flat edge of about 1mm thick all the way around, the more surface area touching the better the solder will hold them together. After this I use a small round file to file a grove where I want the hole to go, I use a file rather then a drill because quiet frankly I am hopeless with a drill and find it easier to do it this way! First I file the groves on one coin and then sandwich two coins together and mark where the groves are on the second coin with a sharpie, then I file where I have marked on the second coin.


Next is the soldering, I use solder paste because again it is easier. This part is important, I need to make sure that I use enough to flow around the whole of the edge of the coins, I don’t want any gaps, but not too much that I have to worry about getting silver all over the copper coins. After applying the solder paste to the first coin I then sandwich the coins together making sure that the holes line up then I solder them together. At this point I leave them to cool a bit before pickling, they can be quenched first but often in my haste I quench before the solder has cooled and they come apart leaving me devastated, it’s much easier to just wait a while!

wire brushing

After pickling they look rather awful, but that is normal. I then neutralise the pickle on the beads with a bath in Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), give them a good rinse and a brush over with a brass brush to clean them up. Next I neaten up the holes with the round file being careful not to leave any sharp edges.


Then comes a quick dip in a liver of sulphur bath to give the coins back that beautiful aged metal look and a 30 minute spin in the tumbler with a splash of water and drop of dish washer soap.

Coin bead

After drying throughly I finish them off with a coat of renaissance wax and a buff and there you have it coin beads!

If you like the look of these but don’t want to make some up yourself I have some in my Bits of NikNats shop and if you do give these a try please remember to wear an apron, safety goggles, hair tied back (because no one like the smell of singed hair) and follow the safety instructions on the chemicals!

Niky Sayers
Silver NikNats

Niky Sayers

Niky Sayers started creating jewellery 6 years ago after stumbling across a jewellery making blog while looking for a hobby. She is a stay at home mum with hermit like tendencies, a mild addiction to coffee and chocolate and a love of all things handmade or antique/rusty. While not raising her tribe she like to keep as busy as possible playing with metal sheet, wire and other treasures and trinkets all at her kitchen table in Surrey, England.
  1. Reply

    They look fabulous!!!

  2. Reply

    Hi what size doming tool will i need please,thanksParin.

    • Reply

      Hi Parin, I use the two largest sizes on my doming tool they are marked only as size 8 and 7 but you could use the other sizes too.

  3. Reply

    Niky does absolutely gorgeous work! Love the coins 🙂

    • Reply

      Thank you Kristina, I love what you make with them!

  4. Reply

    I have made hollow copper beads and now I am going to scour around for some old pennies! Awesome idea – thanks for the inspiration – and sharing your tips!!

    • Reply

      I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful creations Patti!

  5. Reply

    Niky, what a great tutorial! I had the farthing charm you made in my hand last night. I cherish it.

    • Reply

      Thank you Susan, It so nice hearing that you like them as much as I enjoy making them!

  6. Reply

    I love them. I was just talking about your coin work today with my friend Norman. He's a 90+ year old Brit expat at the pottery studio where I teach. ( I <3 him) He told me about the rare groat/four pence coin… and I told him about your wren/farthings!

  7. Reply

    I love how these look. Wish I were braver & more skilled with the torch!

    • Reply

      Linda when I first started soldering I used to hold my breath! The paste solder made all the diffrence for me as it was so much easier to use!

  8. Reply

    Niky, these are beautiful! You've done an amazing amount of fine-detail work on these..and the outcome is beautiful! Love them! Can they be strung?..I think so as you are creating the hole with the file. I would love to order one.

    • Reply

      Hi Carol, thank you for your lovely words. I personally have not strung them myself but have seen others do this, I guess you would just need to use a really strong wire as they probably weigh a little more then a normal bead? I have a couple of these left in my shop if you would like to order here is the link thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. Reply

    Hi thanks for the reply,ive only a smallish set and i think my largest one is about 27mm imsure thats not as large as yours so been havin a look around and i think yours will be about 36mm and about 40mm,had a look on your nicnaks web site and your works so lovely,hope to learn from you very clever ladies love your blog and your interesting posts best regards Parin.

    • Reply

      Hi Parin, I just measured my set and my largest one is 27mm so yours should be fine. The farthings measure a little under 20mm so I normally use the 27mm first and then the next size down which is about 24mm. If you need any more help or advice please feel free to email me the link can be found on my blog Have a lovely day!

  10. Reply

    Wonderful tute! Now I have to dig up that bucket of coins!

  11. Reply

    wow. They look very good. Thank you for the step by step photos. Those were very informative

  12. Reply

    I love these! Thank you for showing us how to make these!

  13. Reply

    Glad you like them!

  14. Reply

    Thank you for sharing your process! It just goes to show how much work is involved. I adore the pieces I have from you so much that I kind of put them in my treasures and take them out to look at periodically.

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