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.
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!
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.
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!