By Tom Parker,
Sometimes it costs more
to buy it than to make it
from the money itself.
Store-bought bell pendant
made of nickel silver or
90% pure silver jingle bell
made from 2 quarters and
a piece of dime.
Tap carefully, rotating the coin as you go,
to keep the edges of the hemisphere even
and symmetrical. A nylon mallet or dead blow
hammer will help absorb the impact of your
tapping and lessen the bounce-back as you
tap. But any hammer will do.
After dapping 2 quarters into hemispheres,
you can fashion an eyelet for the bell out of a
strip of thinner metal clipped from a silver dime.
And you’ll need a clapper for the inside of
the bell. I made one by hammering the sides
of a steel nail until it had a rectangular cross-section, then sawing off a piece to make a
small metal cube.
A pre-1965 U.S. quarter buys only one 25-cent
gumball from a grocery store machine, but
because it’s made of 90% silver, its “melt
value” is currently closer to $6. So finding a
few silver quarters can make digging through
desk drawers or old boxes of junk in your attic
a profitable exercise. But instead of melting
old quarters into $6 silver nuggets, it’s more
fun to hammer them into something more
interesting and valuable. You can make them
into silver bells!
There are many ways to hammer a disk
of soft, malleable metal like silver into a
hemispherical shape. I used an inexpensive
metalworker’s dapping block and punches,
as sold by many vendors online, but you can
also pound a quarter into a hemisphere using
a rounded hardwood dowel and a dimpled
block of oak or maple.
Once the pieces are roughed out, it’s just
a matter of filing the edges smooth, clamping
the assembled parts in a vise, and sweating
them together with a propane torch and silver
solder. As soon as the bell cools, you can saw
a thin slot using a hacksaw blade, drill relief
holes at each end of the slot, and finish the
bell with emery cloth and silver polish. ;
Tom Parker ( email@example.com) lives in Ithaca, N. Y.,
and works for Cornell University. When he’s not tinkering with
junk, he flies a 1956 Cessna 180 bush plane.
172 Make: makezine.com/30