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Old 04-26-2007, 07:31 PM
Steve Ellsworth's Avatar
Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Glad you could make it. .
Let me know if there are any dead links.

For now we will be looking at pictures. I will try to get some video up as we go along. Because of the size and number of the images I had to link up rather than attach so you will have a lot of links to click. I don't see any other way around it for now.

This tutorial is a double edged sword for me. I am opening the door to a bit of competition but what the heck, I am getting old and I won't be doing this forever. Besides, it's fun. Some of you may try it and fall in love with it. Others will think it sucks and blow it off for other endeavors. It's all up to you.

For now just have fun with it.

Here is where it's all going to happen at.



There is nothing special here. Just a few toys which we will talk about as the need arises if you want to.

My scope is much like the one you will find in Steve's store. It's one of the first models to hit the street and as such is not quite as fancy but it has worked well over the years and the optics are great.



I prefer to work as far from the vice as possible.



This is the distance i work with a .5 and the scope camera. It's farther with a .3

I compensate with 10x 15x and 20x eye pieces on the scope.

My ring light is a potent one. I also use multiple light sources of differnt color temperatures to keep track of dimensional relationships.

As you can see I work at an angle differnt than that of many engravers.
I tried carving looking straight down and didn't like it a bit, so i engrave the same way too. The vise is on a turntable. The vise runs very loose as I carve fast and in the round. I swing it a full 180 in every direction as I carve so the look of my coins is correct at any angle. The turntable is mounted a bit off center so I can spin it into the catch pan and not have to employ a clamp.

I use a Classic handpiece with a foot control. I mount my foot controls differnt than most. Everything sits at the same angle as my cars gas pedal for comfort.



The pedal on the left runs three other power tools. I gang them up on a power strip to make life easier.



The majority of the carving will be accomplished by flats. Although you can do much of the same work using a full sized V graver and laying it over if you are very very good. But for now I would suggest you stick with the flats.

This is a traditional flat





While it is great for traditional engraving background removal it has limited application for my carving style other than changing the profile of the face and then only when very large in size so I rarely use them on coins.

These are the type of flats I use.





The scale is in milimeters so as to give you an idea of the largest tools I use. The smallest would be whatever is necessary to work within the lettering of the chosen coin. I always start with the largest and work smaller as I need to. No sense in changing tools if you don't have to.

You may have noticed my flats are not really flat. They have a curvature to them called a radius.









Some of them are/were what were once referred to as knife gravers, the sides form a large V rather than a 90 degree side.

All of these are Muller's recut the way I like them and custom tanged to fit the Airgraver. They are large and lend themselves very well to the tungsten piston.

The logic for radius flats is simple. Flat gravers cut at the angle they point to. Halfway to China. Mine are controlable and can be levered in and out of a cut with ease without screwing up the surface.


These are standard stipple tools in sizes that many of you are familiar with next to the stipple tool that I use, made from 1/16th inch carbide.

This one is 3/32 carbide







I sometimes use the standard V graver shapes in 90 -110 -120



Mine are the same as you have but just a bit smaller. Again made from 1/16th carbide.

I use a GRS ball vice and the pins you see. My GRS vise off the shelf was not suitable for high end coin work. The pin blocks were at different heights and required sanding and polishing to brng them level so they didnt mar the back of the coin. The pins needed a polish too. There were lumpers in the chrome which damaged the rims.

Although you wouldn't suspect it, it takes a lot of vise to hold a nickel. Especially running the Classic flat out.

So, be sure to check your vise/clamp as marking up the back side of an expensive coin is not a good thing to do. Trust me these coins can get pricey.

Don't over tighten the vise and compress the rim. The pins I use spread out the pressure. Make a gadget if you have to. We have lots of time.



There are many coins you can work with and the descision is up to you where to start. In essence they are all pretty much the same save for the design and the quality of the metal and of course the cost.

For this tutorial I will be using older buffalo nickels. Most of them have had some milage on them and you will note as we go along that the date on the coin will change or something else may look different.

As I will be doing a lot of things at different times and at differnt stages through this tutorial I can't see just working on one coin which would be boring. Each coin is problematic in it's own way so by seeing alot of differnt problem areas hopefully you will gain a lot more knowledge quicker. However I will finish more than one of these for this session for you to look at and then all of these coins will be shipped out to their new homes.

I have prepped a few so I can keep ahead of you and still turn out finished pieces.





Prepping is an ongoing pain in the rear thing.

But you can use anything you want for your learning process. Just grab something out of your pocket if you wish but avoid the new dual metal coins as they are crap.

If you are just learning and you have some old nickels that look like these.





Put them away for now and work on something like these





New nickels old nickels pennies quarters or
Use old beat up buffalos in the 37 - 38 range till you get good.

You can get these quarters all day long from the bank. A bit harder metal to cut though. Probably the best way to decide is gouge up a few coins with whatever tool you have and see what cuts easiest for you.

So for a quarter you can go from this


to this


But the object of this game is to get you to go from this

to this if you want to


The first thing to do is grab your coin and decide how to clamp it up.

If you don't have a vise hot melt glue it to a piece of wood or something you can hold. Flake shellac works good too with a torch.

Just don't try to do this with just your fingers or you will bleed all over the place and be dead by the time the rest of us are done.

To keep it simple we work with the following constraints.
Don't mess with the rim, the letters, or the date unless you absolutely have to.



You can screw around with the background which we refer to as the field but you will live to regret it. Once touched it is a snot to reclaim.

If the rim is shot and you want to try and recut it, that is fair game but you will have to bring the field back into order with everything else. Also a pain but chances are we will be doing just that online.


Same goes with the date and letters. You can make them prettier but changing the date numbers is not acceptable. You can wipe them out if you wish or just the first two, but it makes the coin worth less.

Wiping out really bad dates is not a good idea. Better to just leave them. If you feel like you can recut them accurately give it a try, if they intimidate you leave them alone.

I won't be doing any real serious mods to these areas in this tutorial but the process is the same as all the rest of the techniques, just on a smaller scale. You will need a good scope to pull it off should you decide to do anything in those areas. Some people cut coins without scopes. I think that would be punishing but possible. I don't use the scope up to a certain point. Then it becomes a necessity.

Ok so much for all that.

We just want to change the overall look from an Indian to someone or something else



The red areas we ideally want to preserve or remake at the end so no one knows sees our tracks. This is the hardest part.

Making the change demands we get rid of some metal for now.
There are different ways to go about it. flat or grinder - your option.
Taking off too much is not a good idea as you end up with a mess like this


We are after these areas

So when you are done you should have something like this


Notice the grind is domed at the top of the head. This leaves metal for the hat or whatever you decide to put there.




After all that grinding it should look something like this and then you can scribe a design for reference.



The idea is to give this fellow a hat somewhere in this area.


So scratch it in. You can do this with a graver if know what you want and can get it in there lightly.



The hat shape is not gospel. Have fun with it. Normally it's a bowler hat with a band and a bow tie but others are fun to do too as you will see later on.



Then again there is no reason you have to follow this design if you prefer to do something else. The techniques will be the same, only the application and perhaps the order will vary. In fact it doenst have to be a coin. Knives guns or anything else will work too. Use what you have laying around.

It would be very cool to see your work progress so don't be bashfull and put them up here. Regardless of how bad you think they are they can usually be salvaged with very little coaxing and besides no one expects you to be a master at this point in time.

Now while you go sharpen your tools I'll get the next stage ready for you.

Invite all your friends to come play and figger out what you want to ask.

SLE N.I.C.E.

Well here we go with the final part of this little endeavor, it's probably not as involved as it could be but it's been a long week end putting it together and cutting the coins for it and I think/hope I have enough here to finish this off and let you begin to fly on your own for a while.

Maybe some of you have taken a stab at this and found this to be a bit more of a challenge than you though it would be. After all, it's only a nickel, what could possibly go wrong.

Well, lot's. But not to worry even if you have gotten this far and made a few mistakes along the way.


So lets take a little look at some of the trickier elements of this project and see if I can take some ofthe mystery out of cutting a nickel.

Earlier I taught you to remove the top of the Indian's head in a domed curve.
There is a logic for that.

SInce we are trying to change an early American into a recent American there is a lot to be done. First of all Indian's rarely wore Bowler hats. Although some of them had some pretty cool head garb this type of hat was popular in the depression era.

o to make a nice hat and make it dimentional we have to have a good curve.
We also have to have a base line established for the brim of the hat.

I do the base line cut of the brim first


Then I do the top cut.

Then I undercut the brim a bit.



Simply because we don't want this geezer to be bald and his hair has got to come out from under the hat.


Like I said, we are changing eras. We dont want this to look like an Indian. Although it's not a requirement. But it's fun to change the face. The profile is smack in the biggest field of the coin. The one area that you will find the hardest to fix if you screw it up.

SO when I change a profile I use a large flat and but it up afgainst the face and cut in. That way I do't screw up the field.

Of course for smaller profiles I do in the custom coins I have to make some serious metal removal and then it becomes a matter of going for broke. Establishing a new profile and bringing the field back to the profile intact.




You can accomplish this in a lot of ways, flats at first, sanding, rotary, hand tools, whatever it takes. IN any direction. Small changes are better to learn with, larger ones as you progress.



It's always nice to make some kind of a reference cut to keep you on track so you know how far to cut in with the flat









Ultimately you might end up with something like a WWII doughboy soldier.
This guy has three 24k buttons on his uniform.





When you get tired of this style go to a 3/4 profile and when you get brave or to the point where you feel confident, make the face look the other direction. Or simply change the entire design to something never seen on a real coin. A few weeks ago I did a Canadian 300 dollar goldpiece on a nickel. This was a bit of fun to pull off.

A lot of the times the rim is shot. If you try to cut it with a 90 it will look like garp because you are trying to cut something that should be straight and putting a bevel on it. With a flat it's nice. You still have to bring the field back. Object being you are trying to change the image, not the coin. But rules are meant to be broken. You can get away with some madness but not alot in this traditional sect of the artform.

Alright now lets go through this one last part of boring stuff and then I'll show you what I have been working on as I have been making this tutorail.



Lets take a look at this last color map of what you are trying to achieve

Blue is the basic outline of where we try to reduce the existing mass to a hat shape.

The hat can be decorated with a band bow tie or other items

White are the areas in the forefront, the highest details of the major element.

Green represents the existing mass of the original head - the dome shape.

Red under tha hat brim represents the hair. There is a lot of exiting mass here to play with.

The blue in the center is the ear. Ears should look real and be arranged properly on the head or they won't fly.

The yellow areas on the neck and face represent the basic differences in racial structure which we are attemptingto modify.

Indians have a differnt bone structure and we have to reduce that to make it look less like an Indian. Or more like whatever your image is human, animal, vegatable, floral, scenic. You name it. there is a lot of metal there to work with.

The profile, is definately an issue. It needs to be modified in some fashion. Even a little change goes along way.

Numbers and letters need to be prominent. If they are weak they can be reworked by cutting away the background or brough forward by stippling within. Take care not to damage them.

The last and biggest point. Wherever that thin read line of change around the coin is made must be brogh back into even curvature with the field. The thin blue line. It needs to progress outward to the rim. If there is no rim there needs to be one.

Make it carefully. Decorating the rim is not a good thing to do. Leave or make it the same size and depth as the original. Keep it squared and sharp. There is not much room for error here as with the type. One slip and you have a garbage piece for all practical purposes.

Up on the side is a visual of how the taper should come in. When it's done right you cant tell it ever happened. This can be accomplished by careful flat work, sanding and hand stoning. Not many have mastered this art.

Another option is to stipple or otherwise texture the field. That should be proportionate in scale. Barely perceptable if at all. My style looks like a field of small gems reflections in the raw state. At times I may burnish it and restipple it several times to get the look i want.

I employ Bulino techniques on a very tiny scale to make the field look darker. If I tone a coin I don't use anything that will ultimately cause the coin to self destruct.

The bottom symbol represents what shouldn't happen. If you rotate the coin under a point light source and see waves dents, highs and lows, you have not finished. Field work on one coin can take longer to accomplish than carving a number of coins. So be careful. The same rules apply all the way arround the coins image. From the exterior of the design to the rim, a nice gentle slope. It is passable to make it flat in the very narrow areas. But flat must be flat. No goobers allowed in the finish.


That about sums it up for this design type. There are a lot of people trying to do coins now and market them on Ebay. Some do absolutely stunning pieces, others do lesser works. What you do will be what you do. Try to find your own style. Don't copy others work. Use what you see here as a guide line. Practice and don't expect to pull it off each and every time. I make some real losers myself. If your work is good someone will find you. If it's clever unique and well executed, all the better. Trying to flood the market is not a good thing, your price will drop. People will think you are mass producing junk. You certainly don't want to become known as a junk dealer. When you decide to go public is up to you. And when that happens I wish you all the best. One of the joys in this tye of art is there is no competition other than with yourself. At some point you will reach a level where you understand completely that each piece has to be better than the last. When you carve it will not be an issue. The work will just happen. You won't be thinking about what you are going to do next. Your graver will cut without you knowing how it does it and the images will appear. It's at that time you will know you have arrived as a sculptor and you can quit reading tutorials and start writing your own or even better quit reading and just go carve.


Hope you had some fun.

Needless to say none of this would have been possible with out Lindsay tooling. (No trees were cut down to make this presentation).
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Last edited by Steve Lindsay; 08-15-2007 at 12:35 AM. Reason: New pics
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2007, 08:54 PM
Dave London's Avatar
Dave London Dave London is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

WOW STEVE
Thanks what a lot of work, excellent info
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:47 AM
monk monk is offline
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Talking Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

you know, i haven't even opened up this tutorial yet- but i appreciate the enormity of labor you have undertaken to assemble and organize all this. this is a gift to so many people. god, this is like giving a piece of ones' heart and soul to others. maybe nobody has bothered to remark just how special a person you are, but it's true. anyway, we should all bow and scrape for this !
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:29 PM
Brian Brian is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Steve,

You've put one hell of a lot of time and thought into this.

I know exactly what is involved in teaching "techniques" - and I've NEVER seen it done better...

You actually convinced ME to give coin carving a try! (Now all I have to do is find the time to fit it in somewhere

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA, USA
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jewelryartschool@aol.com
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Old 04-28-2007, 07:07 AM
jacques herbst jacques herbst is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

you have outdone yourself Steve:thumbsup: .this is well done and i am sure this will get you some competition in the coin carving world.i am busy with something ells at the moment but will surely give this a go.
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Old 04-28-2007, 10:06 AM
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ChrisB ChrisB is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Steve,
This is One Heck of a Tutorial, Thank You My Friend, From Darkest Africa!!
I Know How much Time This Must have Cost You, And Very Doubt!!

But A Very Imortant Person in My Life, MY DAD,!! Always Told Me, !! You Have Been Giftid with a very Special Gift, DO Relay Your Experiance on to Others that are Less Gifted Than Yourself, You Will Be Known in the Years Gone By as A Giver!! Not as Some one That Holds All Back,!!

Out Here You Have No Threat That SomeBody will Take the Bread Of Your Table,!! But You Will Give To Someone elses Table Thru Your Unselphfisness
That Is What Eventually Make You GREAT.!!

ChrisB
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Old 04-28-2007, 10:27 AM
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Steve Lindsay Steve Lindsay is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Yup...boy Steve thank you for sharing the good coin cutting lesson. I searched ebay this morning to see what carved nickels sell for. A person could make some good money cutting these.

When you finish this tutorial may I add it to the school site?

Steve
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Old 04-28-2007, 12:02 PM
John Barraclough John Barraclough is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Thanks Steve E. for making the time and effort to do a wonderful tutorial.
I'm facinated and really enjoying it, you're a great instructor.

Many thanks to Steve L. for hosting it.

John B.
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Old 04-28-2007, 03:36 PM
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Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Yes Steve it's yours

Thanks for the nice comments hope you like the next segments

Chris glad to seee you back and kickin ass
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Old 04-28-2007, 04:04 PM
Andrew Biggs Andrew Biggs is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Hi Steve

That is one hellava lot of time, effort and work you have put into that part of the tutorial. Thank you, it really is fantastic to see the whole process step by step.

Cheers
Andrew
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Old 04-29-2007, 12:45 AM
rod rod is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Steve,

This tutorial of yours is a mega contribution, and very clearly presented. Thank you for your effort in putting it together, and for your good heart in putting it out to us!

best

Rod
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Old 04-29-2007, 05:39 PM
Eric Watson Eric Watson is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

WOW!!!! What you have put forth is better than any instruction DVD or video I have seen. Your presentation speaks volumes about your tremendous talent.
One question, on your rotary tools. Where can they be purchased. I assume from your work and the numer of them hangin there, they do the job fairly well.
Again great presentation.
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Steve,
Thanks my Friend, Not Kicking Ass Yet, But The Missus Does!!!
I Have Quit a Few Quarter Dollers Here, 1965 etc, Will They Work? and Quarters
I Mean If I Try A Really Wayout Warthog or Anthill???

ChrisB
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Old 04-30-2007, 01:54 PM
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Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

my expeience with new American quarters was such that I wouldn't waste my time on them - new quarters with the buffalo on the back are some kind of lightweight steel - not fun to cut. Eventually they may bring some interest on EBay. It's worth a try. The old silver ones. I would do the wildlife on them. They would be well suited to being inset into the stock of a hunting rifle and look real nice. Probably a larger coin would be preferred but it would give you some practice and samples to show.
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:24 PM
Tezash Tezash is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Thank you Steve E. it was great tutorial. The study pictures are too dark, and details and carvings are not clear. Is that possible to post better pictures? Tez.
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Old 04-30-2007, 07:33 PM
Steve Ellsworth's Avatar
Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

with all respect
try adjusting your monitor
pics are all gamma adjusted
espeicailly if you are on a laptop

well somebody say something
if the pictures are too dark everywhere i need to lighten them up or turn down the differnt systems here to a lower level. I dont have much to compare with

any one having trouble on mac linux windowz lcd whatever
speak up

i can do a batch change on the pics if you all want
juust let me know soon
otherwise i am going to go goof off somewhere
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Last edited by Steve Ellsworth; 04-30-2007 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:55 PM
Steve Ellsworth's Avatar
Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

You may have noticed the pics are gone for a while until some serious editing is done

i have the other web / video editing system back on line
so i will try to get the links rebuilt as soon as possible but it may take centuries.
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Old 03-08-2008, 09:38 AM
Rainer Rainer is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Fantastic tutorial! I never heard about those coins before and came across the term by accident. Now I found this great tutorial explaining the process in further detail. Rare that one can learn something completely new. Thanks for the great experience.
Rainer
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Old 03-09-2008, 12:12 PM
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Steve Ellsworth Steve Ellsworth is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

you are quite welcome
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Old 06-05-2008, 12:48 AM
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mckeenh mckeenh is offline
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Wink Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Thanks Steve, this was a wonderful tutorial. I really enjoy seeing how someone else does things. And Chris, I like your fathers philosophy. I think he was correct and think we all should think more like him.

Neil:yesnod:
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:43 PM
Gerald Taylor Gerald Taylor is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Wonderfuly creative work . With fine detailed instruction on process and tooling required. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your work.
I look forward to gettiong back into it.
Thanks Gerald
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:36 PM
danhill danhill is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Hi nice!!!!!!!!!! With me being new, the photo of shop is great. liked tv stand for miroscope . also like tools with switch on tool. gas pedal great!!! looked like 1/8" carbide drill bits some use after they brake .
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Old 12-16-2009, 03:38 PM
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Ted Parker Ted Parker is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

I just saw my first re-cut coin this morning in the galleries. I had so many questions, I didn't know where to start. You explained in detail what tools, profiles, and tecniques I'd have to have to start a project like this. Thank-you so much! It's a very exciting project too. Doc Parker
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:33 PM
Joe PAonessa Joe PAonessa is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

Ted,

where is Cable? I'm located in Racine and am a coin carver. I'd be happy to answer any questions, if I can.

Joe Paonessa

America's greatest left handed hobo nickel carver
(West of Grosse Pointe, North of Chicago and East of the Mississippi)
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:27 PM
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Omar Haltam Omar Haltam is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

thanks for all the info
especially for new comers like me.

-Omar
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Old 09-15-2015, 06:38 PM
Wiggles Wiggles is offline
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Default Re: Cutting a Coin for fun or profit.

A good read! Thanks for posting it.
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