Global DIY: How to Make a Travel Coin Charm Bracelet with a Dremel Tool

March 23, 2013

I'm a budget traveler by necessity, not by choice. However much I'd love to send home containers full of textiles and antiques, we seem to return with a single pocket of treasures: matchbooks, coins, bus tickets, bar coasters and hand-written receipts.

It's certainly sweet....but our home is quickly resembling a den of thieves.

One tchotchke that could use some editing is my overflowing coin collection. Inspired by this tutorial by whatiwore, I've been scheming up a charm bracelet DIY. But since I don't have access to a drill press, I decided to get creative with my more affordable (and apartment-friendly) rotary tool.

#1 - Clean and Buff Your Coins
First, clean those coins! I researched a slew of different ways to clean coins. In the end, I followed this awesome little tutorial. You’ll notice that my coins lack the mirror-like finish found in this tute’s video-- I simply subbed Brasso for Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish.

#2 - Get Drilling

 You'll need:
  • Safety Goggles
  • Rotary Tool (like a Dremel, or in my case, a look-a-like from Harbor Freight)
  • Spring Clamp
  • Scrap Wood
  • Drill Bits (I used the skinny bits which were packaged with my rotary tool)
  • Glass of Water (to cool off the coins)
So to begin, I pretty much just clamped the coin to a piece of scrap wood, popped on my goggles and dove in.

The key for me was to apply gentle, but firm pressure to the coin while drilling. Since the drill bit was so thin, I had to be patient or else jeopardize breaking the bit. Each coin took me about 10 minutes of on-off again drilling.

Caution!! Your rotary tool will make the coin very hot-- be careful! Stop drilling every 20-30 seconds to cool off the metal with water and ensure you’re not melting the plastic spring clamp. Trust me on this one.

#3 - Assemble Your Bracelet

You'll need:
  • Jump Rings (I used 10mm )
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Chain bracelet (I bought mine from Forever21-keeping this DIY under $5 total!)
For anyone who isn't used to opening jump rings, let me warn you, you need two pliers: one to stabilize/hold the ring, the other to open the ring. And remember-- since I used a tiny drill bit, I selected my jump rings based on the final size of my hole.

And voila!

I think I'll add three or four more coins to the bracelet-- it's still a little sparse for my tastes. But overall I'm pretty happy with the results! And the best part? These travel tchotchkes move off the cluttered shelf and become a daily reminder of our favorite treks.

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