What you need to know before designing copper jewelry with pennies

Copper Canadian pennies

What is your penny made of?

As a tribute to our now retired Canadian penny, I thought it would be cool to cut out a maple leaf from a penny and use it in my second class project.

I spent an hour in my basement and broke 3 saw blades cutting out that little maple leaf from a shiny penny. Then at the next class I hammered, shaped, cut, filed and buffed that blank copper disc until it looked good enough to eat. Time to solder them together, right?

Lesson 1: Just because you “think” a penny is made of copper, doesn’t mean it is.

Lesson 2: When your instructor suggests you test soldering with scrap pieces to test if it will work, do it.

Lesson 3: When that little leaf melts like fallen ice cream on hot asphalt, don’t cry. Go back and do what you should have done in the beginning. Find out what the hell a penny is made of.

Lesson 4: Do the 10 seconds of research you should have done earlier and find out that Canadian pennies minted in 1996 or older are composed of 98% copper. Find out more about the Canadian penny here.

Better yet – here is a list of the melting point of metals. Guess that penny I cut up was more zinc than copper.

Penny melting point reference:

Metal Celcius Melting Point Fahrenheit Melting Point
Copper 1084 1983
Stainless Steel 1510 2750
Tin 232 449.4
Zinc 419.5 787

Some things you have to learn the hard way. It seems to be the only way I learn. Now that I’ve found *real* copper pennies, I’m seeing what other cools things I can make – not melt.


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