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M21_MAKEMONEY_chime39

$34.99

Wind chime bought online.

$4.20

Wind chime made from quarters and dimes.

I’ve always liked wind chimes. Maybe it’s because my parents had one hanging on the front porch when I was a kid. They’re usually made with pieces of glass, or shells, or hardened metal tubes. And anyone who’s jingled a pocketful of quarters knows that regular coins lack the sweet musical ring of a wind chime. But hammer them thin enough and those same coins play a different tune.

I tried pounding on a few coins with a hammer and anvil, blacksmith style. It worked OK, but it was time-consuming and hard to make the coins sound just right. Luckily, there are train tracks near my house. So I lined up a dozen quarters on the hardened steel rails and left them waiting for the next train to rumble by.

Sure enough, by the next morning my 12 quarters had been rolled thin, like nicely matched metal potato chips. To make a frame for my wind chime, I carefully notched 4 more quarters and 2 dimes with a hacksaw blade, pressed them together in a vise, and added a dab of solder. Then I tied them all together with some monofilament fishing line using traditional clinch knots.

All you need to make this project is 16 quarters, 2 dimes, and a 100-car coal train to flatten your coins. I don’t think the coal company minds. I think of it as their carbon credit. And you can’t beat the sound of this money as it dances in the wind!

Tom Parker

Tom Parker is an author who lives in Ithaca, N.Y., and works for Cornell University. When he is not tinkering with junk, he’s a flight instructor and flies a 1956 Cessna 180 bush plane.


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