How to Cut Inlays for Coins

Written by lauren vork
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How to Cut Inlays for Coins
Coins come in many sizes, making display somewhat tricky. (Coins image by Pawel Dowgiallo from

When it comes to methods for displaying a coin collection, you can't beat the classic case display made with round, shallow inlays. Though commercially made coin displays are good for predetermined coin collections (such as a collection of state quarters), those who like to create their own types of collections need inlay displays that are custom-fit. Create your own coin display case by cutting your own wood inlays to the exact shapes and numbers you need for your personal collection.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Furniture-grade plywood
  • Pencil
  • T-square
  • Coins
  • Spade bits
  • Oscillating power tool
  • Cylindrical grinding bit
  • Sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Lay the coins out on the sheet of plywood and arrange their positions as you want them on the finished, inlayed wood. If need be, use the T-square to lightly mark grid lines in pencil and use these as a guide to lay your coins straight.

  2. 2

    Trace around the coins in pencil, creating circle outlines of their position on the wood. Remove the coins and set aside.

  3. 3

    Find spade bits that closely match the sizes of the diameters of the coin circles. Choose a bit for each coin that's slightly small rather than too large.

  4. 4

    Cut out the coin holes with the spade bits, making holes just deep enough for the thickness of the coins. Position the centre tip of the bit in the centre of each circle you've drawn to guide the cutting. Err on the side of too shallow; you can remove more material later.

  5. 5

    Carve the rest of each inlay using the oscillating power tool and cylindrical grinding bit. Carve out the rest of each pencil circle at the same depth as the cut you made with the spade bit.

  6. 6

    Place the coins inside the inlays to test them. If you like how they sit, sand the wood to finish the coin inlay display. If not, deepen or widen the holes using the oscillating power tool.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're not used to working with spade bits, practice a bit beforehand to get the hang of cutting very shallow circles.

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