Custom Wooden Nickels

This is one of those fun projects in which the possibilities are endless! Transferring images onto little round discs. I had planned on simply making some custom wooden nickels from craft-store wood discs, until I happened upon a vintage box of plastic poker chips with nice smooth surfaces.
You can also customize Scrabble tiles and all kinds of other objects for cool and unique tokens, pendants, keychains, and more, yeah- even fabric! In vintage style, I designed my wooden nickels in black and white. You can also go full color!
Besides the wooden discs, chips, or other pieces you’ll be transferring to , the two key materials for the success of this project are:
1. A Chartpak Blender Pen, found in most art supply stores or online HERE
2. Laser-jet prints or photocopies (must be powder ink, not wet ink.) I had to drive to the copy store for my copies as I only have an ink-jet printer. BE SURE TO FLOP YOUR IMAGE! (mirror image of your artwork.) When creating my designs, I added a faint circle border the same size as the discs I would be transferring to for a positioning guide.
I purchased 1-1/2″ wooden circle discs at the craft store, and the same size poker chips at the thrift store.
I had photocopies made of my own designs and cut them apart. I added a top center mark on each for 2-sided positioning so the art lined up somewhat front to back.
Line up the disc to the positioning circle and tape to the paper in a couple of places. This helps keep the art from shifting when transferring.
Turn the disk and paper over and with the blender pen, simply stroke across the back of the paper. Once is usually enough, too much and you can turn your image to mush.
Remove the paper and repeat the steps for the other side, lining up the top center (or bottom, which ever you prefer.) Again, stroke over the paper with the marker.
For another fun effect, you can stack up some of your discs or poker chips and stripe the sides.
These nickels are great for little give-away promotions, tokens of appreciation, birth announcements, even allowance tokens (I never have cash on hand at the end of the week.) Drill a hole and use as a pendant or keychain or make some Pay-It-Forward coins to share.
Just for fun, I made some extra wooden nickel images that you can customize yourself.

For the PDF Digital Download, click HERE.
For the flopped PDF file, you can click HERE.

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90 Responses to Custom Wooden Nickels

  1. #1 - Patty says:

    These are adorable ! You come up with such cute ideas ! Thanks : )

  2. #2 - Linda says:

    How fun…thanks for sharing these!

  3. #3 - henzy says:

    great idea.

  4. #4 - The Dragonfly says:

    Seriously Cathe, is there no end to your genius? These are so great and I'm having a baby on Thursday, so might just have to make this a last minute project to hand out to my family at the hospital. Love it!

  5. #5 - Whitney@ Whisker Graphics says:

    Cathe, Cathe, Cathe… Do you ever get tired of being a super, uber, creative genius??!! This is a great project and I love the graphics you supplied. My kids would would hurt themselves with the biggest eye-roll ever if I paid them with "Weekly Allowance" wooden nickels. I think I might just have to try it! How handy would these be for "being good" rewards or potty training? You are just too cool! Thanks!!

  6. #7 - RosyRevolver says:

    I collect vintage poker chips and LOVE this idea! I drill mine (the old clay ones take the drill beautifully) and use them as Christmas ornaments, jewelry, and lately as an embellishment to my packaging. In fact I just did a blog post on them last Monday! So glad to see someone shares in the love of pokerchips!!

  7. #8 - Karen says:

    I love these! Thanks for your generosity in teaching us how to do it. I have a question. Do you have a blank of just circles or is there a template of just circles available? Thanks, Karen

  8. #9 - Cathe Holden says:

    Hi Karen, If you download the PDF file, the circles are grouped together. You can copy and paste them to a new file.

    Hope that helps!

  9. #10 - WW says:

    These are just wonderful. I can see endless uses!!
    Thank You!

  10. #11 - the undomesticated wife says:

    You could even make 2 sets and use them instead of standard checkers!

  11. #12 - Janet says:

    You could make some round TUITs!

    Then, the next time someone says they will do something when they get "around to it", hand them one!

  12. #13 - Tom, Lynette, and family says:

    You don't know how excited I am to see this tutorial. My family geocaches, and we have been trying to BUY some of these for our souvenir to leave in caches!!! Thanks so much!

  13. #14 - Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing, I'll go try that! Karen

  14. #15 - Andrea - Faded Plains says:

    Amazing! You know…I think I write that for every comment…but it's so true!

  15. #16 - The Redhead Riter says:

    That is such a cute idea!

    I love it! I'm going to have to try it too.

  16. #17 - TidyMom says:

    Cute Cute!! – Seriously, do you ever stop? you're ideas are ALWAYS so unique!!!

    ~TidyMom

  17. #18 - Molly says:

    Another fabulous idea!!!!

    Hope you don't mind, I posted a link to this wonderful tutorial from my own blog: http://mollyleecards.blogspot.com/

    http://mollyleecards.blogspot.com/2009/07/dont-take-any-wooden-nickels.html

    Thanks for all you do! You're awesome!

    Molly

  18. #19 - Dana Gustafson says:

    Be still my crafty heart! These are so wonderful! Thank you for the beautiful download too! You are always thinking of soemthing cool!

  19. #20 - Debra says:

    Found this blog through a "smub.it" link shared by Crafty Pod. Wonderful project. Gorgeous art.

    now to spend some time getting to know you better.

  20. #21 - Lovely says:

    This is a great tute. Thanks! I'm definitely going to give it a try.

    Does that pen work to transfer to canvas – stretching painter's canvas?

  21. #22 - Starfish, darling! says:

    I think you can also use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to transfer if you can't find a blending pen.

    Nice Tutorial!

  22. #23 - Ady says:

    I am going to try this too! Great tutorial! It is such a cool idea!

  23. #24 - della stella says:

    WOW! Wish I had seen this before my wedding… these would be so cute as 'pick-a-charity' favors. 🙂

  24. #25 - Lori says:

    Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  25. #26 - Pamela says:

    What a cute, cute, cute idea. I love coming to your site and seeing all the great stuff you have in your little brain.

  26. #27 - Suzanne in TX says:

    These are fantastic! Are the blank wooden coins from the hobby store just as nice and thick as the poker chips? I'm thinking they would be fun with little magnets added to the back. I love sending something like this with orders for my dog collars. OMG–I could make dog tags–of course the dog might chew it up! Lots of ideas in my head already. Thanks for sharing and for the templates.
    FYI: I found you via Craft Magazine's daily email.

  27. #28 - Mod Podge Amy says:

    CATHE! You got posted in Craft's blog! You should be so proud 😀

  28. #29 - Anonymous says:

    If I want a color image, would using a color laser printer work as well as the black and white?

    How durable are the prints – do they rub off easily?

  29. #30 - silkbtrfly says:

    Thanks for sharing this great idea with the crafting community. There will be a special place reserved for you in craft heaven.

  30. #31 - silkbtrfly says:

    Thanks for sharing this great idea with the crafting community. There will be a special place reserved for you in craft heaven.

  31. #32 - Cathe Holden says:

    Anonymous,

    After finding success with the black and white image, I ran out and had color prints made. I'm not having as good of luck with those. It could very well be the toner used, I think I will try getting prints from a different copy shop to find out. I will definately post about it when I do.

    Thanks everyone, for the fantastic response. Hello to all you BoardGamers that are visiting! Welcome!

  32. #33 - youngmi says:

    fun! can't wait to give it a try 🙂 thanks for always being so generous and sharing all your great ideas.

  33. #34 - Rachel@oneprettything.com says:

    YAY! This is going to make the best gift for a friend of mine-it's so, so, SO perfect! Thanks so much for sharing, I'll be linking.

  34. #35 - lilith says:

    Dear Cathe,

    thanx for sharing!

    I was so excited about these & wanted to make some coffee-coins immediately. I couldn't get the original blender pen (no shipping to Germany), but I got another one. Unfortunately it didn't work at all. So I tried a nail-polish-remover-pen and got very pale results. The best results (but still nonsatisfying) I got with turpentine…

    Any idea anyone?

  35. #36 - gilstrapdesigns says:

    I like those I'll have to try these.

  36. #37 - Angela Silva says:

    Safety warning: the ingredient in the Chartpak blender pen that transfers the toner ink in the photocopy is xylene. This is a toxic solvent so please do this in a well-ventilated place. It's not good for your lungs.

  37. #38 - persuede says:

    what a great idea…make great tags for gifts too! thanks…

  38. #39 - Tammy in Ontario, Canada says:

    Thanks for this idea, love it! I am looking forward to trying this some day and thanks for the link of where to purchase the pen.

  39. #40 - dawt says:

    I stumbled on one of THE best finds, ever! I found an old game called "Bottle Tops" by Parker Brothers that's full of these little gems. AN-DUH! The best part? It was only one dollar! Thank you for such a genius idea, I can't wait to get my craft on!

  40. #41 - mibv says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post.
    These will make great money chips for the games I and my friends play.

    I may want to color the chips to quickly tell what the denomination is. Will the transferred image hold up to highlighters or staining?

  41. #42 - Tasajara says:

    I found this site that has less expensive pen cost and shipping:

    http://www.utrechtart.com/dsp_view_product.cfm?item=60650

  42. #43 - Lenetta @ Nettacow says:

    This concept fascinated me! I linked to it on my weekly link roundup (post can be found here). Thanks!!

  43. #44 - Anonymous says:

    I so love this idea. Thanks for the clip art. I can not wait to try this out.

    Sandi
    Impatient Cajun

  44. #45 - Scott says:

    I tried this out, and found that I was having limited success with the transfer coming out clearly. Maybe only one in 4 attempts were working out for me, and I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong. I'd like to make it work, but I don't know where to start. Can anyone help?

  45. #46 - Brian Mundy says:

    I like this idea a lot !!! I was wondering what you think about the idea of using the Avery iron on transfer material … this is the same thing they use on t-shirts. This product dose come in a ink-jet vision. it would seem to me if you had any concerns about any bleeding…. a simple spray lacquer would do the trick. I am a graphic designer and I’m looking for a way to make some signature Geocaching items for my family.

  46. #47 - Mike says:

    Cathe – I love the tutorial….I am trying to make it work but am having trouble getting the images to transfer. Using a standard laser copier at FedEx Kinkos and the same Chartpak blender pen.

  47. #48 - Aight says:

    WOW … I am surprised nobody has mentioned it before, but … HELLO!!!??? Everyone seems to be fascinated about this technique. Because toner images primarily consist of plastic (yes chemicals such as xylene and acetone do indeed ‘melt’ toner, with obvious GREAT results Cathe!!!) … just use heat to re-melt the images. PCBers have been doing it for a long time but have disagreements upon best paper to use. All you need is a household iron and the best ‘release’ paper you can find or you will need to put some real effort into wetting the paper afterwords and rolling it off to leave the toner image. I use a piece of parchment paper (I attach it to a regular piece of paper with a non-melting tape like masking or painter’s tape because Scotch or electrical will melt in my laser printer). The toner just barely sticks to the parchment paper and cannot be shaken off but will rub off quite easily. Ladies … you all know nothing sticks to parchment paper and it can withstand alot of heat (just what a toner transfer affectionado ordered). You can also use a glossy magazine image (because it is clay coated and prevents the toner from entering the paper pores?) or even overhead transparencies suitable for lasers. The one thing you need to keep in mind is that the surface you are transferring to needs to be in complete contact with the iron (no raised edges on wood) or else your toner will be burnt to a crisp with out contacting the wood. Simple … print image on parchment, flip onto wood and iron. No chemicals!!!. Sorry I have no pics yet but … rest assured heat from an iron indeed works (highest setting?) with good results too. Try this Cathe … it produces excellent results wich would be comparable to yours. Great works.

    • #49 - Cathe Holden says:

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! Wow, fabulous information. I really appreciate you taking the time to share that!

      • #50 - Aight says:

        You’re welcome,Cathe. Hope you had a good New Years!!!??? You know, actually … I can see alot of merit with the blender pen method. I am used to transferring larger images ( 4″ by 6″ and up) so I thought I would try a smaller image with the parchment paper/iron method. Not so good on receiving surfaces the size that you do. The first thing I noticed is that because the receiving surface is so small and therefore you have no way to hold onto it … it needs to be affixed with a temporary fixative so it will not move around. I used double-sided carpet tape. I think double sided contact paper would be maybe better, not so ‘spongey!?’ This is not so with your technique. Once you are ready to transfer … set receiving surface down and paint … super simple. Another thing I noticed with the iron is that the pressure/heat you apply to such a small surface does not seem ‘focused’ enough and therefore some of the details do not transfer meaning you have to check for completeness. On the sweet side … 100% toner transfer unlike a paper that ‘holds onto’ the toner. Your technique focuses pressure to the tip of a pen AND you can ‘see’ it work …. another beautiful thing. So anyways … after 3 ‘not too successful’ attempts … I thought I would whip out my Creative Versa-Tool (Walnut Hollow) tool. It has a toner transfer tip the size of about a quarter and gets way hotter than a standard household iron. Printed some things out (1″ by1″) onto my parchment …. wow … 100% transfer (I am assuming because the heat/pressure was focused!?). Sweet!!! I found a vid too. This guy does the same thing I did but uses normal (copy paper?). Check it out: http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Transfer-a-Pattern-to-Wood-206659489 . BTW … I got my transfer tool ay Michael’s … think it was $25 with saving coupon. I also got a $35 (without coupon) Clover Mini Iron. They claim it gets as hot as a regular iron but I never measured. I do believe it is coated with Xyron for easy glide but it sure does not hold the heat as well as a cast soled plate. Oh … I have tried your technique … super simple. Well, the twist was I used finger nail polish remover and glossy coated junk mail ads. I just never got the sweet results you did. Well … it’s back to large images for me … take care

        • #51 - Jessie says:

          Just thought I’d share my experience trying this same technique – using the Creative Versa-Tool to transfer onto wooden nickels. I found the tool to be WAY too hot! I continually moved the tool around (if I didn’t, the paper would smolder) and still, it warped and sweated my wooden nickels! It may have been worth it, but the images just didn’t transfer well. I was hoping the heat transfer technique would work for me, as I wanted to avoid inhaling chemicals if possible, but it was a definite no-go. I’d be interested in hearing any thoughts or tips as to what I could have been differently, but I think I’ll be returning my Creative Versa-Tool soon and trying the blender pen method.

          • #52 - Aight says:

            Hey Jessie. You are right about the heat thing. But don’t give up! Like I said above, parchment paper is a really excellent heat resistant. Try placing a piece on top of your image to be transferred. Not only should it prevent the binding that is common (at least in my experience) with the image to be transferred but it will ‘normalize’ the temperature of the tool sufficiently (provided you keep moving of course) to prevent pre-baking, which I suspect is what is happening in your case i.e. warping and sweating. If the remaining image on your paper is shiny it is already baked and therefore should be not visible as it should be on your wood, metal, glass or whatever receiving surface. Oh yes, toner transfer (at least the heat version) works great for metal and glass also (I use it for an acid resist for both glass etching and metal etching … acetone transfer will work for metal but not glass). Oh yes, you might want to make sure your photocopy machine or laser printer is set to darkest setting also. You might also be interested to know that not ALL toners are good for transferring images by either chemical or heat transfer … check this link: https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/r-evans4/www/toner.html

    • #53 - Jens says:

      Great ideas! Here’s the results with some stuff I could get here (in Germany):
      – “copic” brand blender pen: didn’t work at all.
      – “Astor” brand nail polish remover: didn’t work either (puzzling, since it contains acetone).
      – …but ironing worked perfectly! I easyly managed to transfer the Bielefeld City coat of arms from a traffic ticket to a piece of wood: looks great; a little faint maybe, but very sharp. A special paper doesn’t seem to be essential. The back of the ticked was printed, too, so I covered it with a blank piece of paper to avoid dirtying the iron.
      Has anyone tried this with a colored printout? I seem to remember that colored toner needs more temperature.
      Thanks to you all! 🙂

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  49. #54 - Leland says:

    I am trying transfer the image & I can’t get itto work. I have a prismacolor blending pen & I am using a color laserjet. Any thoughts as to why it won’t transfer?

    • #55 - Jens says:

      Hi, I suppose it’s the blender pen; mine (‘copic’) didn’t work either. You might try the ironing method. You’ll probably need to set the iron really high; colored toner needs a lot of heat. Good luck (and let us know if it worked 😉 )

  50. #56 - virginia says:

    i need to know how to drill a hole in the middle of mini plastic poker chips. the volume of poker chips is huge. or can you recommend someone who could do this for me? thank you. virginia

  51. #58 - Rena Horn says:

    Thanks so much! I have been searching for wooden nickels for a 4-H event. This is the answer. I love all your ideas, and will be making these for other events in the future. I have a friend getting married. I am going to show them to her, and maybe she can make some for her wedding. Thanks so much for sharing!

  52. #59 - Aight says:

    In defence of Cathe’s excellent tut I must say that I see some are having trouble with the acetone transfer and thought I would pass on some possibly relevant information: To Jens: You say you have had no luck with the ASTOR brand nail polish remover. Not all nail polish removers contain the sufficient amount of acetone that is required to ‘melt’ the plastic toner. I got this stuff one day from Michaels and it was yellow tinted, lemon scented, vitamin D added and said on the back of the bottle ” may contain” acetone. Got home and it was the worst $7 I ever experimented with … could barely even smell the acetone … but it did have a pleasant lemony aroma, lol. Anyways … my point is if it does not say acetone as one of the first three ingredients (like all edible, consumable goods to indicate what the goods are mostly comprised of) then chances are there is not much acetone in it. If nobody is around, open the lid and take a wiff … if you do not turn your head in disgust it is not what you need. Here’s a better idea …. go to a hardware store and by some real acetone. As for the Blender pens … I do believe these contain Xylene which is much stronger than acetone so as to why you and Leland had bad luck with them only leads me to believe that both of your toners have been manufactured with chemical resistancy in mind. Of course it could just be that Copic blender pens are not up to the task as you can see Cathe’s Chartpack works pretty well

  53. #60 - ErikaJean says:

    Yeha, This did NOT work for me. I have some success with the nail polish, though…. not good enought to show off though ;-(

  54. #61 - Ana says:

    Hello everybody, what a great idea this is.

    I am not very computer savy so maybe my question might seem kind of silly. But can someone explain me the complete basics of how to personalize over one of the blank templates? I see that it’s a pdf file. I have Microsoft Office word, paint, Adobe photoshop elements but like i said i don’t know much about customizing things.

  55. #62 - Johanna says:

    These are so fun! I remember wooden nickels from when I was a kid. What a great idea! Thanks so much!!

  56. #63 - Donna Adams says:

    Hello, I love these wooden nickels but I am unable to download them. Are they still available and if so do you have any suggestions? Love your site!

    Donna

  57. #64 - Tricia says:

    These are brilliant!

  58. #65 - Russ Dyer says:

    Great info.
    I was looking for a way to do my own geocoins.
    i’ll try the color laser at work to see if I can do color ones.

  59. Pingback: Custom Wooden Nickles « simplecircusfolk

  60. #66 - William Goodman says:

    Cathe,

    Can you make chips that can be used as business tokens? My idea is to place my name and contct information on one side and on the flip side in the center I would like to have the words “TO IT”, so that I could give them out and say contact me – because now you can’t say that you have not gotten a round “to it”. Please let me know the price for 100. Thanks.

    PS – we were married in SF and lived/met in Marin County – Petaluma is a neat place. My wife’s Maid of Honor still lives in Petaluma.

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  63. #67 - Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing… these are great!

  64. #68 - Kayla says:

    This is so great – thank you for sharing! I want to make these to incorporate in my wedding.

    Couple of quick question for you – does the ink rub off if you handle it too much? Or does it need time to dry off?

  65. #69 - Patience Pittman says:

    You just saved me over 100 dollars. Looking for wooden nickles as a give away at our wedding. Now we can make them ourselves, and save that money towards our honeymoon!!

  66. #70 - Patience Pittman says:

    LOVE THAT IDEA!! I am passing that onto my daughter with her step kids. save up so many nickles to get a treat.

  67. #71 - Susan says:

    I just love your projects and printables Cathe! Thanks so much!
    Susan
    homeroad.net

  68. #72 - paul w says:

    I tried this for an event that is coming up – the technique TOTALLY failed. I used a photocopy (flopped) and a Prismacolor blender with a nice fat nib. Nothing. Any ideas?

    • #73 - mgnmic says:

      I did this exact same thing minutes ago. Learned that the Prismacolor blender does not contain xylene. I read in the above posts that the Chartpak pens do contain xylene. I happen to have xylene and went out to my garage to see if that would work… YEP! Immediate transfer, phew! I know it’s been awhile but I wanted to pass that on since I just experienced the same dilemma!

  69. #74 - Deborah Saxton says:

    Is there a special type of paper used for this project? This is what I want to do for the guest book alternative for our 40th Wedding Anniversary.

    Thanks.

  70. #75 - stephanie says:

    Hello! I was wondering if you made custom poker chips? I saw your tutorial and would love it if you can make them for me. I love them! Please let me know, thank you.

    Stephanie

  71. #76 - amanda says:

    I did your steps… but after using the blender pen it wont transfer!! I went to OfficeMax and specifically asked if they use ink or powder ink. They said powder. What am I doing wrong?

  72. #77 - ana oviedo says:

    to whom it may concern:
    i am interested to purchase wooden dollar chips with a value of $ 7.00 each customized with our casino logo. for 10,000 units.
    please advise if you can do it and also quick turnaround to be delivered next monday/latest tuesday to miami location.
    contact me
    718-215-3112
    ana oviedo
    purchasing buyer
    110-00 rockaway blvd
    jamaica ny 11420

  73. #78 - brian w says:

    Looking wooden or plastic chip for drink markers with bar name and type
    Of drink. Cost etc.

  74. #79 - Pam says:

    Cathe,

    This is just in time. i wanted to buy wooden nickels for our church ladies day about talents and most sites want you to buy 1000 or more. We don’t need near that many, so i was searching and saw your site. The pay it forward really works for our theme “re-gifting the precious gifts”. God bless you!

  75. #80 - Paul R says:

    Hello,

    I tried this according to the instructions and this didn’t work. What am I doing wrong? I used a LaserJet printer as specified and the blender pen. All that happened was that the wood got wet. No ink transference happened.

    Does the paper matter? Does the print out still need to be warm? I am confused as to what to do now.

    Thanks

  76. #81 - victor says:

    Great project! Would like to make my own images for transferring. What program did you use to make the images? The just something I made.com around the border with the bird in the middle is what I would like to change but keep the same. Know what I mean?

    Cheers,

    Victor

  77. #82 - Crystal Patterson says:

    I was trying to find somewhere to purchase a single wooden nickle for my husband. This was my thought….5th anniversary = 5 cent nickle, wood = gift for 5th anniversary. Put them together and you have a wooden nickle that he can have forever as a keepsake. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Our anniversary is in July of this year.
    Thanks,
    Crystal

  78. #83 - Don says:

    Cathe,

    I am a member of a masonic lodge. I just started looking around for some ideas to make a round tuit coin to present in lodge. Your website was one of the first I came to . I thought it would be neat idea to make the round tuit out of wood then metal. I would like the name of lodge , year and masonic symbol on one side. The the other side TUIT. Would you be interested in helping with the project.

    Don

  79. #84 - Kylie Campbell says:

    Hi there, I was just wondering how you got your images to fit so perfectly in a circle of the same size?

  80. #85 - rob pivnick says:

    i would like to get several of these for an anniversary present for my wife . . . with “mute my husband”, “I win this argument” “free night of peace and quiet” and things like that. can you let me know if this is something I can do? Obviously, I don’t need 100 like most places require minimum orders. but can you help or do you have any suggestions? thanks. rob.pivnick@gmail.com

  81. #86 - Megan says:

    I’m trying to make these for my sister-in-law for Christmas, but the flopped pdf is the same as the original. Also, I’d like to customize them, but can’t figure out how to copy and paste from the pdf. Help?