Curse you Lincoln!
October 25, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Wedding ring follies: how can I get these pennies out?

My ring finger is apparently the exact same size as a penny; when I stick my wedding ring into the coinpurse section of my wallet a penny very commonly gets stuck inside. This is no problem because a single penny can easily be pushed back out again.

However, now *two* pennies are stuck in there, which renders my usual strategy completely hopeless. They are each flush with the edge and I can't seem to get any leverage on either. The local jeweler is closed today and I'd rather do this myself if I can.

Is there some easy way to get these out I'm missing? Bonus points if the materials required can be commonly found in an office setting (including kitchenette).

Photos here.
posted by gerryblog to Grab Bag (42 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Your link is borked, gerryblog. It brings up the batch organize section (if you are a flickr member).
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2010

Oops, try this.
posted by gerryblog at 10:41 AM on October 25, 2010

Have you tried heating or cooling them (gently, like under warm water or in the fridge) to get one to expand or contract more than the other?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:42 AM on October 25, 2010

Use the power of suction! Just be careful not to inhale the penny when you're sucking on your ring to extract it.
posted by Grither at 10:42 AM on October 25, 2010

Can you super-glue a stick of some sort to one of the pennies, and then pull?
posted by brainmouse at 10:42 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I tried that briefly, GEM, but I was hoping someone who know better than me whether hot or cold would work better.
posted by gerryblog at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2010

How tight are they in there? Could you punch them out with a pen or fork or something?
posted by ish__ at 10:44 AM on October 25, 2010

If you happen to have any suction-cup style darts laying around, maybe moisten the edges, press on the penny, and yank really fast?
posted by Lafe at 10:44 AM on October 25, 2010

ish_, they're pretty tight (I tried this for about half an hour.) I think the middle of the ring is just small enough that they can't go all the way through. Or else the second penny absorbs the force applied to the first and neither moves.
posted by gerryblog at 10:45 AM on October 25, 2010

Take two chopsticks (the flat kind if you can find them) and lay them down about a centimeter apart so that just the silver/gold/einsteinium (whatever the ring is made out of) is only resting on the wood. Get another chop stick or use the 'butt' side of a pen and jam down. That should remove only the pennies. If you need to strike it a few times, just make sure the ring is properly aligned on the chopsticks so that the pennies aren't being prevented from being pushed out.

That is what I would do at least. BRUTE FORCE FTW!
posted by darkgroove at 10:45 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is your ring made from white gold? Silver? Titanium?
posted by muddgirl at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2010

It's white gold, I think.
posted by gerryblog at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2010

Do you have a bit of mayo or an oily salad dressing in the fridge? Maybe try soaking it in that for a bit. The only thing I can think to do is to get your two pointer finger nails on the ring and then pushing with your thumbs.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:47 AM on October 25, 2010

Lotion? Try to rub lotion all around the ring and press down. It works for getting rings off of things, maybe it will work on getting things out of rings?
posted by crankylex at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2010

That's hilarious. The penny framing almost looks intentional.

Windex is really good at getting stuck rings off of fingers; I don't know if or how well it would work at lubing up the different metals, but it can't hurt to try.

Can you pop it down hard on something like a dowel rod to force the pennies out the other side?

Awesome solution: do you or someone you know have a Dremel tool? Because then you could just drill the pennies out.
posted by phunniemee at 10:49 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

When we were trying to get very tightly stuck parts off of old BMW motorcycles, we used heat - actually, just a small propane torch. We heated the external part gently and evenly, and then normally tapped or banged the internal part with something.

I'm not sure how this would work with something so small, though- ideally, the ring would expand a bit more than the pennies, but I don't know that for sure.
posted by HopperFan at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2010

Run a thin stream of hot water over the outside of the ring. Try to make it so that most of the water just streams around the ring without touching the pennies (some water will touch the pennies, and that's fine, just do your best to minimize it).

Do this for a minute, then try pushing the pennies out again.

Of course, if you're doing this over the sink, for the love of god put a stopper in the drain.
posted by auto-correct at 10:50 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it's gold, which generally has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than zinc-copper alloys, you will want to use cold water - perhaps even salty ice water.

It looks like silver alloys are in the same range as zinc alloys, which means that heating/cooling them might be ineffective (but it won't hurt to try them.
posted by muddgirl at 10:51 AM on October 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Heat expands, cold contracts: warm up the ring & pennies by dropping them into a cup of boiling water from the coffee maker. Fish them out and spray the center of the top penny with a can of compressed air (for cleaning keyboards) held upside down.
posted by jamaro at 10:51 AM on October 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sorry, yes, hot water on just the ring would work as well, but cold temperatures on the pennies themselves would also work. I don't know which is easier with your present setup.
posted by muddgirl at 10:52 AM on October 25, 2010

Seconding using a dremel to crack the pennies?
posted by foursentences at 10:54 AM on October 25, 2010

The copper should expand and contract with temperature more than pretty much anything the ring would be made of. Put it in the freezer and they might simply fall out.
posted by cmoj at 10:55 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Temperature related expansion/compression factors are usually pretty minor, but it seems like you're looking at an edge case where that would matter.

Here's a reasonable link on expansion/contraction of metals according to temperature. Note we're talking microinches here, not inches, so it's really pretty small.

It doesn't seem from the link like there's any difference between hot or cold insofar as one affecting expansion/contraction more than the toher, but logically it depends on the metal your ring's made of. If it's gold, note that gold doesn't expand/contract nearly as much as zinc, so you'd want to cool it, because presumably the zinc penny would contract more than the ring did. Heating would more tightly lock the zinc penny into the gold ring.

What you're looking for/hoping for is a big differential between zinc (the pennies, probably - the 1988 one definitely, though the older looking one might be primarily copper) and whatever your ring's made of.

The copper in the other penny (assuming it's old enough) has a much closer expansion factor to gold, so maybe focus on cooling and getting the 1988 penny out?

Note that this is all theoretical and experiment would prove this stuff right or wrong.

Alternatively you could do what I would do, which is take it to a jeweler's.
posted by kalessin at 10:57 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

The heating/cooling thing counts one one part being heated while the other is not. If you could heat just the ring and not the pennies or if the pennies has significantly lower thermal conductivity. I'd guess that the ring, being gold, will conduct heat/cold to the pennies pretty well even if you could heat just the ring.

Could you push on just one end of the pennies to get them to rotate? If you can get them perpendicular to the ring, you should be able to pull them out with a pliers. Maybe (and I'm thinking out loud here) you could use cloth as padding on some pliers to squeeze the ring slightly, then, 90 degrees around from where the pliers are squeezing, push on the end of the pennies to get them to rotate.

Alternatively, you could just get a divorce and negate the need for a ring. j/k

The only other thing I can think of is finding a pipe or rod that is a little smaller than the pennies and has a flat end. Then using a pipe that is just larger than the pennies to push against the ring with the other pipe pushes against the pennies.
posted by VTX at 11:07 AM on October 25, 2010

Run it under cold water with copious amounts of dishwashing soap, block the sink hole and shake vigorously inside a sealed tupperware container to loosen.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:08 AM on October 25, 2010

There are a lot of old magic tricks that rely on a gimmicked chunk of precisely machined metal surprisingly similar to your ring-and-penny setup. These tricks were sold with a "bang ring," a small brass ring with an outside diameter the same as the "ring" part of your ring-and-penny, and an inside diameter big enough to accomodate the penny. Put the gimmick in the bang ring, whack it against a table or hard surface, and presto, your "penny" piece pops right out. So that's recommendation #1, find a ring w/ a big enough inside diameter for a penny to pass thru, brace your ring against it, and tap it on a table top or what have you.

Magic tricks being what they are, though, people would frequently misplace these bang rings. When you lost your bang ring, you'd have to put your gimmick in a water glass, cover the top with your hand, and shake it around. Eventually the glass would hit the gimmick at an angle, the edge would catch, and the inside piece would pop right out. Try putting it in a glass, covering the glass with your hand, and shaking it around so you hear light "pings" from the ring. It might well work.

It could bang your ring up a bit though - it'll depend on the hardness of the gold (14k? 18k) whether this is more than minor buffable scratches... and on how much minor damage you're willing to put up with.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 11:09 AM on October 25, 2010

You can drill through pennies with a power drill pretty easily. Using a small bit you should be able to do that without any significant risk of damaging the ring. Get a feel for it on some extra pennies, if you don't mind throwing more money at the problem!

I'd drill a hole through one of them, not quite in the middle, and then use the bit (with the drill off) to push the other one out from behind.

(I think this should be easier than using a Dremmel to do it)
posted by aubilenon at 11:13 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with those who propose drilling a hole in the penny. You probably cannot push them through because the interior surface of the ring is beveled or curved in some way - the pennies only fit in the very edge, and pushing them through is likely impossible. They both need to be pulled out.

Therefore, in order to pull them out, you have two best options:

1. Drill a hole in the penny, then either pull on the hole with a hook of some kind or just push something through the hole to push the opposite penny out.


2. Weld a metal rod to the center of the penny and then pull it out.

You'll need a vise or at least vise grips for either of those options.

And quit putting your ring in your coin purse.
posted by The World Famous at 11:14 AM on October 25, 2010

Victory. Putting them in the freezer thing worked in five minutes.

I think brute force might actually have worked, especially the chopstick strategy -- but alas, it turned out there were *three* pennies in there.
posted by gerryblog at 11:14 AM on October 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

To avoid this recurring: Just don't put pennies in your pocket. Throw them out or something.
posted by aubilenon at 11:16 AM on October 25, 2010

Can you super-glue a stick of some sort to one of the pennies, and then pull?

Get TWO super-glues, apply one super-glue container to each side. Then you have handles to pull the pennies apart.

Also, WD-40 sprayed into any gap might loosen them enough to pop out.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:18 AM on October 25, 2010

Man, stoopid non-preview...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:19 AM on October 25, 2010

Can I just say this thread has added a much-needed source of dramatic tension, climax, and denouement to my otherwise lame monday? Thanks, metafilter!
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 11:21 AM on October 25, 2010 [7 favorites]

To prevent this from happening in the future: The next time you buy a shirt that comes with an extra button, keep the tiny Ziplock bag that the button comes in. Keep that little baggy in your coin purse specifically to put your ring in. I have one for when I take my earrings off.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:23 AM on October 25, 2010

I have a key ring clip on my keychain for when I take my engagement ring off to play bass, works well for me :)
posted by chrispy108 at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

To avoid this recurring: Just don't put pennies in your pocket. Throw them out or something.

Or, easier, don't take the ring off..
posted by wackybrit at 12:13 PM on October 25, 2010

Or, easier, don't take the ring off.

There are lots of jobs that require the removal of all jewelry - machining and the like. In this case the real solution would be "don't put the ring on".
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on October 25, 2010

wackybrit writes "Or, easier, don't take the ring off.."

I don't know about the OP's motivations but it's dangerous to perform physical labour while wearing rings. Do a search for de-gloving for graphic tales of the injury you want to avoid.
posted by Mitheral at 12:55 PM on October 25, 2010

When you take your ring off, put a twist tie around it, or snap a carabiner through it, or something like that before sticking it in your pocket, so the pennies won't fit.

Though, I'm sure you can think of a thousand prevention solutions for that, now that you know it can be more than a minor nuisance.
posted by ctmf at 1:12 PM on October 25, 2010

WD-40 solves all sticking problems. And more.
posted by JayRwv at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2010

I am compelled to mention that the pennies are more zinc than copper,.
posted by theora55 at 6:59 PM on October 25, 2010

In 2010 money, pennies are virtually worthless, so I no longer accept them. If a cashier tries to hand them to me, I just say, "No thanks, you keep them."

No pennies in pocket, no problem with ring.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:23 PM on October 25, 2010

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