How to Cold-Hammer Coins and Keys Into Useful Survival Tools

This is an easy hands on project that’s good to practice when you get a chance, thanks to Tim MacWelch of OutdoorLife for the article.

At first glance, some common pocket items seem just about worthless as wilderness survival supplies. Take coins and keys. What are you going to buy with your coins in the wild? And what will you unlock in the woods with your ring of keys? Not much, right? But don’t forget that metal is a precious resource, even non-precious metals. And with a little creativity, these items can take on new life.

Here’s how to cold-hammer coins and keys into useful survival tools.
Cold hammering (also known as cold working or cold forging) is the art of working metal through percussion without adding any heat to it. This practice goes back into antiquity, as ancient artisans hammered out shapes from copper, bronze, silver and gold. The latter, both coveted and beautiful, is the only one that can be cold worked indefinitely without fracturing or becoming brittle.

CC0 Public Domain
CC0 Public Domain

So what about working the metal items you frequently have in your pockets? In America, the new pennies are made from copper-plated zinc disks, while the rest of the current coins are made from disks of a copper-nickel blend. Most keys are made from brass because it is easy to cut.

Any of these metal objects can be cold-hammered between two smooth stones to create a thinner edge on the item, and/or change its shape. This edge can then be sanded or ground into a cutting edge, to produce coin “thumb-knives” and key “arrowheads.”

This is an easy hands on project that’s good to practice when you get a chance, thanks to Tim MacWelch of for the article.

CC0 Public Domain
CC0 Public Domain

Tim runs his own survival skills company and writes for Outdoor Life. Original Source

Sure, there are certain legal issues with the “destruction” of your coins, but who cares when you’re in a survival situation? Work with what you have and do the best you can, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll survive!


jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival