If you’re ever in a pinch and need a temporary washer, what you need might be in your spare change.

Washers are invaluable for any home or automotive project where you need to prevent damage or provide some insulation to a surface you’re affixing something to. But what happens when you need a washer right now but all the local parts stores are closed?

According to one Reddit thread that popped up earlier yesterday (Sep. 20, 2019) someone stumbled upon the work of this genius mechanic who used a penny as a washer. That’s right, a smart mechanic needed a washer A.S.A.P. and drilled a hole into a bog-standard penny, saving him a trip to Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

Check out a photo of his handiwork below!

At first glance it’s a rough-and-ready job if I ever saw one. The hole’s not punched quite in the middle but, as a temporary washer, it does the job nicely.

A quick search on Reddit reveals this is a common practice when you’re in the field and need a washer now.

This woodworker drilled right into a penny to secure his woodwork. Genius.

While corrosion between dissimilar metals is a concern, pennies made after 1982 are almost all zinc, which is resistant to corrosion.

According to the US Mint, modern pennies are 97.5 percent zinc with copper plating. The US Mint link above also lists the diameter, thickness, and weight at .75 inches, 1.52mm and 2.5 grams respectively.

The real genius behind using pennies as washers comes checkout time. If you head to Home Depot, a bag of five M10 zinc-plated metric flat washers is $1.16 a bag plus tax. That’s roughly 24 cents a washer.

If all you’re using as a washer is something not to serious like hanging up a picture or a washer in a science fair project, for $1.16, you technically have a potential 116 washers if you use pennies.

Talk about savings.

And if you’re serious about using pennies as washers in bulk, it would behoove you to invest in one of these heavy duty power punches. At $26, they’re not too expensive and once you own one, you can make penny washers easily for life!

Legality of drilling holes in a penny, it’s 100 percent legal!

Every time someone brings up drilling holes in coins, they say it’s illegal. Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s not. You can drill holes into coins; you just can’t spend them.

According to U.S. code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331:

Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or

Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened —

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

Pennies. They’re literally one cent and can be a lifesaver if you need one in a pinch.

Do you have any other uses for the penny in DIY construction or when fixing your car? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Also great when put next to post on battery.. corrosion goes to copper before lead in post. No corroded up battery posts..use grease or gum to attach..just be sure copper touches battery surface somewhere

  2. yes as a HGV mechanic i have used this penny trick loads of times. more so on my own vehicles.
    one of which i have a 2p i made into a brake show retaining clip.. with a 3mm drill bit. the old clip corroded away years ago and instead of buying a kit just for one clip.
    the 2p is the prefect size and best of all will not corrode. i do have a picture somewhere.


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