Walnut Challenge Coins

My niece’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor is this weekend. She wanted some “challenge coins” to hand out at the event. The timing was a bit tight but, I was able to get 80 of these to her in time.

Super basic project but, it was fun and, they came out well. This is the longest engrave I have done to date: ~4.5h for the fronts and ~2.5h for the backs.

These are 1.5” diameter, cut from 1/4” thick pre-sanded walnut hardwood. I used the jig-in-place technique to align both sides of each coin. After engraving and cutting, they were sanded with 320 - 2000 grit sanding film, cleaned with my mini shop vac, wiped with a microfiber cloth, then coated with wipe-on poly. There was only time for one coat but, it contributed a lot to the final look.

I made a one-minute making-of short:


Nice… any loss, or were all the pieces sound? I’ve had stuff like this split along the grain occasionally.


No splitting. It was a really nice board. All of the coins feel solid. I might get some feedback on that after a bunch of teenagers have at them …

The only issue I ran into was that the coin in the upper-left just didn’t engrave on the main run, either side. Kind of odd since all of the others in the same row and all of the others in the same column were fine. I double-checked the original file in Inkscape and, it’s not misaligned.

It did cut. Since it was all self-jigging, I just dropped it into one of the more central holes and, ran the engraves there to recover it.


I wonder if you accidentally misaligned it in the UI? Like one accidental arrow move might be all it took to put it in the no fly zone?


That was my thought, too. I can’t perceive any misalignment with the job as it ran.


I used Inkscape’s tiled clones for the layout. The one that didn’t engrave was the original. Maybe that had something to do with it?


Aha yeah. When you clone it puts a clone on top of your original. you had 2 engraves on top of each other, and the UI skips those.

Go into Inkscape, click the top left coin, it should say it’s a clone in the lower left status bar. Delete the clone – the original object is underneath it. If you delete the original you will break the clone relationship with all of them, and you’ll have separate objects (not what you want).


Ah! That makes sense. I didn’t even think to look for that. Thanks!

I haven’t used clones a lot. On my previous machine, an array of clones like that would crash Inkscape 100% of the time. I am not having that problem on a newer machine.


I’ve been bitten by that one a few times. Would be nice to have a setting to trigger that removes the first clone or does something else to manage that. I’ve not quite understood why it does it, but maybe I am missing something here.

I do love the tiling clone tool. Just is a bit weird to figure out translation %.


Yeah that’s stupid, not sure why they are set on %. Maybe it’s more a print thing, where certain % is more like kerning or margins, with a premium set on proportion?

If you’re making an orthogonal grid try this instead:

  • Do your tiled cloning, don’t pay attention to the % spacing – you’ll be overriding it in the next step.
  • Select the whole lot and use Object->Arrange. You can make your grid with set spacing in whatever units you want, including negative values so you can force overlap of shapes that nest. In fact you can set the X and Y spacing independently for even more control.

I ran into the same thing making coins this past week, nothing misaligned.


Can you confirm the doubled-up clone/original to see if that looks like we’re on the right track? It feels like it’s pretty spot-on just by the theory of the thing, but it’d be good to have 2 confirmed files with the same issue and the same doubling-up.


I did check my file and confirmed it was like you described.

Interesting that the engraves cancel out but, not the cuts.


I think it’s the same kind of thing that makes parts of filled fonts sometimes cut each other out. I think it’s called like the inside out rule or something… googling to be sure.

EDIT: nope, it’s the even-odd rule.


Lovely. Congrats to your niece . Scouting has made a great impact in our family!


Wow, that’s cool! Great that you finished it on time, too. I’m vaguely disappointed though, I wanted to see engraved walnuts. :crazy_face:


Great coins!!


Very nice. Seems most of what I make is Scout related and I have been toying with a challenge coin. Had not though to poke the flor de lis in the center like that!


Congrats on getting them done in time!


I turned the bag of scrap Scouting logo fleur-de-lis cut-outs into a follow-up project: butterfly clasp tack pins.

Basically the same treatment as the coins for sanding and finishing. I glued the backs on with E6000. Handing the rest off to my niece to finish.

One-minute making-of short, if you like that sort of thing: