Because this instructable is a bit more complicated than my previous ones, I'll include a list of materials:
1'x2' 3/4" thick board (any hardwood)
Plexiglas (enough for the two side walls)
1/2" long flathead screws (x5)
1" long 1/4"-20 Phillips head bolt (x1)
Stain/paint (as per preference)
As for tools, I just used a jig-saw, power drill, and power sander.
Step 1: Find a template pattern
I suggest finding and printing out the paper template first before picking out the wooden board, so that you don't buy more wood than you need.
Step 2: Cut out the wooden template
As a tip, drill into the middle of the section to be cut out with a bit at least 3/8" thick, so that the jig saw blade get in there.
After the cavity was cut out, I sawed out the body. As you can see, I made the hole slightly too large, because the elephant broke in two, so I had to wood glue it and clamp it with rubber bands overnight.
After the glue dried, I sawed and sanded down the rough edges. This first cut out thus served as my template to trace onto the rest of the board in order to cut out three more identical elephants.
Alternately, you could cut out four elephants instead of three, and thus have a perfectly good wooden template to save for later projects, so that you wouldn't have to go through the trouble of making a new one.
Step 3: Cut the rest of them out
After cutting them out, I did some light sanding on the edges so that there would be no splinters lodged between the elephants when I glued and clamped them together.
Step 4: Clamp, glue, and sand.
Now comes the longest part: lots, lots, lots of sanding (in terms of my project specifically). Even using a power sander still takes a while, depending on how well the initial templates line up. The sharp curves are the hardest part to get at, so if you chose a more rounded shape, that should be much less work. Because this will be touched by the user, the final grit should be between 220-500, rendering the elephant splinter free.
You can tell the difference sanding made between these two pictures.
Step 5: Making the coin slot
Step 6: Cut out the Plexiglas sides
After sanding, I placed each Plexiglas piece on its respective side and marked out with a sharpie where I would drill the screw holes.
Important: for this design, one of the walls will act as the door to the coins, so the drilling pattern is NOT the same for both sides.
Step 7: Attaching the Plexiglas sides
For the opposite side (the door), I used one screw to act as a hinge, and a bolt to act as the lock. For the bolt hole, I used a bit with the bolt's exact diameter through the Plexiglas, and then a 1/16" smaller bit through the wood, so that the bolt's thread would catch in the wood, which would act as the nut.
Because the bolt can only be taken out with a screw driver, it acts as a sturdy lock, and can easily support the horizontal force from the weight of the coins.
Afterwards, I sanded down the openings to all the holes to remove any splinters or roughness.
Step 8: Remove the Plexiglas walls and stain
I used my dark walnut stain, which shows off the grains and natural patterns of the wood. I applied just one coat, so that the contrast would be more visible, and let dry overnight.
Paint would work just as well here, though I'd again recommend spray paint/primer for the hard-to-reach interior.
Step 9: Reattach the Plexiglas sides
The final picture is of the elephant bank at my girlfriend's apartment, being put to good use.