Introduction: Wooden Piggy Bank

Picture of Wooden Piggy Bank

I have wanted to get into wood carving for a long time, with both hand tools and power tools.

This wooden piggy bank is my first attempt at a power carving project, and was made for one of my kids as a Christmas present.

It is made from layers of scrap pine boards which were cut, glued up, carved down, and finished into the little pig you see here. It is approximately 11" long, 6" tall and 6" wide, with a cavernous belly to hold all the monies.

This was a fun project, and I learned a lot along the way.

Hopefully you can learn something from what I've shared here, and perhaps even be inspired to carve your own wooden piggy bank. Thanks for taking a look!

Step 1: 360-degree Look

Picture of 360-degree Look

Here's a look all around the finished wooden piggy bank.

Step 2: Pattern and Pieces

Picture of Pattern and Pieces

I began by drawing up a pattern, which is linked below as a PDF should you want to give this a shot. The general look and shape was inspired by a small pig toy that my kids have.

I could have carved this from a solid piece of wood, sawed it in half, bored out the middle, and then glued the two halves back together. But I have piles and piles of scrap pine boards, so I figured I'd try something a little different.

The pattern was used to create three different shapes, two of which are used twice each, and one of which is used four times, for a total of eight layers. Please see the pattern itself and photo notes above for details on the layout.

I laid out the pieces so the grain runs in alternating directions in corresponding boards, both because I thought it might look cool, but also to provide some added strength to the finished pig. For the narrow legs to be strong, I ensured that the boards that would be making up the bulk of the carved legs had the grain running vertically (these are the outer "B" boards.)

With these considerations (and a keen eye to avoid any knots), I laid out the pattern pieces and everything was cut out with a band saw using a narrow, fine-toothed blade.

Step 3: Outline Top Profile

Picture of Outline Top Profile

The layers were stacked together, and the top profile was drawn on.

Step 4: Mark for Open Space Cut-outs

Picture of Mark for Open Space Cut-outs

The two "A" boards in the middle and the two inner "B" boards will have their middle areas removed. These were marked accordingly.

About an inch was left all around the outside to provide plenty of material for carving and shaping.

Step 5: Cut Out Open Spaces

Picture of Cut Out Open Spaces

The open spaces were cut out with a band saw, with the entry cut made at the bottom of the pieces.

These entry cuts are in the same location where the bottom hole for the plug will be made later on, so they won't actually exist on the finished piggy bank.

Step 6: Glue Up Layers

Picture of Glue Up Layers

The layers were glued up and clamped two at a time, as it would be next to impossible to glue all the layers together in one shot.

So for each half the order of gluing was thus:

  • A plus inner B, and outer B plus C
  • Once dry, AB plus BC

Then the two completed and dry ABBC halves were glued together.

Step 7: Cut Out Top Profile

Picture of Cut Out Top Profile

The top profile was then cut out on the band saw.

It's terribly difficult to pick your nose with your knuckles, so please mind your fingers.

Step 8: Carving Burs

Picture of Carving Burs

I'm using a Foredom woodcarving kit along with some carbide burs, most of the time using this carving table I built a while ago.

I basically used the burs in order from left to right, as I got down to finer and finer details. The larger red burs are quite aggressive and worked great for roughing and rounding out the basic shape.

The blue bits were great for slightly finer details, while the small double-cut bur was excellent for the finer details like the eyes and tail.

As I said, I'm a complete newby when it comes to power carving, so I did a lot of experimenting and fiddling around with different bits and burs to see what I liked.

Step 9: Mark Waste Areas, and Dig In

Picture of Mark Waste Areas, and Dig In

I marked on the pig the areas where I wanted to remove material, and started rounding off the sharp angles.

Making guide marks like this makes a huge difference, and helps to keep you from removing too much material.

I would not recommend using a sharpie marker for this however. It bleeds into the soft pine and there were a couple of places where I needed to remove extra material just to remove the pen marks. Pencil is much better!

Step 10: Refine Shape

Picture of Refine Shape

I kept moving the pig around and viewing it from different angles, and removing material a little here and a little there.

The idea is to remove enough material that it stops looking angular and boxy, and appears to be a general pig-shape.

Step 11: Eyes, Part One

Picture of Eyes, Part One

For the eyes, I left round bulbous protuberances in the eye areas.

Then I drew on an eye-like shape with pencil for each eye.

Step 12: Eyes, Part Two

Picture of Eyes, Part Two

Using a small bit, I carved out the top of the eyeball, leaving the upper bulbous area intact to be the upper eye lid. Then I cut out the bottom in the same manner.

Then a bit of careful shaping was done to refine the eye further. I then repeated this for the other eye.

The tail was carved out with the same small bit.

Step 13: Unfinished

Picture of Unfinished

Here's a look at the carving work once I was satisfied with it.

It was still fairly rough, but I was perfectly happy to leave it that way.

Step 14: Coin Slot

Picture of Coin Slot

The coin slot was made by drilling a couple of holes and then using a jig saw to connect them. I then gently nibbled the roundness of the holes away with the jig saw into a square-ish shape for the corners.

Step 15: Bottom Hole

Picture of Bottom Hole

The bottom hole was drilled out with a 2" hole saw. The rubber plug whose large side was 2 3/16" across was purchased at a hardware store for a few bucks.

Step 16: Staining

Picture of Staining

The finishing I did on this piggy bank was a multi-step process.

I began by applying a light color of oil-based stain.

Once the stain was dry, the pig was brushed with a coat of shellac to seal the first coat of stain.

When the shellac was dry, I gave the entire pig a light sanding with 220 sandpaper.

I then rubbed on a darker stain, which penetrated the slightly roughed-up shellac just enough to add some depth and character to the wood.

Step 17: Subtle Painting

Picture of Subtle Painting

Layers of light washes of acrylic paint were added to age the pig a little, and to emphasize the grooves and cracks around the eyes, nose, mouth, legs and tail.

To create this faux grime, I primarily used a dark umber color mixed with a bit of black.

This subtle painting and aging really helped define the features of the pig. Prior to this step, the features just didn't stand out and the entire pig looked kind of 2-dimensional.

Step 18: Clear Coat and Wax

Picture of Clear Coat and Wax

A protective layer was created by spraying on several coats of semi-gloss lacquer, with a rub down of superfine steel wool in between coats, and after the last. This method results in an ultra smooth finish.

The final step is to rub on and buff off a layer of wax. This completes the finish and makes all the colors really pop.

Step 19: The END!

Picture of The END!

If you make one, please leave a photo. I'd love to see how yours turns out!


jmacfarlane made it! (author)2014-12-03

I didn't use your steps exactly or plan, but this inspired me to make 1 for my nephew for Christmas. It's about half the size, I'd guess. I did most of the shaping with my belt sander, then a dremel with a sanding drum and carbide carver for the "fine" details. Super pleased with how it came out.

seamster (author)jmacfarlane2014-12-03

Awesome! I'm glad you were inspired to make one! You nephew will be one happy kid come Christmas, and will treasure this his whole life. We just tend to value handmade, personal stuff a little more, you know? Major awesome uncle points for you!

And thank you for sharing the photos! It looks like it turned out great.

jmacfarlane made it! (author)2014-12-03

And the butt, which makes me laugh

Hasslich (author)2017-02-21

I love pigs.

I think I will try to make one.

I will let you know how it comes out.

AndreaGonz made it! (author)2016-07-18

I really liked your project so I wanted to give it a try! I liked the way it turned out

seamster (author)AndreaGonz2016-07-18

Very nice! Thanks for sharing the photos. I like the tight layers - looks like you used plywood (?). Great work, keep it up!! :)

JeffM3572 made it! (author)2016-01-17

I used the patterns but ran short on time. So chose to not be as detailed. I believe it turned out just fine. Thanks

Argfyle made it! (author)2015-03-11

I defintely need a fixed belt sander, as it was too much work with the
dremel all along but this is my first "achievement" in woodworking ...
thanks for your instructable ! This site is awesome

seamster (author)Argfyle2015-03-11

Awesome, way to go!

Your's turned out pretty darn good for a first-time woodworking project! Very cool, and thank you for the photo!

SayLou (author)2015-03-04

Do you sell these?!?!

seamster (author)SayLou2015-03-04

I have never made one of these to sell. But that fact that you ask is a huge compliment!

However, it's just so much work that I don't know if the amount I would need to cover my time and effort would be worth it to anyone! :)

SayLou (author)seamster2015-03-05

You're welcome! I definitely understand. :)

Amaries (author)2015-02-28

I have to try this. I love this!!!!

violingirl (author)2014-12-29

Your pig looks really nice!

I haven't carved anything but, I might try this.

jmyers1 (author)2014-12-13

This is so cute! I love how you detailed your steps, and the home made with love look of it.

CottonMG3338 (author)2014-12-09

hey seamster do you know how to do origami

seamster (author)CottonMG33382014-12-09

I can fold a mean paper airplane, a paper crane, and a hat. Oh, and Yoda. I can fold Yoda.

Do you do origami?

spylock (author)2014-12-02

Very good.

randomtower (author)2014-11-25

Very nice! The tail was an excellent idea.

seamster (author)randomtower2014-11-25

Thank you!

fierce_robotic_unicorns (author)2014-11-23


Boarczar (author)2014-11-22

It looks amazing! What a great present.

blissful2015 (author)2014-11-21

such a great tutorial!! the sculpture is totally gorgeous!

seamster (author)blissful20152014-11-21

Thank you!

mikew5 (author)2014-11-21

Well I've been carving for decades but would have been delighted to have come up with a little gem like this !

Brilliant & what's more - a really clear ,complete & followable instructable.


seamster (author)mikew52014-11-21

Thank you very much!

Bverysharp (author)2014-11-21

Great work! A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

ArticAkita (author)2014-11-20

What a perfect Christmas gift! Rather than go out & buy something in some store, make something from the heart that will last! Just make something equally cool for the other child! You've done really beautiful work!

seamster (author)ArticAkita2014-11-20

Thank you very much!

Regarding making equally cool stuff for the other gift-receivers on my list, I'll do my best!

Dakotamouse (author)2014-11-20

From Charlotte's web, let me say...."SOME PIG!"

seamster (author)Dakotamouse2014-11-20

Ha ha, nicely put! Thanks!

mikeasaurus (author)2014-11-20

Whoa, this is awesome! Thanks for sharing the PDF template. You are amazing

seamster (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-20

Thanks Mike!

I thought it would be cool to somehow incorporate some magic to make it oink and grunt when you put money in, but that kind of technological sorcery still eludes me . . . for now!

marter1229 (author)2014-11-20

Love it!

gravityisweak (author)2014-11-19

WHOA! Your finished product looks amazing! The shape is really organic. Not only that but the finish makes it look like an antique carved piece! It came out great! You sure you're new to wood carving??

P.S. The word protuberances is hilarious and you win extra points for using it in an instructable!

WildSwalle (author)2014-11-18

Great step by step photos and instruct's; that took almost as long as making the bank itself. Thanks for your thoroughness, and the pdf! Wonderful project. Was that a Flex-Shaft-type tool in the bottom right-hand photo in Step 12? Curious to see what your next project will be. Thanks for sharing.

WildSwalle (author)WildSwalle2014-11-18

I answered my own question. Looked on your other projects and found the (most excellent) sewing-machine carving station, with a photo of your Foredom flex shaft.

seamster (author)WildSwalle2014-11-18

Thank you for your nice comments!

I'm working on a few projects currently, but one that I think will be really cool is a large wooden mason-style jar made from a cherry stump. Fingers crossed though, it might end up as a complete failure!

Deidara Konrath (author)seamster2014-11-19

Failure or Not it still shows how much you have Experienced and the will

to keep on trying is what it means to be Human.

nobody is perfect in life...

we are all different no one is to be the same.

why be somebody else when you are made to be you?

seamster (author)Deidara Konrath2014-11-19

Great sentiments, and I agree completely!

Deidara Konrath (author)seamster2014-11-19

Thanks, I may have Autism, but that doesn't mean that I can't Learn. I just learn differently than others. All I've experience so far in my life, Pain, Sadness, alone, betrayed, treated like an outcast, made me stronger as a person. Now I'm not alone have friends and loved ones I met I cherish them in me, they have thought me that I should enjoy being myself, why do I need to be something I'm not when I born to be me? Some people don't understand what it means to be different until it happens to them. Sometimes the hard times in life may not be the greatest, but learning from them can make you see how to do better than the way they have treated you. Then good times will come.

WildSwalle (author)seamster2014-11-18

No such thing as a complete failure! It can always be turned into something else, like a bank!

Deidara Konrath (author)2014-11-18

Such Amazing Craftsmanship I even want to make one for myself! Hopefully my dad and i will do this together! I love woodworking! It's in my blood!

seamster (author)Deidara Konrath2014-11-18

Thank you very much. You should definitely give it a shot!

Deidara Konrath (author)seamster2014-11-19

I'm Hoping that me & my Dad will have the time?

I see him every other weekend.

I just love the way you made it, it looked like it used to be a pig :)

aarroyo2 (author)2014-11-19

Awesome work

Dustin Rogers (author)2014-11-18

This is incredible. Great job.

antennas (author)2014-11-17

Nice work! Your little one should love it for years and years. A real special gift made by Dad. Cool.

seamster (author)antennas2014-11-18

Thank you! That's the idea I guess.

I try to make my kids presents every year, and hopefully they'll all have plenty of meaningful stuff that will last longer than silly toys and video games.

Hinkiepunk (author)2014-11-18

I just let the 9gag community in on instructables and everyone loves it!

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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