Introduction: Cardboard Candy Dispenser

I saw a great candy dispenser made from wood and a mason jar.

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I thought it was great except that I had no scraps of wood or a mason jar. I did however have a lot of cardboard and an empty jar with a lid. I took my candy dispenser to school and put it on my desk. My students were impressed and a few were inspired to try one of their own.

I like working in cardboard since there is a lot of it around--the cafeteria staff will save boxes if you ask. There are no special tools necessary--I cut it with scissors or even my rotary cutter. You get to skip the sanding step and never need to remove splinters. The cardboard version is a nice prototype for a more durable wooden version.

Step 1: Materials:

Empty corrugated cardboard boxes
Cutting tool--scissors, box knife, or rotary cutter
White glue
Drill or drill press
Bamboo skewer or match sticks
Jar with lid
Liquid nails or other heavy duty adhesive

Step 2: Deciding on the Size

You want to make the dispenser an appropriate size for the jar you are using. My jar was about 3 inches wide, so I made that the size for the center section. I also have a tall glass bottle that I want to try. This one will need a little wider base because I do not want the taller bottle to be top heavy when it is full. Once you know the size you need for the center section, add about an inch to both the left and right sides. You can add a bit more if you think you will need it for stability.

Cut the base first. Front to back, it needs to be a little bigger than the diameter of the lid. You will be gluing the lid on and want it to fit. Cut a top piece the same as the bottom. (Mine is 3 inches by 5 inches)

You can cut more layers of this same size if you want a thick base--think about the jar you will be using. If you add thickness to the base, you may be adding stability since you can change the center of gravity. You can always add a few layers at the end of necessary.

Step 3: Building Up the Sides

Spread a layer of glue on the base piece and add the next layer of the base. Do this until you have glued all the bottom pieces. I saved 2 layers of cardboard for the top. Let each layer dry a few minutes before adding the next layer or they may start to slip around.

The middle portion will be made in 3 sections. The left and right will be the same and the middle section will be a bit more work. I made the left and right portions 1 inch wide. Be sure to make them the same thickness. Since some boxes are made from different thicknesses of cardboard, I recommend that you cut these pieces in pairs--both from the same box. (I used 9 layers.)

Glue each layer of the left right portions to the base--align the edges carefully. Allow the glue to dry for a few minutes after each layer. I put a book over the top to keep it pressed together while drying.

The middle portion will be about the same thickness as the left/right portions--it can be just a tiny bit shorter so that it slides easily. This can be accomplished by using 1 less layer of cardboard or by using a thinner sheet of cardboard for one layer. Measure the space between the left/right sections. Subtract about a quarter of an inch. This is the width you will use for the middle sliding portion.

Step 4: The Sliding Middle Portion

It takes a little bit of consideration to get the length of the slider right. In the closed position, the candy hole should be directly under the jar. In this closed position, there needs to be about a half inch of the slider sticking out the front of the dispenser. This allow you to insert a small piece of the bamboo skewer (or a wooden match works well too) which will act as a stopper to prevent the whole slider from falling out.

In its open position, the candy hole should be in front of the dispenser with a half inch still protruding from the back (a second stopper prevents the slider from coming all the way out).

Cut a strip of cardboard the width you measured in the previous step. If you need to make it more narrow (so it moves in and out easily) or wider (so there is not too much wiggle) you can adjust it now. Mark where you plan to put the candy hole. I do this with a pencil. Place the slider into its position, mark the half inch stopper hole and reach behind to mark the back stopper hole.

Add a half inch beyond the back stopper mark. Cut enough layers so that the slider fits the opening. (mine ended up being 2 3/4 by 7 inches and I cut 8 layers)

Do not glue all the layers together yet.

It is easier to cut the hole for the candy before this gets glued. I cut mine with a drill press. I glued all but 2 layers of cardboard and let it dry completely. Then I drilled all the way through. Finally I glued the bottom 2 layers.

If you are knife cutting, I recommend cutting one layer at a time and then gluing the layers together.

Drill holes for the stoppers. Squeeze a small amount of glue in each hole, then wedge the bamboo skewers in place. Put the slider into position before gluing the last stopper in place.

Step 5: Hole in the Lid

The lid of your jar needs a hole. I used my drill press. My lid was plastic so it drilled easily. I am a little nervous about drilling through a metal lid. You could probably cut the hole in a plastic lid with a hot tool or a sharp knife but I probably would not let the kids try doing it themselves.

When you glue on the jar lid, you will need to align the hole with the hole in the top layer of the cardboard to allow the candy through.

Step 6: Final Assumbly

The lid needs to be glued to the cardboard. If you are careful, you can get the glue under the lid without any seeping inside or outside. I decided that it was more important to me that the glue not seep inside--I did not know if it was food safe. I glued the lid from the outside of the container. I just tried to make it look neat.

Allow the glue to dry completely. (This may be the hardest part.)

To fill, remove the jar and fill it with m and m's, skittle, jelly beans, nuts etc. Flip the dispenser upside down. Screw the lid onto the jar. Place dispenser right side up.

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