Introduction: Elephant Coin Bank

About: Electrical dude. Homeowner on a mission to break everything (and then hopefully repair it).

Made a small elephant shaped coin bank for my niece as a gift for her baby shower.

Apparently, she heard about how awesome it was and just couldn't wait to see it. So she decided to make her own debut to the world the very next day.

Hopefully, in a couple of years she will tell me what she thinks of it and use it to save up some coin... or it'll end up being used as a teething toy in the meantime. Either way, success.


Materials used:

4 - pieces of poplar wood cut to fit the shape. Mine were approx 7.5"x11"x.75"

2 - clear acrylic disks (4.5" x .125") 1 - round aluminum stamping blank (2" x .063")

wood glue

super glue

clear silicone sealant

weathered grey wood "stain"

Tools used:

table saw

scroll saw

jig saw




Step 1: Drawing and Creating the Template for the Template

The design started with a simple sketch with potential ideas on some thick card stock which was then traced onto a scrap piece of 1/8" project panel.

Using a scroll saw I cutout template #1 and sanded the edges smooth.

*At this point I realized the 1/8" thick piece was not sufficient for a template so I ended up re-cutting it on a piece of scrap 3/4" mdf. (wanted to see if the scroll saw could handle it)

Then I cut my poplar board to fit the template with a bit of overhang.

Step 2: Rough Cutout of All the Pieces and Flush Trim to Make Identical

To save my flush trim router bit for excessive work I rough cut all the pieces just outside the traced line so there was less material to trim.

Then using double sided template tape I made all the pieces identical to the template.

Step 3: Cutout the Display Windows and Space

For the windows on the outside pieces, I used a hole saw to create a hole a bit smaller than my acrylic disks.

Then using the router I cut a small rabbet for the disk to fall into in the inside and then rounded over the outside edge to give a smoother, cleaner look.

For the middle 2 pieces I used a jig saw to cut as big of an opening as possible so I could maximize the volume inside.

Step 4: Join Middle Pieces, Paint Insides and Cut the Coin Slot

To begin assembly, I glued and clamped the 2 middle pieces together.

Once dried, I stained the inside portions of all the pieces because once put together I would not be able to.

At this point I realized I forgot to cut out a slot to be able to feed money into the bank. So I quickly ran just the top of the middle piece through the table saw and sanded the opening to make it wider and smooth. (I taped a piece of sandpaper on a putty knife for this)

Step 5: Glue in Display Windows

To make sure the display windows were secure and seamless, I both glued and sealed them in place.

First adhering to the wood with clear super glue and then following up with a clear drying caulk applied thinly with a plastic syringe like applicator.

Step 6: Attach Sides and Clamp

After the display windows were fully dried overnight, I began assembling it all together.

I used a healthy amount of wood glue and an excessive amount of clamps making sure each piece was aligned as much as possible.

Step 7: Sand and Shape

Once the piece is all dry and unclamped, its time to sand and shape any wonky areas.

Using the stationary belt sander I fixed some of the curves and made sure everything was smooth and even.

I finished it up with 220-grit by hand getting around the trunk, windows, and legs.

Step 8: Paint/stain

Then it was staining time. It went on really easy and smooth.

While I'm happy with the end result, I wasn't entirely happy with the stain. It was much too paint like and covered up too much of the awesome poplar grain pattern.

Step 9: Remembered Far Too Late That You Need to Add a Way to Remove Coins

When I flipped the piece to stain the bottom I realized my biggest mistake... I totally forgot to include a way to remove coins from it!

So after some colorful language and brainstorming, I found some blank aluminium stamping disks that seemed the perfect size.

I drilled a hole and then carefully used the router to rabbet a lip for the coin to attach to. (I still can't believe this worked, I do not recommend routering a part of an assembled piece that is raised off the table).

I then sanded an indent to be able to get a fingernail in to pry the disk out and drilled 2 tiny holes to attach with the smallest screws I could find.

After all that, I finished staining and spray painted the disk.

Step 10: Clean Up and Be Done

Now it was time to clean everything up and be done.

Overall, I was very happy how it came out. Learned a lot along the way and discovered several ways I made things so much harder on myself.

Thanks and hope you enjoy!

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