Weekend Project – Snowman money box

Monday 9 July 2018

With Christmas fast approaching I have turned my thoughts to a simple gift for my grandchildren: a snowman money box. It has been made from one piece of timber and the main body has been hollowed out to an even wall thickness. A slot has been cut in the hat and a hole drilled through the head and hat to allow coins to pass through into the body. A rubber electrical grommet has been fitted into the hole used for hollowing.

I have also made an ornamental snowman which can be brought out with the Christmas decorations and would look good on anyone's mantlepiece.

The decorative version has been left solid and the hat has been made from a separate piece of timber so it could be mounted at an angle. The colours I have used are ones from the Jo Sonja's Acrylic paints range. The pearlescent white allows the grain pattern to show through whilst still giving an all over colour. Of course, this decorated version could be hollowed and made into a money box should you wish. The choice is yours.

Tools used:

12mm skew chisel

Swivel tip scraper

3mm parting tool

12mm fingernail-profile spindle gouge

10mm fingernail-profile spindle gouge

Spindle roughing gouge


The first step is to mount a piece of sycamore (Acer psuedoplatanus) measuring 115 x 115 x 230mm long between centres and turn into the round. Next, you need to cut a chucking spigot, the correct size to fit your chuck jaws, at one end of the piece of sycamore


The next step is to mount the form in your chuck jaws and bring the taildrive up for added support. Draw a pencil mark 90mm in from the taildrive; this is the length of the snowman's body. Draw another pencil line at 45mm from the taildrive; this will be the widest part of the snowman. Using a fingernail profile spindle gouge, form a flat bottomed sphere


Using a Jacobs chuck, with a drill bit fitted, drill to the required depth for hollowing


Cut a recess at 40mm diameter and undercut the base deep enough for a rubber grommet to fit into. Hollow the body to approximately 8mm wall thickness. Here I used a swivel tip with a scraper tip attached


Use a skew chisel to refine the opening and cut a recess approximately 45mm diameter for the outer surface of the grommet to sit in


Check the grommet for fit and adjust the opening if required. Check the grommet does not sit proud of the base. Holding the edge of a ruler across the base is a good way to check this. Sand the body to a finish starting with 120 grit abrasive and working through 180, 240, 320, and finishing with 400


Mark where the head and hat will start and end. Use a fingernail profile spindle gouge to shape the head


Turn the shape of the hat. Using a skew chisel, undercut where the rim meets the head and to crisply cut the top of the rim. Sand to a finish using the same grits as before


Wrap masking tape around the head and paint the hat with black acrylic paint


Mark the approximate positions of the mouth, eyes, nose and buttons. Set up a precision drilling jig and drill 6mm diameter holes. Try not to drill through into the hollow body


Using a 30mm diameter Forstner bit, attached to an extension bar, drill a hole approximately 175mm deep through into the head and hat. Wrap a piece of tape round the extension bar to act as a depth gauge. This leaves approximately 8mm wall thickness at the top of the hat for a slot to be cut into


Make a jam chuck for the base of the snowman to fit onto. Bring up the taildrive for support and reduce the diameter of the spigot, finishing the top of the hat as you progress


Leave a pip of timber, stop the lathe and cut off with a hacksaw


Fit a sanding mandrel into the chuck and attach an abrasive disc. Sand the sawn surface and working through the grits, smooth the top of the hat to a suitable finish


Mark the centre of the hat and draw a line 30mm long for the money slot. Using a 5mm brad point drill bit fitted into a pillar drill, drill several holes along the pencil line


With a side milling bit fitted into a rotary tool join the drill holes and tidy the slot. Use a flat file to smooth the surface of the slot and sand to the desired finish using abrasives. Coat the top of the hat and the inside of the slot with black paint


Coat with acrylic sanding sealer, to seal the surface, before applying several thin coats of acrylic gloss lacquer


While the lacquer is drying turn the eyes, nose, mouth and buttons. For the eyes mount a length of timber in the chuck and turn into the round. Mark the spigot length and size of the eye with pencil lines


Reduce the spigot to 6mm diameter and turn a 10mm diameter half bead. Sand the half bead to the required finish and apply black acrylic paint before parting off. The remaining pieces are turned the same way. 8mm diameter timber is required for the nose and mouth pieces, and 12mm for the buttons. Apply orange paint to the nose. To finish the snowman apply CA adhesive to the facial features, glue the buttons in place and apply a coat of finishing oil


The festive snowman money box is now complete