Seven Wood Banks

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Project by vipond33 posted 09-10-2011 07:54 AM 4720 views 24 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It is untrue and unfair to say that only little kids like or want a piggy bank. Big kids too like dropping money into a hole (like woodworking) and saving up, many of us have fond memories of this I’m sure.

All of the banks pictured here were made for and given at Christmas last year to adults in my family. Upon opening their gift the reaction was always the same – a quick intake of breath and a very, very broad smile. In fact they couldn’t stop smiling. That’s what we work for sometimes isn’t it?

Most of these designs came from two simple, heartfelt books, “Making Wood Banks” and “Wooden Banks You Can Make” by Harvey E. Helm. He was a Grade 7 shop teacher in Darien, Connecticut and while there he collaborated with his students to come up with 32 variations on this theme. There are full size line drawings of most parts in the books, others are on a grid so that you may scale them up. They can be made simply and exactly to plan or you can modify them or embellish them with exotic woods from your scrap pile. Either way they are a sure winner. I made mine mostly fabricated on his standard rectangular form using overlays, though he has many that are delightfully animal shaped. Take a look on Amazon and others.

Some notes on construction:

The television bank has an open slot on the bottom to enable changing pictures.

The finish on most pieces is spray lacquer as the intricacy and number of appliques forbade using my meager skill of brushing or hand rubbing. Hand painting of the colored parts though, is preferable to spraying as brush marks enhance the appearance IMHO. That and my daughter helped paint.

The river bank uses a portion of a photograph of water, cut to fit under the edges of the walnut and secured with double faced tape. It may fade over time and need replacement. The clouds run over the moon.

The tree bank, my own design for a favourite nephew, was made by high angle book matching an open grain wood, scaling a line drawing up and down and then scroll sawing. They are arranged to suggest the slope of gentle hills, with a river running through it. Sharp eyes will also see they are all the same tree, just reversed.

The flower bank, given to my mother, and the television, given to my daughter, are my favourites.

Rectangle 5 1/2” x8 1/2” x3”
15 Pieces About 60 hrs.
Build on LJ’s.

Together for the last time, multiples not fully shown

for the no worry set

I ran out of room in the post

and an animal example

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

11 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4058 days

#1 posted 09-10-2011 01:48 PM

What fun. These are crazy cool ideas. I have a whole bunch of antique banks, but for some reason never thought of making wooden ones. Love the piggies too. Thanks.

You daughter just stole my heart,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3252 days

#2 posted 09-10-2011 03:39 PM

Got to say the TV ones with the picture in it is definitely my favorite. Very cool… Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View JL7's profile


8690 posts in 3141 days

#3 posted 09-10-2011 04:35 PM

These are really cool….all of them! And a great gift idea. Thanks for sharing….....


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View B13's profile


463 posts in 2869 days

#4 posted 09-10-2011 05:00 PM

I like! the TV great job on every thing.

View clieb91's profile


3521 posts in 4111 days

#5 posted 09-11-2011 03:41 AM

I collected banks as a kid, recently gave a large portion of them away, but kept a few of my favorites. I am certainly going to keep this post in mind for myself and others. Thanks for sharing, oh and I too love the tv set.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View wiser1934's profile


524 posts in 3323 days

#6 posted 09-11-2011 05:46 AM

love the banks, especially the ones that you used your own ideas. are those books still in print?

-- wiser1934, new york

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3265 days

#7 posted 09-12-2011 03:08 PM

I’m also a fan of the TV versions, they are just wonderful and I cant stop smiling.
What a wonderful gift idea.
And as with all you do a fantastic finish and sence for details.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View rance's profile


4264 posts in 3336 days

#8 posted 09-13-2011 05:46 PM

These are just too cute.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View rdlaurance's profile


367 posts in 3523 days

#9 posted 09-18-2011 07:46 AM

Wonderful and no doubt fun projects. I particularly like the landscaped bank (image 5) in your first project pictures, which utilizes the shapes, colors and grain of the wood to form the 3D landscape.


-- Rick, south Sweden

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2673 days

#10 posted 09-27-2011 02:58 AM

Thank you all for the compliments. They were fun to build, fond to write and maybe a good share for those that like to delight others.
At least one book is in print. I got mine through AbeBooks, though I also noticed a copy at the library.
@Spalm My daughter loves your work.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Vance100's profile


38 posts in 2427 days

#11 posted 03-10-2014 12:34 PM

Love the banks. Do you have the name of the book?

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