Coin Bank Mailbox Door Plans
The following instructions provide a process for constructing a coin bank using a USPS mailbox door manufactured by Federal Equipment Company in 1966. There are other varieties of doors available that may have different sizes. The wood used to construct this example is 1/2″ and 1/4″ thick oak and has a coin hole purple heart inlay. Variations in construction and materials are readily accepted and some suggestions will be noted in the step-by-step instructions that follow.
Step One: Determine the dimensions of the box
The inner surface of the door has screw holes perpendicular to the face, which are used to fasten the door to the body of the box. The position of these holes dictates the dimensions of the door opening. A good approach to determine the top, bottom and side dimensions of your box is to lay two pieces of 1/2 inch material parallel to each other. Place the door face up with the top and bottom parallel to the wood pieces. Maneuver the wood pieces until they are parallel and fit just outside the screw holes on the inside of the door. Measure the distance between the outside edge of each 1/2 inch piece of wood. This measurement is the length of the two sides of the box.
Repeat the process above, but place the door top and bottom perpendicular to the wood pieces. Measure again between the outside edges of the wood pieces. The result is the length of the top and bottom of your box.
Step Two: Cut out parts of the box frame
The top, bottom, and side dimensions defined above represent the outside height and width of your box. The depth of your box is optional. The depth (distance from front to back) is determined by your chosen stock width. The type of joint you choose to join the box frame will determine how you cut the pieces. For a simple miter joint, make your cuts at a 45 degree angle. For box or dovetail joints, cut at a 90 degree angle. Making boxes or dovetail joints is beyond the scope of these instructions.
Step Three: Test fit, pilot holes. Coin slot and mount
After cutting, check that it fits the frame of the box. Place the door inside the front and check that the door fits correctly. The critical test is to determine if the door fits inside and allows the corners to fully join. Also make sure the edges of the door overlap the surface of the front. A little play is okay because you can adjust the position when you attach the door screws later. Mark the position of the screw holes on each side piece. Drill pilot holes that will accept #6 X 3/8″ sheet metal screws.
Run a coin slot in the top of the box. If you decide to include a coin slot inlay, complete this process now. If using a brass coin slot cover, attach it as the last step. Glue your pieces together and secure with staples.
Step Four: Cut and Attach the Box Back
Although one option is to mill a recess in the back of the box, the simplest method is to cut a back piece of 1/4″ stock to the dimensions of the back of the box. Regardless of the method you choose, attach the box back to the frame of the the box with screws and/or glue.
Step Five: Determine and record a combination of doors
The door combination is revealed by turning the drum knob and recording the position of the letter with each right, left, right turn. watch the inner reels on each spin and stop when the red marks line up with the top mark. Check that the combination is correct by turning the center knob at the front to open the door. Write down the combination of letters.
Step Six: Mill, Sand and Finish
At this stage you can optionally mill the edges of the box with a round bit. Sand the box body and apply your favorite finish. I have used natural Danish oil with good results. After your coating is dry, screw the door and attach a brass plate with a coin hole if used. Your bank is now complete. A series of photos of these instructions and doors are available at Herzercraft.
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