I was searching online for a nice piggy bank pattern that wouldn't be an actual "piggy" and that would be strong enough to be handled by my 2 year old niece. After finding an image of a dragon bank, I created a digital plan based on the image and used a laser cutter to build it.
Step 1: Design the Dragon
I created the plan on Inkscape by using layers over the image of the dragon. I have attached the SVG file to this step. The file has several layers including:
- Outside body
- Inside body
Step 2: Make Dragon Slices
In order to build the dragon, we'll use 1/4" birch plywood. The only other items needed are a 1/8" metal pin (1.5" long) and a 1/4" hardwood dowel.
The body of the dragon is made of plywood slices. The 2 "full slices" are used for the body sides and the 6 "hollowed slices" are used for the internal layers. This will result in a 1.5" cavity to hold the coins. The head is also made of 6 layers of 1/4" plywood.
The wings are made out of 1/4" plywood as well. I used a scrap piece of mahogany veneered plywood to have a different color but you can just use birch and stain it later.
Step 3: Glue the Slices
Glue the slices one at a time. A typical wood glue should be dry enough after 20 minutes. I would recommend to start gluing the internal slices first as you have 6 of them to assemble together. You can also make the head by gluing 4 slices together.
The metal pin at the base of the neck needs to be placed before we glue everything together. Otherwise, it will be too late.
To do this part in the right order, we start by gluing a head slice onto the body.
Now do the same for the other side of the body.
The 6 internal slices should now be dry and we can glue them onto one side of the body.
The next step is to put the moving head (4 layers) in place and slide the 1/8" metal pin at the base of the neck.
Only then, we can attach the second side of the body. The pin is now invisible and we can't remove the head anymore.
Step 4: Sand Off the Edges
This piggy bank is for a child so I decided to sand off all the sharp corners. You will also need to remove all the black colour that was left by the laser cutter.
I recommend to place a temporary dowel in the eyes hole in order to keep the head from moving during the sanding process.
Step 5: Add Wings and Eyes
So far, we have a blind wingless dragon. It's time to make him fly by gluing 2 wings on each side. As for the eyes, cut a dowel slightly larger than the head, make the ends round and paint it black.
Step 6: Feed the Dragon
Now is time for you to feed the dragon through the opening at the base of the neck.
When it's time to get that fancy new bike, you can get your money back by pushing the eyes out of their socket and flip the head backwards. You will smell the smoky dragon's breath (that's why the laser cutter is THE ideal tool for this project) and you'll be able to pour the money out of the belly.