Instructions for Constructing a Simple Wooden Gumball Machine

Written by david hill
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Instructions for Constructing a Simple Wooden Gumball Machine
A gum ball machine can be constructed at home, without the need for using complex mechanisms. (bubblegum image by Tomasz Plawski from

Building a simple gum ball machine---using scrap wood and tools commonly used by both professional and amateur woodworkers---can help develop the skills required for more complex projects, while surprising friends and family with a working, home-made gift.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Safety glasses
  • Stock wood
  • Table saw
  • Gauge block
  • Push stick
  • Dado saw blade
  • Router
  • Mason jar
  • Power drill
  • Wood screws
  • Gum balls

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  1. 1

    Draw the gum ball machine plans on paper, including all measurements and features, such as trim design. Ensure that all cuts are made according to a guide or template to reduce the risks of ill fitting parts and wasting stock wood. Use the tape measure and a pencil to mark the locations of all cuts, holes and dadoes required.

  2. 2

    Don safety glasses to prevent any eye injuries while working with power tools. Inspect power tools for damages and missing safety features. Install or repair parts and equipment as required. Set the table saw blade to the appropriate depth and position, using the procedures outlined in the manufacturer's instructions. Turn the power on and cut the stock wood to length, by pushing the material through the table saw blade. Use the push stick when smaller stock must be run. Avoid positioning fingers and hands within three inches of the saw blade, to prevent serious injuries from occurring.

  3. 3

    Disconnect power to the table saw and install the dado cutting blade. Install or remove any additional safety features or guards required, such as the gauge block. Turn on the power. Run the gum ball slider, cut from the stock wood, with the gauge block back and forth through the dado blade. Visually inspect the cut after each run, and reposition the stock wood, as needed. Repeat the process with the appropriate stock wood, ensuring the gumball lever can easily slide through the groove.

  4. 4

    Use the router to cut a hole, sized slightly larger than the gum balls, through the lid of the mason jar and the top section of the stock wood. Assemble the gum ball machine using the power drill and wood screws, to fasten each piece of stock together. Fill the mason jar with gum balls and tightly secure it to the lid.

Tips and warnings

  • Instructional guides may be available online or in woodworking catalogues and magazines, for a fee.
  • Turn off the power to any tool or equipment when you are finished with it.

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