This project is sponsored by Arrow Fastener.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of this DIY candy dispenser that I made for Halloween!! (They’re almost as cool as these easy DIY ghost lights for your porch!)
I got this crazy idea in my head that I was going to repurpose a thrifted fish bowl into a DIY candy dispenser. You know how we do here at Thrift Diving: it’s fun to find new uses for things!
Actually, the idea was more like, “Hmmm….I think I’m going to make a DIY candy dispenser….” but I really had no idea how I was going to do it. I just figured a fishbowl would work pretty good, although I hadn’t seen it done before.
Don’t ask me how in the world I was able to pull it off, but I did! LOL
All I knew is that I had a vision of what it could look like on the outside with a fishbowl, but I had no idea how the inner workings would be constructed.
But somehow, I figured it out! And it’s totally cute, right??
Here’s the awesome part: it actually works.
Let’s talk about the tools and materials that I used to create this. The key thing you need is a glass or plastic fishbowl (on the right).
But if you find any type of round glass or plastic, it can be repurposed into a DIY candy dispenser! Just be very careful with the glass. Some of these glass containers aren’t very thick and if you drop it or hit it with a little force, it can break.
Tools & Materials to Make a DIY Candy Dispenser
- Glass fishbowl from the thrift store or plastic fish bowl (but you can use any round glass or plastic)
- 3/4” plywood
- 1/4″ plywood
- Arrow Fastener PT18G brad nailer
- Air compressor
- 1-1/4” brad nails
- Jig saw
- Power drill
- Drill bits
- Arrow Fastener GT300 hot glue gun
- Wooden dowel
- Speed square
- Wood glue
- Paint or stain
How to Make DIY Candy Dispensers Out of Wood!
Watch this project on my YouTube channel! It’s a bit lengthy because in the video I share with you how to use some of the most popular power tools in order to make these DIY candy dispensers!
STEP 1: Measure the DIY Candy Dispenser Top
I don’t like to do projects that involve a lot of math. There are just too many opportunities to mess it up. 🙂 Instead, I like to use easy ways to try to find the center when doing a project.
To start this project, start at the corner of a piece of 3/4″ plywood.
Measured in 1” from one edge, and on the adjacent edge, measure in another 1″. The further in you measure, the larger your DIY candy dispense will be. You can make your DIY candy dispenser whatever size you want. You don’t want it to look awkwardly big; I found at 1″ – 2″ max works well.
Draw a line to connect the marks, but don’t worry yet about drawing the other lines yet to complete the square which will be the DIY candy dispenser top.
Place the fish bowl upside down with the edges of the fish bowl rim touching the two lines.
Use a pencil to draw the outline of the rim. (This will be the opening that you’ll soon cut out with a jig saw).
Now that the circle is drawn, it’s easy to measure 1″ from the other sides of the circle to complete the square. Your circle may not be perfectly centered in the middle of the square, but it’s fine.
Lastly, create an “X” across the square by drawing straight lines across the square from end to end. Where the lines intersect will be the center (or close to it!) of the circle you had traced from the fish bowl opening.
At that center point where the lines intersect, draw a smaller circle using a compass, or tracing out a small round item, to create a hole that will be the hole from which the candy drops through.
When you’re done making all your lines, the top of the candy dispenser should look similar to this:
STEP 2: Cut Out the DIY Candy Dispenser Top
Using the diagram above, this is how I like to cut out the top piece of the DIY candy dispenser:
STEP 1: Cut out the small center circle. (Discard this little scrap wood).
STEP 2: Cut out the bigger circle using a jigsaw (Be sure to keep this circle. You’ll need it later).
STEP 3: Cut out the top edge and left edge of the square which will complete the top of your DIY candy dispenser.
It’s easier to cut out the small circle first because it’s easier to clamp your bigger piece of wood securely to a table in order to make the cut outs.
To cut out the small candy dispensing hole, use a small drill bit in your power drill and cut out a pilot hole first.
Then, insert a scroll saw blade into the pilot hole to begin cutting out the small circle. The piece that drops out can be thrown away.
Next, cut out the larger circle in the same way: cut a small pilot hole close to its edge, then insert your scroll saw blade into the hole and cut out the larger circle. Instead of throwing this circle away, keep it because it will soon be glued to the bottom of the fish bowl.
Lastly, cut out the square. Now your DIY candy dispenser top is done. Time to move on to the body pieces.
STEP 3: Measure and Cut Out the Sides, Front, and Back of the Candy Dispenser
There is only one rule for how tall to make your DIY candy dispenser: don’t make it too short because we’ll be creating an inside mechanism and you’ll need to leave enough room for that. But you can see below that it’s starting to take shape!
STEP 4: Assemble the Candy Dispenser Box
Once the sides, front, and back are cut, my recommendation is to attach the front at this point. Leave the back off until later, because you’ll need some room to assemble some things, such as the sliding lever. But you can dry-fit the pieces to make sure they fit well together.
(Note: I didn’t make a bottom for my candy dispenser). I wanted to leave the bottom open in case I need to make any adjustments to it; I would need to easily access it).
I personally think it’s easy to make these cuts when the box is assembled, but you may find it’s easier to make these cuts and adjustments to the pieces before it’s assembled.
I’ll continue as if you’ll also wait until the box is constructed, like I did. 🙂
Use wood glue on the edges and 1-1/4” brad nails with the Arrow Fastener PT18G brad nailer to secure the DIY candy dispenser.
STEP 5: Glue the Circle to the Bottom of the Candy Dispenser
Remember the circle that was previously cut out and saved? This circle will be glued to the bottom of the fish bowl. Before gluing it to the bottom of the fish bowl, though, make sure that it actually fits easily through the hole. Sand down the wooden circle so that it easily fits through the hole.
Once it is smooth, use an Arrow Fastener glue gun (GT300) to secure the wooden circle to the bottom of the fish bowl.
STEP 6: Create the Lever on the DIY Candy Dispenser
The next step is to create a sliding lever that will be held in place with a couple pieces of trim hot glued to the circle that will allow you to slide the lever back and forth, allowing the candy to be dispensed.
You can make your own pieces of wood if you’ve got scrap wood. Or you can go to the hardware store and buy some ready-made pieces of trim. When a larger piece of trim is glued to a smaller piece, it created a 1/4″ rabbet edge. No router needed! I love short-cuts like this. 🙂
Cut the slimmer of the two sizes of trim and hot glue them to the circle on top of the DIY candy dispenser. Be sure not to extend the trim over the edge or else it could prevent it from fitting inside of the base when it’s turned over to be seated inside of the base.
Also, use a tape measure to record the distance between these two pieces of trim. That is the width of the slider that you’ll make in a moment.
Next, hot glue the wider piece of trim on top of the slimmer trim, making sure the edges are lined up and that there is a 1/4″ edge to fit the lever.
The lever will be a 1/4″ thick piece of plywood (or even slimmer, if possible) and it should easily slide between the pieces of trim without lifting out.
To make the lever, use the measurement from between the trim and cut out your lever to that width. For its length, make it extra long. Don’t worry, because you’ll be able to trim it down later. Cut a small hole on the end with a brad point tip drill bit and power drill and glue in a small piece of dowel on the end. The dowel will prevent the slide lever from falling out of the DIY candy dispenser.
Mark and cut a hole in the center of the lever using your power drill (for a pilot hole) and the jigsaw, or you can also use a 1″ spade bit with a power drill, as well.
Next, cut out windows for the sliding lever to slide back and forth through the DIY candy dispenser, which will be the mechanism that allows the candy to dispense. To figure out where these two windows will be, turn the DIY candy dispenser over and mark where the sliding lever touches the wood. This is where you’ll need to cut a window that is wide and tall enough to allow the sliding lever to slide through so it’s got some “wiggle room” to move. Use the power drill and jigsaw to cut the windows out.
It should look like this when you’re done cutting the windows, allowing the slider to slide through the DIY candy dispenser.
You’ll need to spend a little time with this part so that you can determine where the lever needs to start and stop so that the candy can start and stop when pulled. When the slider is slide in, it should be “closed.” And as it’s sliding towards you, it will “open” and allow the candy to fall through. Once the candy falls through and “stops” again, figure out where the dowel will need to be placed on the back end slider.
To make the stopper on the back, drill a hole similar to the front, and place a dowel with a piece of wood hot glued on top in the shape of a “T.”. This will be a removable “locking” clip on the back of the slider to keep it from being pulled out all the way.
(When you want to remove the candy dispenser from its back, simply remove the sliding lever and lift the fish bowl candy dispenser out of the base to refill it).
STEP 7: Create the Inside Candy Slide
The candy needs a way to slide down to an opening of the DIY candy dispenser. Used something round and trace a half circle window. Cut it out with the jigsaw.
Next, cut a piece of wood that will be glued inside at an angle. It works best to use your jigsaw to cut the bottom that will rest on the table at a 45-degree angle. Watch my tutorial on how to use a jigsaw for instructions on how to adjust the jigsaw to make this cut.
Once the slide is glued inside of the DIY candy dispenser body, you’ll want to use some of your 1/4 plywood and cut triangles to hot glue to the inside to prevent the candy from getting stuck in the corners. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be neat and tidy! Just as long as the candy can’t get stuck.
Looking down into the candy dispenser, with your two triangles glued in the corners, it creates a sloped slide for the candy to fall down and out the window. At this point, it will drop onto the table it’s sitting on. If you want something to catch the candy, you can get creative to make a way to catch the candy. I didn’t care to make a catch. 🙂
STEP 8: Paint and Decorate!
One thing I learned during the painting and decorating of this DIY candy dispenser is to NOT paint the sliding lever. The paint will cause it to swell and it could become thick and stuck, not sliding very easily. Everything else is fair game!
DIY Candy Dispensers!
And to create the scary vinyl face on the new “pumpkin” head, I used my Cricut to cut the black vinyl to make the pumpkin face!
Aren’t these absolutely adorable?! I love them. And I like that they actually work! I learned that when painting these DIY candy dispensers, though, that you definitely don’t want to paint the little sliding lever because it swells up the wood and can make it hard to slide the lever. So if you make this, skip painting the lever.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Head to ArrowFastener.com for more inspiration and tools for your projects!
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