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How to make a DIY gumball machine

Make your own DIY gumball machine and fill it with sweets for a fun-filled papercraft project – it’s easy with our free templates and the Brother ScanNCut!

120 mins  Medium

A gumball machine is the ultimate gift for the young – or young at heart – person in your life and this DIY version is so easy to make. Using card, acetate and free templates, you can create this fun gadget in just a couple of hours. Of course, a ScanNCut will make light work of the project and you’ll even get free SVG files so you can send them directly to your machine. The only thing you need to decide is which card to use!

This tutorial uses a traditional red base, paired with polka dot paper from the Trimcraft Chasing Rainbows 12 x 12" paper pad. The handle, faux coin slot, and tray have also been given a chrome-style finish with the Hunkydory silver Mirri card.

If you like this DIY gumball machine project, then why not check out more ScanNCut projects? Each one comes with free templates and SVG files, so it’s easy to get started!

How to make

You can make this gumball machine with or without a Brother ScanNCut. Either way, you’ll want to start by downloading and printing your exclusive DIY gumball machine PDF templates (colour and non-colour options available) or the individual SVG files from the bottom of this page. Once complete, and you have compiled the items listed in the upcoming 'Shopping list' tab, simply follow the instructions in the 'Method' tab...

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  •   A Brother ScanNCut machine (optional)
  •   Brother adhesive mat, standard or low tack
  •   Your exclusive templates (below)
  •   Card
  •   Acetate
  •   Adhesive
  •   Gumballs (or other sweets)

01.  If you have a ScanNCut, just print out the colour version and carefully cut out all the parts using a pair of scissors, then skip ahead to step 5. You could even print out the black and white version and colour it however you like!

One of the great things about the ScanNCut is its compatibility with SVG files. So, if you’d prefer an SVG file, simply click the links below! You can save it onto a USB, which can be plugged into your ScanNCut machine, or you can import it into Canvas Workspace and send via wireless to your machine – it’s entirely up to you!

02.  Next, choose your card. This design uses the ‘classic’ gumball machine colours: red, silver and a little bit of jazz. Burnish the card down well onto the Brother adhesive mat. The Brother ScanNCut 4" brayer/roller works really well as you can apply lots of pressure and not scuff or damage your cardstock.

03.  Load your Brother adhesive mat into your machine and instruct it to start cutting the first part of your DIY gumball machine.

04.  Peel off the first part of your DIY gumball machine and put it to one side. Load up your adhesive mat with the next colour and instruct it to cut the base, tray, mechanism, and details. Then, load up some acetate and instruct your ScanNCut to cut the windows.

05.  To assemble the box at the top of the DIY gumball machine, take your acetate windows and glue one behind each of the open trapezium-shaped windows on your box. Use a glue that dries clear (with a very fine nozzle) or use skinny, clear, double-sided tape.

06.  Once the glue is dry (if you used wet glue), fold along the score lines, and fold the box together. Use skinny double-sided tape as some of the tabs are quite narrow. Once your box is constructed it will become much stronger and more rigid.

Do not put adhesive on the wider tabs with the rounded corners around the hexagon at the top of the box, as this is where the box opens and closes (so you can fill it up with sweets).

07.  Time for the mechanism! Start with the axle – this is the long, skinny part that secures the handle to the mechanism. Concertina fold the axle and glue it together. In cross-section, it should look like the shape of a cross. Pritt Stick or wet glue is ideal for this, so leave it to dry.

Pay attention to the very fine dotted lines that run horizontally around the axle - these are not score lines, they are markers for where to position the next part of the mechanism.

Concertina fold the larger mechanism part (this is the scoop for your gumballs) and fold around the axle from the previous step, using a Pritt Stick or wet glue to secure it in place.

Remember those marker lines? Position your scoop in between these marker lines - this is important as it will ensure the correct positioning when we come to assemble the gumball machine.

08.  Take the two larger washers, and thread one on each end of your mechanism. Push the washers right up close against the scoop and get it right into the corners for a secure hold. You do not need to glue them; they will hold themselves in position.

09.  To make the base, fold along the dotted lines to pre-fold the shape before applying the adhesive. Put adhesive on the small strip adjacent to the hexagon, and fold together to create a 'ledge'. The position of this ledge will help you to align the other sides.

10.  Put adhesive on the other tabs on the hexagonal ledge and wrap the sides of the box around the hexagon ledge. Stop before you secure the last two sides, as you’ll need to slip the mechanism before the box is closed.

11.  Thread the mechanism through the two holes in the base. The short part of the axle goes out the back, and the long part goes out the front (the front is where the notch for the tray is). Glue the final two sides of the base together, enclosing the mechanism.

12.  Slide the smaller washer onto the back, then fold down the tabs to hold it in place. Put glue on the back of the final washer (the one without the +) and glue on top to hide the folds.

13.  Next, you’re going to add the handle. Pre-fold along the dotted lines on the handle, but don't glue it just yet. Thread the handle onto the front of the axle, one side at a time. Start by going through the back of the handle (while it’s still flat), then, once this is on, fold the handle round and work the axle through the other side. Once it's through both sides, fold the tabs out to secure the handle and glue the side flap down.

Fold the handle topper together into an open rectangle shape, put glue on the underside, and slide over the handle to hide the folds.

14.  Almost there! Fold together the tray and glue it together. The two trapezoid shapes and the small rectangle are to glue onto the sides and front of the tray to add strength to the construction, and to cover the back of the card if you're using one-sided cardstock.

15.  Slide the tray up into the base and glue it into position, with the tray protruding through the notch in the front of the base. The large tab at the back will line up with the bottom of the base, to ensure you get it in the right position. Push the two side tabs up as high as they will go and glue them down to secure.

16.  Put adhesive along the tabs on the top of the base and stick the box down on top. Take note of where the hinge on the top box is as this will determine whether your opening is at the front or the back.

Now all that's left to do is to fill up your DIY gumball machine! America's Original Dubble Bubble gumballs are a great for this, but Maoam Pinballs, Skittles and Jelly Beans all work well too. Enjoy!