Friday, September 13, 2013

Baby Food Jar Week: Coin Sorter

Continuing on the theme of confessions, here is today's edition: My husband and I are nerds. And I am completely okay with that. How nerdy, you ask? Well, let me describe our most recent date night to you. I was trying to come up with a final project for baby food jar week. Patrick first suggested coating the inside with metal and making a resonating chamber, though he reasoned that it might be a bit hard to tune. I kind of shot down that idea because I have no idea what we would use a resonating chamber for and didn't think you all wanted to read about my making it. After discussing a few more options, we came up with this fabulous date night activity: we had a competition to see who could build the better coin sorter using baby food jars as the vessels to catch the coins.

Now, who won? Well, that is tricky. We both began with ideas that didn't really work. Mine didn't work more than his didn't work, however, so I abandoned it quicker and started another one, which also didn't work, so I abandoned it. Then I cheated and looked up how people make Lego coin sorters and got a few pointers. I was finally able to make something that worked.

Coin sorting is apparently a rather exact science. Patrick and I would both like to publicly declare that we don't understand whoever decided to make the dime and penny so close in size. In spite of that, the design is rather simple, it is just cutting the exact right sizes of holes that is difficult. So without further ado, I give you my winning (with cheating) design.

I took a rectangle of cardboard that was about an inch and a half longer than four baby food jars in a row. I scored two parallel lines down the middle spaced by about a quarter inch. I used these lines to fold up the sides to make a narrow kind of box.

Next, I cut four holes in the locations where the center of the jars would be if I put them right next to each other and centered the row on my cardboard. The bottom of each hole was adjacent to one of my lines. The holes were squares almost the same size as coins and they were in order from smallest (dime) to biggest (quarter). When this is held at an angle and a coin is dropped down from the dime side, dimes should fall out the first hole, then pennies, nickles, and finally quarters. I would cut the holes on the small side at first and then gradually increase the hole size until the right coin will fall out, but the next biggest will not.

I cut a paper towel roll in two sections, one larger than the other, and attached them to either end of the project with hot glue so that the ramp was angled between them. It was tricky to get this at just the right angle to get the coins to fall out, but it is possible.

I planned on painting this whole thing, but the cat that has adopted us showed up and I didn't want to paint the cat on accident (it is a very affectionate cat and we don't even feed it). Hence the reason the middle part is blue, but not the stands.

Perhaps I should note that for me the most exciting part about this project is the building. It could be a really fun project for older kids that like to solve puzzles (or a nerdy couple having a date night). As a coin sorter, it isn't really the most practical. You can only put in one coin at a time, and at that point, you might as well sort them yourself.

See the rest of Baby Food Jar Week:
Tea Candle Holders
Storage Vessels
Christmas Ornaments


  1. What fun! You are right, the making of the thing is the best part.


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