Picture of Big Brass Ones
Everyone should have a Pair

of Big Brass Dice.

With Father's day coming up, I wanted to do something a little different. Now, dad plays a lot of board games and occasionally I've seen him have to squint a bit to see how the dice wound up.

I used to work in a gaming store (board, not video) and saw a lot of dice styles cross the counter. One of them was the long polygon style from Crystal Caste. I liked the basic idea and its stuck in the back of my mind ever since I first saw them.

Now that I thought of doing something for Dad, the two things, easy to read dice and the "rolling log" style from Crystal Caste clicked and I was off to the races. The fact that I could make up a little box and label it "Big Brass Ones - One Pair" when giving it to him was too good to pass up.

I did a test run with a threaded rod coupling nut (instructable here) and liked the result. Now it was on to the real stuff - Solid Brass 360 Alloy hexagon stock.

Here was where my love of steampunk came in handy. I have been following the adventures of Jake von Slatt at Steampunk Workshop and saw that he has a nice tutorial on etching brass with chemicals that I could get locally, unlike circuit board etching acid. At this point it was time to gather my tools and materials and dive in.

This is a continuation of my dice themed instructables. My dice tower tutorial is available here. This one should be towards the end of the dice theme - I'm running out of new ideas.

NOTE: As part of the Etsy/Instructable contest, I have made a few extra pair and put them up for sale on Etsy. While making your own is part of the fun, perhaps you don't have the time or tools needed. Not to worry! Now you too can have your own Pair of Big Brass Ones.

Check out the listing on Etsy and see if any of these bad boys are still available. Order early and often!

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darth2o7 years ago
Those look realllllly nice. But too bad I don't have the machinery to make them... :(
_soapy_ darth2o2 years ago
If you still want to make these, you could do it with just a hacksaw and a file really. The bar is bought hex shaped. Just hacksaw to length, etch it and then hand file the corners.

Of course, you've probably got plenty more gear these days.
why not just use a file and screwdriver or something? may waste a lil more material by filing it, and the numbers may not be as precise cause you'r just chisiling it off, but it would be nice
chriskarr6 years ago
Good idea for the etching solution, although I usually just use baking soda - that way my parents don't know that I'm plating/etching. My dad thinks that it puts off harmful chemicals, but hasn't read up on it and doesn't realize that it's the sodium chloride solutions that put off chlorine gas. Where can I get the root kill solution? And is there a specific brand? I'm only 15, so it may be conspicuous if I buy this in large quantities, seeing as it may easily be used as an explosive additive or used to make drugs. Most fifteen-year-olds don't have root-killing needs... Also, how much did it cost for the brass plate and the brass barstock? Honestly, my friend, I'm sorry that I'm asking so many questions, but this seems like a cool thing to make and I hope to do it right.
scottredd6 years ago
Very nice. Well documented, clear photos with marked up descriptions plus unique idea and perfect execution makes this an awesome Instructable. Who knew one could cut and etch metal like that in with modest home shop equipment? I remember as a kid I would take a crayon to my acrylic D&D dice to fill in the numbers. Then I'd buff it with a paper towel to remove the excess wax. I wonder if that would work to color the etched letters. I bet it would come out over time, especially if the dice are thrown.
mage scottredd6 years ago
to bad D&D dice are too hard to make out of metal. id try to etch brass 20-sided dice :D
One could use rubber or plastic material around the edges of each number to buffer it from glass or other hard surfaces...perhaps Liquid Tape (like normal electrical tape but in liquid form)?
foobear3 years ago
my god that's beautiful. root kill for etching brass. wow!!!
Garlikguy4 years ago
First thing i said when I read this - "that's cool."
GreyGhost25 years ago
Could you use Letter stamps to number the dice?  (Words or Numerals)

I made a pair of dice from 50mm (2in) cube mild steel.  I drilled the dots then hammered in brass rod.  I then sanded it flat and smooth.  I then rounded the edges and corners.  I made a second pair from 32mm cube (1 1/4 i think).  Not i must say, to be played with on a glass top table.

Nice instructable, i look forward to trying it.
Aaronius5 years ago
For the Brass Hex stock, McMaster-Carr [www.mcmaster.com] has a 3 ft piece for $28.92. Their part # 8952k123.
knorseth5 years ago
What is the power supply you are using, voltage, etc. What works best?
H3xx6 years ago
Epic Win on the name dude! it really caught my eye!
pudi.dk6 years ago
I have all on hand except the 1 amp 12V power supply. I have one 500 milliaps but can I then just run it for twice as long.
whamodyne (author)  pudi.dk6 years ago
That should work. It's ok to pull the brass out of the solution to check it out. I generally do that and use a toothbrush to lightly brush off the crud that is building up on the dice themselves.
EnigmaMax6 years ago
this... sounds naughty. it reminds me of the broiler boss on conker's bad fur day.
puffyfluff7 years ago
Awesome! I love it. Great idea, too! I need to make some.
Redgerr7 years ago
OMG i want one!!!!!!11!!1!! shame you ran out :( i wouda bought like 50 of em :\ lol welp, thanks for the idea anyow :)
on the last step you mention using laquer and other finishes. From my good old metals class a few semesters ago, Turtle wax every now and then works wonders. also a more solid finish is a mixture of Flux paste and alcohol. Soak the piece in the mixture and then pull it out and light it on fire. the alcohol is burned off and the flux is sealed.
Clayton H.7 years ago
You should make a bunch of these and sell them on amazon for like $25 USD.
bad apple7 years ago
To the maker of this: You are GOD!!!! These are teh mosted awesomest thing I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dr.Paj7 years ago
Just don't throw them too hard on a glass table, it would not be a great father's day present, the broken glass not the dice.
u2beal9997 years ago
What type of primer do you use when making this? If it's an acrylic primer you can use spray oven cleaner, such as Easy Off, to dissolve the acrylic primer and paint. I use oven cleaner all the time when cleaning mold release and unsatisfactory paint jobs off my resin models. Spray thoroughly and let sit in a sink for 10-15 minutes, then scrub with a toothbrush while rinsing under running water. Works like a charm, though occasionally I will need to re-do the application if some bits of paint are being stubborn. From what I understand, oven cleaners should not be used with aluminum because it will pit the metal, but it possibly could work with the bronze. Just an idea. Love the dice though!
John Smith7 years ago
Can you etch steel plate that way?
Yeah. I have some examples of steel etched if anybody wants.
I'd like to see.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13821724@N05/ theres a link to my flickr where you can find the images of a book title plate I've made. It's a hunk of steel I shaped square on a grinder then masked by printing the negative on a sheet of glossy ink jet photo paper with a laser printer. Ironed on, then wetted off. Just to note, the pits in the metal are purposeful.
Wow! That's cool!
Thank you!
murkett17 years ago
Nice work, haw deep is the final etch?
You have my favorite tool! The Veritas pocket square in the last step. So handy that when I thought I lost mine I called Lee Valley and asked why the don't offer it anymore. The guy said that they were selling it as having the same accuracy as a machinist's square but couldn't find a manufacturer who could consistently provide that. Dumb reasoning.
Soooo badass. Awesome and really thorough!
Jafafa Hots8 years ago
Here's an idea to make the lettering stand out more - glass. Get some glass enameling beads, super cheap... you can;t use an enameling kiln because the glass in the faces you have already done would slump out as you did the new sides... But if you use a torch to melt the beads it might work. Fill each side with a different color, or just with black glass on all sides for a classy look. Or maybe cobalt blue! Nice, shiny smooth glass, flush with the brass, or slightly inset. You would have to re-polish the brass after doing this because of scale from the heating.
Oh and I forgot, you have to use a chemical to treat the insides of the lettering to make the glass adhere, but that's cheap and easy, a bottle should be available and instructions should be available at any enameling resource. Check out Dick Blicks, or enasco.com for supplies.
whamodyne (author)  Jafafa Hots8 years ago
Interesting idea. I might try that in the future - I do love art glass.
Should be fairly easy to try... the enameling beads are more like a powder - just fill in the letters and melt, essentially.
Those are pretty awesome but isn't it easier to cut a few squares and use a drill to make small indentions?
whamodyne (author)  HurdyGurdyMan8 years ago
No. I don't have the equipment to make a perfectly square (to 0.001") piece of metal. I could make some sloppy rectangles but that wouldn't be the same. Besides, the "rolling log" style dice is different enough to count as funky.
BlackBlade8 years ago
It is simple but really creative + cool
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