Cast a Die (Or Dice)

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Introduction: Cast a Die (Or Dice)

About: Just a small town boy, living in a lonely world. Follower and disciple of God. I build and invent things from knives to pocket notebooks and everything in between.

I made a die out of metal for an end of the semester present for the best teacher ever. One of the best times in that class was when we illegally recreated the board game "Catan". She made photos copies of the cards and board and even laminated it. We had the some pretty awesome games I might add. She is moving now and I wanted to make something so she could remember 2nd period bio. So what better than a new die to put in our class game? This one's for you, Mrs. Jenny!

Step 1: Cut Out Foam Casting.

Using a hot exacto knife or a foam wire, cut out the exact form or shape you want the final product to look like on some polystyrene foam. Don't add too much detail, as this is easier done once the metal is cast. You also want to make a small rectangle coming out of the top where you will be pouring in the molten metal. Submerge this into the sand cup until only the top of the rectangle is barely at the sand level. Your form is now ready to be cast.

Step 2: Melt and Pour

I am using new pennies as the metal to cast with. It is easier to get and melt, and literally only costs a few cents. Also, the zinc won't rust like steel or iron would. When melting pretty much any metal, make sure to remove impurities, so take out the dark grey foil crap that ends up being in the mixture. This stuff actually burns, a beautiful blue, green and lime yellow but isn't very safe. you should be left with a large metallic bubble that is shiny. Heat this up to a nice viscosity and pour it on the top of the foam. The foam will burn away in seconds, leaving a beautiful casting of zinc in place. Pour out the sand into a container exposing the casting. Don't pull it out from the top as this can cause the still new casting to bend.

Step 3: Clean It Up

Cut off any excess from pouring and begin to file down the rough sides. Use a rather fine file instead of course to add accuracy and precision to you finally product. After you are satisfied with the filing, begin to sand the a smooth finish. Be sure to get all rough edges and corners.

Step 4: Add Fine Detail and Finish.

Add all the fine details you want and sand down will a fine grit. Finish it to a mirror with some ultra-fine steel wool. Congrats! Your done!

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49 Comments

Ow... that one hurt...

You beat me to it ;)

I wonder what pre-1982 pennies would come out looking like since they were primarily copper? A copper die?

1 reply

It would be a heck of a lot more difficult to do it though, copper is very finicky compared to zinc. Oxidizes and slags more regularly, needs more heat, eats steel when the crucible is made of it... copper sucks to cast with at hobby level. But in all fairness, it does look very pretty when it comes out.

I believe there is a U.S. federal law against defacing or otherwise causing harm to United States money, including pennies. Be careful with what you do with your pennies!

5 replies

It is not against the law in the USA to burn money or melt coins into something else. It is against the law to change a bill to a different denomination or to make your own currency, Look it up Richard S137, if you have the ability to reply on here then you have the ability to look it up, so why say " I believe " when you can look it up yourself ?

So at this point in my life who really cares, I don't!

Really? Who cares.

I'm quite certain it's legal for educational or recreational use.

You just can't do it on a massive scale in an organization for the purpose of getting cheap metal, though. (Although I doubt this is the cheapest way of getting metal.)

The law prohibits changing the currency to look like a currency of a higher value. As in, I can't write a zero next to the one and say that I have a ten dollar bill. That would be illegal.

So long as you're not using the defaced currency as actual currency, you're not going to be prosecuted for it. And yes, the officials have come out and said as much. Check with the mint, they get this question all the time. (Besides, with this Instructable, all you have left is zinc. There's no way of proving that it ever came from a penny to begin with).

My husband made one of these when he was in school. I still have it ツ

oxidasion is for copper, not zinc

Zinc oxide is sunscreen..

The pips are wrong. the opposite side should add up to one more than the total sides of the die. 3 opposite 4, 6 and 1 etc. With that said it is a nifty idea for a decorative piece. I am curious as the the balance of the die. does it roll even or does it favor a number more than another?

How does the mold work? the sand is an insulator and does not melt when pouring molten zinc next to it?

2 replies

for a better explanation grant Thompson made a video on basically the same thing

Molten zinc isn't very hot. Sand takes a lot of heat to melt. The sand acts as a filler so the zinc stays where the foam was and doesn't go all over the place!