Introduction: Cast a Die (Or Dice)

Picture of Cast a Die (Or Dice)

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.

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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!


Ethan1023 (author)2016-09-20

I guess you could say it was "die-cast". Hahaha...

EnzamusP (author)Ethan10232017-03-25

Ow... that one hurt...

You beat me to it ;)

Ethan1023 (author)EnzamusP2017-03-26

Aaw psyche!

irish2ice (author)2016-04-06

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

EnzamusP (author)irish2ice2017-03-25

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.

RichardS137 (author)2016-04-03

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!

HOUDINI2 (author)RichardS1372016-09-28

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 ?

RichardS137 (author)HOUDINI22016-09-28

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

KellyD3 (author)RichardS1372016-06-14

Really? Who cares.

imyxhuang (author)RichardS1372016-04-03

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.)

MimkeD234 (author)RichardS1372016-04-03

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).

TankGirl1980 (author)2016-04-12

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

imcp1024 (author)2016-04-02

you aren't worried about oxidization?

Nickw50 (author)imcp10242016-04-04

oxidasion is for copper, not zinc

imcp1024 (author)Nickw502016-04-04

Zinc oxide is sunscreen..

Gadget93 (author)2016-04-04

Well said.

zombie_hunter614 (author)2016-04-03

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?

zach.thornton.750 (author)2015-03-17

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

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!

bergerab (author)2015-01-26

Awesome instructable! I love how sleek the final product looks (not to mention how how cheap it is to make one of these)

Kyleluvspets (author)bergerab2015-02-16

thanks! Costed a few cents

etolar (author)2015-01-20

Does the foam have to be polystyrene foam? Or does any soft foam work? Where would one find polystyrene foam?

Logan Hanssen (author)etolar2015-02-13

You might be able to find some at the hardware store as vent covers for your house

Kyleluvspets (author)etolar2015-01-22

has to be polystyrene, which is the normal white foam with the beads that you get in packages and stuff

jackowens (author)2015-01-25

So you are just using a butane torch to melt the pennies, then immediately pouring the liquid metal into your cast via a spoon? I just want to make sure I got this right before I attempt this :)

Kyleluvspets (author)jackowens2015-01-30

Yup. that's it.

jackowens (author)Kyleluvspets2015-01-30


yaesen (author)2015-01-17

Just a quick note: to know where to put the numbers on the die, the sum of 2 opposite faces is 7. Always.

Kyleluvspets (author)yaesen2015-01-17

I made this quickly and didn't care of that much. haha. would have if I knew it mattered.

mountainmasha (author)2015-01-16

I love this. Will have to try.

Enriquethefieldmouse (author)2015-01-14

Looks great! I assume you just used a drill to create the markings?

yeah, too difficult to put it into the foam for the casting.

Enriquethefieldmouse (author)2015-01-14

Looks great! I assume you just used a drill to create the markings?

peppypickle (author)2015-01-13

really awesome Instructable - and I love the homemade touch of giving an entire set of dice - you've got my vote!

Kyleluvspets (author)peppypickle2015-01-14

thanks man, thought she would love it.

s1000 (author)2015-01-13

cool idea but isn't it dangerous

Kyleluvspets (author)s10002015-01-14

yes, I even dropped the spoon and the molten metal burned through my crocs (I know) and caught my sock on fire. I was able to get it off fast enough though.

drakeschaefer (author)2015-01-12

Did you balance it like traditional dice, or is this more of a show piece? Great project either way!

more of a shoe piece. it's so. solid it doesn't even roll nicely anyways.

acuchetto (author)2015-01-12

So, you used casting sand?

Kyleluvspets (author)acuchetto2015-01-14

no, I used regular sand.

harbor_ma (author)2015-01-14

I am the first!

Straklin (author)2015-01-12

Nice job! I'm a gamer and this would be a cool gift for my friends. Thanks for the inspiration!

trygger61 (author)2015-01-12

wow that is very smart and a very original gift idea, its only a small point but the numbers on opposite sides of dice always add up to seven, so four should be on the opposite side to three,

NTT (author)2015-01-12

This is such a nice thought. I bet your teacher loved it!

acuchetto (author)2015-01-12

Nice job! Could you help me better understand your process better? Did you put your shaped piece of foam (regular styrofoam?) to be cast into a plastic cup full of regular sand?

Kyleluvspets (author)acuchetto2015-01-12

yes, it is regular foam, not florists foam. You can use regular sand if you have it but casting sand is finer. Just what ever you have avaialable to you.

tomatoskins (author)2015-01-12

This turned out looking great!

About This Instructable




Bio: 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 ... More »
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