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Picture of Making a Formboard Dice Tower
Playing tabletop games is one of the joys in life. Sometimes the board takes up all of the table and there's nowhere to roll the dice, and sometimes your buddy has mastered the wrist action to get the roll he wants that perhaps you don't want him to get.

A dice tower is a common way of keeping the dice on the table while making the roll totally random. A blend of form and function, this instructable will show you how to make one out of a sheet of foamboard, some toothpicks, felt and glue. The tower is very sturdy and can easily take a drop or two off the table.

Build a dice tower for you next RPG or board game night then decorate however you wish. I've shown a possible spray paint option but once it's built, the sky's the limit for how it finally looks.

Here is an 8 second video of the dice tower in action. Listen to the melody of the dice hitting the steps on the way down.



Don't miss my other exciting dice themed instructable - "BIG BRASS ONES" available here

Step 1: Get together the tools and materials

Picture of Get together the tools and materials
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You will need an open work area and a surface you can use to cut the foamboard on. I used a large cutting mat but one or two layers of cardboard would be fine.

TOOLS:

  • Metal ruler/straight edge - when cutting foamboard you have the knife riding the edge and it would dig in and cut the edge of plastic or wood rulers.
  • Sharp Knife - A utility knife, a xacto knife, a box cutter style knife, whatever you have will work, just put in a new virgin blade because foamboard wants a sharp edge and dulls it quickly.
  • Blue/non marking masking tape & pen to write on it
  • Wire cutters or large toenail clippers to cut toothpicks with
  • 10 pushpins
  • scrap piece of 2x4 or something solid about that size.
  • small hobby paint brush & cup of water to dunk it in. Cheap brushes are good - you are using this to spread the glue evenly.
  • rag/clean cloth

MATERIALS:

  • printout of the foamboard dice tower.pdf file included with this instructable. 4 pages, just plain ol' regular paper. IMPORTANT: when printing, make sure that the pages are not resized in anyway - pdf viewers always seem to want to shrink the page to fit. It should fit already, there are at least 1/2" margins all around. It needs to print at 100% size to make the templates work.
  • Standard 20" x 30" sheet of foamboard AKA foamcore. In this instructable I'm using the term foamboard but it's also known as foamcore in some areas. Foamboard is basically a thin sheet of foam sandwiched between two layers of thick paper. Total thickness is around 3/16". I had a nice sheet of white laying around and used that. If I did it again, I would pay the extra few $$ and get the black paper and black foam version, so priming it black before painting didn't take so much primer.
  • A box of rounded toothpicks. Make sure it's the rounded version, the flats won't work as well.
  • White glue - I had a bottle of the classic Elmer's
  • Sheet of felt (color of your choice) with adhesive on one side. A 9" x 12" sheet costs under $1 at craft stores/Walmart

OPTIONAL:
  • Carpenter's Glue
  • Spray Paint and/or Primer

 
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lwwz24 days ago

I threw this one together in about an hour with a left-over USPS shipping box and then wrapped it with black Gorilla Tape.

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lwwz lwwz23 days ago

I actually like how the gorilla tape is 'rubbery' enough that it actually makes the dice roll rather than slide down the baffles.

aleksandr90 made it!2 months ago

Hello! First I want to thank you for the instruction pdf! I made this tower out of regular cardboard, but I didn't like the idea of the corrugation showing so I had an idea: mask it with paper then glue thicker paper on it to make it look like it's made of stone. I also added another layer of cardboard at the top to make it look more like an actual tower. This is my result. Thank you again for the plans!

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kurt.devlin5 months ago

PRO TIP: I would recommend using a large serrated bread knife to make the cuts. I used an xacto knife when I made mine and it ripped chunks of the foam core up. I just did a trial run of making some simple cuts using the bread knife and they were as smooth as the factory edges of the foam board.

kurt.devlin made it!5 months ago

I initially started using the plans to make a modified version of this with the tray acting as a lid the the tower could lay down in for easier storage. Then I realized that the tower would likely be loose when passing the whole thing around the table, so I mostly stuck with your plans.

I opted to cut out the individual pieces of the template and try to align them with the edges of the foam board. This minimized cutting and made for cleaner edges. I also added 3/16" tabs to each of the baffles each tab was 1/2" shorten than the overall width of the baffle (1/4" from each side) and then cut out a corresponding slot on each of the slots. I only cut through the inside layer of paper and scraped out the foam in the slot. This made for a snug fit and during the dry fit, the sides and baffles were very sturdy. Prior to final assembly, I spray painted all interior surfaces with flat black and I covered the upped and middle baffles with felt. I found felt with a wide zig zag pattern at Walmart that made a nice directional arrow for the dice. For final assembly I used hot glue.

For finishing, I glued in the final piece of felt to cover the lower baffle and the tray and wrapped the outer tray with black Gorilla tape. I printed out a D&D themed picture on sticker paper and wrapped it around the tower. Then I wrapped the tower with clear Gorilla tape to protect the sticker.

Thanks for the Instructable!

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StephanieS65 months ago

We made a tower from your very good plans, but I cut the tray off and made it separate. The tower now will store laid down in the tray. We painted it to look like an old ivy-covered tower, but....there is a light; someone or something is home.

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mamayama made it!5 months ago

Michael's has castle-shaped birdhouses...so I got out my trusty glue-gun (plus a hammer and chisel, to break apart the glue bonds, and a drill and jigsaw, to cut the holes) and used foamboard for the baffles: Behold, the Castle of Chaos!

Castle of Chaos Dice Tower.tiff
cryanb mamayama5 months ago
Any extra deets on this, time, process, etc? My Michael's carries these, and I'd like to do it, but I am a winning combination of busy, lazy, and all thumbs.
mamayama cryanb5 months ago

It took me about 2-4 hours, I think, but I did it over several days. A good chunk of time was spent in trial-and-error fitting of the foamboard baffles. Run many handfuls of dice through before gluing in final position! I also suffered some crenellation casualties when chiseling the two upper levels off (i.e: those decorative crenellated rims cracked, but I just glued them back after final assembly)...check all the houses when you buy and see if you can find some that are more loosely glued, it'll save you time. You might be able to get the roofs off by firmly and repeatedly slicing at the glue bonds with a razor knife...it would take longer, but you'd probably spend less time gluing broken pieces back, and the cuts would be much neater than chiseling. I saved the square wooden pieces I cut out of the centers of the two upper levels and used pieces of them to make the two uppermost baffles (they look and sound better that way—gives a nice tonal contrast with the dice-on-foamboard sound). To cut out those wooden floors, first drill holes in each interior corner, then use a jig-saw to cut between them. When cutting the foamboard pieces start with the bottom-level trapezoid, narrowest side just wide enough for the opening, opposite side as wide as the castle interior, length a bit longer than the castle floor so it makes a nice slope to the portal; then cut two foamboard rectangles that fit snugly on either side of it, angled as vertical walls to "herd" dice to the narrow opening. Mark on those pieces where you want the baffle above the bottom one to go, and cut them so they'll support that next rectangular baffle (use the PDF on whamodyne's design to help with this, and leave at least an inch of clearance for the dice to get past each baffle). Once the second baffle is placed, I used the wood scraps to make the two upper baffles, and just hot-glued them in place (they don't need all the extra support, being stronger than foamboard). Hot-glue the wood from from the bottom (and the foamboards on the edges) so there are minimal glue-blobs interfering with the falling dice. Glue something decorative in the window (like the glass blob I used) if you'd like before assembling the levels back together, running multiple tests with handfuls of dice, then gluing everything back into place.

mamayama mamayama5 months ago

BTW, if you do end up chiseling the glue bonds, you need to do it gradually or you'll crack the wood. I did a 3 firm taps, moved the chisel, repeat...all the way around the castle, and over again until things finally came loose. If you try to get all the way through in one go you'll crack it for sure. Also take care that the crenellations are not supporting the structure when you're chiseling, or they'll break. Put something under the wall (scrap wood, an old paperback, whatever) to support it while you chisel.

mamayama mamayama5 months ago

Oh, since I wanted to keep the cute little portal as it was, I had to cut the bottom baffle into a blunted triangle, with the short side just wide enough for the portal, and cut two more triangles as side walls (and supports for the upper baffle) to herd the dice to the portal. Makes it slightly more likely to have a dice-jam (if using many dice simultaneously) than if I had cut the opening all the way across, but no clogs if I let the dice flow out of my hand in a stream (rather than just dumping a handful straight in)...and that little arched portal is so darn cute! Thanks for the idea!

mamayama mamayama5 months ago

Better shot of the top. I glued a bit of craft-glass into the top window.

castle of chaos top.tiff
hellriser687 made it!6 months ago

I made mine using Popsicle Sticks. It was a lot more work than foam but worth it. If you are going to go about this method, i recommend two things.

1. If you don't have a bandsaw, cut out the sticks first before gluing.

2. Make it double layered. For example, I cut each stick to length but made double the amount needed. I then placed two down, then laid one on top the center of the two. Like this:

____

____ ____

I would then continue that until i had the shape for each piece.

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Well my diagram didnt really work. If needed i can add a picture to explain.

michael.sims.9469 made it!7 months ago

Thanks for this great guide, with good instruction and pics. I added a top and base(which I magnetised).

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dennisleeneo made it!7 months ago

Thanks for the idea :)

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Rory Makes Stuff made it!7 months ago

I made this yesterday, thanks for the instructable! For those without a printer, here's the dimensions I worked with and it worked really well:

R/L side (cut 2): 7 1/2", 3", 6", 4 9/10", 1 1/2", 7 7/8" (this is each side length, going around)
Front: 3" x 1.5"
Top/mid step: 3" x 1.75"
Tower front: 3" x 5"
Tower back: 3" x 7.5"
Bottom step: 3" x 3 11/32"
Bottom: 3" x 7.5"

You can (mostly) see the way I laid it out on the foam board (which I got at Michael's for $1.50!)

I cut felt for the three steps and a 3" x 5" strip for the bottom dice tray. If I built it again, I'd also felt the tower front and back so it was even more quiet.

Thanks again!

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AluinnGold2 years ago
Wondering if anyone has made this and it turned out a bit sloppy? I know it is 100% my fault, or my lack of quality equipment, but I just finished one for my husband for Christmas and the foam cut a little chunky and the pieces are not all perfectly sized/fitted. It fits together okay and even works great (I had to try it out!!) but the edges are kind of jagged and it looks raggedy- anyone have any suggestions for smoothing it out and making it look more uniform? I thought maybe something like modge-podge, paper mache, or some kind of clay or something around the outside to make it look like one uniform piece .... Any suggestions??

It's a bit late for this comment since you've obviously finished it. But if you have trouble getting a smooth finish on the edges, you can use sandpaper to smooth the ragged cuts somewhat. Like others, I spackled over mine, to cover the poke holes. Then I sanded it smooth. I later covered mine in sheets of polymer clay (a meticulous process that was harder than the original construction so I don't recommend it unless you really enjoy detail work). But the little holes were covered neatly with the spackle before attaching the clay pieces.

whamodyne (author)  AluinnGold2 years ago
You are on a good track with modge-podge. The last one I made for a gift, I took an old map and with modge-podge made it look better. Some people use old comic books to do it as well. If you want to just cover the edges, I would suggest a light spackle like to cover a small hole in your wall - find it in the hardware store in the paint section.
starshipminivan made it!1 year ago

I made this for my husband for Father's Day. He LOVES it. He says he really likes the sound of the dice rolling through the tower. The only thing I did differently was to cut an arch in the wall above the tray.

Like Giddykins, I made mine look like a castle. Honestly, I didn't even look through the comments and I could kick myself for it because mine took a long time to alter. I used polymer clay to make my faux stone. I have a fondant sheet mold that I bought just for polymer clay projects and used it to make most of the walls. It took me about 6-2oz blocks.

However you do it, this project is fun and easy to build. Great job on the Instructable!!

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Giddykins1 year ago

So I took the time to build the dice tower, I'm overly thrilled with the outcome. After I got the base construction done, I decided to improvise a bit for my own desire towards creativity. Heading to Hobby Lobby and buying paint, and other supplies I spent a couple hours experimenting.

Thank you for a wonderful Instructable for the gamer in all of us.

Here are my results.

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Fab4fan1 year ago

Really like your idea for Dice tower, Unable to download specs so I can build it. Can you email me the information. Would deeply appreciated it. Thanks for your time and have a wonderful night.

Eric

warhammer2009.1@hotmail.com

Once again thx!

rednedfred1 year ago
I just made this today out of eska board, and it turned out pretty nice! Thanks for the instructable!
Using the toothpicks to pin the sides on is really clever and seems to work really well. However, I am curious if you explored using hot glue for the entire assembly. It seems to me that it might be nearly as strong overall without the need to pin and brush on white glue. What do you think?
jbrunsting2 years ago
Made this in about 2 hours the night before a game, and have to admit, it looks and works great! I was only hoping for something functional, considering I was sort of rushing, but it ended up looking really good! I used the side of my wire cutters to push the toothpicks in flush with the board, then just used a Sharpie to color the ends black and it looks fantastic! One note, however: careful of glue on fingers. That's the one thing I didn't do and affected the finish of the final tower. Next step? Trying this with wood! Maybe I'll have to post that project here...
egosselin13 years ago
Excellent tower ! I made one out of card board to test it out, the printable sheet made it all really fun to make, can't wait for the next game night...
Nice 'ible! What if you had rotating platforms in the center of the tower instead of static baffles, so that every time the dice hit them they spin a little bit and further randomize future rolls?

-Y
You cannot have 'more' randomness in a static die (or dice) roll by adding more physical manipulation. Whichever die you choose, let's say 1 six-sided die, you will ALWAYS have a 1 in 6 chance of landing on a particular number--no matter how many baffles or platforms it tumbles on! If you want, or need, more randomness then you need to change to a different die, such as an eight-sided die. Then you only have 1 in 8 chances to see a particular number. Or, you can add an additional die to increase the range, but at the cost of losing lower number(s). So, if you roll 2 six-sided dice for more randomness then your range will be 2-12, not 1-12.
I have an idea to make this look a little nicer. cut out all of the foam board pieces, paint then black, assemble them in to the tower, then add the felt. That way you have no white spots in the foam, and the felt stays clean.
I was thinking the very same thing Casey. Also I've never worked worked with foam board before so I don't know how durable it is. But if you want to make one that would really last you could use the foam board pieces as stencils to make it out of wood and put it together with wood glue and nails/screws.
...or you could use the stencils from the beginning of the project as stencils?
matrix8284 years ago
could i make this out of balsa wood? would it work? thanks
5* + fav :)
wario2355 years ago
Sweet. I just made mine (little plexi-glass version; same principle) and it works like a charm. Quite random (that discussion in the earlier comments was a little too in-depth for me). I had to adjust the last baffle just right so that the dice were sent out well enough (spits them out good now). I'd like to make this out of some light wood, if/when able. Would make for a great gift for any table-top gamer. Rock on.
afrocat5 years ago
Thank you so much! I've just made this dice tower and it's sturdy, functional, and has a great aesthetic appeal!
billytwix7 years ago
i made this tower and used silk from a tie for the landing. i play Warhammer Fantasy / 40K competitively a few times a month at different locations in texas. I HAVE NOT PLAYED ONE SINGLE GAME WHERE SOMEONE DIDN'T APPROACH ME AND COMPLIMENT ME ON THIS TOWER! Its magical, i think. I added an extra step for the dice to bounce off of inside. This is great, portable, super sturdy, and pretty cheap if you are using foamboard/foamcore for other projects and you have some left overs. It's great when you have to roll 50 d6 for one unit's attacks. The only problem I've had with it: Bounce out dice. Sometimes when i roll massive quantities they will jump out of the bottom tray. My solution was just putting my hand over the opening at the bottom. If i wasn't lazy i would add an acrylic sheet to cover the opening Great Instructible, Great Fun, Great way to keep me from losing my sanity at games. L
could the bounce out problem be from your extra step?
ojochris7 years ago
What is a dice tower for? a certain game?
It's for D&D. It's used for several reasons, too. First, it can be used if there's no room to roll dice. Second, it can be used to store dice in the trough in the bottom, although most people get bags. And finally, you don't have to chase dice across the carpet if they go off the table. Hope that clears things up.
(Dungeons and dragons, right?) lol makes sence.
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