Instructables
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
 
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Step 1: Get together the tools and materials

Picture of Get together the tools and materials
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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AluinnGold1 year 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)  AluinnGold1 year 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!3 months 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!!

castledicetower.jpg
Giddykins6 months 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.

IMG_0086.JPGIMG_0089.JPGIMG_0091.JPGIMG_0104.JPG
Fab4fan8 months 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?
jbrunsting1 year 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...
egosselin12 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 :)
wario2354 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.
afrocat4 years ago
Thank you so much! I've just made this dice tower and it's sturdy, functional, and has a great aesthetic appeal!
billytwix6 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?
ojochris6 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.
One and the same. Good job! I've made one out of cardboard myself, and I'm thinking of putting it up as an Instructable.
Go for it!
scince its 2 years later i guess u never did it.   :P
pyroboy2126 years ago
if you put cork board or craft foam on the inside you could make it quieter. @_@
why would you want to do that? the sound of dice rolling is music to a gamer...
Haha, so true. That plus the sound of pencils scratching and plastic Minis clacking.

Beautiful.

-Y
cthulu135 years ago
Got the parts yesterday for under $10 and made it in about 3 hours - awesome!
A fantastic instructable.  I used the black on black foamboard and put red felt on the steps, and I found a matching sheet of really thin red foam that I cut out for the tray.
I also found that after I put the steps on it was easier for me at least to just glue and place the pieces in, then poke the holes with a pushpin and then use a whole toothpick rather than poking then gluing...
Thanks for this excellent tutorial ! I made my dice tower today. I can now play Battlelore and Arkham Horror with this...
sida1025 years ago
Thanks heaps for making this tutorial. I made mine today and it came out really well. I play a lot of Memoir 44 and the dice always end up bowling over some troops so this is a great solution to the problem. Was really easy to follow and even a poor craftsman like me managed to make it look pretty good. Well done!
zascecs5 years ago
I love dice! lol
sowersk5 years ago
I agree with Bay. Whole toothpicks were easier to handle for my giant hands.
troyml5 years ago
Where have I been that I've never seen a dice tower before? I think I might try to make one out of clear acrylic, lexan or something similar.
arutkow5 years ago
I was wondering about the middle baffle. If you were to instead use some little pegs or perhaps a piece of wire, do you think that might randomize the tumble even more? Just a suggestion. It's already a great looking instrucible! -Abram
jgscott9877 years ago
Very nice Instructable! I wonder how random this tower really is. I'd bet that if you took one die and dropped it in the tower from the same position 100 times, the outcomes would not be evenly distributed. I bet you could get it to land on the same number 50% of the time. Using multiple dice increases the 'randomness' as they knock into each-other as well as the baffles in the tower, but you could still generate a non-uniform distribution of outcomes. This is a neat, fun project, but I think it gives you a less random outcome than simply throwing the dice.
I'll take that bet. I will be building one of these this week and I'll run a test. I bet you'll get the classic bell curve.
Just FYI, you don't want a bell curve, you want a uniform distribution (each result comes up an equal number of times).
Note that D&D has been mentioned previously here. When rolling attribute scores in most RPGs one typically rolls 3d6 or similar, in which case you will see a "classic bell curve", which is likely what Mustkrakish was referring to. I don't think a test would be required as dropping dice in any uncontrolled fashion will likely result in enough randomness being introduced. One major point of using a device like this is that each "step" introduces more "random" activity into the mix.
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