My family loves to play games. Many games involve dice. Many dice rolls result in disputes over whether it was a real "roll" or not. Did it tumble an acceptable number of times? Did it strangely land without tumbling at all? All disputes and questions may now be put aside with the use of a dice tower. Inside this simple box are three baffles which guarantee that the dice dropped within will be adequately randomized. Never again will you hear, "THAT WASN'T A ROLL!!!"
A dice tower may be made very quickly from scrap wood or cutoffs, as this one was. Some well-placed felt will provide a bit more friction to ensure that the dice actually roll and don't merely slide. Not only that, but the felt creates a really nice sound. Seriously. Check out the video at the end to hear what these dice sound like coming through the dice tower. It's beautiful!
On the last page of this Instructable, I explain the rules to a fun dice game which has been around for at least 60-70 years or so. It's a great way to break in your new dice tower, or to otherwise occupy a rainy day.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials Needed
As I said, this box was made from scrap wood. The dimensions are really up to you. In my case, my dimensions were determined by the size of the scraps! The tower is about 6 inches tall. If I had to do it again, I would make it more like 8 inches tall, because it would allow more room inside for the three baffles.
Most of the wood I chose is nice-looking plywood. The side walls are thin solid wood. The baffles, as you can see in the picture, are very rough-looking plywood, but they are not visible and so the type of wood doesn't matter.
The most important thing is that the baffles are the exact same width as the front and back panels, because they will be providing structural support by being glued to both side walls.
Not pictured above is the small panel for the top, to partially close the top of the dice tower.
Step 2: Place the Baffles
First, you need to figure out how far apart to put the baffles, and at what angle. A few considerations:
- You need to be sure you will have enough clearance for the dice.
- You need to have a decent angle so the dice won't come to a stop.
- If you play games involving many dice thrown at a time (like Yahtzee or Farkle), you will want to allow for even more clearance to avoid jams.
- Three baffles is the generally accepted minimum number for a dice tower. You can do more! I have even seen a spiral staircase design for a dice tower.
My placement is rather arbitrary. Because the tower is a bit short, I feel like these baffles are crammed together. But they work fine. After you have them set up, mark their placement, glue them in place on one side, and then place a large heavy flat object on the top. Let dry. (Notice I am using simple craft glue, not wood glue. This wood is lightweight and small, so I figured craft glue would be sufficient.)
Once the glue is dry, glue some felt onto the baffles. This would actually be better done first, but I had forgotten. Still, none of the pieces came loose as I handled the baffles while gluing on the felt, so that shows the craft glue was doing its job.
Step 3: Entrance and Exit Openings
Now you need to figure out how low the front wall will go. Like with previous steps, this does not require precision. Just figure out how much room you need for the dice to exit the tower. The area marked with Xes shows where the hole will be.
Likewise, figure out how much of the top you want to close up to allow the dice to enter. I suppose you could leave the top completely open, but I like having yet one additional gluing surface for stability of the tower as a whole.
Step 4: Partial Wall Glue-Up
Trying to glue eight small and thin pieces of wood together is a very tricky business. So I simplified my job a bit by doing two partial glueups in advance. First, I glued up the front panel with the small top panel. Then I glued the back panel with the base or floor. Leave it a couple hours to dry.
Step 5: Final Glue-Up
Just prior to glue-up, there was one last-minute adjustment I made. I glued a small panel of felt to the inside front wall, and another to the inside rear wall, where the dice are likely to hit before proceeding down the tower. I mainly did that so that the entire dice roll will be felt-sounding, and not interrupted by the occasional bang of dice-meets-wood.
Now it's time to glue it all together. First, I glued the bottom of each of my two-piece glue-ups and placed them on the side wall that already has the baffles (see first picture). Then I applied a layer of glue over the top surfaces of everything (including the top sides of the baffles) and laid the other side wall on top. Lastly, I applied the clamps.
You can see in the second picture that where possible, I covered the exposed edges of the plywood with the solid wood. This is one benefit of using solid wood for at least two sides of your tower, to cover up the plywood.
Step 6: You're Done!
After the glue dried, I applied a coat of maple stain, just to even out the two different wood colors. Then I glued on another panel of felt at the bottom of the last baffle by the exit. And there you go! It's not fine woodworking, but it does the job of looking halfway decent and making dice games a bit more enjoyable to play. Next I will be building a felt-bottomed dice tray into which this dice tower will fit.
Here's a short video showing how it works and sounds:
Thanks for reading! I look forward to your comments and suggestions. This dice tower is easy, it's quick, and it'll make your game playing more enjoyable!
To break in your new dice tower, go to the next and last page to learn a simple but fun dice game called Pig.
Step 7: Pig: a Dice Game
Equipment: Two standard 6-sided dice, pen and paper
The goal: To score 100 or more points
The rules: The starting player rolls both dice. As long as the player does not roll any 1s, they add the sum of the dice to their turn total and may either stop (banking the points) or roll again. The player may keep rolling until they either decide to bank their points or until they roll a 1 with one or both dice.
If they roll a single 1, the player gets a score of zero for that turn, and their turn ends. If, however, the player rolls two 1s, the player's whole score (including previously banked points) gets wiped out, and their turn ends. If the player rolls a double (of anything but 1s), they add the sum of the dice to the turn total, but the player MUST roll again.
This game is surprisingly fun! I have played it with 2-10 players. For larger players, I'd recommend a slight variant called Skunk, which you can read about here.