Introduction: See Through Dice Tower
There are dozens of dice tower projects on the internet.
What sets mine apart is the see through front. I decided that I wanted to be able to WATCH the dice tumble down inside, so I used a piece of thin plexiglass for the front.
As well I designed the tower to nest inside of the tray into which the dice tumble, so that the project can be neatly stored away when not in use.
The project is made out of contrasting Black Cherry and Hard Maple hardwood. I love the colour combination in these woods. Cherry will darken with age to a richer reddish tone, which will increase the contrast between the woods.
Step 1: Option: Video Build
If you would prefer, you can watch a video of this project build. Otherwise, read on!
Step 2: Select and Prepare Stock
A dice tower is used by gamers to roll dice fairly. Dice are dropped into the top, and bounce of various platforms before rolling out the bottom. A tray at the bottom helps confine the dice so they don't roll off the table.
I started by picking out some small pieces of cherry and maple. I want the tower to be as light as possible, so I resawed the wood in half and then planed it down. I planed the cherry down to 1/4" thick and I made the maple even thinner, aiming for about 3/16".
Step 3: Build the Tray First
I built the tray first. The tower needs to built later, so that it can be sized to fit inside the tray.
I used my woodgears box joint jig to make finger joints in tray bottom and ends. The ends are left long on purpose, to make it easier to clamp them in the jig.
I applied glue and clamped the tray bottom and ends and left them to dry. I then cut and shaped a curve in the maple tray sides, and glued and clamped them to the bottom and end assembly.
Once the tray was dry, I carefully cut off the excess wood from the ends.
Step 4: Next, Work on the Tower
With the tray finished, I now turned my attention to the tower part of the project.
More pieces of cherry and maple were trimmed to thickness and sized to fit inside the tray. I will be attaching a piece of plexiglass to the front of the tower, so I allowed for that thickness when ripping the maple strips to width.
The maple sides are then glued to the cherry back of the tower.
Step 5: Ramps and Front
I cut a 30-degree angle on the ends of some leftover pieces of the thin maple strips, and glued them into the tower. (Unfortunately the camera angle on this photo of the miter saw cuts is not the best!) These were just positioned by eye, so there are no measurements to tell you.
A piece of cherry was also fitted in for the bottom ramp, also at a 30-degree angle. For a bit of extra strength, I drilled some 1/8" holes on each side of the tower into the ramp, and then glued in some bamboo skewer pieces as reinforcing dowels.
For the final step in building the tower, a piece of plexiglass was cut to fit over the front. I taped it into position and drilled four holes through the corners into the front of the dice tower. This insures that all the holes will line up properly. The holes were then counter sunk, and the plexiglass was set aside.
I sanded the project and then took it out to the garage to spray on several coats of rattle-can lacquer. (This step was not filmed.)
Step 6: Lining the Tray
As a finishing touch, I cut a piece of black felt to fit inside the inner bottom of the tray. Note that the bottom of the tray had been covered by tape so it was NOT covered by lacquer during the finishing procedure.
I sprayed a coat of spray adhesive onto the back of the felt and then glued it into the tray.
And that is the end of the project. The tower stands up inside the tray when it is used. When you are finished, the tower lays down and fits inside the tray for storage. To use it, just drop the dice into the top of the tower, and watch them roll down.
Step 7: Photo Gallery of the Finished Project
More photos follow. As you can see I also applied a decorative design to the project, using the laser printer toner transfer method -- using Acetone to transfer the image to the wood.
Thanks for making it this far. If you feel I've earned it, please consider hitting the "vote" button in the top right to vote for this project in the "Woodworking" contest. (March/April 2017)
Step 8: Guidelines, Not Plans...
I've had a couple people ask about plans...
I tend to treat plans as guidelines, and rarely follow them to the letter. Even my own plans. I drew up these plans for the project, but I diverged from them quite a bit once I got into the shop -- the switch to using finger joints on the tray was a major change.
But here they are, for those who are interested.
BUT PLEASE NOTE: if you want the two pieces to nest together then you need to base the dimensions of the tower off of the actual tray, you can't just precut all the pieces. Watch the video and you'll note the many times that I take measurements off of the actual project and not from plans.