A fully functional Rubik's cube, made from 7 different types of wood and 108 neodymium magnets.


The Story:

I made this cube as a wedding present for my good friend Dave. Dave and I are both what could be described as nerdy, and we are both fans of the Rubik's cube (although Dave's interest is closer to obsession than mine). This project was inspired by another Instructable, Magnetic Rubik's Dice Cube by burzvingion, which was in turn an adaptation of an earlier project by gfixler. A couple of years ago, Dave and I followed this Instructable together and made our own magnetic dice cubes.

At the time, I had recently developed an interest in woodworking, and I wondered if I could do something similar out of wood. I immediately recognized how hard that would be and threw out the idea. But later I realized a sufficiently momentous occasion might motivate me to try. When Dave got engaged last year, I knew I had to get to work.

Although I enjoy woodworking, I do not have a lot of experience yet. My interest would probably be a more developed hobby if I didn't live in New York City, with no access to a decent shop or tools. But that is part of the unique story of this cube. I did all of my work in the bedroom of my small Manhattan apartment (except for applying polyurethane at the end). The only power tools I had at my disposal were a cordless drill and a plunge router that I borrowed from my dad. I had to sweep up sawdust frequently, and I tried to only use the router in the middle of the day, for the sake of my roommate and neighbors.

I would love if people reproduce or adapt this project, but be warned that it is fairly tedious and time intensive. I estimate that I spent at least 100 hours on it over the course of last summer. That said, someone with more experience and more specialized tools might be able to do it much faster. I would love to hear comments from experienced builders on how the process could be improved.

I hope you enjoy my project!

Step 1: Materials

The Wood:

I wanted make each face of the Rubik's cube out of a different type of wood. I did some research about interesting exotic woods and ended up ordering this wood online from a scroll saw supplier. It came in boards that were 1/8" thick, 4'' wide, and 2' long, which was perfect for my purposes. Because I was ordering online and could not know for sure what it would look like, I got eight types of wood for possible outer faces. In the picture above they are, from right to left: lacewood, purpleheart, padauk, yellowheart, mahogany, zebrawood, cherry, and walnut. I didn't like the cherry or walnut as much as I thought, so I decided to use the other six. I also got four boards of Maple to use on all of the interior faces.

In addition to the thin boards, I needed base cubes to attach the various outer faces to. I ordered 5/8'' hardwood cubes online for a few cents each. You need 27, but I bought about 40 to allow for some defects and to have some for testing.

The Magnets:

A total of 108 magnets are needed. I followed the strategy of burzvingion and used large D62 neodymium magnets for the connections along each core axis, so that the faces would pivot better around that axis when turned. 12 magnets are needed for this.

For the remaining connections, I used D42 neodymium magnets. These are a little stronger than the D32s used by burzingion and gfixler, because I wanted to make sure my magnets would hold through a thin layer of wood. I needed 96, but I got a pack of 100 and had a few spares.


The cube is primarily held together with woodglue; I used Titebond III. In addition, I used Liquid Nails clear silicone adhesive to bond the magnets to the wood before I glued the wood together.


The main tool I used was a plunge router. I used three different bits: 3/8" and 1/4" straight bits for drilling holes for magnets to fit into, and a 45-degree V-groove bit for cutting tiles that fit together into a cube. Other important tools were clamps and sandpaper.


I tested a few different finishes on the various types of wood, and I decided that Minwax Wipe-on Polyurethane looked the best. It was also the easiest to apply. I don't know what the long term affect on the colors will be, so I could only guess at that. Someone who really knows their finishes might have a better suggestion.

Other supplies:

I used other random materials and tools, not for making the cube, but for making various router jigs. I'm sure there are many ways to do this, but I used some extra boards, nails, screws, glue, clamps, and a rubber band.

[Note: Unfortunately, the supplies for this project were fairly expensive. I spent about $80 on the wood with shipping, although I did have plenty of extra. The zebrawood board alone was $10. I also spent almost $50 on the magnets.]
<p>This is sooooo cool. I especially love the stripes on one of the sides. This is so much cooler than the standard Rubik's cube.</p>
Grease pencil would probably work great!
Belissimo trabalho, coisa de profissional. <br> <br>Obrigado por compartilhar.
HOLY COW!! BEST. FRIEND. EVER!<br>Seriously, this is amazing, and I will guarantee that Dave will be telling his grandkids about this cube some day. :-D
GREAT JOB!!! Your explanation, your pictures and your detail were EXCELLANT. <br>Plus it came out terrific.Thanks
kudos for this project. love it
Your work and documentation are impressive!!! Next PUBLISH !
Fantastic work, who knows what you could do with a full workshop. thanks
This is gorgeous! I love the concept!
That cube is stunning!&nbsp; You picked the perfect finish, the Minwax wipe on poly is my first choice for any hardwood projects that will get handled.&nbsp; The poly should also make the dark stripes in the Zebrawood 'pop' without darkening the light areas too much.&nbsp;<br> <br> Danish oil is great for the darker woods, but I have found that it tends to yellow the white woods.
This is fantastic. I am impressed with your level of craftsmanship.
you could magnet mark with a whiteboard marker as they do work on metal and can be easily wiped of with a cloth
Gotta love jigs! GREAT job! <br>I would like to make one on my CNC or 3d printer....
Just beautifully done! Now, if only I could solve one :)
Wow! That turned out really nice!
Wow- the wood is so beautiful! Excellent project! I loved getting to read through all the steps and understand how everything works. I wonder what your friend will do for you if you get married!
Nice work!Thanks for sharing
Wow! You did a really fantastic job with this project, great work and thanks for sharing all of these steps and details!

About This Instructable


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Bio: I am a graduate student studying mathematics. I like to tinker with things and learn by making projects. Right now, I'm particularly interested in ...
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