Introduction: Giant Outdoor Glow-in-the-Dark Yard Dice

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

Sheesh, that's a mouthful. Yard dice are a very easy and fun project. Especially with the end of winter and better weather on the horizon!

These started out as a resin project but ended up becoming much simpler. Honestly, I don't think they would have looked near as good had I gone with my original concept! Let me show you how I made them!

Step 1: From Post to Die!

To start off I picked up a 4x4 post from the Home Depot. It was labeled as a "gothic post" and in the fencing area of my store.

That is a good price for this project, but why didn't I just use a $3 4x4 post?

A quick word on wood. Most cheap 4x4's are actually green wood (in other words, wet wood) and as they let off that moisture they will split and crack. The post I bought was labeled kiln dried wood and should be much more stable in the long term. Another oddity is that a 4x4 post is only 3 1/2" square. It's very normal, but not something everyone considers.

To make the basic die block, I used my miter saw to cut off 6 pieces at 3 1/2" in length

One thing I didn't notice when purchasing the post is that the pith (dead center of the tree) was in this post. It's not the end of the world, but the pith is where most cracks and splits begin. If you can find a post without the pith it will make for a more stable project.

Step 2: Making the Basic Dice

I knew my brain was too small to keep track of 6 sides on 6 dice without some form of marking. So, I hit up the Internet and found these dice templates online made specialty for yard dice!

I decided that instead of cutting out all 6 templates separately I would just trim the paper so each template had an exposed edge.

With a reference die in front of me, I simply lined up a corner of each template then used a scratch awl to mark all the holes. I would then rotate the reference die, and all the yard die in the same direction. A simple way to verify you've got your pips on the right faces? Each opposing side should equal 7.

1 + 6

2 + 5

3 + 4

Having all these pip marked out will make drilling a much simpler process.

In the drill press I used a 3/4" fornser bit. It has a brad tip that registers in the holes I made and it drills out a flat bottom hole. I think it gives the dice a more professional look

Lastly it was off to the belt sander to just quickly clean up all the faces. You could use a palm sander too. It will just take a bit more time.

Almost too nice to be thrown on the ground.

Step 3: My Glow-in-the-dark Dilemma

On to the
Glow-in-the-dark part. My original plan was to add resin and glow powder to each die pip. I experimented with many options, but none seems near bright enough for what I wanted.

Something most folks aren't aware of is that glow in the dark powder is clear in the daytime. Many popular glow in the dark projects highlight the nighttime look and sacrifice the daytime appearance. I really wanted my dice to look good both at night and during the day.

I was getting discouraged with my options and solutions when my bride offered an alternative.

"Why not just use glow-in-the-dark paint on the dice, then paint the pips black? It would have a LOT more surface area and should result in a much brighter effect with very readable dice."

I stood there for about 20 minutes explaining how I couldn't possibly make it simpler. I was really stuck on the resin idea. She was right though and common sense won out!

Step 4: Painting and Finishing

So that's what I did!
The paint was purchased from my local ACE "Krylon glow in the dark paint"

As an added bonus the glow-in-the-dark paint wasn't visible under regular lighting, so the dice look perfectly ordinary in the daylight. Just like wooden dice

But in the dark, or under a black light!! WHOA. I sprayed the second coat of paint with the black light on. Mostly because I wanted good coverage, but also because it just looked so cool!

The die pips were all painted with a black enamel paint being careful not to get any on the die face. I then added a coat of spray lacquer for some added protection while being tossed around outside.

Here's what they look great in the daytime, but really come alive in the dark! I also mention in the video that a black light can enhance and prolong the glow effect, and I would certainly recommending adding one to your area if possible. Really gives the dice an otherworldly appearance!

Thanks for looking!

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017