Introduction: The Portal Companion Cube

About: I started Dark Productions because I was tired of seeing all of this cool media come out and you would want to touch and own the stuff in it but the companies wouldnt produce it because it wouldnt sell. So I …

****UPDATE 9-19-10*******
-This instructable is entered in the woodworking contest.  If you liked it then please vote for me when the contest goes to a vote!!-

-If you like what you see here then check out for more cool props and custom artwork. New updates coming Friday September, 24 2010.  

Today's project is the Weighted Companion Cube from Portal, and in honor of the fact that Portal 2 is on it's way I would like to present you with my instructable on how to make a Weighted Companion Cube.  For this project you will need a somewhat moderate skill at carpentry and a significant amount of familiarity with your Tablesaw, Router, and a chisel.

This project puts you in very close proximity to a lot of sharp blades etc.  Proper safety measures as well as safety equipment should be observed and worn at ALL times.  Basically, if you lose a finger it's on you.  So here we go.  

Tool List:
10" or greater Table Saw
Router with a 45 degree chamfer bit (I prefer Diablo myself but you pick)
Shaper Table with a v-groove bit
Drill Press 
3-1/2" Holesaw
1" Holesaw
5/8" Hair pin nailer (check Harbor Freight tools it's indispensible if you are a carpenter!)

Materials List:
1 piece of 2'X4'X1/2" Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
1 Piece of 2'X4'X1/4" Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

Step 1: Let the Cutting Begin!!!!!!

The cube itself is 5" by 5" finished measurement.  First things first, rip a 5" strip out of your 1/2" sheet and cut that strip into six 5"x5" squares.  Mark center on each of the squares and grab your 1/4" stock.  Second rip a 4" strip out of your 1/4" piece of MDF and cut into 4"X4" squares.  These will be your interior cube and believe me it makes the whole process a lot neater.  You will have scrap of both left over but save the 1/4" scrap for the emblems at the end.  At this point you should have six (6) 5"X5"X1/2" squares and six (6) 4"X4"X1/4" squares

Step 2: Drilling, and Routing....a Love Story Really Part 1.

Grab your bigger squares and mark center.  ***This is where it begins to get sketchy, because hole saws are notorious for biting and grabbing your stock.  I set mine at a very low speed and took it easy because my drill press has a small motor.***  

Drill a 3-1/2" hole three quarters of the way through your stock then flip it over to drill from the back.  This prevents blowout and it also makes the piece easier to extract from the holesaw. Lather, rinse, repeat until you have 3-1/2" holes in all six of your larger squares. 

Step 3: Drilling and Routing.....a Love Story Really Part 2.

Now that you have your holes drilled set the bigger squares aside and boot up your shaper table.  For those of you who do not possess one you can achieve the same result with a router or shaper.  Just make sure you have a way to maintain a straight line while you are cutting the pieces.  Use the v-groove bit and cut a line through the center of your 4"X4" squares to make the cross in the middle (See picture)

Step 4: Return of the Tablesaw

Use a speed square or triangle to set your tablesaw to a 45 degree angle.  Carefully adjust your fence so that the maximum amount of material is cut away from all sides of the 5 inch squares leaving a 45 degree chamfer on all four sides of the face.  This will help your seams be invisible.

Step 5: Routing Stage 2....The Quickening!!

Sit the 4"X4" squares aside and grab the six bigger squares.  
*****WARNING!!!:  This next step involves putting your fingers really close to the chamfer bit.  If you are uncomfortable with this machine or this bit then I would suggest trying to find a shaper table capable of handling this size bit.********

Set the chamfer bit so that its bearing rides barely on the material.  I leave about 1/8 of an inch at the top of the cut.  Chamfer the inside of the 3-1/2" holes on all six of the squares.  Make sure to push the material AGAINST the direction of spin on the bit NOT with the spin.  

Step 6: Lets Get This Fire Started!! Assembly Step 1

Now that you are done with all of the drilling, routing and cutting congratulate yourself and take a deep breath because all of the dangerous stuff is over!  Grab all of your pieces and some wood glue.  Begin marrying the 4" squares with the back of the 5" squares.  Make sure the cross is centered on the front.  Repeat six times until you have six complete sides.  At this point I ran the combined pieces through the table saw to make sure the chamfer matched up perfectly.

Step 7: Assembly Step 2

Use your 5/8" Hair Pin nailer and glue and pin all six sides together.  Make sure to line up all of your seams and nail from both directions on the seam.  

****CAUTION: Hair pins have a tendency to bend when shot so keep your fingers clear lest you get bitten!****

Let the cube sit for 30 minutes so the glue can kick.  Once that's done come back and number the sides 1 through 6.  Believe me it will save you a headache later on in the process!

Step 8: Cutting Some More.

Now that your cube has been assembled it is time to begin finishing to make it look more like the loveable companion that you murdered so monster!!

Set the table saw to a measurement of 1-7/8" to the inside tooth.  Start with the blade very low and position the cube so that you are staring at side number 1.  Hold the cube against the fence and run it through.  Check the depth and repeat this process until there is very little material remaining at the bottom but DO NOT cut down to the interior cube.  Rotate the cube and repeat for all sides until your cube resembles the picture below.

Step 9: More Cutting and This Is Where It Gets More Complicated.

Now that you have the middle parts cut out.  it is time to chamfer the outside corners so that it will begin to resemble a real Companion Cube.  Set your saw to a 45 degree angle and move the fence so that the outside of the blade lands in the groove you cut last step and thus not the center piece.  Position the cube so that side 1 is facing up and run the cube through like you did last step.  Once done it should resemble the picture.

Step 10: The Fun Step!!!

Thus we come to the point where I suggest that you have a moderate amount of skill with carpentry.  The process I use here is the same used to cut tenons in Mortise and tenon joinery.  It involves using the side of the saw blade to remove material and must be done carefully and in very small amounts at a time.  I suggest you wear a mask because you have to lean over the saw to see what you are doing.  The video will illustrate better.

Step 11: Chisel Time

The majority of the work on the cube is now done and it should be closer to resembling an actual companion cube.  The only problem left in front of you is a series of corners that need to be chamfered.  For this we use the chisel and hand chamfer them so that finally we end with the picture you see here.

Step 12: Finishing Touches

Last but not least you need to revisit the drill press.  Use your 1" hole saw and the 1/4" piece of long scrap to cut six 1" inch circles that will be glued to the faces.  Make sure that the circles are centered on the lines on the interior of the cube.

Step 13: Aperture Science Weighted Companion Cube

Thats the construction of the cube.  All that is left is to prime the cube and paint the corners and middle sections light grey.  Then paint the interior section dark grey.  I used paint swatches from lowes to make the hearts and then just used spray adhesive to stick them on the circles.  I hope you enjoy your new friend and remember, no matter what it might say, the companion cube is your friend and would never stab you!!!  

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