People have been making cubes in a cube since the invention of the drill press. Although it appears difficult to make, it is actually quite easy. With a little patience, the proper fixtures, the right drill bits, and a drill press, you can easily construct one in an afternoon. After constructing the fixtures you can make dozens in a day. They make excellent craft fair products. The material cost is low, even for very nice wood, so you can splurge and make them for your friends. These make excellent presents and are appreciated by all. I either finish with Tung oil or leave unfinished.
To start, you will need to construct …….
Step 1: A Cube
To start, you will need to find wood large enough to make a 2-1/2" cube. You can use a 4 x 4 (3 ½” x 3 ½”) if you want to do it on the cheap. Many wood stores sell small blocks of hardwood to bowl turners. Using a table saw, miter box saw, power miter saw, or band saw, cut out the block. If you do not have access to one of these tools then find a friend that does. Tell them you will give them a finished project if they will cut your cubes. You may be able to find precut wood cubes at a local craft store. They are also available on the Internet.
This source is reliable and good people to work with. Used them for years. Sand with 120 grit sandpaper and you now have a cube. It is kind of cool looking but not something most people would value as a gift. What you really want is……
Step 2: A Cube in a Cube
Take you cube and mark the center of all six faces. This can be done by marking the intersection of the two diagonals. Place in a drill vise and drill each face with a 2” diameter hole, 1/2" deep. For the best quality hole use a forstner bit. It can easily be found for less than $15.
Drilling all six sides willleave a cube inside attacked by the eight corners. Redrill all six holes, 1/32” deeper to make these corners connections smaller. Repeat this until the connections are almost gone. Then cut free with a knife. You now have a new cube a little less the 1-1/2" on a side.
Clean up all the edges and faces with 120 grit sandpaper and you now have a cube in a cube. But why stop there when you can have…..
Step 3: A Cube in a Cube in a Cube
Drilling the inner cube requires a fixture to give a flat base. To make this fixture cut a 2” diameter circle from ½” thick MDF or plywood and glue it to a small flat base. You now have a platform to hold the inner cube in place while you drill the next series of six holes.
Drill each of the six faces with a 1” diameter hole, 5/16” deep. Again, for the best quality hole use a forstner bit. This will produce a new inner cube connected at the eight corners. Again redrill all six holes 1/32” deeper to make these corners connections smaller. Repeat this until the connection are almost gone then cut with a knife.
You now have a new cube about 3/4" on a side. Clean up all the edges and faces with 120 grit sandpaper and you now have a cube in a cube in a cube. What could be better except maybe ….
Step 4: A Cube in a Cube in a Cube in a Cube
Drilling the most inner cube requires a fixture on top of the previous fixture you all ready made. Duplicate the first fixture. Making this addition level requires a 1” diameter circle 3/8” high. A slice of a dowel would be excellent for this. You now have a platform to hold the most inner cube in place while you drill the next series of six holes.
Drill each of the six faces with a 1/2” diameter hole, 5/32” deep. This will produce a new inner cube connected at the eight corners. Redrill all six holes 1/64” deeper to make these corner connections smaller. Repeat this until the connections are almost gone then cut with a knife.
You now have a new cube about 3/8” on a side. Clean up all the edges and faces with 120 grit sandpaper and you now have a cube in a cube in a cube in a cube. What could be better except maybe ….
Step 5: A Real Life
You could go another level down by adding another level to the fixture then drilling a 1/4” diameter hole, 5/64” deep. This is results in a 3/16” cube. Next update the fixture and drill a 1/8” diameter, 1/32” deep hole. This results in a 3/32” cube. This can quickly go from being something clever to disturbingly compulsive. For me, four cubes is a good place to stop.
Start with 1-1/2" cubes and drill with 1” bit to form a smaller cube in a cube. It takes only a single bit and no fixture is required. On a whim I went to the local home center and bought an eight foot, construction grade, redwood 3 by 4 in the cull bin for $3.22. After cutting around the bad sections I was able to get 100 cubes of good quality. From those I successfully drilled 74 of them. That works out to less than a nickel each and it took me maybe four hours to complete.
The reason that I damaged one in four while drilling was because of the poor quality of the wood and the aggressive drilling rate I applied. If you were to buy 2 BF of walnut (12” by 12” x 8/4) for $16, you would get 49, 1½“ cubes from it. That works out to about 32 cents each. Maple hardwood 1-1/2" cubes can be purchase on the internet for as little as 43 cent each.