As a Dungeon Master (DM) and someone who is going to be leading my own campaign, I wanted to make an awesome, simple, yet personal gift for each of my Player Characters (PC's). While watching the hit D&D show Critical Role, I saw that everyone had a dice roller and, more specifically, Taliesin Jaffe had a book styled case for his iPad. Upon seeing that, I came up with the idea of combining a dice roller tray/storage with an old book for a better D&D feel. So here is my take on a D&D Book dice tray! This is a follow-up explanation of my post on Reddit that garnered some attention, so here is to the D&D community.
While I do not ask for credit for this project, please don't use this project for evil or nefarious purposes like claiming it as you own or making money from it. This should be used as a passion piece and for the open good of all.
- An old/disposable hardcover book (Large enough to have a good rolling zone and deep enough to have storage room. Smallest book I would recommend is a 5 3/4" L by 8 1/2" H by 1 3/4" W)
- Fabric for Cover (If the fabric/cover material is more flexible, use some fabric fusion to make it stiffer/not as flexible)
- Wood Glue (You should use a wood glue that sets quick and clear, but most does so make sure to read the label)
- Scrap Paper
- Utility Knife
- Plywood (Enough to cover the book as a single piece)
- Two Dowels
- Weight (Used for letting the book rest and set properly)
- Food Wrap
- Paint Brush
- Sand Paper (Rough and Fine)
- Magnetic clasp (Essentially two magnets that are of enough strength to keep your book closed. I reused some from an old ruined tablet case)
- Roller base fabric
- Scrap cardboard
- Drill bit for roller zone corners (Make sure it is small and long so you can get the proper dept
- Drill bit the size of the magnetic clasp
- Gold paint
- Cutting board
- Fabric fusion
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Step 1: Picking Your Book
The biggest thing is selecting the proper book. The key points to keep in mind is that 1/3 of the book will be used as a dice display zone while 2/3 will be used for the roll zone. So selecting a book that is large enough and deep enough to be a useful roller is the most important part. Guidelines from what I have built are to have a book with the pages that, at a minimum, are5 3/4 inches long, 8 1/2 inches tall, and 1 3/4 inches deep. Just as a large book is important, the width of the book is, to be frank, the most important part. Make sure that the pages, not the whole book, are the proper dimensions. The book I'm using is a Jules Vern collection that, while treated properly, the inside was destroyed with coffee and sharpie. Considering the D&D style that the book would be used in, I felt compelled to have her book be used in this project. Check out your local library/second-hand shop to find older books that deserve a new story to be involved in.
At this time, to make your time more efficient later, create a template of the page size you have of your book. An easy way to do so is square a scratch piece of paper in your book, mark where the pages end, and cut it out so you have an example page template that will be used later for planning your roller zones.
Step 2: Prepping the Book
I found this supper helpful youtube tutorial by StampinStuff01 that helps to explain the decovering/recovering process. While my method diverges from their use of fabric versus wallpaper, the premise is the same. Specifically, follow the timestamps of 0:56 to 2:45. This will help to take off your cover and move on to recovering. Then you will get the following parts, as shown via pictures.
Step 3: Adding Your New Cover
Now that the cover is separated from the bookbinding, cut a small swath of fabric and test glue it to your scrap of cardboard. Do test strips of your fabric to determine if you need the fusion fabric. You will know if they adhere well as the fabric will be smooth, not wrinkle/stretch when bent, and not have discoloration from the glue layer. The scarlet and purple books I did needed the fusion (they were both thinner and more flexible clothing based fabric) while the harder fabrics (the faux leather and dragon scales) did not.
Next, iron the fabric to make sure it is smooth and properly stretched out. If you have newer fabric, it is still recommended you iron it or any creases you have will be permanently on the cover. If that is the look you want, however, ignore what I said entirely!
Once an optimal fabric is found, cut sections that have about a 1 1/2 inch clearing on all sides of the cover. Then, using your brush and wood glue, spread a thin layer over every crevis of the book cover front. Make sure to leave adequate spacing on all sides of the cover so you can wrap properly for the next step. Use your fingers to adhere to the new cover to the book and to help spread out any clumps of glue. Make sure the cover is smooth otherwise it will permanently have wrinkles (Again, to personal taste), take your time to really smooth it out.
A major thing to note is the glue should always be spread out! Any clumps or lines of glue will create darker spots in your fabric, so use a sponge based brush for optimal results with your gluing. If your fabric adheres properly to the cardboard after a few minutes, it will work well. If it does not, use a fabric fusion for strength and iron the fabric fusion and your looser fabric together.
Step 4: Setting Your New Cover
Once the cover has its new shell, place the book back into the cover. Once done, place a dowel on each of the hinge sites of your book. Place a weight on top of it and let it rest, at a minimum, for 30 min. This will help the cover set and give the glue time to get a stronger grip.
Step 5: Finishing the Cover
Using the video as a reference again, timestamp 5:36 to 8:45 will help to explain the folding over of the new cover and applying it. The most important parts are:
- Make sure there is room on the corners
- Smooth out the glue
- Really work the corners so they'll adhere properly
Once the cover is prepped, get two large pieces of food wrap. Lifting two pages from the bookbinding, place the food wrap after the second page on each side of the book. This will help when setting and have the outside of the book be prepped for coating. Now, do a decent, but clean coating along the spine of the book cover. Do not have it spill over the hinge area's or your book won't open. Once fully wrapped, place the two dowels back to where they were, apply weight, and let sit for a while.
The reason for having the two pages set is so the one closest to the cover will be reapplied to hide the access covering and the other will be a finishing cover to cover the magnetic clasp and any roughness created from the cutting phase.
Step 6: Flourishes and Final Touches
Next, if you so desire, you can add ribbons, bookmarks, any kind of flourishes you would like for the book to have. By using some spare ribbon, stagger them throughout the book to give the illusion of being used. Of course, this is up to interpretation so feel free to experiment and add whatever you like. A nice thing I found for the ribbon is to find the place you would like it to go, mark each side of the ribbon on that page, cut out the shape on two pages, and glue the ribbon into that gap. This way, when the book sets, there is no gap in the pages and it will look more natural.
Step 7: Planning the Roller Zones and Template
Now begins the planning, remember that template from before? That's what we are going to work with next to help use time effectively while your book cover is setting. From the template, make a 1/2 inch lines on each side to create a smaller rectangle. This is going to be you new active zone as this is the maximum area you can carve out.
If you forgot to, no worries, grab a scratch piece of paper and create a template quickly. Following the images above, you now have a paper mock-up of the pages to craft your roller.
Step 8: Template Creation and Testing
Now it's time to get creative! Using your template, create your roller designs. The big thing when planning your template first is having enough room for your clasp in the front. As you can see in the first three designs, there is an inch of clearance on the bottom as the magnet will be centered there. Above are some examples of three different templates. All separators between areas need to be 1/2 inch so, when the zones are cut out, they are solid and reinforced. Once you find a design that you would like to use, find the thickness of your plywood. Find out how thick it is, then decide how deep you need it to be. If this is just going to hold dice or a deck of cards, add 1 1/4 inches to that measurement for your storage zone. This way, when the book shuts, it actually closes around and secures the objects inside. If you are containing mini's or other objects, find their storage height level, then add an additional 1/4 inch to be safe.
Note: Always error on the side of going deeper. It is always better to have more room than necessary to make sure you don't go through all this work to have a book that can't shut.
If you are curious about other added designs or template idea's, go to this link as there will be a comment zone for any other templates other people have found/created. If you came up with an original one, feel free to go there and share for the betterment of everyone!
Step 9: Glue Up and Set Up
The reason for food wrapping the book is used for this step. With your flourishes complete, it is time to coat your pages in glue. The whole reason for using wood glue is it will strengthen the paper and not cause the paper to bunch up as much. Be careful while sponge brushing the glue near the spine to not make a mess but get a good coating everywhere. Use a little bit of painters tape around your bookmarks so they don't get super stiff when the glue dries. If it needs a few coats, no worries, it is better to have it be solid then to have to continually reapply glue. Let it set completely (12 hours) to make sure you don't drill to early and break all of that wonderful glue work you did!
Note: Whenever I have the books set, I replace the dowels to make sure I get a good seal and the binding doesn't get screwed up. It will also prevent pillowing of the materials from expanding and distorting your book.
Step 10: Drilling and Cutting
Just being honest, this is the most boring part of this whole process. So get some good RPG music/podcast/show on, get a nice drink, and get ready to get to work.
With your template handy, place it into the book under the food wrap. Using a utility knife, mark every intersection point on your template. Each intersection point is circled in blue in the examples. Keep your template as you will use it later. Once you've made a mark on each spot, get your handy drill and click here.
This how-to explains the process of making chambers in your book! Follow steps 6-9 to make your roller zones. For step 6: Use the marks you made from your template and drill down the maximum depth you need. Easy way to do so is measure how deep you need to go and place some tape on the bit and always drill that deep on each point.
For step 7: Take your time and hollow out each of the zones you need. I find it easier to go from smallest to biggest so you have a lot of book integrity to prevent any major shifting.
Once all of your zones are cut out, like in step 9, do a little sanding to help keep everything clean. Now, remember that clasp point? Now that everything is prepped, use a drill bit the same size as the clasp and make a little alcove in the center of that extra edge zone. Set in one part of the magnet, glue it in, and let it set. Once that's done, use your sponge brush and give a good glue coat in each of your zones. Leave that aside and let it dry. Now it's time to cut some plywood!
Step 11: Cut, Cut, and Cut Some More!
Using your template, cut out your active zones as they'll give you the sizes for your wood bases that'll go in each of the zones you made. Place down your pieces, trace them on your plywood, and cut out matching wood pieces. Sand them down so they're smooth and grab some more fabric!
I personally like using a dark faux leather as:
- It looks super clean
- Makes dice easier to read off of a dark background
- Most dice rollers use them
Create a thin layer of glue, place the plywood sheets on the fabric of your choice, and let them dry.
As a piece of advice, leave the pieces about half an inch apart when gluing to the fabric. This will give you a little extra fabric off of the edge of each piece of plywood. Normally when you are carving away, the zone gets a little wider going down so this will help it to cover any mistakes. Once they're dry, your roller bases are complete and onto the final step!
Step 12: Final Assembly
Now, with your pieces in place, it is time to assemble! First, use a level to make sure your book doesn't have any major level flaws. If you followed the How-To properly and only took it out pages at a time, you should be fine. Test out your roller bases to make sure they fit snugly. You should NOT have to really force it into place, if you're having trouble, shave and sand the roller base until it fits right. Once it seems to slide in well, take it out, apply a small layer of glue to the book, and press the base into place properly. Once that is completed for each area, use a level and do minor adjustments if need be. If you have any major amounts of fabric left, use your utility knife to trim it up a bit so it looks nice.
Once the bases are in, remove the food wrap from all sides of the book. Save the food wrap as you'll need it one last time. Now, you have two pages, the exposed cover, and the roller zones now carved out and based. Place the leftover food wrap in between the two pages. Place a layer of glue along the top page so it will adhere to the cover. Then a small layer on the carved roller sides. The second page will set on it, so, like in step 11 of the How-To, you'll have a clean cover that will hide the magnet and any other cosmetic damage that may have happened to the top layer. Smooth out both sides and set back the dowels and weight so it will adhere the final time.
Once dry, orient the other part of the magnetic clasp on the magnetic clasp, now hidden, put a little glue on it, and set the cover on it. Press for a good while, then separate so the magnet is optimally placed. The final part of the whole process is step 12 where you will cut out your zones from your new cover to reveal your completed dice rollers! Sand and do a little cleanup work as you see fit and there is your completed roller!! I used some templates, gold paint, and painters tape to add designs to the roller to make it look more real/mysterious.
As a note, I did not have any pictures of the exact part of the process. Read all the way through this step and the How-To to properly achieve the results you need. When I attempt another one, I will update this so it is properly put together and clear. If you need help, check out the Redditlink for help, idea's and to see what others have made with this.
Participated in the