It was a dark and stormy night and the power was out. Not to be detered at our efforts at fun, we all hunkered down for an exciting game of Settlers by candlelight. Mighty was the cry of anguish when we realized the dreaded dice gremlins had struck earlier that day, taking our dice for their own nefarious reasons.
All hope was not lost. We made a small offering to the dice gods, then raided the hardware cabinet. A couple of threaded rod coupling nuts and a battery powered label maker later, we once again were rolling for sheep.
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Step 1: Getting the Pile of Parts Together
This is a easy way to make some funky metal dice. Dice with presence and mass. It's different enough that people will notice when you whip these suckers out. They will hear the rolling thunks from across the room and come to see just what is going on.
It takes 20 minutes, and for each dice you need:
A threaded rod coupling nut - I used one for 5/8" rod. A coupling nut for 1/2" rod would work as well, I just wanted bigger. Check out your local decently equipped hardware store to find these guys - cost is around$1.50 to $2.50 each. Coupling nuts are your basic hexagon piece of metal and are 5 to 6 times longer than your standard hex nut, so it won't roll onto the end unless you really try at it.
A label maker - Small label makers have become popular and plentiful the last few years - you might have one in a closet somewhere. If you don't have a label maker, print or write out the numbers on a piece of paper and cover it over with some clear packing tape.
Some packing tape - this is the standard stuff that comes off a tape gun. Scotch tape would work but it's not as strong or sticky.
The coupling nut I used was a hair over 3/4" in diameter and a bit over 2" long. Hex diameters are usually measured flat side to flat side. It weighs in at 2.6oz, compared to a normal 16mm d6 dice at 0.1oz. Yes, it makes a distinct noise when it rolls.
This coupling nut came with some holes and cutouts in it. Probably to let water drain if it's left outside or something like that. I just took some packing tape and put it over the holes, then used a utility knife to trim it down so the edges where all on one "flat" side. Packing tape will give the label when you put it on a little extra support so it doesn't puncture.
Step 2: Clean Up the Nut and Start Printing Labels
The nut might have a sticker on it with a barcode, size info, etc. Clean that off and scrub it down with soapy water so all you have left is bare metal.
If it has holes/divots/defects that you want to cover over, tear off a piece of packing tape, put it where it needs to be, then using a utility knife trim it down. I then rubbed over it hard with a clean cloth to have it be firmly set.
Fire up your label maker and print out 6 labels: one, two, three, four, five, six. If your label maker does symbols you could use the pip system and print out 1 to 6, oh, skull and crossbones for instance. At this point you are only limited by your imagination.
Peel the labels off, line them up as well as you can on the side of the coupling nut, and press down.
I lined the top of the label up with the top edge of the flat as well as I could. This left a little bit of the label sticking off the bottom edge of the flat. I just trimmed that off with a utility knife, eyeballing it all the way.
Once the label is down and the edges are all on that particular flat part, rub it down with a clean cloth to make sure it's firmly on.
When I printed my labels the edges where uneven in length, as "one" isn't as many letters as "three". I then when down the side edges with my utility knife, trying to line them up evenly. They are not perfect but close enough.
Upon reflection, I should have had the numbers arranged like in a normal d6. One and six on opposite sides, then two and five, then three and four. Next one I make will be like that.
If you don't have a label maker - do not despair! Simply measure out the height of the flats on the coupling nut and print out your basic one, two.... on your computer. You could hand write them on sticky notes. Cut them out of the paper so they are in strips, about 1/8" shorter than the flat of your coupling nut and at least 1/4" shorter than the length of the coupling nut.
Pull a piece of clear packing tape off the tape gun and put it down on the table sticky side up. Then take the piece of paper strip with one, two...., and place it on the packing tape, making sure at least 1/8" of sticky tape surrounds the entire paper strip. Pickup the tape, eyeball where it goes on the nut, and put it down as well as you can without creases or bubbles. Rub it down to give it a firm stick, then trim off the excess with a knife. It's All Good.
That's it - you are done! Make as many as you want, put on them whatever you want. Have fun and keep rollin'.
You can check out my website at Whamodyne.com for more ideas and my posts on puttering where I share all the dumb mistakes learned on the way to enlightenment.