Intro: Graffiti Cube
Building with LEGO is always a fun. The best part is showing off your creations. A growing trend has been the development of LEGO walls or a wall with studs that you can build on. Building upon that idea we have the Graffiti Cube. The cube enables kids of all ages to build on 5 sides. You can create designs that take advantage of this unique geometry and it is fairly simple to build.
Follow along to create your own cube. Maybe smaller, maybe bigger! See where your ideas take you!
Step 1: Determine the Cube Size and Material
First we need to determine the size of the cube. Each 48 stud by 48 stud LEGO baseplate is 15"x15". Working off this (plus the spacing between baseplates) a 3x3 baseplate cube results in 45.25"x45.25" side.
To reduce cleanup (in theory) boxes can be placed around the cube. To account for this, I have decided to add in about half a base plate. This results in 4 sides being 45.25"x53" and 1 side (the top) being 45.25"x45.25".
To keep cost down, but keep the cube strong, it makes the most sense to work in wood. 3/8" plywood and 2x4s are both cheap and easy to work with. This will also enable the cube to be strong enough for someone to sit on it.
For the cube I designed I used the following parts:
20 - 2"x4"x96" planks of wood
3 - sheets of 3/8" plywood
18 - pin hinges
1 - gallon(s) of paint
125' - carpet tape
45 - 48 stud by 48 stud LEGO baseplates
3 - bottles of wood glue
1 - pound of 1.25" screws
150 - Pocket Screws
Step 2: Build the Frame
In order to keep the cube square and compact, we designed each side to have a 2x4 frame. We also designed these cubes in 2 pieces so it could fold down and be smaller. Once you construct all 5 sides, it is best to check for square.
For this project, we used pocket screws to provide a compact, but strong joint. The screws are offset so they favor the inside of the frame. This is important as the next step will require us to cut 45 degree slopes on all the edges.
The cuts are as follows:
20 - 45.25"
10 - 27"
8 - 20"
2 - 12.25"
Step 3: Deck the Frames and Cut the 45
Next, cut down the plywood so it can deck all the different panels. Using 1.25" screws, temporally attach the screws to the frame.
Once the screws are attached, set a circular saw for 45 degrees. Each external side will need to be cut down to form a solid joint.
Cutting the decking can be done on a table saw (or in the video, a circular saw). When you cut the 45 degree cut, be sure not to remove too much from the exterior surface. The point of this cut is to make it so the 2x4s join nicely without leaving a gap.
Note: do not attach with glue yet.
The cuts are as follows:
5 - 45.25"x30"
4 - 45.25"x23"
1 - 45.25"x15.25"
Step 4: Glue the Decking Down
In order to keep the ends from chipping or warping, remove the screws holding the plywood to the frame and attach it with glue. Once the glue is spread, screw the plywood to the frame to ensure it does not move while the glue drys. The glue will be a stronger bond than the screws, but only once dry.
Once attached, clamp all the edge down to ensure a good bond. Remember, you can never have too many clamps!
If you watch the videos you can see that when we spread out the glue. This is important to ensure the decking does not come off if things get humid.
Suggestion: In order to save clamps, glue panels in pairs. You can use this approach (as seen in the pictures) to ensure there is edge to edge pressure on the sides.
Step 5: Painting and Side Assembly
Once the glue is dry, you can begin to assembly and paint each side. To do this I use hinges so the sides fold up.
Lay each panel plywood side down on a large flat surface. For this project we used the garage floor. Bring the two panels together to form the side. Ensure the side is square and then attached 2 hinges. This will keep the side strong and allow it to fold without snapping the hinge off. Once the hinges are attached, take an electric sander and sand each side and exposed edge. I also recommend taking the point off the 45 degree cut. This will wear down over time, but is prone to chipping and splintering. It is easiest to do it now and avoid the problem later. Next flip the side over and sand the middle seam. This will ensure a smooth fit.
If you go back and look at the design step, I choose to hid the seam of the panels under a baseplate.You can do this if you like, I find it looks much better. Furthermore this also allows for a bit of slop in your measurements without impacting the final look too much.
Once the sides are assembled and sanded, now comes the time to paint. I did one quick code of "Baseplate Grey". Since this project would be going to Maker Faire, I used exterior paint to help weather proof it.
Step 6: Assemble Cube
To assemble the cube, put the 4 sides together. I use straps to hold it together while I check for square.
To check for square, measure the corner to corner length. If the cube is square, these measurements should match.
Once the cube is square, it is time to attach the last 8 hings. Climb on the inside of the cube. With the cube square, attach two hinges per corner. The top is held on by gravity.
To disassemble the cube, remove the pins form the hinges.
Baseplates can be attached via small screws or tape. I recommend carpet tape as you can remove them. Once the cube is stable, attach the baseplates as you see fit.
Step 7: Tools
To take the cube on the road, there are several key tools to have handy:
Screw driver - remove the pins on the inside hinges
Hammer - install/remove the pins on the inside hinges
Capet Tape - Attach baseplates to the exterior to the crate.
Step 8: Just Add LEGO
Once the cube is assembled, just add LEGO and invite people to go wild!