Magnetic Rubik's Dice Cube




This project is a modified version of gfixler's Magnetic Acrylic Rubik's Cube, and uses red translucent dice instead of clear acrylic cubes. I give credit for the dice idea to ella and andyholloway, who were going to build a dice cube, however I do not know if they ever finished.

I will assume, if you are reading this, that you have already read gfixler's Instructable. The primary purpose of this instructable is to highlight some of my modifications on his idea. So if you are planning on building one of these, I recommend you go and read his now.

The non-symetrical nature of some of the die patterns gives the dice cube an extra element of strategy not present in regular Rubik's Cubes. This variable of rotation is an aspect of the "sudocube," but the dice cube is easier to solve, because each face contains identical figures, and every cubie is unique--two properties of the original Rubik's Cube that are not carried over to the "sudocube."

Equipment & Parts List

  • 96 D32 Neodymium magnets (100 pack recommended)
  • 12 D62 Neodymium magnets
  • 27 3/4" or 19mm dice (30 recommended)
  • High Strength & Quick Drying Glue or Epoxy (transparent or translucent)
  • 3/16" split point drill bit
  • 3/8" split point drill bit
  • Scrap Wood or Metal to make a Die Jig
  • Carpenter's Square
  • Drill Press with stop
  • At least 3 clamps - more is better
  • Shop Vac
  • Standard head screwdriver

Update (2007-07-20)

It's been a while since I've been around here; lately my internet has been sporadic at best, and nonexistent at worst. But I'm here now and I'll try to get caught up. I've noticed that the same questions tend to come up again and again in comments, so I've decided to answer some of those here.

All in all, the cube cost me about $60, although at least a third of that was for shipping and handling, as well as the drill bits that I bought specifically for it.

Many people assume that the cube spins just like a normal rubik's cube (I did too at first), but in reality, the faces move in more of a snapping motion, which is quite satisfying, though it doesn't lend itself readily to speedcubing.

If you take the time to analyze the magnet orientations and polarities, you will probably come to the conclusion that creating a 2x2x2 cube with dice and magnets is impossible. Indeed, any magnetic cube with an even number of sides presents some interesting problems, but they aren't insurmountable ones. You just have to think outside the box (or in this case, the cube). I am in fact, currently making at 2x2 cube. I started a few weeks after I finished the 3x3, but I haven't worked on it since then until today. That being said, I should probably have it finished this weekend. I believe that a 4x4 would also be possible, though more difficult and certainly quite heavy. Anything higher than that is probably a pipe dream. (probably)

Update (2007-07-21)

Well, I finished the 2x2 cube this morning. It's really not a lot of work once you have the jig finished. In fact, it was more fun to make the 2x2 than the 3x3. That said, the end result for the 2x2 is less cool than the 3x3, and in retrospect, making the 3x3 is much more satisfying in the end. Anyway, check out the 2x2 cube.

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Step 1: Get the Magnets.

For my cube, I decided to use D62 magnets for the connections between the core and centers, so that the cube would stay together better while being turned. D63 magnets will also work, but since they are thicker, it will be harder to glue them in.

For the rest of the connections, I used the same D32 magnets that gfixler used.

A total of 108 magnets are needed: 12 D62's and 96 D32's. Buy a 100 pack of D32 magnets, in case you lose a few or glue one in backwards.

When you get your magnets, the first thing you should do is mark them. Connect them all in one long "chain" and use a sharpie or other marker to mark the same side on each magnet. Make sure that the marked sides of the small magnets have the same polarity as the marked sides of the large magnets.

As for polarities, I used this method:
  • Core: All faces "Red"
  • Centers: Face touching core "Silver," other faces "Red"
  • Edges: Faces touching centers "Silver," other faces "Red"
  • Corners: All faces "Silver"

I don't know which sides were north or south, but since I marked red for one of the polarities on every single magnet, it doesn't really matter.

Using this method, most of the cubes have both polarities facing inward at some point. This should reduce the stress placed on the glue and reduce the chance of a magnet coming out. Additionally, the corners are attracted to the centers and core, which should help keep the corners stable while turning a layer in the finished cube.

While gluing the magnets in with this method, clamps are only needed for the core and corners. I recommend waiting 24 hours in between gluing the core magnets, as they are strong and very close to each other.

Step 2: Find Some Dice.

Any dice will work, as long as you have 27 identical ones to work with. It is best to get a few extras, since most of the time there will be a few dice with imperfections. The extras can be used for drilling practice, testing glues, etc. Translucent dice may be more expensive but provide for a more interesting cube.

For my cube I ordered 30 red 19mm translucent dice from Uncle's Games.

Inexpensive dice will not be perfect cubes, however, it is likely they will be much closer than gfixler's acrylic cubes. For the purposes of making a dice cube, its not really necessary to have anything more precise than these.

Though I don't have personal experience, I would not recommend "Casino Style" dice as they are usually made of acetate, not acrylic (the glue I used doesn't bond well to acetate), and do not have indented pips, so the ink may rub off during use or make the cube harder to turn. On the other hand, they are probably the easiest (and cheapest) way to get perfect cubes.

Step 3: Organize the Dice.

Most cheap dice will have a few mess ups: ink where it shouldn't be, or no ink where there should be. Most of the time, you can hide all of these by placing the dice wisely, such that the afflicted faces are internal faces. If you can't, use that die as a test die. That's why you ordered extras.

For some reason, a large number (5 or 6) of my dice had a strange "chip" on the edge between the 1 and 4 faces. It wasn't a big problem, and was only apparent on close scrutiny, so I let them be.

I created a spreadsheet in excel to help organize the layers (See below).

Step 4: Make a Die Jig.

You, like myself, may not happen to have a fancy square like gfixler uses to hold the dice for drilling. Fortunately, it is easy to make your own, since the square does not need to be extremely accurate.

Initially, I wanted to use aluminum channel or angle stock to create a square, however after not finding any scraps laying around the shop, I opted for a steel 5.25 to 3.5 inch drive bay converter. It is designed to allow the mounting of a 3.5 inch hard drive in a standard 5.25 inch CD/DVD drive bay.

After attaching the first bracket to a piece of plywood, I used a square to align the second bracket at 90 degrees to the first. A few more screws and I had a nearly perfect square.

The only thing left after that was to add a piece of acetate film (used for overhead projector transparencies) to the bottom. This was probably not necessary, and mostly just got in the way. I think I thought it would prevent scratches to the dice, but now, when I look back, I don't think it helped at all.

Step 5: Set Up Your Tools.

Once your die jig is finished, mounting it is relatively easy. I used gfixler's eyeballing method of rotating the cubes/dice to find the center. See his page for more information.

Once the jig was centered with the drill press, I clamped it to the built in table.

If your drill press doesn't have a built in stop, you may be out of luck. maybe you'll just have to eye things up, or get a new press. If you do have a stop, set it shallower than you want to drill, then slowly deepen it, until a magnet will rest just under the surface of the test die. you don't want the magnets to touch each other.

For the D32 magnets, you will need a 3/16" high speed steel bit. The D62's need a 3/8" bit. If you have bits specifically designed for plastic, use them. Otherwise, use "split point" or "self centering" bits and make sure to let the bit cool down every few holes. You also may want to use water or another coolant to help prevent melting.

You will need a strong glue. I opted for a two-part epoxy from LocTite, purchased from the local Fleet Farm. It dries to a transparent yellow. When it comes to glueing the magnets in, you may need another clamp, especially if you have a slow drying glue like my epoxy.

According to my package, the LocTite sets in 5 minutes, hardens to a usable hardness after 8 hours, and dries completely in 24 hours. For the core, I made sure previously glued magnets had been glued for 24 hours before attempting to add others, but for the others, half an hour or so was enough.

Step 6: Practice.

Use 1 or 2 test cubes to practice drilling, using different glues, setting the stop on the drill press, etc.

It turned out that the epoxy did not produce the "stress fracture" effect gfixler noticed in his cubes. Also good news: with red cubes, you can't even tell that the epoxy isn't completely clear. The bad news: It takes 5 minutes to set, and 8 hours to dry to a "usable" state, according to the label. The glue that dried on the acetate sheet (blank transparency) I used to mix it looks quite similar to the stuff that's used to bond fiberglass.

Step 7: Drill & Glue the Dice.

After you've practiced drilling and gluing on the test die (dice), proceed to the 3/16" pieces.

This step will take longer than any other, including marking the magnets, which you may have realized, is also quite tedious.

As you pick up each die to work on from the die guide, you may want to put a dot on the center of each face that will be drilled, with a sharpie, to prevent accidentally drilling the wrong side.

After the 3/16" holes, drill the 3/8" ones. I found that using some clamps helped keep the die stationary while being acted on by the greater force of the larger diameter bit.

After drilling, put some glue in one of the holes and then a stick of two magnets (make sure you get the polarities right). Wipe off any excess glue on the die or magnet face. My glue was very negotiable when it came to this, and came off easily most of the time. When more than one magnet are in a die with the same polarities facing out, you will probably need to clamp them together. The second magnet ensures that the glued magnet will be set under the surface of the die. The glue sometimes seeps out of the seams as it dries, but it can be removed with a screwdriver as long as it is not completely hardened. It stays about the consistency of caramel for several hours.

I experienced only a few problems with drilling and gluing. One was if the glue ran up the sides of the hole too much, an air pocket could sometimes be created between the die and magnet, pushing the magnet out. When this happened, I let the magnet come out and cleaned both it and the die with a towel before trying again.

Another problem was, if the hole was slightly too shallow, the magnet would not fit in the hole all the way, and my first reaction was to clamp it really hard. This was a mistake. Although the glue itself didn't cause stress fractures, putting that much force on the plastic in the bottom of the hole did. This only happened to me on a few magnets however, so it wasn't a big problem. I would suggest that instead of forcing the magnet in, you should take it out and drill the hole deeper or use less glue.

When the glue dries, glue another magnet in, until all sides are glued. Try not to drop or connect the dice until they have completely dried. For the stronger magnets, you may want to wait longer before unclamping the die, so it doesn't fly out.

Step 8: Assemble the Cube.

Start with the core and bring the centers into contact with it. Make sure to get the right sides in the right place. The sum of any face and it's opposite face should be 7, and if the 1 face is on top, and the 2 face is towards you, the 3 face should be to the right and 4 to the left.

Next place the edges, and lastly the corners.

And that's it. Turn your cube and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.

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333 Discussions

Arthur Fierro

11 years ago on Introduction

Hello burzvingion, I made some changes that result in a great stability of all layers. The core magnetos get in the central dice of each face, avoiding the layer slip. Strong magnetos and lubricant avoid other dice to pop. Magnetos: 11X05mm (core and central), 06X05mm (central, edges and corners). I had to change the places of the central and edges pieces 06X05mm magnetos. The corners magnetos keep at the center of the dice. May this dice cube be sold or there is some patent law that do not allow? Thank you for this great project. Arthur Fierro

9 replies
xarcanxArthur Fierro

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

hi arthur, I'm brazilian as well. where did you bought your magnets? in a fast search in the net i could only find a 05x05 and a 10x05 and both with astronomical the way, this green one is really cool!

Arthur Fierroxarcanx

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

Hello xarcanx, Thank you for your comment... Yes, I paid an astronomical price for either the magnetos and dice, that came from US, because importation taxes and freight are really expensive. I also made a fast search in the net, but it was enough to talk to a brazilian dice factory and discover that 19mm dice are not produced in Brazil, just 18mm or white 20mm. If you want, email me:

xarcanxArthur Fierro

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

thanks, according to my calculations the magnetos from K&J Magnetics should be around R$46,00 taxes free. How much you paid with the taxes and all? Now, I really don't think the dices size matters anyway, the 19mm dice is just so the cube is the same size as a real Rubik's cube...

Arthur Fierroxarcanx

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

I'm really sorry, I don't remember, but freight and importation taxes are very very expensive. I got many dice and magnetos to use the same freight as You can see. About the dice size, 01mm less in each face become a enormous difference at the final result. If you need, email me:


wow I really like what you did here. I just ordered my Equipment for this and can't wait to start. I am going to use your changes on the core.

Hello Jesus Wept... Don't forget that if you change the core you must change the central and edges magnetos places. Thank you for the comment. arthur

I made one following the original project and this one with the core magnetos into the central pieces and You were right about the mechanical connection. This one is far far better to solve. $295!? Wow!!! Of course this is not easy to build but I was thinking something like $150 - $180 and giving up thinking it was too expensive to someone pay.

caspian7Arthur Fierro

Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

I personally like the design idea. I found when I made mine it slips often irregularly--some magnets are in too deep, others just right, and others flush with the dice. I never considered rising above the side. As far as selling it, someone actually did sell his on ebay for $295-- a bit much if you ask me, but then again if someone was willing to pay that much, who am I to judge? Apparently they cannot be patented. On gfilxer's instructable, it is discussed the reason(s) why.

Nice work! I thought about this before I built mine, but I thought that keeping the magnets flush with the die faces would yield greater recombinational potential (i.e. it makes it more fun to put together in other ways) and help keep the magnets from (explosively) popping out of their sockets. As far as selling them it's probably not a problem but you may want to talk to gfixler first, as mine is largely based on his design. Also mine is licensed as by-nc-sa, which prohibits commercial use and states that all derivative works must be licensed similarly. I'm not sure exactly what constitutes commercial use however, as I don't enjoy reading lawyer-speak, and as such haven't read the actual legal code.


12 years ago

:D finally made one on my own... one tip for those without a drill press but have a hand drill... good luck... mine came out to be a mess... i just kept thinkin to myself, "Man i wish i had a drill press, would make life so much easier" I used blue dice with mine :D No idea how this picture thing here works but the first is the completed cube, second is the mistake hole made, and third is where the magnets were put in incorrectly and i had to take them out and glue back in :P

8 replies

Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

Hey nice cube, just it's kinda hard to tell from the photos, since it's transparent can you see the glue and other marks that are in the third photo from the outside? Is it easy to tell or do you have to look closely? I unfortunately lack a drill press and will have to resort to the hand drilling method , I just wanna know if it will look anywhere as clean as the others from the outside. Thanks


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

You can't make a 2x2 with dice it just won't work because of the polarities... Well, you couldn't turn it... it would explode


Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

Actually, you can, but better wait for my instructable on it (coming soon) before you do anything :)

well... first i marked off the depth with tape, had to constantly take off and put back on... then i had work gloves that added padding for my fingers, then i held the dice extremely tight with my hand like a fist, then started to drill slowly, after i get deep enough i had a rubber pad which added grip to the dice that I put on there while i drilled with more pressure


Reply 12 years ago

nice job, i like the blue dice. are they from uncle's? I am actually in the process of creating another project using their blue 19mm dice, but it probably won't be finished any time soon.

yep they're the blue ones from uncle's... thought i would use one of their specialty ones, but i liked the transparency