How to make a wooden die using simple tools only.
- Little block of wood
- Some paint
- Teak oil
- Measuring stick
- Miter box (table saw would probably be easier)
- caliper (optional)
- Belt sander
- A pair of compasses
- Awl (or something to mark the location of the holes)
- sanding paper (different grits)
- Paper towels
Step 1: Making a Cube
First off, you need a cube to make a die. I had a scrap end of wood which was about 4cm by 4cm from which I cut the remaining side to the same size.
Just mark the size you need with a pencil. I drew the line all the way around, just to make sure every end matched up.
Then you can go ahead and put it in the miter box to cut it to size.
Alternative: this is where a table saw could facilitate the process. Just put your distance jig to the desired size and 3 cuts is all it takes.
Step 2: Finetuning the Cube
When working with simple tools it's hard to get things right the very first time. My "cube" was about 2mm too thick on one end.
I used a caliper to measure the width of each side, but you could also just use the measuring stick.
Then I sanded down one side using the belt sander. Be careful to hold it firmly, I let it slip once and sanded a little bit of my finger when doing so.
Note on precision: the bigger you make your die, the less precision is needed because in proportion to the size the deviation is less extreme. (Consider a deviation of 2mm on a die of 1cm³, that would be 20%. On a die of 10cm³ on the other hand, 2mm would be 2%.)
Step 3: Marking the Faces
Draw diagonals on every face to mark the center.
Then use the pair of compasses to draw circles on every face slightly smaller in diameter then the width of the face. How much smaller you make this is "entirely" up to you. If you'd like really small faces on a more sphere-like die you can make the circles smaller, but this will make the rounding step a harder.
Draw smaller circles to mark the locations of the holes. For the 6 face mark the center of the face to position the center holes.
I used the layout as seen on the image above, which I found on this page through google: https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/dice3.html
Step 4: Making the Eyes
Use the awl to mark the holes. Use a drill to make them slightly bigger. Using a drill press could make this a little easier. I just messed around with a small hand drill.
Put some paint into the eyes (NOT in your own eyes, please) to make them a little darker or brighter, depending on what you want. Don't mind going a little overboard, this will be sanded away later anyway.
Step 5: Sanding
Now here comes quite a tricky part.
Use the belt sander and sand down the edges untill you reach the circles you drew on the faces. You can first flatten the corners a little, but be careful not to go beyond your desired face size. Go slow and move your die around a lot to make sure you sand every edge evenly.
When you've reached the shape you wanted finish the sanding by hand. Make a little "cup" of sanding paper in one hand and twist your die around in it to sand the edges. Sanding your fingers a little is part of this process. I used P100 through P280 grits. Finished with a nylon fiber polishing thing (wich said P600 on the packaging), I don't know if that really made a difference.
Step 6: Applying a Finish
You can apply different types of finish to your project to make it last and more pretty.
In this case I used teak oil which I rubbed on it with a piece of paper towel. Optionally add some more layers when dry.
And voila: you've got your very own wooden die. Be proud and show it to the world. This is fun little project which you can finish in a few hours or less with better, more accurate tools and more experienced hands.
Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017