Yard Dice

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About: Still learning about everything. I have a long way to go.

Intro: Yard Dice

When the weather is nice out, it's great to have some games to play in the yard. Having a set of yard dice gives you the opportunity to play several games outside. Yardzee and Farkle are easy ones to learn, and fun for kids and adults.

Materials:

  • 4x4 beam, minimum of 2' length needed (actual dimensions are 3.5" x 3.5")
  • Wood sealer of your choice (shellac, polyurethane, polycrylic, etc.)

Tools I Used:

  • Saw (recommend a 12" miter saw)
  • Electric Sander w/ 80 grit sand paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Speed Square
  • Wood burner w/ round end
  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Painter's tape
  • A single die
  • Fan (optional)
  • Paint brush

Step 1: Cuting the Beam

Tools For This Step:

  • Saw
  • Pencil
  • Speed Square

A 12" miter saw works best for this step, as you can cut through the wood without having to turn the beam over.

Before each mark and cut, inspect the beam for any knots or imperfections you don't want - or maybe you do. Imperfections can cause problems later when marking the pips (dots).

Using the speed square, make a line 3.5" from the end. Use your saw to make the cut, then repeat until you have six cubes.

Step 2: Sanding

Tools For This Step:

  • Electric Sander
  • 80 grit sand paper

Since 4x4 beams tend to have a slight rounding to their edges, you'll need to sand your cut edges and corners to match.

Also, check the end grain where you made your cuts!!! If your saw did not leave a perfectly flat end, you'll need to sand the ends to properly complete later steps.

Step 3: Template for Pips

Tools For This Step:

  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Speed Square
  • Pencil

For those who didn't know, the dots on a dice are called "pips". If you already knew that, awesome. If you didn't, don't worry. I didn't either.

Attached is a template you can use for marking the pips. Use the PDF to print. I also included the PowerPoint version, in case you want to make any alterations or customization.

Print out the attached file, then cut out each circle. I recommend you cut around the outside of each circle. The circles are 3/4" in diameter, and the grey border around the edge is 1/4". While there are two templates in the file, you only need one. The second is in case you goof when cutting, or accidentally set it on fire in a later step.

Using your speed square, find the center of every side. Make a small diagonal line in the center, from each opposing corner, then do the same from the other two opposing corners. This will help you line up the template on each side.

Step 4: Burning the Pips

Tools For This Step:

  • Wood burning tool w/ round end
  • Prepared template
  • Painter's tape
  • A die for comparison
  • Fan

Safety Items For This Step:

  • Wear loose cotton clothing. If you accidentally touch the wood burner to any clothes, this will prevent the heat from transferring to your skin too quickly.
  • Work in a well ventilated area. I had a fan sitting in front of me, but blowing away to push the fumes out of the garage.
  • The burned locations can stay quite hot for a few minutes. This is especially true on the end grain, where it takes longer to burn each pip.

I used a wood burner from Walnut Hollow. The standard kit comes with a round end that is the perfect size (3/4"). You can find it from most hobby stores or online.

Set the temperature to the highest setting, as shown in the image. It may take up to five minutes for the tool to reach the necessary temperature. Test the tool on a scrap piece of wood to make sure it is ready.

Grab your first cube. Look for any defects that could interfere with a pip and select the appropriate side for each value. Use a die as reference. You'll notice each opposing side totals to seven.

Using the painter's tape, attach the template to one side, using the center mark as a reference.

Hold the burning tool to the appropriate locations to make each pip. It takes between 5 and 10 seconds to burn a complete circle. Be aware it will take a lot longer on the end grain. If there are any un-burned sections to a pip, place the burner back down and tip slightly as needed. Remove the template and repeat the process on each side.

Step 5: Apply Wood Sealer

Tools For This Step:

  • Wood sealer
  • Brush
  • 400 grit sand paper (optional)

To keep the pips from getting scratched and the wood from getting green marks from the grass, seal your dice with your sealer of choice.

I chose to use shellac to seal mine. For one, I like how it looks. Second, I already had some. While you wouldn't normally use shellac on wood that is going to be outside, I won't be leaving the dice outside or using when the ground is wet.

NOTE: If you've not used a wood sealer before, be sure you follow the instructions. Never shake the can (like paint), only stir it to avoid introducing bubbles, which can ruin the finish.

Two coats were applied to each side, and an extra third coat to the end grain, since those soak up more of the sealer.

You can sand between coats, if desired. But this isn't required. After all, you don't need a furniture quality finish on something that will be thrown at the ground and hitting each other.

Step 6: Play a Game!

For storage and use, find a metal or plastic bucket. A bucket works great for rolling the dice. You will need at least a 10 quart size to fit all six dice.

Enjoy!

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