It’s time for another video! The husbot and I are in a new D&D campaign (or first together, and his first time serving as DM), and I wanted to make something special for the occasion. I went out and got a couple different wooden boxes from the craft store– a simple square box and a book-style box– and got to it, but recorded along the way. This video gives instructions for the complete process for the square box, but you can easily adapt the process for any other type of box.
Written instructions and further details follow the video:
- Wooden box (I used this one)
- 1/4″ thick wood strips (width: 1/4″ narrower than the interior depth of the box; in this case 1.5″ wide, and I needed about 25″ total lenth)
- 1/6″x4″x(length, at least 6″) balsa wood
- Measuring stick/tape
- Miter box w/saw
- Wood Glue
- Contact Cement
- Felt (large sheet)
- Small screw eyes
- Short length of chain
- Decorative elements, replacement hinge/latch hardware, etc.
- Paint, wood stain, clear coat, etc.
- Cut dice tower sides to fit inside the lid: Measure interior dimensions of the lid, in particular the height (this box is right about 7.5″ from top to bottom, inside the lid). Cut two pieces of your 1/4″ wood strips at 1/16″ smaller than this length (in this case, 7 7/16″), so that they fit inside the lid without a lot of wiggle room. These will be the sides of your dice tower (now referred to as “side pieces”).
- Cut the tower sides for opening: Mark the side pieces to cut a chip out of the front top corner of each side piece (and, if desired, out of the bottom front corner). To do this, place each side piece into the lid of the box and mark the end to show the depth of the lid. From this mark, cut an angle of 45* to 30* off the front top corner (for the purposes of this post, an asterisk* indicates “degrees”). (Optional: if desired, cut a similar angle on the bottom front corner; it may help accommodate the ramp, and may be more aesthetically pleasing.) The top cut helps the box close, and also helps provide easier access to the opening at the top of the tower.
- Attach the dice tower sides into the lid: Situate the side pieces perpendicular to one another/to the sides of the lid. Each should be placed so that they have a 3.5-4″ gap between them (in this case, 2″ from each inside edge of the lid creates a 3.5″ gap). Draw a line to mark their placement, then use wood glue on all contact surfaces to attach the side pieces into the lid.
- Add the Baffles: The baffles are the pieces that make the dice roll. A set of 2-3 baffles of 2″ each should fit nicely in this lid; your particular arrangement may allow for longer or shorter baffles. They should be just short enough to allow dice between the end of the baffle and the side of the tower, as well as between each of the baffles. Cut each from the same 1/4″ wood you used for the side pieces. Arrange them inside the tower. Use a die or two to test the distance; you should have enough room for a D20 to pass with 1/4″-1/2″ added clearance; keep in mind that felting will take up some of this space. Additionally, make sure that the bottom-most baffle provides enough room to accommodate the ramp (Step 5); this can be done by placing the baffle higher, or placing it lower and cutting an appropriate angle out of it (see video notes at 15:50). Mark their placement. Use wood glue to attach.
- Build the ramp: Measure the inside depth of the bottom of the box (in this case, 1″), and cut a ramp at 30* or 45*; a 1″ tall ramp cut at 30* produces a ramp 2″ long. Place each side piece for the ramp about 1/8″ to the inside of the side pieces of the tower (in this case, 3.25″ outside measurement on the ramp sides; 2.75″ inside measurement between the ramp side pieces). Attach with wood glue. Cut a piece of 1/6″ balsa wood to fit on top of the ramp side pieces to create the ramp itself (3.25″ by about 2.24″). Use wood glue to attach, tape in place during drying.
- Prettify it: This is a good stage to make any cosmetic changes to the box. Stain, paint, decoupage, etc. as desired. You may wish to remove the hinge/latch hardware to make painting, etc, easier. You may also choose to replace your hardware (hinges, latch) as desired. No instructions are provided for this process, as these are personal aesthetic choices you may or may not choose to engage, and I assume that if you’re capable of doing everything else in this process, you can follow the instructions on the stain/paint can without my help. 🙂 That said, I used a rosewood stain I had on hand, attached the wood decoration with wood glue, and painted in and around it with “Liquid Leaf” gold paint.
- Make the template for the felt: Using a piece of paper and the side of a crayon, create a rubbing of the dice tower area, being careful to get all of the sides, baffles, etc. carefully marked. Cut the template and test it for fit. If it seems overly tight in areas, trim down as needed. If it came up short, tape on a little extra paper to fit. Do the same (or measure and cut) to create a template for the tray area, leaving excess overhang off the end of the ramp. Additionally, cut templates to fit the baffles with extensions: 2″x1.5″ covers the baffles, but add at least 1″ length to go up the sides of the tower, more if you want the felting to extend up to the top of the tower, and added pieces if you want to felt to the bottom insides of the tower. (You can create the templates for the bottom edges now, but I did it later to accommodate the felting in the bottom of the tray first; see Step X.)
- To finish the template, temporarily connect the screw eyes and chain: Measure out about 3″ from the inside corner on one side of the box and attach a screw eye, both on the bottom inside and inside lid of the box (if you are right handed, I recommend placing these on the left; if you are left handed, I recommend placing these on the right). Attach one end of chain to one screw eye, then measure enough chain so that the box will stand open at approximately a 90* angle, and attach. Once this is done, overlap the two template pieces (the tower and the tray/ramp bottom) where they connect above the ramp, and tape in place to create one large template piece (the felt will connect the top and bottom into one smooth ramp piece).
- Cut the felt: Place the template upside-down on the reverse side of the felt (some felt has a smooth “right” side and a rougher “reverse” side; if your felt doesn’t have this, don’t worry about it, but be sure you reverse your pattern so that your markings won’t show on the final product). Use a fine marker to trace the template onto the felt, and cut. Do this for all template pieces.
- Attach the felt: Temporarily disconnect the chain so the box can lay flat. Working in a well-ventilated area (and, for preference, with gloves), apply contact cement to the back of the felt and to the inside of the box where it will be applied, allow to dry about 10 minutes, then press the felt carefully into place. The working order for this should be: 1-bottom inside edges of the tower; 2- back of the tower area; 3- baffles; 4- (reattach chain permanently at this point) bottom of box/tray area and ramp; 5- bottom box edges. When attaching the edge felting where the screw eye attaches, simply snip a short line into the felt and attach around the screw.
- Make the dice tower front: Measure for the front piece of the dice tower. It should start at the top mitered corner, and end two inches from the bottom (or, the final length of the ramp). In this case, 4″x 3 14/16″. Using a sturdy box cutter, cut a piece of 1/16″ balsa wood to this measurement. Decorate front as desired. Then, adapt your original tower template to cut a piece of felt to fit inside the front section. Using previously outlined steps, attach the felt to the front piece using contact cement (align them carefully by placing the felt into position in the box, position the front piece above it, then lift the felt and tack it to the front piece; press into place).
- Attach the front piece to the dice tower: Using wood glue, attach the front piece to the tower. Press into place, wipe away any excess glue, then weigh it down using a book or heavy object and allow the glue to dry completely.
- Your dice box/tower is complete!! Take it out for a spin on your next D&D campaign and listen to the Ooos and Aahs of your admiring party.
If you wind up making this box, be sure to show me your work, I’d love to see it!! Thanks for reading!