Rosewood Dice

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Project by FloridaArt posted 03-18-2014 01:31 AM 1745 views 14 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

March, 2014—Making dice turned out to be more difficult that I expected. Accuracy and consistency are key, but so are the details of which sides get which numbers. I learned that there are “right-handed” and “left handed” dice. If you look carefully at the sides with the 2 and the 3, and have the 6 on top, you will see the difference. In the first photo two are right-handed and two are left-handed.

A jig for drilling consistent hole patterns is mandatory. I found dice face images on the web, and then scaled them to print at the size of my dice: 1-inch (before sanding). The jig is glued up from a small piece of MDF, with some pine “rails” and “stiles” to hold the dice snugly. Basically, put the blank rosewood into the jig. Carefully turn the jig upside down so the rosewood is sitting on the drill press table. Then drill the hole using the holes in the base of the jig as a guide.

The “dots” on the dice are plugs made of 3/16-inch round material. Two of the dice shown use brass rod, and two use chopsticks I brought back from a restaurant. They look almost identical, except the brass shines more as you can tell from the second photo. And they feel significantly different in the hand. The brass dice weigh significantly more! Sawdust Tom, my woodworking pal in the neighborhood, suggests inserting a lead rod under one of more of the chopsticks plugs.

Difficulties were encountered, mostly with the brass. The 3/16-inch drill bit I have makes for a very tight fit for the 3/16-inch brass rod. Consequently, with the closeness of most of the dots to the edge / corner, cracking in the wood developed. I filled those with the same CA glue (“super glue”) that I used to secure the brass in the holes. The second major problem with the brass was in the sanding. The brass gets hot when sanding on the belt or disk sander. And when it gets too hot, the wood around it burns, which discolors the wood and also allows the brass to pop out. So, sanding is slow going. Sand; let it cool; sand; let it cool.

The dice with the wooden chopsticks plugs were much easier all the way around. All the dice were sanded to 220 grit, and then a couple coats of spray lacquer. I think I’ll build up the lacquer finish more on the next batch.

-- Art | Bradenton, Florida

15 comments so far

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 701 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 01:35 AM

very cool, great work

-- steve, simple and effective

View woodshaver's profile


3555 posts in 2443 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 01:41 AM

Nice work Art! They look good!

-- Tony C UAW, St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

View Woodwrecker's profile


3769 posts in 2666 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 02:33 AM

Nice job Art !
Those are cool !

-- Eric down in sunny Florida.

View hunter71's profile


2481 posts in 2277 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 10:27 AM

Yes, Dice education 101 is a must, it is not just drilling holes. Nice job Art

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View ratchet's profile


1337 posts in 2877 days

#5 posted 03-18-2014 11:47 AM

Art, these are very nice! I’ve never seen anyone here try this before.

View helluvawreck's profile


19527 posts in 1957 days

#6 posted 03-18-2014 12:24 PM

You did a fine job on these dice.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2141 days

#7 posted 03-18-2014 03:15 PM

These are really cool Art, nice work!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4586 posts in 2127 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 03:21 PM

Good project, Art. Nice result.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View whope's profile


123 posts in 1536 days

#9 posted 03-18-2014 04:03 PM

I suppose the dice need to be balanced as well. Perhaps as long as all the brass rods are the same length it works out. Does right/left handed-ness affect this?

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

View chodgson's profile


23 posts in 1774 days

#10 posted 03-18-2014 05:15 PM

Nice project, they look great! I like the idea of the shiny brass and can imagine that the nice heft they would add would be a nice touch, but I can’t help but wonder about balance as well. Seems to me the brass-pip dice would be more like to roll snake eyes (heavy six-pip side down). If it really mattered, I suppose you could use a 6 times longer piece of brass on the 1-pip side. Or use a much bigger circle of brass for the snake eye.
To solve your brass size-to-hole problem, chuck a reasonably short piece of the brass in your drill press and take some sandpaper too it.
Also, just how big are those dice? You said 3/4” but then you say your pips are 7/16”... by my math you surely can’t fit six 7/16” pips on a 3/4”die. I realized this when I was thinking that another alternative to your problem would be to try a number size drill bit as they are sized in smaller increments; but not as big as 7/16”.

View majuvla's profile


5778 posts in 1958 days

#11 posted 03-18-2014 05:35 PM

Nice cubes. Template is what catched my eye more, very genious idea!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View leafherder's profile


598 posts in 1042 days

#12 posted 03-18-2014 07:33 PM

Great looking dice! But I was also wondering about the balance issue, not only with the brass ones but with the chopstick ones also. While the brass might be heavy on the “six” side, since rosewood is a more dense wood, it is possible that the chopstick version might be heavy on the “one side”. Only way to find out is to keep rolling them.

Keep up the great work.

-- Leafherder

View FloridaArt's profile


757 posts in 2388 days

#13 posted 03-19-2014 12:59 AM

THANK YOU ALL for your kind and helpful comments! First, I’m amazed there is so much interest in dice. This page has been designated a “Daily Top 3” from Lumberjocks. Wow! I am humbled.

Second, THANK YOU to those who emailed me privately and also those who mentioned it in the public comments. MY DIMENSIONS WERE WRONG!! Sorry about that. The chopsticks and brass rods, and the drill bit, are 3/16-inch, and the dice blanks are 1-inch square prior to sanding. I have corrected the text, and I sincerely apologize for the errors.

Third, I have not actually put these dice to the test, to measure their balance or fairness in the toss. Since each “dot” is the same size brass plug, it certainly means the 6-side is lots heavier than the 1-side; 5-side heavier than the 2-side, and 4-side slightly heavier than the 3-side. And the opposite may be true for the chopstick versions. I only made these dice to display, gift, or sell as purely ornamental.

Fourth, for more information about left-handed and right-handed dice, let me refer you to this web site:

-- Art | Bradenton, Florida

View Roger's profile


17851 posts in 1894 days

#14 posted 03-19-2014 12:07 PM

Nice, Dice, Art

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View TurnTurnTurn's profile


604 posts in 2200 days

#15 posted 03-21-2014 03:08 AM

Beautiful work

-- TurnTurnTurn

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