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DIY project for the summer - Carving dice from stone

Discussion in Creativity started by Vadleon, May 14, 2013

  1. Jan 12, 2011
    Heya folks! It's summertime for me and one thing I've been really itching to do is more sculpting. Aside from a potential wood carving commission for a friend (some kind of sword from an anime to cosplay), I've not really been sure what to do with my arts. I've got wood, metal, plastic, wax, stone, glass, tough composite cardboard, and all sorts of random materials in my room I could work with, but thinking of something neat to do with them has been something of a block for me. At least until now.

    After some tinkering last night with some white landscaping stones, I've decided my first DIY project will be to carve a complete set of dice out of stone. Thankfully, I'm no stranger to carving this kind of stuff since I worked with alabaster in my sculpture class in highschool and already have a collection of fine tools to work with. The only obvious issue I can foresee is that I haven't made dice before, so sizing them correctly with each other and getting the angles right is going to take many, many, MANY of an attempt. Despite this, I'm eager to carve my own set of custom white stone dice!

    I'll chiefly be using a Dremel and an assortment of tips to cut, sand, and etch out the dice from the rocks (which I've yet to properly identify, but has a finer grain than the local quartzite). I plan to upload pictures when I work on the forms and I'll provide descriptions where necessary. I can't promise the set will come together anytime soon, but I plan to work on them at least a couple days out of the week and post updates accordingly.

    Picture time for Day 1! [IMG]

    Pretty self-explanatory. Don't forget to put up your hair if it's long!

    I'm mostly just working on my front porch so the dust won't linger and I have enough light. I'll be cleaning up with an air compressor later.

    At first, I thought I'd split this rock and make a couple d6's from it. I got started on the first half.

    After sanding the surfaces to simple faces, I realized this one would be better suited to become a d8.

    Since I'm working in close quarters with an Dremel spinning at about 30,000 RPM, I figured wearing gloves would be a wise idea. Turns out I was right. Notice how this bit on my thumb has been sanded smooth by a small slip-up. Thank goodness for the PVC coating on these... You can also see a bit of white on the tip of my thumb where it nipped me a couple of other times, exposing the fabric beneath.

    So this was expected - the first of many sanding hoops/heads being worn out by working on stone. They probably aren't rated to sand down this kind of material, but it's been working well so far!

    So after about 30-45 min, the d8 form is coming along well! Next to it on the left is a crude d6 form I worked on yesterday when I decided to start this project. Both need a lot of work in terms of size, proportions, and angles, but these forms should be adequate to shave down and make a couple 6mm dice, each a d6 and a d8.

    I figured I'd show off what I've collected/used so far on my little project. The Dremel bits pictured are four coarse sanding heads, a reinforced fiberglass cutting disk, and a diamond-coated cutting disk (not needed this time, but for more serious stone cutting). In front are assorted shapes and sizes of stones I've collected, cleaned, and started to sand into forms. I'm going to need many more for the inevitable mistakes and breaks, but I figure when the time comes I'll go by Home Depot and pick up a sack of more landscaping rocks. For now, I think I can make do with what's in my yard. [IMG]

    At this point, I'm not actually sure what size I want in the end or what color I'll go about filling in the pips/numbers with in acrylic (or similar substance), but I welcome any thoughts people have to ask/share!
    • Artistic Artistic x 8
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
      Vadleon, May 14, 2013 Last edited by Vadleon, May 17, 2013
    • Feb 27, 2012
      That looks really cool Vadleon! I wanna see the end result! :grin:
    • Jan 12, 2011
      Day 2 (part 1)

      Today I collectively worked four hours on six dice - a few old and a few new. While I didn't work on them in any particular order, I'll go ahead and save you guys the trouble of following what I was doing and regroup the pictures appropriately so each die is in its own set.

      Due to how many pictures I have, I'm splitting up the content into two posts - one for the white dice and the second for the gray dice. Stay tuned after this post to see more!

      White d6, v1

      Not much to say here. I just went back and touched up the dimensions for this die, and plan to continue work on it later.

      White d6, v2

      I hope to carve a couple of d6's out of this one, so what better time than to test out the one Dremel bit that is actually intended for this kinda stuff?

      Despite a somewhat dull edge (from an uneven coat of diamond dust :neutral: ), it still cut fairly quickly through the stone.

      Note to self: Not everything that is white that comes off the Dremel tip is rock dust. This time it was smoke from the sander base burning out on the surface. Fortunately, despite the hole, the rubber pad below the base wasn't damaged, so I could still switch out the hoop for a new sander.

      I got the basic form ready for the d6 and then set it aside while I worked on some other dice.

      When I returned to it, I cleaned up the faces a bit and evened out the proportions. While it still needs some work, it's now pretty close to being the final size.

      White d8

      ..it looks that nice since I picked a flattering angle for it. The proportions are actually quite bad in the X and Z, so I got to work on fixing all of it.

      On the plus side, it now is properly proportioned as a d8. On the down side, it's much smaller.

      All that's left for me to do now is to refine the alignment a bit and figure out how I want to polish it. I'm a bit afraid to carve numbers into the thing since it's pretty small and I might break it. I guess I'll figure that out next time!


      While I was working, a cute little jumping spider hopped onto the porch next to where I was, so I paused to give him a guest appearance! For reference, this guy was not much bigger than the positive terminal on a AA battery, so he was pretty darned tiny.

      Alright so like I said above I'll be posting Part 2 of today's carving soon, so stay tuned for more dice!
      • Artistic Artistic x 1
        Vadleon, May 17, 2013 Last edited by Vadleon, May 17, 2013
      • Apr 2, 2011

        but other than that, it looks sick! I wish I had dice made from stone ^^
        • Agree Agree x 1
        • Sep 6, 2010
          Cool stuff. Quite a bit of work. It reminds me of the rust repair job I did on my car last fall.
        • Jun 11, 2012
          Man that seems like a interesting DIY job. Only if I had the tools and materials to work with and a accesible porch too.
        • Jan 12, 2011
          Day 2 (Part 2)

          So today I figured I'd give some of the gray stones around my side yard a shot at being dice. Again, I'm not entirely sure what they're made of, but I'm inclined to say it's a type of slate-gravel. Regardless, they seem to carve a bit easier than the white stones I've been working with.

          Gray d6

          ..a small and otherwise boring rock. I honestly wouldn't have even considered any of the gray gravel in my yard if I didn't find this one already roughly shaped as a d6.

          It wasn't hard to rough out the faces. It would be going a lot faster however if I was using....

          Who'd have guessed that the dull cutter actually works spectacularly well as a vertical sander? It just tears into the rock like I've never seen from any of the coarse sanders... :tremble:

          By holding the cutter at a very shallow angle to the rock, I can sweep it across gently and carve very large amounts of excess stone away in much less time! It's brilliant! (And totally not intended to be used this way!)

          With the diamond sander in hand, I made quick work of the d6 form. Having gotten it down to a final size (I'm comfortable to say) and made each face nearly perpendicular with the adjacent sides, I'm very close to finalizing this die. It's even balanced so well that I can spin it on my desk like my other sets. All I need to do is number it and polish it, and I'll be done with it! :grin:

          Gray d4

          After the success with carving the gray d6, I took another look around the side yard to collect more rocks. This one caught my eye and was immediately slotted to become a d4.

          To bad it'll be shaved off in reduction to have an equilateral triangle. :frown:

          This was coming along quite well. Or at least it was until...

          Yeah, it fractured and took a good chunk off of one of the corners. I can probably still salvage it and make a smaller d4, but that can wait until another day. I'm sad now for breaking the largest (and yet numerically smallest) die I was working on. :frown:

          Gray d8

          So this rock could have been a few different kinds, but not long into roughing out the faces I settled on it becoming a d8. Again, the diamond cutter sander made pretty short work of the excess bits.

          I almost feel like I could have done something else with this rock to not produce so many chunks, but whatever works, I guess.

          It's not as clean as the white d8 I'm working on, but at least I was able to work out the angles a lot faster this time. Unfortunately it'll be about the same size as the other d8 after I fix a couple sides, but hey it'll match the gray d6 I made!

          Group Shot

          So here are the best pairings! They each need a bit of work and polishing, but I think this is promising for some practice dice. Hopefully I can start working on the other kinds (d10, d12, d20) soon and work out the sizes/angles for them from what I've got around the house. :smirk:

          Thanks for the replies, and yes, I definitely plan to show off the final products! Like before, I welcome any thoughts or questions people may have for the project. :smile:
          • Like Like x 3
          • Artistic Artistic x 3
            Vadleon, May 17, 2013 Last edited by Vadleon, May 17, 2013
          • Dec 6, 2011
            Since Brian won't put one in...

            Artistic x100. Icon: [IMG]

            Amazing job.
            • Agree Agree x 1
            • Aug 5, 2010
              Zomg that spider looked adorable he was like "Can I watch what your doing :3"

              Also can you make me a set of D&d dice... I think it would be awesome to roll a stone dice as a DM :grin:
            • Oct 8, 2009
              wow. wish i could do things like that. great job!
            • Feb 3, 2012
              Looks nice.
            • May 14, 2011
              I this this becoming a kickstarter project soon:

              "Vadleon's Die: Handcrafted for Optimal Throwing"

              or they could be

              "Vadleon's Polyhedrons: Cool down you drink in seconds"
              • Like Like x 1
              • Funny Funny x 1
              • Jan 12, 2011
                Once I get the hang of carving them and practice my consistency with sizes and whatnot, picking up commissions could be a very real possibility.

                A title open to interpretation. I can dig it. [IMG]
              • May 14, 2011
                The plural of dice is die! Twas not a typo! Twas a purposeful pun.
              • Mar 12, 2008
                "Whiskey stones" already exist
              • May 14, 2011
                That was the reference. :wink:

                There was a project for "Perfect Die" a while ago as well.
              • Jan 12, 2011
                Actually it's the other way around: "die" is singular and "dice" is plural. However, since the term "dice" is so commonplace, it's generally accepted to mean either noun form. [IMG]
                Vadleon, May 18, 2013 Last edited by Vadleon, May 18, 2013
              • Aug 5, 2010
                Fuck Yah
              • May 14, 2011
                My mind has been blown. :shock:

                Never bothered to look it up before.
              • Jan 12, 2011
                Day 3

                Heya folks! Today wasn't too exciting in terms of carving just because it was mostly more rock collection and prep work than significant progress done, but at least I got started on a new d4!

                Gray/White d4

                So this was an interesting find from today's hunt for potential dice candidates. Like many others, I'm never really sure what I'm going to do with a rock until I at least rough out the faces. This time, I figured I'd give the d4 form another go, and as luck would have it the white streak in this one is more central to what I'll be carving out!

                After some grinding with the diamond sander, I've worked it into a more recognizable d4 form. It still has some ways to go, but I decided to pause working on it after the rock started getting really hot from all the friction with the cutter sander. I really didn't want it to fracture like the other, so I set it aside to cool and would resume work on it another time.


                These are a few flat stones that I don't think I can reasonably carve any dice out of, but I do believe can still be useful. I went ahead and smoothed out the better of the two sides from each of them (excepting one that was a bit too small and awkward), so hopefully I could use them later to practice etching out numbers onto. I'll likely be collecting more of these kinds of rocks for just this purpose.

                Pictured here is the other half of the white stone I cut in half last update, and the bigger one above it is something I haven't quite figured out what to do with. I feel it's large enough to make a couple dice from, but I've been having trouble marking out in my head how to do that. I can definitely cut one out of there, but that would leave quite a bit of waste which I'd feel better about if I could make it into another somehow. Blarg on it for now.

                Not much to say here, other than how terrible the d6 looks. Fortunately, it won't for long.

                So after a bit more reduction, I figured I'd try out angling the edges a tad to check out appearances. Turns out it looks pretty nice that way, and it comes with a couple benefits: 1) it rolls better, expectedly, and 2) it'll be less likely to chip when rolled. This d6 still needs some more sanding and evening, but for a little experiment it did well!


                Yup, you guessed it. Among the rocks I collected, I found one that had the uncanny vagueness of the Starfleet insignia, so I tasked myself with carving it out along with my dice. I've only gotten started on it, but hopefully this will allow me to expand my rock carving into other ventures, where no die has gone before! [IMG]

                (Totally predictable joke, I'm sorry.)

                Edit: By such odds, it's also @[31Bravo] Ray's birthday today! How appropriate! :party:
                Vadleon, May 21, 2013 Last edited by Vadleon, May 21, 2013