Wooden Dice Pencil Holder and Sharpener

I love playing boardgames and roleplaying games - and both types of games often have lots of dice for rolling and pencils for writing down stats or calculating scores. So I decided to combine them! My original idea was just to make a pencil holder, but I realized a single die looked rather lonely, so I decided to also try my hand at making a pencil sharpener as well.

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First, I cut down my maple into 1.75 inch cubes on my table saw, and applied a template I made with some spray adhesive. I punched the centers of each pip, and drilled out the holes with a 3/8 inch bit. I went about half an inch deep for all of the holes except for the holes on the “six” size of the die. For those, I drilled almost all of the way through the block, about 1 and a half inches.

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To create the pips in the die, I used a special “plug cutting” drill bit to cut plugs into a piece of scrap walnut. These plugs are normally used to hide screw and nail holes in woodworking pieces by making a plug out of the same type of wood, but they also work great for inlaying different-colored wood without using premade dowels.

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With the plugs cut, I popped them out and glued them into all of the holes except for the six-side. Once dry, I cut the plugs flush with my Japanese flush cut saw, and then sanded the sides smooth with my orbital sander.

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For the six-pip side, I cut a 3/8 in brass pipe into 1-inch segments and tapped them into the holes, using sandpaper and a deburring tool to smooth out the sharp edges. Finally, I rounded the corners and edges, and applied two coats of Danish Oil.

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For the sharpener, I followed all the same steps as I did for the pencil holder, except I only drilled quarter inch deep holes for every pip. I glued pips into every side except the “one” side, and cut them flush. On the bandsaw, I cut off one side, being careful not to cut into the pips. With the lid removed, I used my drill press with a forstner bit to hog out most of the material from the inside of the block. I cleaned up the rest of the cutout with a chisel and files.

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After some measuring and testing, I was able to cut down a block of scrap wood that would hold the pencil sharpener in place. I glued the sharpener to the block with CA glue, and then glued the whole thing to the inside of the die with more CA glue.

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To keep the lid in place, I glued a small magnet to the back of the lid, which conveniently attached to the sharpening. I also added a few small lips so the lid wouldn’t rotate. Once the lid was in place, I rounded the edges on my belt sander and applied the Danish Oil.

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I've very pleased with how the dice came out - especially the pencil holder. It matches exactly how I envisioned it in my head, and every step of the building process was smooth and enjoyable. The sharpener was trickier, and if I were to make more I would want to find a better solution to making the lid. It fits fine, but not fantastically, and because of the way I cut it off after squaring the block, the final die is not really a cube. Still, it was a great project for a weekend, and something that could be made again easily in the future.