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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.