Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DnD, 40k: DIY Dice Tower Step-by-Step

Geek Chic has some awesome handcrafted gaming goodies - none of which I can afford. And even if I could, I don't have a regular gaming group to justify the expense. Still, after seeing the fancy wooden dice towers they have for sale (one even making a cameo in the 2010 PAX Celebrity game) and having had my fill of rolling terribly in my games of Warhammer 40,000, I decided to make one for myself.

After sketching out my plans and recording measurements on a sheet of graph paper (which I neglected to scan for this post), I gathered my materials:
  • 1 sheet of foamcore posterboard (only about 1/2 got used)
  • 1 sheet of posterboard (less than 1/4 was needed)
  • A fresh X-acto blade in my hobby knife
  • Elmer's white glue
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Step 1: I began by cutting the walls (two 3.5" wide and two 4" wide)of the tower and the base (4" wide) to which it would be glued. The picture for this step was actually taken after I had performed . . .

Step 2: One side of each tower wall was notched - that is, I cut away everything but a single layer of the posterboard covering. This was intended to allow the pieces to glue together in a way that forms a stronger bond than simply butting the corners up against each other.

Step 3: At this point, I selected the two short (3.5") sides of the tower and began measuring and marking where the various obstacles the dice would encounter would be. It was important to leave at least a 1" gap between each of the obstacles so any (average- or smaller-sized) dice would not get caught in the tower.

Step 4: Using some posterboard - or, in my case, part of a cereal box - I cut out patterns for the struts that would be supporting the ledges. This saved a LOT of time having to measure each of the pieces that needed to be cut out.

Step 5: I started by gluing the small corner pieces to one of the short sides of the tower. I also decided to glue the adjoining wall that shared the piece. I grabbed a couple of tissue boxes to hold the walls in places as they dried.

Step 6: Gluing continued until all the small pieces were in place. The third wall was glued in place, but not the final wall - as I would need to reach inside the tower to glue the posterboard shelves and struts.

Step 7: At this point I glued in the first posterboard shelf. Once it had dried, I added the struts. This was annoying because the posterboard wanted to pull away and had to be held in place until the glue dried. 

Step 8: Most of the ledges ran with the long wall of the tower. However, I wanted to include at least on ledge that sat perpendicular to the rest. It was quite a pain to hold the struts in place for this ledge. At this point, any poor measurements or sloppy cuts I made really started to come back to haunt me.

Step 9a: Finally having glued all the ledges and struts in place, I added the final wall of the tower. A 1" gap was included at the bottom.

Step 9b: Looking down into the tower from above, you can really see how working fast and tired leads to some shoddy results. Remember the golden rule of the craftsman: Measure twice, cut once.

Step 10: The tower is glued to the base.

Step 11: 1" walls are added to the base to catch the dice when the come tumbling out. At this point, the tower is perfectly functional, if a bit spare on detail.
Step 12: Some detail to spice things up a bit. When making cuts like this, the importance of a fresh blade cannot be overstated. I got a little too excited with how it was looking and took a picture before adding the final crenellation.

I have plans to add some more details and texture to the tower before painting to look like stone. I'll be happy to share pics of the final product if/when it happens.

Looking back over this project, the ledges were a huge pain. If I were to do this again, I would try to find a more efficient way to build them.  I was struck with an idea for making an even easier dice tower and hope to post about that in the near future. The cost will definitely be higher, but the frustration, time to build, and resultant mess will (I hope) be much lower.

If you have any question or comments, feel free to make them!


  1. Best 12 step program to better dice rolling?

    I eagerly await to read about your next tower.

  2. This is a cool project -- and I like the structured step-by-step process. Much better than some of my posts on

    But, did your rolling really improve?

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks! I used the tower in my first game with the new DE Codex. There were a couple of weak rolls at the beginning, but by the end of the game, I'd say about 75% of the rolls came up in my favor - especially the Flickerfield saves I was making. I must've gotten a half dozen or more 5+ rolls in a row. :-)

  4. I'm interested in your plans but the pics won't load.

    1. I apologize for the inconvenience!

      When I updated my website, I blew away all the images I had saved on the server - including the ones for this post. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find them.

      The good news is, there are some pictures at the following link that will give you an excellent idea of how to arrange the struts inside the tower:

      Admittedly, this layout is more straightforward than my attempt at perpendicular struts, which were a pain to glue.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!