Dice tray build notes

So the dice tray: Dice tray time

Overall, the build went pretty well.

Materials:
1/8" Purple heart
1/8" Baltic birch ply
AVSKILD Cork placemats from IKEA [http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40281654/]

I started by thinking I wanted the finger joints not to look as “lasery” so I made the fingers about .5mm too long. I then sanded them flush with the box. The end result is a fairly purple box joint, and I’m happy with that.

The rolling surface process:

  • Engrave at 1000/4/1x (pro) [Yes, four. Cork engraves as easily as anything I’ve seen, and very dark]
  • Cut at 280/full/1x (pro)
  • Lightly scuff the char off the edges (cork chars no matter what you do, it seems)
  • Sand the engraved surface smooth. I used 400 grit paper on a block. The end result is very flat cork with slightly aged engraving.
  • Stain the cork with a dark brown/green wash to desired tone. I used water soluble model tints. You could use anything, really, including coffee or strong tea (which I considered).
  • Seal cork with your favorite method. I used feed-n-wax.

Box process:
The sides are all friction fit. I spent some time testing small pieces and kerf adjusting to get it as close to perfect before I did anything. I intentionally chose an impractically small finger thickness, because again I didn’t want it to look too “lasery”.

Cut the pieces and sand them to your desired surface. I took it to 800 grit at this point, and specifically didn’t sand the fingers, as they needed to fit the side holes exactly.

Assemble the box frame. The fit was very tight.

Once the box frame was assembled, I cut a plywood base to fit. Turns out it was perfect with one kerf adjustment. This was by far the smoothest part of the process, I cut once and it worked.

Titebond glue the base into the frame, using custom-cut support spacers to ensure the depth was correct and level. This part was a bit complicated by the fact that I insisted that the plywood not be visible from the sides. You’ll have to figure this out for yourself, in the end I wish I’d done it slightly differently, so that gluing was a bit simpler. There are a million ways to make a box, so I won’t go into it any more here.

Once the glue set, sand the exterior to your final surface. I took it to 1500 grit, the wood was shiny at this point. I also very lightly sanded the corners so that they were barely eased. They’re still crisp sharp corners, but they feel much nicer.

I finished it with clear Danish oil, it brings out the color to the final look you see in the pictures. Be sure to mask off the interior bottom panel of the box before oiling. If you intend to glue anything into the tray, oiling it won’t help you. Oiling the interior corners was a bit tricky, but doable. The trick was not to have it drip into the base, so go slowly and get good coverage without dripping. [I’m skipping specific steps on how to use danish oil, but a quick google will set you straight if you never have used it before]

The cork surface friction fits into the tray, I was thinking to glue it down, but may leave it loose. The fit is tight enough that you have to flip the box and shake it to get it to come out. This will allow for cleaning or even replacing the surface as needed.

The last step I’ll do is to put some rubber feet on the base and then oil the bottom (exterior) surface of the plywood.

Things to consider:

  • Use a mask when sanding – it’s good practice in general – some people get really irritated by purple heart dust.

  • Take your time sanding. You’ll get a much better result if you sand longer than you think you need to. Patience is key.

  • The fingers don’t need to be very proud to be sandable. I did about .5mm and it was probably 2x what was needed. It was a pain to sand them down, but I like the result.

28 Likes

You got an excellent finish on it. That 1500 should give a baby smooth finish, I use that for the final color sanding on automotive paint.
I keep a full selection of wet or dry paper from 220 to 1500. I love that stuff.

6 Likes

Thanks, you just saved me some time and material. |I used your cork settings for cutting and the results were great. Thanks again.

1 Like

Do you mind sharing your settings for the 1/8 purple heart?

Hmm, let’s see.

Rather than give you exact settings (each piece of purpleheart I’ve cut has been pretty different from the rest…) I’ll teach you my testing method.

You can dial in your specific piece of wood pretty easily using this method, should only take a few minutes to get it just right.

Purpleheart is pretty tough stuff, so expect it to take some oomph.

Anyway, after all this preamble…
I think in the end I was near 180/full/1x on a pro… but this is fairly useless because the next board I hit only needed 210/full, the one after that was 170/full. Slight variations in thickness/density/moisture count/sunspots/who knows can make your cut succeed or fail. Testing is the way to go.

2 Likes