Dice boxes with a solder inlay

So, before my x-carve, I’ve made dice boxes on my bandsaw. Very plain, but they do the job. Here is what I’ve come up with recently:

The wood is black walnut, and both boxes are flocked. The bottoms are carved about .7" deep, and function as dice trays.

The solder was an interesting experience. It didn’t want to stick to the wood very well, and filling in gaps was a bit of a pain, because of the way the surface tension works with solder. I used a propane torch to melt it, dripping it onto my carved top, then went back with a soldering iron to try and fill in the spots where it didn’t fill. One of the big drawbacks of this method is that I ended up sanding off about as much as I left, which is a lot of wasted material. I can’t really see how I can avoid that, though maybe practice will help.

In hindsight, I should have only used two magnets for closure instead of 4. Previously, my dice boxes have had swivel tops, made with magnets at two corners of a rectangular box. The hinges really reduced the amount of force needed to keep the box closed, since it can now only open in one direction. This was a fun project, though I think my next efforts will be to use epoxy resin and metal powder.


Nice looking projects! A couple of questions about using solder. What did you do to help the solder adhere to the wood pocket? I’ve speculated that you could take the solder out out of pocket after it cooled, then epoxy it in place.

Regarding the filling of the pocket would it work any better to melt it in bulk in a cauldron and pour all at once? About how much solder do inlays like yours take?

I really like your designs, and hope to do similar projects in the near future.

Looks good. Instead of Soder, have you thought about doing a 1/8 inch inlay of aluminum? might be easier and with a similar effect?

Hope its lead free solder…

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@Wardwilliams, I didn’t use anything to help the solder adhere, just melted it drop by drop directly into the 1/16" pocket. I might fall out, and if it does I’ll epoxy it back into place, but until then, I’m going to see how long it lasts. I’ve read that melting it in bulk and pouring it in would work better, but I work at an asphalt plant in a warehouse at night, and I’ve got a little propane torch, a roll of solder, and lots of time. One day I’ll be able to melt a lot, but hopefully I’ll have moved onto epoxy and metal powder by then.

That’s the other issue, with the price of solder here, at least at HD, it used far too much. I think for the two boxes and one other small project, I used about 30" of the stuff. Probably more, that’s just a rough estimate.

@Philjohnson, I had thought of that, but I wasn’t sure how to do that with Easel. I work far too much, so shop time is limited, and usually spent catching up on projects for friends. Easel learning time is rare.

@Bluelocktite, Still working on being precise enough for inlays to work, or rather spending enough time to get them right to risk cutting out aluminum. Plus, the afore mentioned time and access to materials make solder the easier option.

@stephencook, of course!

I would like to mention brass as inserts. I recently engraved and cut out brass (from 1/16" brass sheet) and it milled very nicely. Aspiring to do inlay with brass for some future project. Brass is a very nice metal to machine so figured it could be worth being mentioned :slight_smile:

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@HaldorLonningdal, I’ve been meaning to try some brass carving at some point, this may be that project.

@PhilJohnson I’ve recently had that same thought, I’ve got one more solder inlay box planned, I’ll have to see how many of these great ideas I can incorporate.

I’m a simple man; I see something relating to Tabletop RPGs and I click it. This is pretty cool. I’d like to see what you come up with next; I recently made small dice storage boxes with sliding dovetail lids with character names carved into them (the lids are easier to replace with a new name should something unfortunate happen…). I’m still contemplating if it’s possible to make standard-sized wooden dice with the machine though. So far it’s proven to be beyond my capabilities, though to be fair, most things are.

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Thanks, next is more elaborately carved insides with copper powder/epoxy inlays. I’m heading to a big gaming con this week though, so that won’t be until finances stabilize in a month or so.