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Make: Projects

Dice Popper

This is my version of a classic way to “roll” the die for a board game.

Dice Popper

This is my version of a classic way to “roll” the die for a board game. The key to making this special die agitator is the clear plastic capsule. I found the right size, 2" diameter and 1⅞" tall, in a vending machine — it’s the kind that holds inexpensive toys or trinkets.

Illustrations by Julie West


Step #1: Cut the wood and drill the holes.

Dice Popper
  • Parts A, C, and E are cut of 1/4"-thick wood, while parts B and D are 3/4" thick. Cut all 5 pieces to 3-1/2"×3-1/2".
  • Holes have to be drilled in all pieces except part E.
  • For part A, cut a large hole in the center, anywhere from 1-7/8" to 2" in diameter, depending on the size of the domed half of your capsule. Then drill 4 countersink holes about 1/2" in from each corner, for the wood screws.
  • For parts B and C, cut a 2-1/8"-diameter hole in each center. These holes will house the bottom part of the capsule. For part D, drill a 3/8"-diameter hole in the center, which provides a guide for the spring.

Step #2: Assemble.

Dice Popper
  • Nail together parts B through E with the finishing nails, avoiding the corners where the screws will go. After this bottom block is assembled, insert the spring.
  • Place a die into the capsule, snap it, and lower it into the wood block. Part A will cap everything. It requires a slight push to keep it in place as you screw in the wood screws.
  • After that, you’re ready to go. Good luck!


This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 33, page 87.