If you’ve done any board, RPG, or miniatures gaming on a table that has lots of game components, miniatures, terrain, or other playing pieces, you know how annoying it can be when someone’s overly enthusiastic dice role wipes out half of the table. There are commercial dice rolling towers you can buy (or ones you can make) and there’s always the over-turned game box lid as a dicing tray. But I can’t believe I hadn’t discovered the picture frame dice tray until last night. I was watching a gaming demo video and noticed that the guy was using a black picture frame with deep edges and a piece of felt in place of the glass. The result was a very effective and rather handsome-looking DIY gaming accessory. I figured that he might not be the only one using such a tray, so I did a search and found dozens of variations on the theme.
To create a dice tray from a picture frame, all you need is a cheap frame at a suitable size. You choose a size based on the playing area you’re working with and number of dice you’ll typically be throwing. Dice-intensive games will obviously require a bigger dice tray. You also want to make sure that the frame is deep enough that it creates decent side walls to contain the dice when thrown. The best choice here is to try and find a shadow box frame which has very deep sides.
Once you have a suitable frame, you simply replace the glass with a piece of felt or cork material. This becomes your rolling surface. The use of cork especially will dampen the action of the dice, constraining them to the tray, and lowering the sound level of the thrown dice.
The other fun thing that people do is to stencil or paint a logo or other game-themed art onto the felt surface to add some personality to their tray. As I said, there are oodles of videos showing the same very basic project. Here’s a typical example.
You don’t have to use a picture frame. Craft stores also sell 5-sided pine boxes of various shapes and sizes that you can use. Here are a few videos showing boxes being built using rectangular boxes and from little wooden trays that are also available at the craft store.
This gamer swears by using super-cheap round wall clocks for his dice trays. He gets them at the discount/dollar store for $4. For the bed of the tray, he uses old sci-fi-themed T-shirts to add a fun design element.
You can also make a dice box that fits into the look and character of your gaming by building the box into a treasure chest or other suitably themed container. This Instructabale member created a number of trays out of picture frames and treasure chests from Wal-Mart.
And if you really want to go all out, here’s a monstrously cool dice tray, from the YT channel The DM’s Craft, made from a laser-cut dice tray kit modified with Sculpey-based monster hands.