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

Project Steps

Cut the wood and drill the holes.

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.


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.