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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Do It Yourself

Subject: Cheapskate cubes rss

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Vlad P
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Hey guys,
I just thought of a cheap way to make cubes: baking polymer clay into silicone molds. You can do all sorts of stuff with different molds.
Is this feasible?
Would fimo/cernit be appropriate to use as game bits? I have no experience with them.

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maf man
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with any project its just a question of cost.
Can you take the clay and form it in that mold reliably and effectively?
My guess is that the clay would be too stiff to be easy to hand work them in. At least the cheap clay that I've gotten before would be, maybe there is a better choice out there. You have to get the clay in there with next to no air pockets throwing off your shape you also have to put the same amount of clay in each cavity and not push out the flexible side walls and get the height the same on each.

So I see time and uniformity being the main cost. It might work well enough depending on the use though. I could imagine this making great looking upgraded pieces for Imhotep and I'm sure other games.
The clay product itself works well as long as your geometry is sturdy and you don't overcook.

But if I were looking for a more effective way to make my own cubes I would probably just get a square dowel rod, cut with whatever cheap saw setup I could get and have a stop to get a uniform size and spray paint.
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Mrs. "I pity the fool" T
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https://www.enasco.com/p/Rainbow-Cubes%2BTB15524?searchText=...

1000 plastic Cubes in 6 colors $17.95
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JPotter
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mafman6 wrote:
with any project its just a question of cost.
Can you take the clay and form it in that mold reliably and effectively?
My guess is that the clay would be too stiff to be easy to hand work them in. At least the cheap clay that I've gotten before would be, maybe there is a better choice out there. You have to get the clay in there with next to no air pockets throwing off your shape you also have to put the same amount of clay in each cavity and not push out the flexible side walls and get the height the same on each.

So I see time and uniformity being the main cost. It might work well enough depending on the use though. I could imagine this making great looking upgraded pieces for Imhotep and I'm sure other games.
The clay product itself works well as long as your geometry is sturdy and you don't overcook.

But if I were looking for a more effective way to make my own cubes I would probably just get a square dowel rod, cut with whatever cheap saw setup I could get and have a stop to get a uniform size and spray paint.


Get a bundle or square rods, cut them with a finish blade. That's the easy part (assuming you have a miter saw or radial arm saw).

The harder part is the coloring. Dying and staining can be done in bulk, but if you want bright solid colors that's going to mean paint.

And you'll want them waxed or sealed to look finished. Bring on the tumbler!

These the advantage of casting, the color and finish can be baked right in.

If you've got access to a laser with enough ooomph for 10mm material, you can just cut them out of acrylic. Mine only handles up to 6mm. Great for coins and tokens, but too small for cubes.

Counting cubes are dirt cheap and come in bulk, but you'll get the colors they just happen to come in.

Another option for some games is wooden cribbage pegs. They can be found online cheaply when bought in bulk, and come in many colors.
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Vlad P
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Thanks guys for the replies.
In Eastern Europe it's a PITA to get cubes and bits at a decent price. I wouldn't say it gets too expensive, but paying for shipping more than the items themselves puts me off.
Cutting up my own wood and painting/clear coating is not gonna get me that much cheaper, not to mention the extra work for it.
Heck, I'm just gonna go buy a small bag of clay and a cube tray, it will cost next to nothing and I'll see how it goes from there.
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Harry Jacobs
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I just bought extra from Meeple Source, no fuss and effort there.
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maf man
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vimann wrote:
Heck, I'm just gonna go buy a small bag of clay and a cube tray, it will cost next to nothing and I'll see how it goes from there.

I'd love to hear how it turns out!
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JPotter
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vimann wrote:

Heck, I'm just gonna go buy a small bag of clay and a cube tray, it will cost next to nothing and I'll see how it goes from there.


Maybe you can go into the tiny brick business
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Vlad P
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mafman6 wrote:
vimann wrote:
Heck, I'm just gonna go buy a small bag of clay and a cube tray, it will cost next to nothing and I'll see how it goes from there.

I'd love to hear how it turns out!

Sure, I will update the thread after the experiment.

aesthetocyst wrote:

Maybe you can go into the tiny brick business

I can already see myself putting Lego out of business in a couple of years.laugh
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Frank McNally
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Epoxy will form nice hard finish in molds. You'll need a mold release agent (to keep it from sticking to your mold). I have never tried coloring epoxy but I bet you could. It might even look cool if you added small colored beads to the epoxy before curing.

Possible issues-

depending on surface tension you might get some distortion at top owing to the meniscus.

small bubbles can persist in epoxy from mixing. often vacuum is used to pull these out during a slow cure. you'd need a pump and some sort of bell-jar.

PS- if you have access to a kiln, a clay + other inorganics could be used and can be mixed at very pourable states (would need to dry before firing).

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Pelle Nilsson
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Isn't resin similar to epoxy, but actually intended to (and better for?) doing things like this? I can imagine it is also cheaper as you can buy big bottles of it costing almost nothing. I believe there are both types that you need to mix two different liquids and types that you need a single bottle of some stuff for. Never tried it, but it was my first thought when I saw this thread.
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Frank McNally
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there are 2-part epoxies and 1-part. the 2-part are better to store since the 1-part tend to cure once opened.
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JPotter
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pelni wrote:
Isn't resin similar to epoxy, but actually intended to (and better for?) doing things like this? I can imagine it is also cheaper as you can buy big bottles of it costing almost nothing. I believe there are both types that you need to mix two different liquids and types that you need a single bottle of some stuff for. Never tried it, but it was my first thought when I saw this thread.


If a plastic end product is desired, i'd vote resin as well. Yes, it can be colored, as well as mixxed with particulates for various effects, as well as encapsulate objects (imagine nutty things like "ice cubes" with goldfish in them).

Can also produce marbled, multicolor pieces.
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Vlad P
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Resin definitely would be better, but over here it's quite expensive and that means no cheapskate cubes.
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Jimmy Hensel
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yenkin2001 wrote:
I just bought extra from Meeple Source, no fuss and effort there.


When I was buying cubes, I found Spielematerial.de to be less expensive than Meeple Source even with the postage from Europe.
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Gianluca Casu
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This is how I do cubes for myself using clay

https://photos.app.goo.gl/bCLaFFniUuRQ1oNj9

(please do not mind me talking to my wife)

If FIMO is too expensive to you too, then do cold porcelain. Here is how.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxqmMyLwxk0

Little tip. if you want coloured cubes, add colour to the clay during preparation not paint on the already hardened cube.
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Vlad P
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pawnpusher wrote:
yenkin2001 wrote:
I just bought extra from Meeple Source, no fuss and effort there.

When I was buying cubes, I found Spielematerial.de to be less expensive than Meeple Source even with the postage from Europe.

Ordered from spielematerial last week, there will be cubes, amongst other things.
It would be so much easier if I'd just reuse pieces between PNP games, but the OCD is too strong.

capricorn_tm wrote:
This is how I do cubes for myself using clay

Whoa, nice skills!
I'm gonna use cernit instead of fimo, the small pack is a little over a dollar and is already coloured and kinda opaque.
Unfortunately can't find locally that damned silicone mold and have to wait a month to get it from China.
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Cornixt
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Seems like you'd be better off just cutting it with a sharp knife. Silicone is way softer than the clay, I doubt you could squeeze it in and still end up with cubes.
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Thomas Erskine
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seems to me that the old way of making pills would be best if you're going to make any number of them. Simply, you make a board full of holes. The thickness of the board governs the height of the shapes. Then you just press the clay or whatever into all the holes, wait for it to dry and tap the cubes out.
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Ravage Board Gaming
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Just use beading supplies - cubes are a few pennies each.
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Jake Staines
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cornixt wrote:
Seems like you'd be better off just cutting it with a sharp knife. Silicone is way softer than the clay, I doubt you could squeeze it in and still end up with cubes.


What you can do to avoid this is make a backing for your mould out of something stiffer. There's a proper term for this - stiffening flexible moulds - but I'm afraid I forget what it is right now.

Take the mould and place it face-down (the opposite way up to if you were using it to make ice cubes, for example) in a shallow dish, then mix up some fairly thick plaster of Paris and cover the rear of the mould with that, then you'll have a rigid backing that will prevent the mould cavities from ballooning when you press clay into them. If you're careful with the way you handle it, you should be able to peel the silicone mould out from the plaster backing and re-use it later, as well - but even if you can't, the silicone layer will probably be flexible enough to remove small cubes with a cocktail stick or a feeler gauge or something. If you have to break it, plaster of Paris is pretty cheap and can even be re-used by smashing it up into powder and heating in an oven.
 
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The Board Game Geek store has cubes of all colors for sale. Not sure what they cost for Europe.

For DIY, check your local craft store or online. You can buy bags of unfinished wooden cubes of various sizes pretty cheap. Look in the wood project section. Same companies make all manner of turned wood pieces like barrels bottles and pegs.

As mentioned above, counting cubes come in many colors. Check teaching supply stores; local and online.
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Jeff Troyan
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I use the cubes from EAI education stores

https://www.eaieducation.com/Product/531004/Centimeter_Cubes...


The colors are distinguishable, in 10 different colors and paintable if you prime them first I found. It may not be exactly 100 of each color, but its gotta be close.

Also only $14 per 1000.
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Ryan Byrd
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Senorjefe wrote:
I use the cubes from EAI education stores

https://www.eaieducation.com/Product/531004/Centimeter_Cubes...


The colors are distinguishable, in 10 different colors and paintable if you prime them first I found. It may not be exactly 100 of each color, but its gotta be close.

Also only $14 per 1000.


I have these and they are great. I may never run out.
 
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