Evan Derrick
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I had seen dice towers on BGG before that were built using Jenga blocks (see here), but they were a bit too small for my tastes. Additionaly, I had all these thrifted Scrabble sets laying around begging me to do something creative with them. So it was that the Tile Ghoul Dice Tower was born.

I paid a grand total of $3.50 for the copies of Jenga and Scrabble, making this a very cheap project.



If you, too, are addicted to enjoy thrifting and have extra copies of games clogging up your closet space, perhaps you'd enjoy a nice Tile Ghoul Dice Tower to spice up game night. Instructions are below!

Note: I am no craftsman or woodworker so I imagine many of my steps are somewhat clunky. Better experts than myself might be able to provide alternate/easier/more efficient ways of doing things.

Materials



1 copy of Jenga
The tower itself is composed of 52 Jenga blocks. However, I used an additional 4 blocks to support the internal ramps which brought the total to 56 blocks. Since Jenga only comes with 54 blocks, that means I needed an extra Jenga set. However, if you use something else to support the ramps, you could put this together with a single copy.

3 copies of Scrabble
I used 296 Scrabble tiles so three sets should cover you. However, I hid certain words on the sides of the tower which necessitated using certain letters. I needed 4 sets of Scrabble to spell out the words I wanted. If you're not picky, 3 sets will work.

You'll also need 1 Scrabble board.

Clamps
You only need 1 large clamp, but I sprung for a few extra. Getting clamps (or hobby clamps) with rubber grips is recommended, although not necessary.

Glue
I used the fast acting Gorilla Glue that dries twice as fast, mainly because I didn't want to have to wait for everything to dry.

Cutting Blade
I used a plain old X-Acto knife to cut the board which was a bit tedious. I imagine there are nicer tools one could use to cut through the mounted board.


1. Cut Out Tower Base

Scrabble loves might want to look away for this step. Lay your blocks out in the formation shown below and trace the outline with a pencil or pen. If you're smart (unlike me), make sure your base faces the right direction and isn't upside down (D'OH!).



Using your preferred cutting implement, carve out the base.




2. Glue Tower Walls Together

Take three Jenga blocks, glue them together, and clamp. You'll need 11 sections like this. Because you'll be layering the tower with Scrabble tiles later, it's important to find blocks that are similar in width so you have a nice, smooth surface. I found that the dimensions of the blocks all varied slightly, so it took a little effort to match up blocks that made a smooth edge.




3. Form Lower Section of Tower

Using 3 of the wall sections you made in step 2, form the lower section of the tower. Build the tower using the configuration you see in the picture. If you only have 1 large clamp (like I did), this may take a while since you have to clamp each side by itself. For the base of the tower, make sure to leave one of the wall sections off! The dice need an opening to exit through, after all.




4. Glue Blocks and Lower Section of Tower to Board

Begin gluing blocks to the section of board that you cut out.



Once those are in place, glue the lower tower section you made in step 3 to the end. You should now have something that looks like this:




5. Build Upper Tower Sections

Take your remaining wall sections and, following the same steps you used to make the lower section of the tower, build the two upper sections. You should end up with this:




6. Cut Out Ramps

Cut out three ramps from what you have left of your Scrabble board, a longer one for the bottom and two shorter ones to go above it. You can use the tower sections you've already created to measure accordingly.




7. Cut Upper Ramp Supports

This is the step that pushed me over the standard 54 block Jenga limit. If you can find alternate ramp supports, you'll only need a single copy of Jenga.

Cut two Jenga blocks in half so you have four smaller blocks. These will be the ramp supports for the upper two ramps.




8. Glue Upper Ramp Supports

This part can be a bit tricky. The ramps are going to be placed inside the tower in an alternating fashion. Here's a picture from the side giving you an idea of how the ramps are situated:



A ramp goes inside each tower section. Determine where the ramp supports you cut in Step 7 need to go in order to support the ramp. I simply wedged the ramps into the tower sections, put the ramp supports up against it, and traced around them with a pen. Using the line as a guide, I glued and clamped them to the tower sections.




9. Glue Lower Ramp Supports

This part is also tricky and may have been easier to do before I glued the lower tower section to the base. First, I cut myself a guide to help with placing the lower ramp supports:



Using the guide, I determined where the ramp would go and how steep it would slope and then attached the ramp supports accordingly. Rather than using the halves of a Jenga block like I did in step 8, I used two whole Jenga blocks for the supports.



10. Glue Ramps to Supports

Glue your ramps to the ramp supports and clamp them.





11. Glue Tower Sections Together

Now that your ramps are set within each tower section, glue everything together. If you don't have a really big clamp, stack a bunch of heavy books on top until the glue dries.




12. Choose Your Words

This step isn't necessary but makes it a whole lot more fun. If you want to hide words in the sides of the tower, plan out where you'll place them. I gridded each side of the tower and filled in the blanks until I was happy with the word placement. For reference,

- The sides and back of the tower measure 6 tiles wide by 11 tiles tall.
- The front of the tower measures 6 tiles wide by 7 tiles tall.
- The sides along the base measure 12 tiles wide.
- The front of the base measures 6 tiles wide.



Again, depending on which words you select and how picky you are, you can get by with 3 copies of Scrabble. I ended up needing 4.

Once you've selected your words, lay the tiles out on the table before you glue them onto the tower. This will help you make sure you have enough letters. I ended up shifting things around quite a bit at this point. Once you're happy, fill in all the blanks with whatever tiles you have left.




13. Glue Scrabble Tiles to the Tower

Start at the top and work your way horizontally and down. Depending on how smooth your tower walls are, the tiles probably will be a bit uneven in places. No worries, as this just adds to the homemade charm.



The Gorilla Glue that I used expands after you spread it on the tiles. If you end up placing to much glue on one tile, the glue will expand and will raise the tile up quite a bit. Just make sure you go back and press each tile down firmly before the glue completely dries.


14. Enjoy the Irony of a Dice Tower Made From Games That Don't Use Dice

I find that the tower creates a very pleasing echo as the dice roll down through it. Also satisfying is the speed at which the dice shoot out the bottom.

Hope this was helpful! For those of you who are much more knowledgeable about crafty things like this, please feel free to give any tips or pointers for how I might have done this better.






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Jenks
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Very nice! I made myself a dice tower a while ago and it doesn't come close to this. The pictures are a little tricky to see though - you might want to consider resizing them by typing:


[ ImageID=824122medium]

rather than

[ ImageID=824122]

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Sean Ahern
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Very nice, thumbed for step #14 because that's exactly what I was thinking as I was reading.
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Evan Derrick
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Jenkachu wrote:
Very nice! I made myself a dice tower a while ago and it doesn't come close to this. The pictures are a little tricky to see though - you might want to consider resizing them by typing:


[ ImageID=824122medium]

rather than

[ ImageID=824122]



Thanks for the tip! The pictures are also quite large so you can see plenty of detail if you click on them.
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'DEESIX'

Nice!
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Nice. If I had a dice tower like this I'd use it every time I played Jenga or Scrabble. devil
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Evan Derrick
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waferthinninja wrote:
Nice. If I had a dice tower like this I'd use it every time I played Jenga or Scrabble. devil


You wouldn't believe how much more exciting vanilla Scrabble becomes with you pull out this baby.
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If you don't want to use a second copy of Jenga, you could probably get away with using waste strips of the Scrabble board for the ramp supports.

I wonder if the ramps should be inverted, presenting the rougher back surfaces of the board to the dice in order to keep them from just sliding off.
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parkrrrr wrote:
If you don't want to use a second copy of Jenga, you could probably get away with using waste strips of the Scrabble board for the ramp supports.

I wonder if the ramps should be inverted, presenting the rougher back surfaces of the board to the dice in order to keep them from just sliding off.


Yep, waste strips from the Scrabble board would have worked. Might have been simpler, too. Didn't think of that.

I chose that side mostly for aesthetic purposes. Seeing the actual Scrabble board just looks cooler, IMHO. The dice do slide a bit, but they shoot down through the tower and out the bottom so quickly that there is plenty of jumbling involved. No dropping a die down trying to have a specific surface come up.
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Nice one!

I'm going to build one.
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Mark Brown
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Excellent! Looks great, and thanks for taking the time to post this how-to.

A few random suggestions, which in no way imply that this tower isn't awesome, because it is!

You had plenty of tile racks left over from the Scrabbles - since they have a nice profile, you could trim and mitre them to make a nice "frame" for the top of the tower. (You could have also cut them to use for the baffle supports, if you wanted to use only one Jenga set.)

You could add thin strips of wood quarter-round to finish the tall edges of the tower.

After gluing, you might have sanded the sides smooth so the tiles would lay perfectly flat.

Gorilla Glue is a bit of overkill for this - I would have probably used a standard wood glue. This wouldn't have expanded on you, and it would have given you more time to fit pieces accurately.

Congrats on a fantastic & inspiring project!
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Ian McCarthy
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Okay, I'm seeing the word ANAL down the side of the dice tower like it's in boldface type or something. blush

I also was inspired by the Jenga Dice Tower that you linked to in the beginning of your excellent post. And, like you, I found that it looked a little small, so I made it larger, but mine only uses 39 blocks, some foam core and chopsticks for the internal ramp supports. Also, like Mark suggested, I used wood glue, because it's incredibly strong and dries fast enough to let me handle the glued bits within an hour, although you want to give it at least 24 hours to set up before you stress the bonds.



Later, I made a second Tower out of "real" Jenga blocks and they were slightly larger and fit together better than the generic ones I had gotten from a dangling sack at the thrift store for 99 cents.



Then, a friend wanted to make a tower out of his Donkey Kong Jenga set and we modified the design to make it look somewhat like the video game.



I just have to keep myself from thrifting every Jenga set I see for more Dice Towers. It's tempting.

Thanks again for the post.
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Evan Derrick
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airship51 wrote:
Excellent! Looks great, and thanks for taking the time to post this how-to.

A few random suggestions, which in no way imply that this tower isn't awesome, because it is!

You had plenty of tile racks left over from the Scrabbles - since they have a nice profile, you could trim and mitre them to make a nice "frame" for the top of the tower. (You could have also cut them to use for the baffle supports, if you wanted to use only one Jenga set.)

You could add thin strips of wood quarter-round to finish the tall edges of the tower.

After gluing, you might have sanded the sides smooth so the tiles would lay perfectly flat.

Gorilla Glue is a bit of overkill for this - I would have probably used a standard wood glue. This wouldn't have expanded on you, and it would have given you more time to fit pieces accurately.

Congrats on a fantastic & inspiring project!


Thanks for the suggestions, Mark! They are much appreciated.

I really like the idea of adding strips of wood to the bottom which would cover up the frayed cut of the Scrabble board. I'll have to see if I can find some.

Using tile racks for the top of the tower is also a great idea. However, I probably don't have either the skill or the woodworking tools in order to make that look good. I simply sawed through my Jenga blocks with a hacksaw which, while it worked, certainly wasn't elegant.

And thanks for the tip on the Gorilla Glue. Well, at least I know it certainly won't come apart now. laugh
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KenToad wrote:
Okay, I'm seeing the word ANAL down the side of the dice tower like it's in boldface type or something. blush


It's actually the first part of the phrase 'ANALYSIS PARALYSIS.' But, in your defense, my wife keeps coming up to me and saying, "The word 'ANAL' really sticks out, ya know."

KenToad wrote:
I also was inspired by the Jenga Dice Tower that you linked to in the beginning of your excellent post. And, like you, I found that it looked a little small, so I made it larger, but mine only uses 39 blocks, some foam core and chopsticks for the internal ramp supports. Also, like Mark suggested, I used wood glue, because it's incredibly strong and dries fast enough to let me handle the glued bits within an hour, although you want to give it at least 24 hours to set up before you stress the bonds.



Later, I made a second Tower out of "real" Jenga blocks and they were slightly larger and fit together better than the generic ones I had gotten from a dangling sack at the thrift store for 99 cents.



Then, a friend wanted to make a tower out of his Donkey Kong Jenga set and we modified the design to make it look somewhat like the video game.



I just have to keep myself from thrifting every Jenga set I see for more Dice Towers. It's tempting.

Thanks again for the post.


Yeah, I messed with a bunch of different configurations, but ultimately wanted a really big entry and exit point for the dice so I could dump 12 in there at once if I wanted to. It certainly would have been easier to make it smaller as the block configuration I went with made aligning everything much trickier.

That Donkey Kong tower is way cool. I need to keep my eyes peeled for a Jenga set like that.

Yup, I keep looking for Jenga sets so I can make more. It's just so difficult to say 'no' when they're only charging .50 for all that wood!

Thanks for the comments, Ken!
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Just simply -

Frigging Awesome

Nice work, so how much would you sell one of those for?
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Hendal wrote:
Just simply -

Frigging Awesome

Nice work, so how much would you sell one of those for?


I don't know... make me an offer I can't refuse?
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Can I get some info on that painting? It's amazing...
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derrickec wrote:

11. Glue Tower Sections Together

Now that your ramps are set within each tower section, glue everything together. If you don't have a really big clamp, stack a bunch of heavy books on top until the glue dries.




As your local librarian, I must inform you that your use of our books violates your lending agreement so therefore we regretfully inform you that your lending privileges are hereby revoked.
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xraygoggles wrote:
Can I get some info on that painting? It's amazing...


It's a Jack Perlmutter, an artist of some renown. My wife's grandmother dated him for a while which is how we got the painting.
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kjamma4 wrote:
derrickec wrote:

11. Glue Tower Sections Together

Now that your ramps are set within each tower section, glue everything together. If you don't have a really big clamp, stack a bunch of heavy books on top until the glue dries.




As your local librarian, I must inform you that your use of our books violates your lending agreement so therefore we regretfully inform you that your lending privileges are hereby revoked.


D'oh! I've been discovered!

Wait a second... HA! Your Illinois location has given you away! Nice try, but your deception has failed!
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derrickec wrote:
kjamma4 wrote:
derrickec wrote:

11. Glue Tower Sections Together

Now that your ramps are set within each tower section, glue everything together. If you don't have a really big clamp, stack a bunch of heavy books on top until the glue dries.




As your local librarian, I must inform you that your use of our books violates your lending agreement so therefore we regretfully inform you that your lending privileges are hereby revoked.


D'oh! I've been discovered!

Wait a second... HA! Your Illinois location has given you away! Nice try, but your deception has failed!


I'm your visiting librarian?
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Since you use up 3 copies of Scrabble, I have used the tile racks as Ramp Supports. Saves on Jenga blocks and are easier to cut.

I have also found some long square "toothpicks" that I have glued to the top surface of all the ramps to help prevent the dice from sliding across the slick board surface.

I will post a photo of this later.

Tower 1 is completed and awaiting more scrabble tiles, tower 2 is under construction.
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This is Brilliant!

Thank you! thumbsup I'm now scouring the local freecycle for old copies of Scrabble & Jenga!
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Chops wrote:
Since you use up 3 copies of Scrabble, I have used the tile racks as Ramp Supports. Saves on Jenga blocks and are easier to cut.

I have also found some long square "toothpicks" that I have glued to the top surface of all the ramps to help prevent the dice from sliding across the slick board surface.

I will post a photo of this later.

Tower 1 is completed and awaiting more scrabble tiles, tower 2 is under construction.


Pictures! We need to see pictures!
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Very nice; but if I ever undertake this project, I will not be gluing Scrabble tiles around the outside. I feel they could be better employed as pieces in other games (such as the Merchant of Venus upgrade somewhere on BGG).
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