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Subject: Wooden set of D&D dice?? rss

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genevieve rigglet
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sooooo call me a romantic but it is my bf's and mine 5 year anniversary, and tradition dictates we buy something wooden as a gift.

i have been scouring the internet for somewhere that sells a standard set of d&d wooden dice. and all its coming up with is a d6 :/

I'm considering just making them myself, but i wonder if i can do it in a months time.

the reason i'm posting is to find out 2 things.
1. anyone ever find a wooden set of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 die?
2. anyone ever fully hand carved 7, multiple sided dice like this?

i hope i get some feed back. this is exactly what i want to make for him!
then, we can play if i get them balanced right!
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Scott Nelson
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kickstarter for this exact thing had the costs pretty high for a full set of D&D dice, and getting it within the month would not be possible unless you know the designer himself. But, the woods he uses are very rare.
http://kck.st/xvWH2J appears to have ended though. Though the cost was $1,983 for 7 sets and help them figure out how to do it...and 10,000xps to start with in a game he runs locally.
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Aron Clark
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Saw this thread and thought, neat! Couple of Google searches isn't yielding anything for me either. Did find this ehow article: http://www.ehow.com/how_12057980_make-wooden-20sided-die.htm...

Looks like there might be a kick start project linked to this:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1929694110/artisan-dice/...

Good luck with the search and let us know how it comes out.
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Julia Ziobro
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I doubt you'll find them.

This guy is an insane collector of dice and he doesn't seem to have any.
http://www.dicecollector.com/THE_DICE_THEME_WOOD.html

Good luck
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Isaac Citrom
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I'm a cabinetmaker. That Kickstarter project has some insanely beautiful woods, but they're all d6. I don't know if he has plans for other polyhedra.

I checked out that d20 eHow article. I'd like to see one of those dice because I don't see how it would work. Balsa is an amazing wood to carve but that's because it has low density and its grain is very regular. But that also means that Balsa is very boring. It is a uniform pale yelow that is very close grained. You might as well get nifty plastic dice in that case.

Balsa is also very light. A Balsa d20 would feel unnaturally light. It would have very little momentum and be fantastically fragile.


If you don't find a production set of D&D dice, you'll likely have to see a cabinetmaker for a private commission. It would be very expensive. It's all the labour involved in creating the many jigs necessary to get a full set of balanced and consistant dice. You don't hand-carve something like this unless the dice are to be merely decorative.

The size of the dice and even the small quantity of wood involved should not confuse you as to the amount of labour involved.

If it's not in production and you do go ahead with it, you'll have a very valuable set of dice on your hands I should think.
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When will the die stop rolling? What face finishes showing?
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Cutting dice -- apart from d6 -- is really difficult. I did some d8's a twenty years back on a band saw and they turned out alright but a bit lopsided. The rest would have been horrible which is why I stopped. I was using 90mm square dense hardwood (4" square) but smaller would have been worse. The dice I did make (half a dozen d6 and one d8) weigh a ton and would dent most tables....

You might be able to find someone to carve dice but again they'll be lopsided most likely.


A CnC machine could carve them out accurately -- something I've not tried. Likewise for a decent laser cutter.


- Pauli
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Jake Staines
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I doubt you'll find them either, at least not shaped like regular DnD dice.

Woodworking equipment tends to be set up to cut 90-degree and sometimes 45-degree angles and parallel sides with reliable repeatability and measurement... to cut a D4, 8, 10, 12 or 20 would require other angles, making precision cuts with very low tolerances, otherwise they'd be next to unusable. Probably the only realistic way to do it would be via CNC/router pantograph/some other kind of machining, and even then I'm skeptical that sufficient accuracy and cleanliness of cuts could be reliably achieved - unlike most things that people machine in wood, dice are really small! I'd love to be proven wrong, though!


I know it's not nearly so exciting or unique, but if you really want a wooden gaming accessory, have you considered something like a nicely-made dice presentation/storage box, or a tower or something?
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Isaac Citrom
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Bichatse wrote:
I doubt you'll find them either, at least not shaped like regular DnD dice.

Woodworking equipment tends to be set up to cut 90-degree and sometimes 45-degree angles and parallel sides with reliable repeatability and measurement... to cut a D4, 8, 10, 12 or 20 would require other angles, making precision cuts with very low tolerances, otherwise they'd be next to unusable. Probably the only realistic way to do it would be via CNC/router pantograph/some other kind of machining, and even then I'm skeptical that sufficient accuracy and cleanliness of cuts could be reliably achieved - unlike most things that people machine in wood, dice are really small! I'd love to be proven wrong, though!


I know it's not nearly so exciting or unique, but if you really want a wooden gaming accessory, have you considered something like a nicely-made dice presentation/storage box, or a tower or something?


Yes...I'm not sure that's wholly correct. The d6 in the kickstarter are milled, not cut. And, I wouldn't even think of cutting for a d20, just milling.

In aerospace they work wood with standard shop machines and they work to "thous," thats 1/1000". I normally work at least to 1/32" and often to 1/64". Certainly, CNCs will gain you production advantages, but it's hardly the only way that it can be done. That's what setup, fixtures and jigs are for.

4, 5, and 6-axis CNC tend to be very expensive and on a single run that cost is going to be passed along.

I don't think feasibility is an issue. It's the cost of a custom commission, regardless of how the dice are eventually manufactured/crafted.
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Jake Staines
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isaacc wrote:

Yes...I'm not sure that's wholly correct. The d6 in the kickstarter are milled, not cut. And, I wouldn't even think of cutting for a d20, just milling.


Isn't that more or less what I said? Milling is "some other kind of machining" if you don't want to specifically talk about CNC cutting.

My concern isn't so much the ability to make the cuts with sufficient precision using various machine tools - CNC or otherwise; it's being able to hold the workpiece with sufficient precision while doing so. D6s are relatively easy in this regard because the sides are all parallel and orthogonal, so they're as easy as any drawer front or door is to hold in place.

I admittedly only do stuff like this as a hobby/household DIY rather than professionally, but pretty much all the wood equipment I've ever seen has been designed to hold bits more than ten centimetres or so long, and I've seen nothing that I'd trust to reliably and accurately hold something the size of a D12, at the precise angle necessary to create a precision die, while the forces exerted by a milling cutter or whatever were trying to move it, without risking marring the workpiece. Bearing in mind that getting a surface half a degree out will notably affect the rolling characteristics, and probably be perceptible by the human eye.

As I said, I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'm not sure you understand the part of the problem I'm concerned with the feasibility of.
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even if you can cut the dice accurately i would say given the nature of wood you are either going to get something boring looking or something that is unbalanced. of course if you are getting something decorative then it's not a problem, but if using something as a functional gift then the unbalanced can be an issue..
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Jake Staines
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femgoth wrote:
something that is unbalanced


Bearing in mind also that wood moves over time - expanding and contracting with temperature and humidity principally. Since this tends to happen perpendicular to the grain more than in any other direction, depending on how big your dice are you may find that they roll better at some times of the year than others.

I expect this would be less of a problem than making them balanced in the first place, though, particularly at the sizes most dice are!
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Andrew Oakey
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There's a guy near the bottom of this page:

http://community.gencon.com/forums/p/25398/279622.aspx

That might be able to help with a wooden D20, if you don't mind giant size.
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Isaac Citrom
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Bichatse wrote:
isaacc wrote:

Yes...I'm not sure that's wholly correct. The d6 in the kickstarter are milled, not cut. And, I wouldn't even think of cutting for a d20, just milling.


Isn't that more or less what I said? Milling is "some other kind of machining" if you don't want to specifically talk about CNC cutting.

My concern isn't so much the ability to make the cuts with sufficient precision using various machine tools - CNC or otherwise; it's being able to hold the workpiece with sufficient precision while doing so. D6s are relatively easy in this regard because the sides are all parallel and orthogonal, so they're as easy as any drawer front or door is to hold in place.

I admittedly only do stuff like this as a hobby/household DIY rather than professionally, but pretty much all the wood equipment I've ever seen has been designed to hold bits more than ten centimetres or so long, and I've seen nothing that I'd trust to reliably and accurately hold something the size of a D12, at the precise angle necessary to create a precision die, while the forces exerted by a milling cutter or whatever were trying to move it, without risking marring the workpiece. Bearing in mind that getting a surface half a degree out will notably affect the rolling characteristics, and probably be perceptible by the human eye.

As I said, I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'm not sure you understand the part of the problem I'm concerned with the feasibility of.


Jake, there are a ton of jig designs that act specifically to hold a small part. Other jigs that I have built would hold a part at one specific angle only. Indeed, that is the problem here in terms of the time to make a number of one-of jigs.

The milling face need not at all be steel.

Ther aerospace industry works small wooden parts all the time and everyday just as I described.

Although wood movement is a factor, at this tiny size we are talking a miniscule amount. Then again, I don't know how even that would affect a polyhedron. I think experimentation would answer that. Even so, finishing is a given and will greatly mitigate even that small amount of wood movement. I'd have to see.

And certainly, grain direction and type is as important in the design as in the aesthetic.

I've seen too many fantastically intricate designs to off-hand believe that creating polyhedron dice is anything more than working out the details.

The thing is, personally, I wouldn't put in a couple of week's of effort in creating a slew of jigs, when the buyer has $100 in mind. As commission work, this would be a pricey set of dice.
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Isaac Citrom
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This was made in a shop where I worked using those so-called 90 and 45 degree woodworking machines.



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Ron Parker
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isaacc wrote:
I checked out that d20 eHow article. I'd like to see one of those dice because I don't see how it would work.


It doesn't. He's cutting out equilateral triangles and gluing them together. That'll give you a large, hollow die unsuitable for actual use.

He's also sanding the edges at 30 degrees, which is not the correct angle for an icosahedron - the angle between adjoining planes is a bit more than 138 degrees, so you'd want to bevel the edges at a skosh under 21 degrees. More than that means that you'll have gaps on the insides of the edges, making it even more fragile.
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femgoth wrote:
even if you can cut the dice accurately i would say given the nature of wood you are either going to get something boring looking or something that is unbalanced. of course if you are getting something decorative then it's not a problem, but if using something as a functional gift then the unbalanced can be an issue..


Agreed. Wooden die are usually unbalanced!
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Best I could find is this:
http://www.seriouspuzzles.com/i9451.asp?usid=43cq-21ix-5r71-...

But not quite what you are looking for.

It looks like ThinkGeek may have had a set that might have worked, but I don't see it in their shop anymore just from a different site:
http://cubiclebot.com/office-decor/platonic-solids-desk-set-...

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Isaac Citrom
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RiffRaff14 wrote:
Best I could find is this:
http://www.seriouspuzzles.com/i9451.asp?usid=43cq-21ix-5r71-...

But not quite what you are looking for.

It looks like ThinkGeek may have had a set that might have worked, but I don't see it in their shop anymore just from a different site:
http://cubiclebot.com/office-decor/platonic-solids-desk-set-...


Based on the grain, they look kind'a big.
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ropearoni4 wrote:
kickstarter for this exact thing had the costs pretty high for a full set of D&D dice, and getting it within the month would not be possible unless you know the designer himself. But, the woods he uses are very rare.
http://kck.st/xvWH2J appears to have ended though. Though the cost was $1,983 for 7 sets and help them figure out how to do it...and 10,000xps to start with in a game he runs locally.


Here is the official site for the kickstarter now that its through http://www.artisandice.com/
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isaacc wrote:

This was made in a shop where I worked using those so-called 90 and 45 degree woodworking machines.


You're being dismissive and a little insulting. Perhaps you're reacting defensively, but I'm not calling you a liar - I didn't even say I thought it was impossible, just that I doubted anyone would have them for sale - and I'd just like to be explained to. Which you're not really doing...!

How do you go about holding something that small at a precise angle and position at the same time, without marring it, and presenting enough surface to accurately and repeatably align and mill it all around? Bearing in mind you've got to be able to do it after you've already cut half the shape!

If it were as easy - leaving aside the time investment - to make these jigs and this setup as you seem to be suggesting, it suggests to me that it would be entirely possible for someone to do all that prep work the one time and leave their workshop set up for making wooden dice, which would in turn suggest to me that someone would have tried it as a business by now, given how a lot of geeks apparently have a lot of disposable income to throw at stuff like that. To the best of my knowledge, that hasn't happened, which suggests to me that there must be some reason for it. I'm curious what that reason is!

isaacc wrote:

Although wood movement is a factor, at this tiny size we are talking a miniscule amount. Then again, I don't know how even that would affect a polyhedron.


And this is the part where I wonder whether we're really talking about the same thing. I don't believe that wood movement or seasonal shrinkage would be a big part of the problem at all for a small die, but if it did, the way it would affect a polyhedron is that it would mean that some faces would end up larger than other faces, or the angles between some faces and other faces may even be altered in extreme cases.

Ultimately the relevant point being that the die would lose the single important property of a die, which is that the probability of rolling each face is as equal as possible.

Your curvy desk is a great achievement of cabinetmaking skill, but it will look just as nice and function exactly the same regardless of whether the legs are at a perfect 20-degree angle or a 20.5-degree angle, so long as all the joints are neat and it sits flat on a flat surface. With a die, a small error will make a lot of difference!





Of course, if the OP doesn't care about fairness and just wants some pretty wooden decorative dice, then all this is fairly irrelevant, and I'd expect hand-carving is probably a plausibility. Although I still suspect that the problems making functional dice are probably the reason that they're seemingly not commercially available.
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Obviously it would be easiest to start with something that is already closer to what you need then to fit it by hand. I'd check out a bead store for wooden beads that might already be d8, d10, etc. Also hardware stores that have various shapes. A round wooden ball could be shaped into a d20 with some planning, a knife and a piece of sandpaper. It'd take some time to do though. I may give that a try to make me a wood d20.

For the OP I looked at Etsy and only saw one person who made anything other than d6s, he had made some d8s with runes on them. Perhaps you can find someone on there that may be able to do the job for you. I will guess it won't be cheap given the time frame and job itself.
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Isaac Citrom
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Jake, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to embarrass you. But, you keep sticking your neck out with categorical claims, such that since you are not aware of how it could be done therefore it can't be done.

I've been trying to respond with cabinetmaking knowledge without saying outloud, "no, you are just plain wrong." And now, you're further painting me into a corner.

isaacc wrote:
This was made in a shop where I worked using those so-called 90 and 45 degree woodworking machines.


Though I perhaps could have been more soft-spoken, I'm not being dismissive. The response above was to your assertion about how shop machines work.

For example, the shape below is easily cut on a table saw. Actually, any regular circle, ellipse, even irregular curve can be cut. It's quite a simple procedure if you know how.

This is a cross-section, mind you.



It is accomplished by feeding stock at an angle to the saw blade. The table saw blade then takes out a swath down the length of your stock. You control the shape and size of the trough by changing the height of the blade, the angle of attack, and the blade angle.

And this with a machine that at first glance makes straight 90 degree cuts.

Jake wrote:
You're being dismissive and a little insulting. Perhaps you're reacting defensively, but I'm not calling you a liar - I didn't even say I thought it was impossible, just that I doubted anyone would have them for sale - and I'd just like to be explained to. Which you're not really doing...!

How do you go about holding something that small at a precise angle and position at the same time, without marring it, and presenting enough surface to accurately and repeatably align and mill it all around? Bearing in mind you've got to be able to do it after you've already cut half the shape!


Right, hence the many jigs required. And, I haven't even attacked the problems to know in advance what exactly the jig designs would be.

I'll answer one question as an example. Any shop machine can be used to cut an angle, planer, jointer, table saw, whatnot. You identify the main problem with symetrical milling. Once you use your jig to make a "left" cut, the jig no longer works to make the "right" cut. One solution is to use sister mirror jigs. Another, more risky operation, is to complete one set of cuts then modify your jig.

Jake wrote:
If it were as easy - leaving aside the time investment - to make these jigs and this setup as you seem to be suggesting, it suggests to me that it would be entirely possible for someone to do all that prep work the one time and leave their workshop set up for making wooden dice, which would in turn suggest to me that someone would have tried it as a business by now, given how a lot of geeks apparently have a lot of disposable income to throw at stuff like that. To the best of my knowledge, that hasn't happened, which suggests to me that there must be some reason for it. I'm curious what that reason is!


It's not easy. When did I say that?! Indeed, I've been saying the exact opposite. It's a bunch of work. Having said that, you're speaking of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation jigs and fixtures. First generation jigs you just cobble together whatever will work for the one-ofs. Second generation jigs are more robust and need to be for repeatable work, and so on.

If you can leave your shop set up for one project indefinitely, salut Don Corleone. In any case, you're talking about the difference between project work and a production environment.

isaacc wrote:

Although wood movement is a factor, at this tiny size we are talking a miniscule amount. Then again, I don't know how even that would affect a polyhedron.


Jake wrote:
And this is the part where I wonder whether we're really talking about the same thing. I don't believe that wood movement or seasonal shrinkage would be a big part of the problem at all for a small die, but if it did, the way it would affect a polyhedron is that it would mean that some faces would end up larger than other faces, or the angles between some faces and other faces may even be altered in extreme cases.

Ultimately the relevant point being that the die would lose the single important property of a die, which is that the probability of rolling each face is as equal as possible.

Your curvy desk is a great achievement of cabinetmaking skill, but it will look just as nice and function exactly the same regardless of whether the legs are at a perfect 20-degree angle or a 20.5-degree angle, so long as all the joints are neat and it sits flat on a flat surface. With a die, a small error will make a lot of difference!


Well the thing is I'm not knowledgeable about dice. You seem to be sure of yourself. I would leave my decisions to test pieces to see exactly how the wooden dice are affected and perform.

Your comments about the desk suggest to me that you've never built such a desk, vis-a-vis getting the joints to fit with a half degree error. Indeed, any piece at all. Indeed, a simple miter joint that is a half degree off.


With respect to why nobody has done this before, I haven't investigated the commercial feasibility of the idea. I can't answer that intelligently. I would say that perhaps that would apply to anything. Why had nobody made fine wood d6 dice as of last year?
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TheFlatline wrote:
isaacc wrote:

With respect to why nobody has done this before, I haven't investigated the commercial feasibility of the idea. I can't answer that intelligently. I would say that perhaps that would apply to anything. Why had nobody made fine wood d6 dice as of last year?
.


It's time consuming for one. You should know that 90% of the time nobody wants to pay a craftsman anything even remotely close to a working, let alone a living wage. You tell someone two grand for a desk and they throw up, ignoring that beyond the cost of materials and power and whatnot, you're paying a craftsman, or craftsmen, for what is probably dozens of hours of work. Even at minimum wage it adds up quickly. At the 20-30 an hour a real craftsman probably deserves it turns people off.

For another, you have to get fairly precise. An imbalance on a D6 of say 1/100th of an inch will created a loaded die. Even the artisan dice dude agreed with my points that these dice are more artwork than functional. They'll function for casual gaming but with burls, imperfections, and density variations you're going to get dice that are predisposed to rolling certain ways.


Yes, and that is why I wouldn't commit to talking about wood movement, dice, etc. I know there is a knowledgebase there about dice, I'm just not up on it. In other words, I know that I don't know.

Having said that, 1/100" is not a problem as such. It is simply what the project entails and your processes have to meet it.
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I think making a shaker or a dicetower using wood would be easier and he would like that present too.





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I can conceive of a single jig that could work to make all but the d4 (by the way, there are only six common polyhedral dice, as listed. The 7-piece set from Chessex contains two d10.)

All but the d4 have pairs of parallel planes, so you can start with a suitable disc or block of wood held in some sort of clamp whose clamping surfaces are smaller than the size of a finished face and which are as "grippy" as you can manage. You also want the clamping surfaces to move inward and outward at the same time when you turn the clamping knob, so that the midpoint between the surfaces is always at the same place.

Now, you need to be able to rotate the block of wood around an axis perpendicular to the clamping surfaces to precisely determined angles, and you need to be able to rotate the entire mechanism around a vertical axis, also to precise angles. And the whole thing needs to be mounted on a sled so you can push it past a bandsaw blade located the same distance from the center as the clamping surfaces are (this is half the thickness of the wood.) Finally, you need to be able to flip the entire clamp 180 degrees around the remaining axis so you can cut the other half of the die.

To use this to do a d8, you'd clamp a block of wood in the clamp, then rotate it around the vertical axis to 70.5 degrees (that's the complement of the dihedral angle of an octahedron; you can get that number from mathworld) and around the clamping axis to 0 degrees. Cut off whatever wood gets in the way of the blade; try not to cut your clamp, too, because the end closest to you will be in the path of the blade. Back up, rotate 120 degrees around the clamping axis, cut again. Back up and rotate 120 degrees again, and cut a third time. Now flip the entire clamp around the third axis to cut the "bottom" half. Rotate 60 degrees, cut, rotate 120, cut, rotate 120, cut one last time.

You'll have made six cuts that, together with the two original parallel faces of the block, give you eight faces.

A d20 and a d12 are done roughly the same way. The angles and number of cuts are different for the d12, obviously, and the d20 needs to be done in four stages.

A d10 is just plain ugly. Every pair of faces has a unique pair of angles that describes it. So you'll have to do lots of precise adjustments for each cut. But it can be done.

Whether it's worth the time and effort to construct and use such a jig, now, that's an entirely different question.

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