Hello, friends! This DIY giant yard dice tutorial (aka “YARDzee” – get it??) is a great one for the weekend! As we approach Summer, we’ll all be spending more time outside enjoying the good ole’ outdoors. Here at the Fiddle Leaf House, we take every opportunity to hang out in our backyard, grill, and play some yard games! I’ve been seeing these giant yard dice sets on Wayfair for upwards of 75 bucks, and, um, no thanks! So I took matters into my own hands and decided to make a set myself!
I learned a lot along the way and have some great tips for you so yours turn out even better than ours did! Let’s get started shall we!
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What You’ll Need:
- 4″x4″x8′ douglas fir plank (if you can get maple or another hardwood, go for it, but they are not widely available)
- miter saw
- power drill
- 1/2″ forstner drill bit (I used a 1/2″ spade drill bit because I didn’t have a forstner, and it will work fine, but it makes a much messier hole which you’ll have to spend time cleaning up
- electric sander
- 80 and 120 grit sandpaper
- wood fill
- stain of your choice – I used Minwax English Chestnut
- black acrylic paint
- high gloss clear coat spray paint
- small paint brush
- safety goggles
- 12-15 quart bucket (we used this cute galvanized one from Lowes)
- self-adhesive felt
- Modge Podge
Step 1: Mark your 4″x4″x8′ at 3.5″. A common 4″x4″ is actually 3.5″x3.5″, so by cutting it at 3.5″, you’ll have a nice equal sided cube. Use your miter saw to carefully cut your first cube. Repeat 4 more times. (Be sure you are wearing the appropriate safety equipment while doing this – mask and goggles!)
PRO TIP: Make sure you are cutting 3.5″ cubes out of your plank in spaces where there are NO splits or cracks. Hubby and I already played a game of this, and we have one dice that likely won’t last as long as the rest because there is a crack in it and it inevitably bangs against the other dice and of course on the ground. Not having cracks in your dice initially will help them last longer. That said, we recommend only using these on grass. Douglas fir is a softwood (as are most easy to find 4″x4″ planks), so it is not impervious to dents and dings, or even possibly fully splitting if thrown on concrete. So like I said above, if you can find yourself some hardwood in a 4″x4″ – go for it – they’ll last even longer!
Even with the crack though, I think we’ll get dozens and dozens of games in before I have to bust out the materials to quickly make a replacement! Worth it to save $75 on a store bought set that will probably do the same thing anyway – wear over time!
Step 2: Using your electric sander and 120 grit sand paper, sand all of your cubes until mostly smooth. Sand the edges and corners to be slightly rounded. Wipe off any excess dust.
Step 3: Using a pencil, mark your cubes with the dots for your dice. 1 is across from 6, 2 is across from 5, and 3 is across from 4. I made sure all of mine were identical in layout, but that’s up to you. I also just eyeballed this (we aren’t into perfection over here), but you could certainly measure yours exactly if you choose.
Step 4: For the easier route, you can just paint on your little circular dots right now. For the more authentic looking route with indented holes, you’ll take your forstner or spade drill bit, and drill all of your holes where you marked. The forstner bit should give you a nice clean hole. The spade bit will make things a bit messier (truly, get a forstner bit if you can, you’ll thank me later). If you use the spade bit, you’ll need to use your 80 grit sandpaper to get off all of the “shards” of wood, if you will, that it made around the holes. I found some sides were worse than others. After some time and determination though, I got them decently smooth. Did I mention a forstner bit will save you a ton of time – just do it – I think the one I liked is like $8.
Step 5: Using your fingers, add wood fill to each of the holes you just drilled. Make them look kind of like a circular valley – just like regular dice look with a little indentation. This makes them look more authentic! Also try not to get excess wood fill around the holes, because wood fill never stains the same as regular wood, no matter what they tell you.
Step 6: Allow to dry for a few hours, and then sand lightly again with 120 grit sandpaper so the holes are smooth.
Step 7: Apply the stain of your choice. I initially used Varathane’s Early American, but decided I wanted something darker, so went over it with Minwax English Chestnut.
Step 8: Allow to dry overnight. Use a paper towel to wipe off any excess stain.
Step 9: Using your small brush and black acrylic paint, carefully paint all of your little indented dots. Allow to dry.
Step 10: Carefully spray your dice with the high gloss clear coat. Make sure to let them dry sufficiently before turning them over and coating the bottoms (you’ll only be able to get 5 of th 6 sides the first go around). I did 3 coats total because I wanted them to be extra glossy and protected.
Step 11: While you are in between coats of the clear top coat, you can line your bucket with the self adhesive felt. I just used the bottom of the bucket to draw out a circle on the back of the felt and then cut it out. Peel off the backing and paste it in – easy peasy! I then lined about 2/3 of the way up the sides – this helps keep the noise down.
Step 12: This step is totally optional, but I wanted to add some personality to our little DIY giant yard dice game. So I found some old stickers from my scrapbook collection, and put those right on the bucket. I then used Modge Podge and painted over the stickers to help them stick better and last longer.
Step 13: Print out some free Yahtzee (but now YARDzee) score cards.
Step 14: Take your DIY giant yard dice outside and play your heart out!
I hope this easy DIY is a good weekend project for you and that it gets you ready for summer fun! I know from personal experience that a good glass of Pinot Grigio, appetizer, and a game of DIY giant yard dice is the perfect way to start any summer night!