So you've managed to snag yourself some raw dice, or maybe you are wanting to dip your toes into the wide world of dice making. No matter your journey welcome! I, Steph, am here to show you one path to finishing those dice. Finishing dice is time consuming, rewarding, sometimes frustrating, but all together worth it for those shiny click clacks.
This tutorial will follow our process for finishing dice. There are many other methods out there that work equally as well; this is just the process that works the best for us.
- 1000 grit sandpaper (included in our polishing pack)
- Zona polishing papers (included in our polishing pack)
- Nirile gloves
- A cup of water
- A smooth surface
- Small paint brush
- Acrylic craft paint in a color of your choice
- Paper towel
When I sit down to sand or polish, this is what my set up looks like. The polishing paper is on top of a pane of glass I stole from a picture frame. I like to put a paper towel underneath to catch any drips, but that is just my preference. I wear nirile gloves throughout the process to protect my skin from the resin dust. I have a small cup that I use exclusively for sanding; no resin dust in drinking cups please! I put on a good audiobook or podcast; I highly recommend The Hobbit narrated by Rob Inglis and Campaign 2 of Critical Role. This set up looks the same for every paper in the process.
Part One: Sanding
Sanding is the part of the process when you get rid of the largest blemishes and sprew marks on the dice. Get a bit of water from the cup onto the 1000 grit sandpaper, this will keep the process smooth and decrease dust. Find the sides of the die that you want to sand, this is typically the sides with marks from the mold. Keeping the face of the die parallel with the sand paper, make small circles on the sand paper. Check frequently to check your progress and make sure you aren't sanding unevenly or taking too much off. Once the major marks are gone, it is time to move on to the next step!
I like to give my dice a good rinse in mild soapy water after this step. I use an old toothbrush to get the remaining dust out of the numbers so I don't leave little scratches behind when polishing.
Part Two: Polishing
This is where frosty click clacks turn shiny! Give your surface a quick wipe down and set the grey Zona polishing paper down on the surface. Then the process is the same as the sandpaper. Wet the paper and make small circles keeping the face of the die flat and parallel with the paper. You only need to polish the sides that you sanded. There's no magic amount of time for when to move on to the next paper, but generally you don't want to see any marks from the previous level of Zona. You can always back track to a previous Zona paper if you notice scratches.
Repeat this process for all of the Zona papers from the roughest to smoothest. Polishing packs come with the papers in order. In case there's a mix up the papers go in this order: grey, light blue, pink, aqua, and white.
Once again, I give the dice a bath in warm soapy water to remove any lingering sanding dust.
Part Three: Inking
Inking is the process of painting the numbers of the dice. For this, you will need an acrylic paint of your choice, a small paint brush, some fresh water, and a bit of paper towel.
For the paint, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. We use a variety of paints some from local craft stores like Michaels; others are also used for painting miniatures like Citadel. Both will get the job done! See the picture below for specific brands that we use.
Then, you dip your brush in the paint and paint those numbers! Wipe off any extra on the paper towel. Repeat until all the numbers are done! If the paint isn't coming off easily, I will use a slightly damp white Zona paper to get the excess paint off.
And there you have it! A shiny new set of dice that are all ready for use in your table top game! Celebrate traveler for you have come far on your dice finishing adventure.
Still confused? We highly recommend checking out YouTube tutorials! A quick search for "how to make your own ttrpg dice" will get you some good sources.
Happy rolling and as always,
Steph, Clacksmith of Equinox Dice