Dice Tube Project

As some of you know, I have played various pen-and-paper RPGs since I was about 9 years old, and as such have had many different methods for storing the required dice. Now that I have all these tools and supposed skills, I thought I would do something nice in the way of a new dice case.

Now, for most geeky gamers, the classic method of dice storage is a Crown Royal bag – it’s a good size for dice, it’s garishly purple (and therefore easy to spot among the clutter) and it gives you that extra bit of cred as a younger gamer to have something that was associated at one time with alcohol of a better variety than PBR or Ranier. Myself, I’ve had things like fishing-reel cases and random belt pouches, and my last one was a suede pencil-case I picked up at a bookstore. I like the style of the pencil-case the best I think, since it also leaves room for a couple pencils and other such that a floppy bag doesn’t. It would also give me a chance to practice up on another method of stitching: the Butt Stitch.


Once again, I go to my Al Stohlman’s Guide to Sewing Leather where he outlines the basics of this difficult stitch – and of course he makes it look a lot easier than it is. The idea is that you take two pieces of leather and line the edges up. You then stab (using a curved awl) through the top side out the edge of piece A, then in the edge and out the top side of piece B. Picture it as a pair of phone books: you stab through the front cover and come out in the N-section, then into the N-section of the next book and out the front cover. Here’s a picture:

In this instance, I have made a tube by wrapping a piece of leather around a bit of plastic pipe I had handy. If you plan on doing something like this, I would HIGHLY recommend using a piece of doweling instead of plastic pipe for one simple reason: tacks. Al recommends using a bit of glue to seal the pieces together, but I really don’t like trying to sew through glue. As you can see, I chose instead to go with a bit of ribbon to hold it all to the pipe, and as such I had some gapping problems when pushing the awl through.

If you use a dowel, however, you can hammer a few tacks or brads through your work to pin it to the dowel, thus snugly securing the work and making the sewing that much easier.

There are still other pitfalls you will run into. For this project, I chose a “tannery run” grade of leather instead of an “A” grade, and I have paid the price. I cut the pieces from the center of the hide I had to get the best color, and once I started sewing I realized that the surface layer of the grain was being pulled from the substrate as I snugged it up – and I wasn’t snugging all that hard. In the “Top seam” picture below, you can see how the first dozen stitches are separating.

Full seam

Top seam

Bottom of seam

Once we get down to the bottom seam, things are looking much better. (Except for the bat wings being at different altitudes, anyway. I apparently had my pattern skewed ever-so-slightly…) This is due to two things: the leather tightened up at that stretch, and I also ditched my bent awl in favor of my straight awl. The straight one has a thinner cross-section and puts less stress on the seam. Al’s advice originally was to take a regular awl and bend it using heat – which is excellent advice indeed.

Here’s a picture of the bat symbol after it had been cut and beveled.

Now on to the rest of the project. Here you can see how I have attached the lid:

The lid is a second tube, cut to be a larger diameter than the main body so it fits snugly over the top. That top panel is attached with a variant of the butt stitch, in which I stabbed through the surface of the tube, out the edge, and into the bottom of that top panel and through. That seam gave me a blister on my left hand from trying to brace the top panel as I stabbed through it. That blister tore when I was doing the bottom panel with the same method. Every project demands a sacrifice…

And finally, we have the completed project in it’s natural habitat: the kitchen table with dice.

You’ll notice the round seam above the bat’s head. I pulled the magnets out of an old phone case and sewed them into the two pieces of the project as a way to make sure the top didn’t flip open. I scraped out the flesh side of each pice to thin out the leather, and then glued and sewed some scraps over the magnets to keep them in place. It turned out to be unnecessary though, as the top is snug enough that spillage won’t be a problem. final finish is simple oil and Fiebing’s black dye, topped with a coat of Tan-Kote.

Oh, one other thing I learned on this project: when slicking the edges, use real cotton canvas. I got a much better result than with the scrap of old trousers from the rag bin I had been using prior.

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