The Build

Shortly after I met Sylvia, I attended the wedding of my friends Mark and Megan in Iowa. The morning after the event, I came down to the tables they’d set up for a post-wedding breakfast and a number of people were playing liar’s dice (common hand rules). They taught me how to play and I immediately brought the game home back to Chicago as it’s an easy game to learn, requires little equipment, and Sylvia and I both like games. We’ve slowly acquired more and more dice as we’ve seen interesting kinds and the general rule is that if one of us is traveling, we have to find a die somewhere local. Currently, my favorite set is the wood and metal ones we got in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Anyway, point being we like games and dice in particular.

Not long after getting the ring sorted and figuring out that I knew that the Eye was likely going to be the location of the proposal, I knew I had to figure out a unique way to actually present the ring, involving dice if I possibly could. I originally toyed around with the idea of getting a number of custom dice in different sizes that would be a representation of a 3 word song we made up while waiting to climb to the top of the Vatican. I was thinking I could set them up either while on the Eye all clandestine-like, or possibly at a hotel if that would fall through. It was a good idea, but when I started looking into particulars, I was going to have to order way more than I needed and a number of places wanted way more money or their custom machines weren’t working. I didn’t want to give up on the idea of dice so I kept looking. I eventually tried searching Amazon for dice as sometimes it comes back with unexpectedly awesome results. I ended up stumbling onto a 75mm marbleized green die and that got the gears turning. 75mm is nearly 3 inches, which would be just the right size for a ring box, assuming I could figure out how to construct it. This totally up my alley as there’s nothing that gets my brain firing better than a problem involving some manipulation or construction to re-purpose an item for an alternate use/need.

I eventually figured out that cutting it in half could be problematic as all I had access to was my circular saw and no clamps or other implements to keep the die secure as I cut. I wasn’t certain that the saw would even cut it at first either, so I ended up doing the measurements and made a small test cut just to confirm I wouldn’t need an alternate tool. My next thought was that hinges wouldn’t be a good idea as it’d look tacked on and generally bad, so I was thinking something involving posts to keep it from opening too easily. Having a rough idea of how you want to construct something and actually doing it are two different things though, so I casually asked around my friends if they had any thoughts or if they had any tools I could borrow. While talking to my friend Fuzzy Gerdes, he mentioned that he had some c-clamps that should work and he told me to come over and we could make an afternoon of it. It’s a good thing to suddenly have access to the tools you need, but it’s a great thing to have a friend want to spend the time with you while you’re working on it. I headed over on a Sunday afternoon and we decided to get to business.

The first thing that we noticed was that Fuzzy didn’t seem to have his c-clamps at the moment. Whether they’d been loaned out or lost, we didn’t know, but we weren’t going to let that stop us.

Who needs clamps anyway?

Once we’d figured that out, we were off to the races. It was more difficult to cut all the way through than my original test cut, but we got the job done well enough.

Cutting these things in half is hard

While cutting this puppy in half, I had a brainwave to use the mount that came with the ring box to save a lot of work as well as have a good piece to design around as well as it’d look better and be far more secure than anything else I could come up with.

Sizing up the ring mount with the base

Once we’d realized that this would not only be a good idea, but would be fairly easy to implement, it was just a matter of changing what was going to get hollowed out with my dremel. Fuzzy had a sinister looking filter mask, which ended up being super helpful as I wasn’t expecting nearly as much material to be thrown out as there was while hollowing the piece out.

I've got candy in my van I swear

No really, there was a lot of material coming out

Having sufficiently hollowed the base out, Fuzzy helped me drill the holes for the posts and I got started on hollowing out the top.

Halfway there!

Die dust. Don't breathe this.

We eventually figured out that the particular tool we were using wasn’t really good for the bulk of the heavy load and found out that using the sanding tool was far more effective. Once we’d gotten the top sufficiently hollowed out, we finished up with the drill to get the top post holes done.

Finished fabrication and ready for finishing

With the basic fabrication done, Fuzzy and I each had a bottle of beer opened by the appropriately manly tool I’d brought over to show off.

A few days later I sat down to figure out how to finish it up to make it look nice and started with getting the posts glued in and secured.

Trickier than it looks

Once that was done, I decided to paint the interior black to keep the contrast between the interior and the ring stand as similar as I could. I figured it’d be less distracting and would put more of a focus on the ring itself. I decided to go with a black gloss just because I thought matte wouldn’t have been as exciting to look at in this case.


With that done, all that remained was to let everything dry and then glue in the stand itself and it was finished!

What's all this then?

Why hello there!

If I had to do it again, I’d have made sure I had access to a drill press and a bandsaw. With a bandsaw, I could have done a fancy s-curve instead of a straight line that would have kept the pips more intact. A drill press would have been handy for some of the deep parts of the top and the post holes. That said, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, especially given the quality of the tools we were working with. Fuzzy’s help and insight, not to mention his good humor, was incredibly helpful and I almost wish I had another project to work on just so I could harass him for help.

Now that I had a ring, a location and a box, there was really only one more thing to do, right? Right.


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