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Perler beads - six-sided die (cube, dice, d6, 3D) Here's a fast and easy project where you can make three-dimensional cubes out of Perler beads (or Hama beads). The sides of the cubes snap together with a little coaxing; no glue is required. By using multiple colors of beads, you can create patterns on the edges and sides. One possibility is the six-sided die using a 7-bead-wide cube.

The smallest structurally sound cube that can be made without glue is 3 beads wide, though it's a bit awkward. Once you move up to 4 beads wide, it is possible to create six separate pieces, one for each face of the cube, with a hollow center. The 4-bead-wide cube is just over 3/4" (2cm) wide; the 7-bead cube at the bottom of the stack is about 1 3/8" (3.5cm).

Be sure to fuse the beads together as lightly as possible, but still enough that they all fuse securely to their neighbors. If you flatten the beads too much, it will be difficult to snap the edges together and there will be gaps that detract from the appearance of the finished project.

You will need:
Perler beads (27 for a 3-wide cube, 56 for a 4-wide cube, 98 for a 5-wide cube, 152 for a 6-wide cube with solid sides or 128 for the red one shown at left, 218 for a 7-wide cube, 6nČ-12n+8 for an n-wide cube)
a square pegboard (a 6" one will let you make all six faces at once for all sizes shown here; with a 3" one, you'll need to fuse a few faces at a time)
standard Perler gear – ironing paper, an iron, bead tweezers or a toothpick to help place the beads

If you're not familiar with how to fuse Perler beads, please read these instructions on the manufacturer's site.

 

3-bead-wide cube

This isn't a very solid construction, but I've included it for completeness' sake. You will be fusing five pieces – three H-shaped pieces and two connectors. Once you have the pieces fused, stack the three H-shaped pieces and use the connectors to join the layers together.

Based on the less-than-perfect appearance of my sample at left, this is a good opportunity to stress that you should fuse the beads together as lightly as possible to avoid flattening them too much. I ironed the pieces a bit too flat, and that's why there's a gap where the bottom connector meets the pink H.

 

4-bead-wide cube

This is the smallest hollow cube in the series, and the first to be made from six pieces, one for each face. It is possible to fuse all six faces at once on a small square pegboard.

To assemble this cube, start with one of the two larger pieces shown at the bottom of the diagram. This will be the base. Then take one of the four smaller pieces, which will be used for the sides. Snap the piece into one of the slots in the edge of the base at a right angle, as shown in the picture at right. The connection will feel a bit loose at first, but once all pieces are in place, the structure will be very stable.

Take another side piece, and snap it into both the base and the new gap formed between the two existing pieces. Continue around the base and add the other two sides, one at a time. Finally, take the remaining large piece and snap it on the top to complete the cube.

This method will be used to assemble all larger cubes; the main difference will be the number of "teeth" that will snap together at each edge.

 

5-bead-wide cube

This cube is similar to the 4-bead-wide cube, with one major difference: two of the sides are rotated 90 degrees so that the teeth on the edges will line up.

To assemble this cube, start with one of the two larger pieces shown at the top of the photograph of pieces, and place it before you as the base, with a single gap facing you. Take one of the four symmetrical side pieces and position it so it has one tooth on the bottom edge, then snap that tooth into the gap in the base, at a right angle.

Rotate the structure 90 degrees, keeping the base on the work surface. Take another side piece, but position it so it has two teeth on the bottom edge. These will snap into the two gaps on the edge of the base, and one tooth will snap into the first side. Continue around the base and add the remaining two sides. Finally, take the remaining large piece and snap it on the top to complete the cube.

This method will be used to assemble all larger cubes; the main difference will be the number of "teeth" that will snap together at each edge.

 

6-bead-wide cube

This cube is similar to the 5-bead-wide cube, except that each edge of each side has two teeth. The sides have rotational symmetry, so once you connect the first side to the base, all other sides will fit the same way.

In the photographs, I've omitted the middle 2x2 beads from each of the sides to make it more visually interesting. You may do the same, or you may make the faces solid. Solid pieces are shown in the diagram below.

To assemble this cube, start with one of the two larger pieces shown at the top of the photograph of pieces, and place it before you as the base. It doesn't matter which face of this piece is up; the remaining pieces will all fit one way either way. Take one of the four symmetrical side pieces and position it so the two teeth line up with the two gaps in the base. Make sure the piece doesn't extend beyond the base on either side; if it does, you need to flip the side piece. Snap the side into the base at a right angle.

Rotate the structure 90 degrees, keeping the base on the work surface. Take another side piece; its teeth will snap into the two gaps on the edge of the base and the two gaps in the first side. Continue around the base and add the remaining two sides. Finally, take the remaining large piece and snap it on the top to complete the cube.

 

7-bead-wide cube

For a 7-bead-wide cube, you can follow the directions on the page for the six-sided die. You may replace the pips of the die with another design or use any color arrangement of your choice. You can even make a 1x1 or 3x3 hole in the middle of each side, similar to the 6-bead-wide cube in the photo. The pattern for the teeth on that page is slightly irregular; there is an alternate pattern with four symmetric sides (two of which are rotated 90 degrees) under the "Larger cubes" section of this page.

 

Larger cubes

To make larger cubes, you'll just need to add additional teeth and gaps to each edge and make sure they line up. If your desired cube has an odd width, base your pattern on the 7-bead-wide cube shown below. If it has an even width, base it on the 8-bead-wide cube. All cubes have two identical pieces for top and bottom, and four identical pieces for the sides; odd-width cubes will need to have alternate sides rotated 90 degrees when assembling, as described in the 5-bead-wide cube instructions above.

Here are the top and bottom for 7-, 9- and 11-bead cubes:

And here are the sides for 7-, 9- and 11-bead cubes:


Here are the top and bottom for 8-, 10- and 12-bead cubes:

And here are the sides for 8-, 10- and 12-bead cubes:

Here's a 13x13x13 cube I made with a Rubik's Cube design. Here's a photo of the six faces before assembly in case you want to make one yourself.

Beyond cubes

Of course, you're not limited to cubes. If you want to make any other shape of box, you can use the same techniques; just plan ahead to make sure all your edges will mesh. The easiest way to do this may be to either make all sides have an odd width or make all sides have an even width. Then you can modify the patterns under "Larger cubes" above to the desired widths. For example, if you want a 20x14x8 box, make two 20x14 pieces based on the top/bottom pattern, and two 20x8 and two 14x8 pieces based on the side pattern.

And if you want to move beyond boxes, you can create and snap pieces together in other ways, too. With a lot of planning and practice, you can make anything you can imagine.

Hope you've enjoyed this project!

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