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Projects > Perler beads > Cubes

Here's a
fast and easy project where you can make
threedimensional 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 sixsided die using a
7beadwide 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
4beadwide cube is just over 3/4" (2cm) wide; the
7bead 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 3wide cube, 56 for a
4wide cube, 98 for a 5wide cube, 152 for a 6wide cube
with solid sides or 128 for the red one shown at left,
218 for a 7wide cube, 6nČ12n+8 for an nwide 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.


3beadwide cube This isn't a
very solid construction, but I've included it for
completeness' sake. You will be fusing five
pieces – three Hshaped pieces and two
connectors. Once you have the pieces fused, stack
the three Hshaped pieces and use the connectors
to join the layers together.
Based
on the lessthanperfect 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.




4beadwide 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.





5beadwide cube This cube is
similar to the 4beadwide 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.




6beadwide cube This cube is
similar to the 5beadwide 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.




7beadwide cube For a
7beadwide cube, you can follow the directions
on the page for the
sixsided 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 6beadwide 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 7beadwide cube shown below. If
it has an even width, base it on the 8beadwide cube. All cubes
have two identical pieces for top and bottom, and four identical
pieces for the sides; oddwidth cubes will need to have alternate
sides rotated 90 degrees when assembling, as described in the
5beadwide cube instructions above.
Here are the top and
bottom for 7, 9 and 11bead cubes:
And here are the sides
for 7, 9 and 11bead cubes:
Here are the top and bottom for 8, 10 and 12bead cubes:
And here are the sides
for 8, 10 and 12bead 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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