Canadian Woodworking

Liar’s dice game box

Author: Kevin Shantz
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: August September 2006

Having friends and family over means time for fun and entertainment, and this little game box is sure to provide hours of both. Even those who are not playing this game will have fun as spectators.


Essentially, this game is based on poker, but played with dice, and a fun twist that makes it especially light and enjoyable.

You can make this box with simple or complex joinery and with a single wood or complementary species.

I made this box out of maple and padauk for maximum colour contrast. It’s a great way to use up those small pieces of exotic wood hanging around your shop. While I used the Incra Joining System to make double dovetails for the joints, you could assemble this box with biscuits, Miller dowels, through dovetails, splined mitres, or any other technique that suits your skill level. (NOTE: You may have to adjust the length of the sides, front and back, depending upon which joinery method you use.)

The top, bottom, and four sides of the box use 3/8″ stock. You could use thicker stock. For added safety, use a router table for this project.

Use light and dark woods to create a contrasting design

Cut the Pieces

• Machine and glue up 5 strips of maple and 4 of padouk for the lid (A). Change the arrangement to your liking, as long as you end up with a lid that is 3-3/4″ x 6-3/8″.

• Use a 1/4″ round over bit to soften all edges of the lid and give it a nice smooth feel.

• Machine stock for the sides (B), base (C), divider (D) shelf (E) and front and back (F).

• Install a 3/8″ straight bit 1/8″ above the router tabletop. Set your router table fence 1/4″ from the bit.

• Rout a dado on the bottom inside face of the sides, back and front pieces. These grooves will accommodate the base during final assembly.

• Install a 1/4″ straight bit 1/8″ above the router tabletop. Set your router table fence 1-1/8″ from the bit.

• Rout two grooves on each of the sides to accommodate the divider and the shelf. Refer to the illustration for the exact location of these grooves.

• Rout a groove 2/4″ from the top of the back piece to hold the shelf.

• Rout a groove approximately 1-3/8″ from the back side of the base to secure the divider.

Assemble the Box

• Use your chosen joinery technique to prepare the sides, front, and back pieces for assembly.

• Dry assemble the box before gluing up to ensure that the parts fit together snugly.

• Glue the shelf to the divider.

• The base floats in the grooves and does not require any gluing.

• Before final assembly, place 3 dice into the hidden area behind the divider wall, and then glue the box together. This will recreate the sound of dice in the bottom of the box for those times when all the dice are on the top shelf.

• Once the glue has set, measure and cut recesses for the lid hinges.

Apply a Finish

For small projects like this I use spray cans of sealer and lacquer. Follow instructions on the cans when spraying the finish, and wear an appropriate respirator.  Once the finish has cured I like to tape a copy of the poker hands on the inside of the lid for novice players.

I hope that you, your family, and friends, get hours of lively entertainment from this game box.

Be sure to make more than one of these, because ‘liar’s dice’ game boxes make great gifts to take to a party, and that’s the truth.

Playing the Game

This game is best played with three or more people.

  1. The first player opens the box, places all 5 dice in the lower area, closes the lid and shakes the box. While preventing the others from seeing into the box, the first player then re-opens the lid, looks at the dice, closes the lid and calls out a bid (see Poker Hand Bids). The player can open and shake the box three times before calling out a hand.
  2. The first player then passes the closed box to the next player, either to the right or left, (this establishes the direction of travel).
  3. The second player can either accept the previous bid, or reject it. To reject the bid, the second player says ‘Liar’, and then opens the box to see if the dice are the same as the previous player claimed. If the dice display a hand that is greater than what was bid, the challenger (the second player) looses a point. If the dice display a hand that is less that what was bid, the bidder looses a point. To accept the bid, take the box, lift the lid (preventing others from seeing into it), move one or more of the dice up or down the shelf, and then close and shake the box. Next, open the lid, call out a bid, and slide the box to the next player. Each bid must be greater than that bid by the previous player.
  4. The third player then either accepts or rejects the bid, and proceeds as per step 3.
  5. This continues until a player who receives the box challenges the previous player’s bid. If the bid was truthful (the hand is equal to, or better than the bid), the challenging player loses a point. If the bid was a lie (the hand is less than the bid), the bidding player loses a point.
  6. The player who loses a point restarts the process from step 1.
  7. Players remain with the points they have left until only one player has points. At this point, all players now have a fresh start (ie. Three points), and the game can begin anew. For more detailed rules and variations, google: “liar’s dice rules”.


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  2. I had purchased two of these from you years ago, I am hoping you still make them for purchase. If so I could use two more!! They are big hits in our family.

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