Rubik’s Companion Cube, or How to Make a Custom Rubik’s Cube

Behold, the Rubik’s Companion Cube!

The Rubik's Companion Cube

I know the cube loves me because, no matter how I turn it, it’s always solved.

(If you’re completely confused now, you should read my dissection of the game Portal or listen to me rave about it on a podcast.)

(Also, if you don’t care about how to make a custom Rubik’s cube, you should skip to more pics of the Rubik’s Companion Cube.)

Anyway, here’s how you can make your own custom Rubik’s cube. What you’ll need:

  1. A Rubik’s cube. Our local department store stocks them in the electronic toys section. Sadly, it didn’t include a robot to solve it for me.
  2. Self-adhesive lamination sheets. Look for ones that are about 3 mils thick or so. Staples and Office Depot has them, as does Hobby Lobby and other scrapbooking-centric stores.
  3. A sharp X-Acto knife. And it’d better be sharp. Don’t use something you’d be ashamed to bring to a knife fight in the arts & crafts room.
  4. A metal ruler. You’re going to need to cut very straight lines, and it’s best if you cut the paper and not the ruler.
  5. Double-sided tape. Get the kind that has one side covered with a peel-off back. If you’re lazy, like me, you can pick up the small double-sided tape squares they sell scrapbookers for sticking photos into scrapbooks.
  6. A craft cutting mat or a big stack of paper so you don’t score up your table, desk, or lap.

In theory, you could use sticker paper made for inkjets instead of laminate and double-sided tape, but the resulting cube won’t stand up to handling as well as the laminate-protected one will.

Right. Let’s get down to cube-making.

  1. Create your graphics. If you’re going to make a Rubik’s Companion Cube, you’re in luck! I have a 300 dpi file ready for you. If you’re making something else, you’ve got some more work to do. Stickers on a Rubik’s cube are roughly 0.6-0.61″ square. If you want to be sure, measure the size of the stickers on your cube. For the graphics, I recommend making your picture, slicing it into those 0.6″ squares, and putting crop marks around them. To make life easier, I’ve got a 300 dpi template for that as well.
  2. A stickerless Rubik's cubeRemove the existing cube stickers. Take your sharp knife, slide it under a sticker’s corner, and pull the sticker back a bit. Pull the rest of it off with your fingers. Careful! Try not to tear the sticker or dig into the cube with your knife. When you’re done, you should have a sad, naked cube.
  3. Print your graphics. You may want to measure the size of the resulting squares to make sure they’re about the right size, but no one’s going to notice if you’re off by ten mils.
  4. Put a laminate sheet across the graphics. Cut the laminate sheet to fit over the printed graphics. Peel back part of the laminate’s backing. Stick it to the page. Remove the backing, carefully smoothing the laminate forward and removing any air bubbles as you go. If you end up with an air bubble, find the smallest pin or needle you can, puncture the bubble, and squeeze out the air. (Bubble-removing tip thanks to ctate.)
  5. If you’re using plain double-sided tape, put double-sided tape on the back. You want to cut everything at once. If you’re using the scrapbooking tape squares, skip this step.
  6. Cut out your squares. Here’s where your cutting mat and metal ruler come in handy. Put the laminated paper on the cutting mat or stack of papers. Place your metal ruler along each set of crop marks and gently cut through the laminate, paper, and (possibly) tape. If you forgot about the cutting mat, you’ll also gently cut into your desk. One word of caution: on your last couple of cuts, the previously-cut squares will try to move out from under the knife. Run your knife lightly over the laminate once to score it, then again while pressing harder to cut it.
  7. Rounded Rubik's cube stickersOptional: round the corners. If you look at the actual Rubik’s cube stickers, they’re rounded on the corners. Yours aren’t. You can fake this effect by taking your knife and clipping each square’s corner a teeny tiny amount. Don’t do too much or you’ll end up with a stop sign instead of a rounded-edge square.
  8. Apply the stickers. If you used plain double-sided tape, peel the back off and put the squares on the cube. If you’re using scrapbooking tape squares, peel a tape square off, put it on the back of one of your squares, peel off the backing, and apply the square.

And you’re done! Let’s see the final result.

The Rubik's Companion Cube

Me and the Companion Cube

Me listening to the cube

The cube trying to stab me

We play Playstation games

We go on a date

As you can tell, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

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  1. Mori
    on July 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    I just had to post, your idea is awesomeee!! I am SO making myself a companion cube! Also, it appears your companion cube should learn where to put that knife. It might accidentally stab you.

  2. samie
    on January 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    this does not help w/ the creation i am trying to make. i’m trying to make a complete homemade rubix’s cube.

  3. on January 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that’s far beyond my abilities.

  4. Emily
    on March 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing the size info. I had templates, but lost them when my hard drive crashed. Your measurements are spot on and you are the first person Google sent me to when I ask for photo cube measurements. Thanks!( =

  5. on March 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    You bet!

  6. Jess
    on May 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    This is great. I’m doing a secret gift exchange on reddit and this will be perfect. I’ll have to make one for myself afterwards! I saw that Portal 2 came out recently and I had never played the first one. I just finished today. Did anyone else cry like a baby when they had to euthanize the cube?

  7. on May 31, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t cry but I was very sad.

  8. Sarah
    on October 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    This is awesome! As soon as I get out of practice today, I’m going to go pick up the stuff to make one (or 2) for my brother (and I). A great birthday present since his 2 favorite things are Portal and Rubik’s Cubes! 🙂

  9. 2B
    on October 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink <– another version (: good job on yours, i love the idea 😀

  10. Badwolf_T
    on December 10, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Hi, could you please show me where did you get the images to print?
    Thank you.

  11. Conrad
    on March 25, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The template for the CC is bullshit. I spent an hour re-sizing it

  12. on March 25, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I’m terribly sorry the free image I provided and your mis-understanding of printing and dots per inch caused you such grief.

  13. BJ
    on June 29, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    hey, does anybody know how to avoid the paper stickers from peeling off the cube?? i didnt use laminate coz im too lazy to buy one.. cant blame me, rite?? haha

  14. on June 29, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    You might be able to spray fixant on them, like what art students use.

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