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At the prison I was in (northern Indiana), dice were banned as "tools for gambling" -- yet playing cards were OK. Yea, it didn't make sense to any of the staff either.

We carved our own out of bars of "state soap" (the cheap Barker brand inmate soap that gets distributed in just about every institution). We carved out the little divots on each side for the numbers and used Kool-Aid to stain them. Some of the older guys who had been incarcerated for a long time were so good at making them[1] that they were damn near indistinguishable from the real thing until you felt them of course (they were made out of soap after all). They actually rolled fairly true as well.


1: they could also carve out some very intricate chess pieces. I mean these were damn near works of art. You couldn't use state soap for those though, it's far too thin and brittle. You needed the good Ivory-brand stuff from the commissary.

What did they carve with?

I can only speak for what I saw done first-hand. Some guys used their own shanks/shivs/whatever you want to call it, basically any old piece of metal. This was obviously done in their cells on their own. Much more frequently [and out in the open] though was guys using the plastic butter "knives" that came in the dinner trays (think KFC, individually wrapped sets of 1 plastic spork, 1 wetnap, and 1 plastic butter knife with a kinda serrated edge - though still dull as all hell). For doing the divots we used the end-tip of the long piece on the cap of a typical old-school style Bic pen - this worked extremely well and quick.

you had bics? like these?


at school we used those as dices directly, notches on each of their six sides, making them roll in a bunch was random enough.

Close, but they were more the "older" style Bic pens from WAY back in the days. These:


The end of the piece that sticks out from the cap worked just like a tiny plastic shovel

We carved our own knives out of bars of "state soap" .

Who carved the first soap knife and what tool did they use?

It's bars of soap all the way down.



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