More Minecraft Offline

How We Made a Life Size Minecraft Nether Portal

We do a project every summer. One year it was a life-size Angry Birds game. Another year we made a pulley and weight system using the swing set. This year we decided a Minecraft Nether Portal fit the bill.

Why not, right?

As you may already know, my boys are crazy for  Minecraft and we use Minecraft quite a bit in our homeschooling.

I love taking online concepts and turning them into offline projects. It’s captivating for the kids and a challenge to move from a two dimensional world to a three dimensional creation.

Our Minecraft Nether Portal project began simply enough. I purchased a quantity of 14 boxes measuring 14 x 14 x 14 at Walmart for $0.60 each along with two cheap rolls of black duct tape for $1.99 each.

We closed all the boxes with the black duct tape and the boys helped me spray paint them solid black. We did this in batches, maybe four or five at time. I think I actually finished these in our living room on top of craft paper.


Crazy, right?

Next, I had to figure out how to add the cube texture. I am a big fan of creating repeatable processes so I cut out a 14 x 14 cardboard square from some scrap cardboard that I am sure came from (egad, we sure have a lot of boxes, lol!).

I then used a ruler to trace the cube pattern, using an image on the Internet as a guide. It’s important to note that this doesn’t have to be exact. Once you paint the boxes the overall effect will be there, so don’t strive for perfection.


We pinned the cardboard template to each box with straight pins and Eli globbed on the purple paint. For a little guy, he’s got pretty strong fingers and was able to get the boxes sprayed well! After box number three, we ditched the straight pins because they took too long to insert and remove. By that time our template was pretty heavy with wet paint so we didn’t get any bleeding under the edges.

DIY Minecraft Nether Portal boxes drying in back yard

All those pretty boxes sat in my dining room, stacked to the ceiling for about a month. That was the less appealing part of this project I have to admit. Cardboard doesn’t store very well outside and takes up A LOT of room inside.

Our next challenge was how to connect the boxes. Stacking the vertical columns was easy enough, but floating the top section made the boys think.

We tried duct tape and the boxes fell right apart.

We tried pins and they weren’t strong enough.

Finally, we decided to use PVC! We had a nice section left over from a PVC project and it fit perfectly across the four upper row of boxes. I used a super-sharp exacto knife to trace a hole around the PVC pole and made sure the hole landed in the same spot on every side of every box.

Homemade Minecraft Nether PortalNow we had to add our purple “haze” that Minecrafters must walk through to enter and exit the portal. We tried a purple sheet, but it was too difficult to navigate. We looked at cutting out purple construction paper spirals, but that seemed pretty work intensive. Finally, we decided on purple crepe paper streamers which was ideal! This gave us the effect we wanted, yet still allowed the boys to walk through the opening with ease.

Sweet! The boys were pretty psyched and also proud of the weeks and week of hard work they put into this.

I was, too! Now the boxes are sitting in my front entry way. Sigh. Hopefully this weekend we will move them to the attic to wait for Halloween. What an epic decoration this will make for our front porch! Yeah!

If you’re making your own Minecraft Nether Portal please share the resulting pics in the comments below!

Happy homeschooling,

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