The definitive guide to buying, lubing, and maintaining a speedcube. Version 4, updated 8/28/04 - Written and updated by Trevor Holland (a.k.a. FoxFaction)


Okay, its not definitive *yet*, itís still a work in progress. I need feedback to make it complete! :D


Iím writing this guide because I feel like this is a subject that has kind of been overlooked (or at least not put into one guide) in the area of speed cubing. I just want to take all the knowledge there is out there about different cubes and lubes and put it into one centralized place so that newcomers, or even pros, have a place to look to reference what kind of cube they should get and how they should lubricate it.  There are tons of sites out there with algorithms and finger tricks, but really no guides for finding/buying and lubricating a cube for speedcubing. As I was writing this, I realized how many things there are on this topic that I do not know, and I would appreciate it a lot if you could fill in the blanks for me! If you know anything that I donít, or something I left out, or even a mistake I made, send me an e-mail at and I will change it and give you credit at the bottom. Thanks!

What makes a good speedcube:



Smooth corners

Smooth corners on a cube means how lenient the cube is about having the faces lined up well to turn an intersecting plane. For instance, if you do the move F, then immediately follow it by R, and the cube seems to Ďcatchí, then it does not have smooth corners. Most off-brand cubes and really cheap cubes have this problem. Some of what causes this problem is arched centers. For reference on what arched centers are, look at the picture below. In my experience, arched centers has provided for a bad cube, but many people say that arched centers are really good. A list of pros and cons to arched centers is below. To avoid buying a cube with Ďhard cornersí (e.g. they have to be lined up perfectly in order to turn), buy the cube from one of the sources below, or look at the list of Ďhow to spot a bad speedcubeí. Smooth corners are extremely important, more so than easy turning faces in my opinion because when you are doing an algorithm quickly, if there is more leeway on how lined up things have to be, the less accurate your turns have to be, and the faster your times will be. Smooth corners can be acquired in a few ways; Over time and use of the cube, the corners will wear down and eventually you will have smooth corners naturally. Lubricating your cube will also keep the corners from catching. Different makes of Rubikís cubes have different smooth corner tendencies. You could sand the corners down, but this is illegal for speedcubing. It is, however, not illegal to sand down any imperfections in the plastic, such as rough spots or uneven spots. Use a very fine grade sandpaper if you are going to do this.


Arched centers:


    Faces are very easy to turn, as long as everything is lined up.

    Pieces pop much less often than with flat centers.


    The corners are not smooth in my experience. (Although I've heard many people say arched centers are awesome, and I only have a cheap cube that has arched centers, so I can't really be that good of a guide)

    The corners of the arches must be sanded down to make finger tricks smooth on most occasions.


Faces that turn easily

This is very also important to having a quick speedcube. This is achieved mainly by lubricating, but also will come naturally with wear over time. Faces that turn easily are important because it takes less effort to do finger tricks, and they seem to glide along easier. If your cube is stiff, your forearms/hands will get sore after just a few minutes of real speedcubing, and finger tricks are much more difficult. Also, ridiculous as it sounds, this also prevents injury. You can injure your wrist with turning (although Iíve heard and found that itís difficult to develop carpel tunnel syndrome, even though that seems like it would be the case), and also injure your thumb. [If anyone knows the site that has the names for these two injuries, please send it to me, I believe they are called ďcubists thumbĒ and ďrubiks wristĒ or something like that] . Your faces should turn so well that with a completely extended index finger, you can push a face around in circles with the side of your finger without much effort.

Non-Lube ways to loosen the faces (Thanks to Jacob Rueth for these):

1) Cube Grinding

        For this, take a non-lubed cube and squeeze it tightly and turn it repetitively, grinding down the plastic on the inside which loosens the faces. It would be a good idea to, instead of just turn each face back and forth several dozen times, to do a whole bunch of actual solves (Jason suggests about 100 grinding solves).

2) Spring stretching

        Inside the centers of each cube is a spring that keeps tension on the other pieces, keeping the cube together, but allowing it to flex a little if everything is not lined up just perfectly. If the pieces are all too tight, the spring needs to be loosened. On really good cubes, the center caps can pop off and there is a screw underneath that can be adjusted to change the tension of the spring, which is extremely useful. If you are not lucky enough to posses one of these cubes then you can stretch out the springs to make it more loose. Remember that this is a one-way process and once done cannot be reversed. Take something approximately the width of a credit card (cardboard, gift cards, etc.) and stick it in between the cubies. Stick two under each face, one on each side to push the face up and compress the center cap and the spring, bending the spring into a more loose position. You can do 2 faces at a time if you wish (opposing faces), so it will only take 3 times of doing this to complete the cube. Check the cards on an hourly basis. If the cube is not loose enough, re-insert the cards and wait more, but remember once the spring is bent you cannot bend it back, so if you are in doubt, tighter is better than looser, because the cube will naturally loosen up more over time.

3) Combination

        Jason suggests that you do these in combination, starting with 100 grinding solves, then spring stretching, then check the looseness. If it's too tight still, then do more grinding solves and then more stretching, then check again. Repeat this as many times as necessary.


Colors that are easy to differentiate

The colors on the stickers must be easy to spot and differentiate from each other. When speedcubing, if the lighting isnít that great, it can be easy to confuse red and orange or blue and green at a glance if you are using the default stickers or replacement stickers. Remember, the whole reason they are different colors is so you can tell which side is which! So you want the colors to be as different as possible.


How to get new stickers:

Your stickers that the cube came with WILL need to be replaced if you spend much time speedcubing. The only place that I know of to get new stickers is [please email me if you know another place]. The replacement stickers are pretty good (although some say otherwise), although Iíve found the yellow and orange to be a little dark, and after a while the stickers chip a little (because they are PVC based, if I'm not mistaken). You can also make your own stickers. Iíve seen this done with colored electrical tape, paint, and blank stickers and colored sharpies. [more info on how to do this later, if you have used one of these methods, please send me an email telling any tips on them].  Another choice is to get tiles. You can buy tiled cubes at I have not speedcubed with a tiled cube, so I donít know how it feels on the fingers, or if the tiles pop off very often, or if there is anywhere else to get them. [email me if you know]


The best new stickers you can get are vinyl/plastic ones you make yourself (Thanks to Gilles Roux for this)!

Here's how:

For the stickers themselves, buy either robust plastic dividers, or vinyl sheets. Your choice on which should pivot on the colors available, try and get the best colors you can.

Get neoprene glue to fix the stickers to the cube.

Cut the stickers to 1.6cm x 1.6cm for a 3x3x3 cube, then apply a thin, even sheet of the glue to the cube. Wait two minutes for the glue to partially dry. Then apply the stickers and press very hard everywhere on them for 30 seconds.

Gilles says "I restickered my main speedcube, and after many months of intensive use, the stickers still look new. If you want to cube under water, no problem."

For a video of this process, and a more through walkthrough,  look here:


Scheme One (inspired by Gilles Roux):
Red: A deep tomato red, which makes it easy to differentiate from the bright orange.

Orange: VERY bright orange, like a construction workerís vest

Yellow: Bright as possible, but not bright enough to confuse with white, like a yield sign

White: Again, painfully bright. So bright it looks like itíll glow in the dark

Green: A spearmint green (see the picture at the bottom), which makes it very different from the rest of the colors.

Blue: I like this to be the darkest color on the cube. Iíve seen people also have no stickers on this side and just use black.

This Scheme has each individual color be the most different from the rest as possible, which makes them very easy to differentiate.


Scheme Two:

Red: A bright stop sign red

Orange: VERY bright orange, like a construction workerís vest

Yellow: Bright as possible, but not bright enough to confuse with white, like a yield sign

White: Again, painfully bright. So bright it looks like itíll glow in the dark

Green: A dark forest green.

Blue: I like this to be the darkest color on the cube. Iíve seen people also have no stickers on this side and just use black.

So when you do this, assuming you use a white opposite yellow scheme, youíll have the lights (yellow, white) opposite each other, the darks (blue, green) opposite each other, and the warm colors (red, orange) opposite each other. This makes quick movements more intuitive because you know similar colors are opposites, but the colors aren't quite as easy to differentiate as with scheme one.


            Side note about color schemes: The large majority of cubes you will run into use a BOY which stands for "Blue Orange Yellow", they go around a corner clockwise in that order. In this scheme you have yellow opposite white, blue opposite green, and orange opposite red. The other scheme you will run into is the same, but has blue and yellow switched, so that blue is opposite white. I'd say that 70% use the first scheme, 25% use the second, and the remaining 5% use a custom scheme. So if you are new to this, try and get a cube that is BOY because most of the algorithms and diagrams will show the colors in this scheme.


Traction on the stickers

Different stickers stick to your fingers to different degrees. Iíve even heard people suggest something called ďgorilla snotĒ that a lot of drummers use to hold their sticks better to use to cube better. I think thatís overkill, but traction is important. Usually just washing your hands gives good traction on most stickers. Also Iíve found the stickers the cubes come with have poor traction, especially when their clear coverings are starting to peel off. The replacement stickers are dyed PVC, so they have wonderful traction as long as there is no oil on your hands. With vinyl or plastic divider stickers the traction would be great. Iím guessing electrical tape would be the same since itís also PVC based. Paint.. I donít know, it would probably have more texture and work better if you have oily hands. Also to keep good traction, temporarily rub all the faces on some cloth (my shirt?) to get all the oil off, this is helpful if a ton of people just handled your cube. Iíve almost dropped it several times because I didnít do that! So basically, less oil = more traction.


What kind of cube to get:



ODDZON CUBE - $9.00 at local stores and

The "standard cube", if you will. These cubes are nice, and about the cheapest good speedcube you can get. I heard a story once that someone (I think it was Dan Knights?) went around to every single local store that carried cubes, buying every single one, and then sorted through the dozens he procured to find the best one. Itís true that not all official Rubik's cubes you buy will be the same, they just have random imperfections from the manufacturing process. Sometimes the springs in the center pieces will be too tight, sometimes too loose. Sometimes some of the pieces will be slightly too big, which makes it stiff. Sometimes the corners of the internal mechanics are more pointed and less rounded, causing the cube to catch a lot. But overall, Iíve never had one that was really just flat out ďbadĒ. These cubes are carried at Wal-Mart, Target, and the website mentioned above. [email me more stores that carry these if you know them]


RUBIKS.COM CUBE - $11.69 + S&H on

I'm not absolutely positive, but I think this is the exact same cube as the Oddzon cube, just packaged differently. [If you know, please email me] The packaging is nicer than the Oddzon cubes, and now they come with a little stand which is kinda cool. It costs more than the Oddzon cube, but you get a little blue display stand and cooler packaging. Apparently, started producing their new cubes with arched centers, which is most likely a good thing.



Basically the same as the Oddzon cubes.



Mefferts sells a 3x3x3 assembly cube, that is tiled. It just flat out sucks for speedcubing. Gilles says to get it as "a gift for someone you don't like." ;)


IDEAL TOYS CUBE - Also have the "Ideal Deluxe Cube"

Manufactured in the 80's, no longer made. They come in attractive display-like packaging and have the logo that the current studio cubes have. They have arched centers and work fairly well for speedcubing as long as you adjust the center screws correctly. Ron uses this type of cube, and it hardly ever pops and works smoothly.


STUDIO CUBE - $25 (including S&H) at and occasionally on eBay

The ultimate cube if you want to put down a lot of money. Iíve heard these things are amazing, but Iíve never actually used one. These cubes were manufactured in the 80ís, and are still produced (although I think in very small quantities) from the Rubik's studio, owned by Erno Rubik himself. These cubes have a good advantage in that they have center caps with screws underneath that can be used to adjust the tension of the center springs. On other cubes, this tension is very tight initially and then loosens over time, and is non-adjustable; so you end up having a period after the tightness wears off, but before the cube gets so loose it pops all the time, that's a "sweet spot". This can be avoided with these cubes. The only place I know of to get these cubes is, but they are costly. The packaging is cool, and the logo on the white center piece is the 80ís logo, which looks awesome. The stickers on these cubes are very bright and well colored, especially the orange!  If you watch eBay you might spot one of these as well, and could get a good deal on it. I've heard that some have arched centers, some don't. [email me]


ARXON CUBE - $55 (including S&H) at and occasionally on eBay

I don't know how good this cube is for speedcubing, but it is a collectable. They were produced in the 80's and are no longer made, as I understand it. Ton sells these still sealed in their original packaging.



Don't get them. You can spot them by...

1. Cheap stickers - If the stickers aren't bright and solid colors, it's most likely a knock-off

2. Manufacturing company - If it doesn't say one of the companies listed above, then it is probably a cheap cube

3. Price - If it is under $8 or so, and obviously not a Oddzon or cube, its probably a cheap cube

4. Location - If it's in a gas station or dollar general or somewhere like that, its most likely a cheap cube

5. Name - If its called something other than a "Rubik's cube", such as a "Magic Cube" or "Mystical Cube" or "Puzzle Cube" or "Sup4R C00B3" or whatever, I would suggest against buying it ;)



Non 3x3x3 cubes:


I've purchased two of these in the past. They are VERY stiff and difficult to move, even after lubricating. I would suggest getting an Eastsheen 2x2x2 if possible.



The only cube for 2x2x2 speedcubing! Buy them at They turn very well, and you can buy them in jumbo sizes.


I own a 4x4x4, and am very happy with it. It's stickered, but I have never had the stickers peel off or show any wear, and I have used it a fairly considerable amount. It was very tight initially, but after a lot of use, it wore down to being smoother.



These are the best large cubes you can get. They are sold by and work wonderfully.



What type of lubricant to use:



This is what most speedcubists, including myself, use to lubricate their cubes. It has a lot of plusses to it, and its one of the best lubricants you can get, and it works with the plastic. You can use almost any silicon based product, Chris Hardwick says he used silicon-based car wax on a cube and it worked well. A lot of the people I talk to suggest SNAP silicon lubricant spray, but I use a generic brand and haven't had any problems.


Pros:    Doesnít deteriorate the plastic

Lasts a long time


Easy to find around the house

Quick to apply (gel type)

Makes cubing quieter (gel type)


Cons:   Messy to apply

            Requires disassembly of cube for good lubrication

            Difficult to get off hands

            Has to be worked for a while to get full effect

            Dries out (gel type)


How to apply (silicon spray): Take your cube apart completely by turning one face half way of a quarter turn, then put your finger (or if the cube is really tight use a screwdriver, which might be the case if itís new) underneath one of the edge pieces of the layer you turned (To see a picture of this, jump to the pictures at the bottom of the page, there is one showing how to do this). If you use a screwdriver take care not to scratch the plastic. Once that initial piece is out, then just randomly turn the cube and it will easily fall apart. If the cubies are dirty, clean them off thoroughly with a toothbrush or paper towels or q-tips, or even by filling a sink with water and washing all the cubies, but make sure your stickers will not get ruined if they get wet (its not completely necessary to get inside all the parts of the cubies that don't actually touch the internal mechanics, but it would be a good idea to get as much as you can because this cube dust will get into the mechanics eventually). I use 3 layers of paper towels to lay out the pieces on, any less and it will leak through. Lay out the pieces like shown in the picture in the pictures section, as to avoid getting a bunch of silicon on the stickers. Spray down all the pieces, making sure to spray all the sides of all the internal parts. The stickers will get a lot on them, but donít worry about that for now. Wait about 15 minutes for the silicon to dry, then re-assemble the cube, taking care not to touch the internal parts of the cubes, just the stickers, or edges around the stickers. Then work the cube for a long time, just solve and un-solve over and over. The cube will be horribly slippery, just keep wiping it off with paper towels and washing your hands every few minutes and after a half an hour or so you'll only need to wash your hands every 10 minutes, then after a few more hours it'll be completely back to normal. The cube does need to be worked for about an hour or so, but I don't think it matters a whole bunch.

        Or, if you are lazy, or think that unnecessary, then you can just open the cube up a little and spray some silicon inside using the little tube that comes with most silicon sprays. I used to do this, but then tried the disassembling method, and I'm never going back. It's al least twice as good as just spraying it into the cube.


How to apply (silicon gels): Pop out 2 or 3 pieces and coat them in the gel. Put them back in and work the cube for about 2 minutes to evenly distribute the gel inside the cube. This makes the cube more quiet, although after approximately 3 weeks the lube dries out a little and the cube becomes louder but is relatively smooth still. Make sure the lubricant says that it works for plastic just to be safe, because some lubricants such as O-ring grease (not sure if this is silicon based or not) will cause the pieces to literally stick together.


How to apply (for a non 3x3x3 cube): I am personally very afraid to disassemble my 4x4, because it has so many pieces and the internal mechanics are very complex. So how I apply lube to this is to turn one outside face about 5 degrees, let's say we turn U 5 degrees clockwise. Then turn L 5 degrees clockwise, keeping the U face in place. Now on your F face, you will notice that in the upper left it has created a little hole in the pieces, between where the U and L faces intersect on the F face. Stick your straw for your aerosol silicon spray in there, and spray a bit, then work it for a while. Repeat as needed. This can also be done in roughly the same style for the 2x2x2, just be careful not to break it.


Water Based Lubricants

This stuff is AMAZING. As far as I know it's only made for sex, the most common brand being KY, use the 'Liquid' kind. I put 3 drops of this stuff in my cube because I had heard how incredibly slick it was, and I could not believe it! You don't have to work this in or anything either, it's effects are immediate. It also makes the cube a LOT more quiet, because it doesn't bond to the plastic, so it absorbs sound inside. Don't add too much (I would say 4 large drops at the most), because it will drip out, making the outside of your cube slick. This stuff is also kinda hard to get a hold of, especially for younger people. I honestly don't know anywhere that sells for anything other than sexual use. Make sure not to get any special kind, like 'warming gel' or anything like that. You can get some online there. It will be the only lubricant I use from now on. It's seriously THAT good. I know that this stuff will dry out eventually because it is water based, but I do not know how long that takes, I've had some in my cube for a week or more, and it hasn't gone away at all.


Pros:    Very very slick, much better than silicon

            Makes cubing more quiet, I know some people get annoyed at my incessant clic-clicking

            Easy to apply

            Effects are immediate, after working a bit it gets even better

            Doesn't bond to the plastic, so it is kind of easy to remove for cleaning or anything like that


Cons:   Hard and kind of awkward to obtain, especially for young people




Everyone says not to use this lube, because it deteriorates the plastic. I agree completely, but sometimes itís good to deteriorate the plastic a little. If the cube is incredibly tight, put some WD-40 in there and use that until you feel it is loose enough, then take the cube apart and stop up your sink and soak all the pieces to get it all off, then apply a silicon based lubricant.


Pros:    Deteriorates plastic to loosen really tight cubes

            Lubricates pretty well


Cons:   Deteriorates plastic, will ruin a cube if you leave it in

            You canít leave it in for long

            ..Just donít use it other than to loosen a new cube ;)


How to apply: Apply this by popping out one cubie and then spraying lightly into the cube. Do not use a lot, that will just cause the plastic to deteriorate out of control. Once you spray a little in, work the cube for about 10 minutes to even out the application. Make sure to remember to remove this lubricant after a while, or your cube will fall apart!




It sounds really weird, I know. But I met up with Frank Chang at Caltech for the US Nationals 2004, and he told me that he uses this as a lubricant, so I gave it a try, and it does work really well.


Pros:    Works as well as Silicon based lube

            Easy to find laying around the house

            Smells like lemons


Cons:   Messy

            Smells like lemons


How to apply: I applied this in the same disassembling manner as the silicon lubricant.




This lubricant just plain sucks. It does not lubricate the cube well, is horribly messy to apply, you have to re-apply very often, and gets everywhere when you pop.


How to apply: Get some silicon and pretend its graphite. ;)




Maintaining your cube:


A word needs to be said about the maintenance of your cube. Here is a timeline of how to maintain a cube and keep it in its optimal state for speedcubing.


New - It will be very stiff and hard to move at this point. You should lube it if you plan on speedcubing at all.

Stickers come off - This will happen after about a few dozen hours of use, especially with cubes. You can buy replacement stickers at and they come in sets of 3. (Although the replacements are really good, and I have yet to replace a replacement sticker)

Cube is loose for speedcubing - This is the prime of the cube's life. Everything will go smoothly and hardly ever catch. It will be loose enough that it functions very well, but tight enough that it feels solid and pieces don't pop.

Needs to be relubed - After a time (usually a few months), the cube will start to feel grainy inside. This is from all the deteriorated "cube dust" or tiny pieces of plastic that have been worn down inside from use. Take the cube apart and thoroughly clean it to remove all the cube dust. If you have put on replacement stickers, I would suggest washing the cubies, then cleaning them with a paper towel.

Pieces start popping - After you've relubed and have used the cube for a while, pieces will start coming out during solving. This is known as "Piece popping" or just "popping". Every few dozen solves, a piece will come out and you'll have to push it back in during a solve, which adds a lot of time. If pieces start popping very early into your solves you might want to think about changing your solving style from a very forceful/quick type to more of a fluid/smooth type; you will get about the same times with either with practice (although I would personally suggest smooth, because you can look ahead much more easily, and this is what the pros use). 

Needs to be relubed again - The cube will start to feel grainy again, so clean it the same as before.

Cube needs to be retired - Once the cube starts popping more than once every 6 solves or so, I would retire the cube. During an average of 12 solves, you are allowed one pop. If you pop more than once, the average has to be discarded. So if you are popping more than one in six, you will most likely pop twice during an average, which is really annoying. Even though I'm sure you've developed some kind of emotional attachment to this particular cube by now, go buy a new one, you'll be amazed how much better it is than this old piece of junk. ;-)





Popping the edge piece out for disassembly.


A good way to lay out your cubies for spraying, this way the stickers don't get a ton of lube on them.



Shows what an arched center is. The "center" we are talking about is (on the cube on the left) the plastic below the center yellow piece (see how its flat?), and (on the cube on the right) the green center (see how its arched?). Also notice the stickers on the bad cube, stickers like that indicate a cheap knock-off cube.




Gilles Roux's Color Scheme. (The orange is brighter than it looks in the picture)



(Thanks to Ton Dennenbroek for these pictures from his puzzle collection)

Oddzon Logo / (new Oddzon?) logo


Ideal Toys logo


Studio Cube logo



Extra Thanks to:

Chris Hardwick - Thanks for putting the link to this up on the main site, and for your info on arched centers.

Gilles Roux - Thanks a ton for the information on stickers. He has experimented with many sticker types, and is responsible for the plastic divider/vinyl stickers idea. His coloring scheme is also very good, it made me rethink my colors.

Stefan Pochmann - for his arched center email.

Johan Hillerstrom - for the Eastsheen information

Eivind Fonn - for the Ideal Cube information

Tyson Mao - for the arched center and Hasbro emails, and for organizing the 2004 US Nationals, and the personal competition :)

Tyler Fox - for the Ideal Cube info, and the Eastsheen 2x2x2 info, graphite lube info, and arched centers info

Andy C - for the Ideal cube, graphite dust, and lemon pledge info :D

Ton Dennenbroek - for his pictures and great gallery that I used to find a lot of info

Jacob Rueth - for the idea and information on spring stretching and grinding loosening

Wilson Fung - for the information on silicon gel and asking I put in a 4x4x4 lubing section


Links for additional Information:

If you didn't find this guide completely definitive, then here are some extra links for you! A lot of the information in this guide came from these sites, so check them out! - Gilles Roux's site with information on lubrication and very good information on stickers! - great puzzle gallery and place to buy studio cubes - Ton's guide on making a speedcube, this is mostly for Arxon/Studio cubes, it has some very good information! - The hub of all speedcubing activities. If you want to be in the know, go here!

A little about the author:

Heya. My name is Trevor Holland and I've been speedcubing off and on for about 3 years now, with a best average of 22.6 seconds. I own about 10 Rubik's (3x3x3) cubes and at least a dozen other Rubik's based puzzles. I use the Findrich system, with Macky's PLL and OLL algorithms. I went to the US 2004 Nationals at Caltech, and am currently ranked 22nd in the world, and 12th in the United States (although after this European Tourney my rank will most likely fall).  I am 17 and live in Edmond, Oklahoma, in the United States and will be a senior at Edmond North High School next year, and hope to go on to either Caltech, Rice, or Stanford and major in electrical engineering with emphasis in nanotechnology. My current hobbies include flash programming, computer construction/repair (I guess that's more of a business than a hobby), Ping-Pong, playing the piano, playing/modding Doom 3, and cubing. If you want to email me, I'd love to hear from you!


Guide written by Trevor Holland (a.k.a. FoxFaction)

Version 1 written on 8/09/04

Version 2 written on 8/15/04

Version 3 written on 8/25/04

Version 4 written on 8/28/04 (Most recent)

This guide is still a work in progress; it will probably never be completely finished as there is a seemingly infinite amount of knowledge and opinions on this subject.

I want to make this guide better, if you have ANY input, PLEASE email me at Thanks!

This page has been visited times.