We recently were offered a rather unusual review item; a cube made of Tungsten. It didn’t charge anything, it didn’t come with Bluetooth, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t have any memory expansion. However, out of all the items I’ve reviewed for Gear Diary, almost none have elicited the joyful response that the Tungsten and Aluminum Desk Cubes from Midwest Tungsten have!
There’s really not much to them. One is aluminum, one is tungsten, and the easiest way without touching them to tell the difference is that the aluminum is a little shinier. But when you pick them up, especially if you hold one in each hand, the tungsten one feels like a magic trick. Tungsten is a significantly denser metal that aluminum, so the two cubes, while externally identical at 1.5 square inches, have very different weights. Specifically, the tungsten cube is 2lbs, 3.4oz (or 1 KILO!), while the aluminum cube is 5.3 oz (150 grams); the tungsten is over 6x as heavy despite being the same size! It’s really funny to hand both to someone without giving them that warning, as inevitably the hand with the tungsten plummets, and they look at you like you’ve performed complex magic in front of them. We’re conditioned to see two items of the same size to weigh roughly the same, so it really makes your senses do a triple take.
For those who didn’t pay much attention in high school science, tungsten is one of the densest metals in nature. It has an extremely high melting point and is extraordinarily tough. Basically, it’s the metal you want around for serious work (Midwest Tungsten shares the story of how they provided tungsten pistons for the space shuttle, for instance!) Outside of industrial applications and wedding bands, it’s likely that most people don’t know or think much about tungsten at all, which is probably why Midwest Tungsten makes various desk sets; not only are they attractive and interesting by themselves, it works as way to educate and remind people about the special properties of tungsten.
When I first unboxed them, my 3-year-old son attempted to abscond with them, thinking they were a tiny set of toy blocks, I guess. He eventually begrudgingly returned them to me, but he was really into the idea that they were both made of different metals. Interestingly, the ADULTS who see the cubes have the same reactions. They ask why I have random cubes displayed on my desk, then even when they understand one is denser, they get SO EXCITED to play with them. For the record, tungsten cubes do not bounce, but when my coworker dropped it on the floor it reverberated loudly enough I joked we might have broken the building.
At $159, these aren’t a cheap desk ornament. They are very, very unique, though, and they make a great conversation piece, especially if you like to nerd out about metallurgy. And if cubes aren’t your thing, or you have an industrial use for Tungsten, their shop has just about everything you’ll need! I’m thinking of using the cubes as a deterrent against uninvited people in my office; first offenders get hit with the aluminum cube, but repeat offenders get the tungsten one chucked at them!
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Stylish; came with their own stand; oddly fun to hold; educate and impress your coworkers; excellent as a threat against unwanted office invaders
What Needs Improvement: Pricey for what they are