How to Make Your Own Dominoes

A small rectangular block used as a gaming object. Dominoes are made of rigid material such as wood or bone and are variously referred to as bones, pieces, men, or cards. When a domino is tipped over, it causes the others in the line to tip, resulting in a sequence of events that can lead to much larger—and sometimes more dramatic—consequences. The term domino is also used figuratively to refer to any series of events that spread out from one simple starting point.

The most basic Western games involve blocking or scoring by removing a player’s remaining tiles from the board. Other games are played using dominoes of a very different character, including solitaire and trick-taking games that allow players to circumvent religious proscriptions on playing card games. Some domino games duplicate card games, while others help teach children number recognition and counting skills.

Dominos can be arranged in many different configurations to create intricate, awe-inspiring displays of domino art that can include straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures like pyramids. Such displays are the focus of some very popular domino shows, where builders compete to set up the most elaborate and imaginative sequence or reaction before a live audience.

Often, a person who is skilled at making domino art will be able to create a track for the dominoes to follow, which makes it easier to set them up in the correct order. This is especially important for large designs that require careful positioning and timing in order to create the desired effect.

While it is possible to purchase domino sets that are designed to be used for play, many people prefer to make their own. Nick explains how he developed his method of domino-making without any formal instructions or expensive computer controlled equipment—just the tools he had in his garage, such as a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, belt sander and welder. He also explains how to calculate the amount of dominoes you will need for your design and how to plan it out on paper before attempting to build it.

Dominoes are commonly made from polymer materials such as styrene and melamine, but some people choose to use natural materials like silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony. Such sets tend to be heavier than those of polymer materials, but they can provide a novel look and feel and are usually slightly more expensive. Some older sets feature the top thickness in MOP, ivory or bone with the lower half in ebony.

Another common way to build a domino is to use a set of tiles that have been painted or drawn on with black ink to identify their pips (spots). This is the most economical way to build a track for a long domino line and it is usually the most versatile, since it can be used for any kind of domino art, from a simple straight line to a complex pattern that will create a specific picture when it falls.