Christmas Gifts – Domino Box

While I was working on the set of dominos for my parents, I was also working on a box to hold the set.  I liked the idea of box joints, but really liked  the joints Marc Spagnolo created for the case of his Gagdet Station.

Based on the size and number of dominos I was creating, I had some basic dimensions to work with and settled on this sketch for my box design:

After several iterations (seen above), I decided on three fingers for the sides – each 3/4″ wide, with two fingers for the ends – each 9/8″ wide.  I liked not just the varied width of the fingers, but having an even number of fingers on one face and an odd number on the adjacent face.

I really wanted to go two-tone with the sides of this box and had previously purchased paduak and birdseye maple for the job. To create the extended box joints,  I created a jig for the mitre gauge on my table saw:

I don’t yet have a stacked dado blade set, so cutting the fingers involved several passes over the blade.  I used a stop block on both ends of the jig to set boundaries for how far to each side I could cut, then made passes over the blade, slowly moving the piece from one stop block to the other. I clamped opposing sides of the box together, both to decrease the number of cuts I was making and to create matching sides to make the fitting easier.

After several dozen passes of the mitre gauge, I was left with four close to fitting box sides:

On the table saw, I made a concerted effort to cut on the waste side of my markout lines – so I could custom work the fit of each set of fingers with a rasp. After fitting the fingers, I used the rasp to roundover the ends of each finger. I didn’t fully pillow the finger tips, but just broke the sharp edges enough to soften the profile.

With the sides fitted and shaped, I took my focus to the top and bottom of the box. For the bottom I used a piece of 1/2″ birch plywood. With my router table, I cut a groove on the inside of each side of the box.  On the maple ends, the groove went completely through end-to-end. On the paduak sides, a through groove would show on the outside of the box, so for the first time I [slowly] dropped a piece of wood onto an already spinning router bit. I was surprised by how smoothly that went – hopefully my over-anxiousness was the key to the safety of the operation.

For the top, I used another piece of the birdseye maple.  Again on the router table, I cut a rabbet on all for edges – allowing the top to rest within the opening of the box itself. For the pull on the top, I used a scrap of paduak.  I first routed a groove with a 3/8″ core box bit on both sides of the paduak, about 1″ from the end. Then I chucked a 1/2″ roundover bit and profile the edge on both sides as well. A couple of countersunk screws from beneath the top, some Titebond II, and my assembly was complete!

After I wrestled the box away from its clamp-monster, it only took a few brushed on coats of amber shellac to complete the box:

Christmas Gifts – Domino Set

Flipping through the weekly Rockler e-mail a few months ago, I noticed an ad for template for a set of dominos:

The set and that box struck a cord with me. My parents play dominos, so I thought this would be a great Christmas gift. The Rockler template for laying out the pips only went to a double six. I wanted a larger set and settled on creating a double twelve, which is 91 dominos total. I liked the contrasting woods for the dominos, so I sought out some 1/8″ walnut and oak to laminate together for the set.

The pieces I ended buying varied in size between the species, so I had to edge glue two pieces of the oak into a larger panel, using two cauls and my parallel clamps:

I set up the cauls and tightened the clamps ever so slightly on the panels before applying glue. Then I took the oak panels out, applied glue to the edges, and snapped them back into place between the cauls.  To keep the panels from bowing back up, I put my jack plane to a new use:

After getting the oak panel up to sufficient size, I slathered both sides in Titebond II and lined up the walnut boards.  I clamped the lamination between two scraps of plywood I had sitting around:


After some gluing time, I went through the process of getting the lamination dimensioned.

  1. Joint one side/edge flat on the jointer*
  2. Rip a parallel edge on the table saw
  3. Square the end at the mitre saw

* After jointing the first edge on my jointer, I realized that this probably wasn’t the smartest move on a piece that is only 3/8″ wide.

I ran my random orbital sander on each side of the panel through 120 and 180 grit sandings – to prep these surfaces before they got smaller and harder to handle:

Because of the size that I wanted to make each domino (7/8″” by 1 3/4″), so I decided to rip the strips on the bandsaw.  This not only was safer, but the kerf on my bandsaw blade is much thinner than the kerf on my tablesaw blade. After ripping the strips to width, I moved the fence and crosscut the strips to final length:

This left me with 91 domino blanks to use, plus a few extra – just in case something went awry. The next stop was to my pile of sandpaper.  I needed to remove saw marks from the sides as well as round all four corners. The results:

With all my blanks sized and surfaced, I turned to the face layout for each piece.  First I measured and marked the center line on each domino, chopping them with a few taps on a 1″ chisel. Next it was on to the pips, where I got my biggest assist from my wife.  Not only did she mark all the dominos after I finished chopping the center lines, but she drilled all 1092 pips in the set! Needless to say this project wouldn’t have been finished before Santa’s midnight shimmy without her.  A couple coats of shellac later and the set was ready to go:

Stayed tuned for part two where I delve into the box made to hold the dominos!

Tom Petty was Right

The waiting is the hardest part.

As I’ve been working in the garage over the past few weeks and a couple of times I’ve thought to myself “Self – if you went and bought Tool X, this task would be a lot easier.” But despite the ease it would bring, I just can’t follow through with the purchase.  Not only do we have Christmas coming up shortly, but my birthday follows soon after it. What that ends up meaning for the Taylor Garage (and the Taylor ‘everything else’ actually) is that I refrain from buying myself anything, lest it be gifted to me for the ensuing festivities.

Am I the only one who goes on a self-purchasing fast the last two months of the year? It has been a little harder to abstain this year, since I am planning on building a few gifts to give.  So I’m left torn between wanting more time to build and wanting time to fly, so my shop can expand.  Either way, the stresses of the season will eventually lead to the joys of a simple shop: