Introduction: Large Dominoes From Pallets

About: I like to design and build random things.

I broke apart pallets about 1 year ago and have a stack of wood in my basement. I decided that I needed to finally make something of it. So, I made this large domino set (pictured in black). I also made some extra large dominoes (stained golden oak). A complete set of the extra large ones would have been a LOT of pallet wood. Instead, I only made these three dominoes.

This project is entered in the Remix contest and is similar to JamesSlater's excellent Dominoes Instructable shown here. Since I used recycled materials, I'm also entered in the Trash to Treasure Contest.

Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Table Saw
  • Sander or Planer
  • Punch
  • Hammer
  • Drill Press
  • Drill Bits
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Paint Brush


  • Pallet Wood
  • Paint
  • Stain (optional)

Step 2: Pallets

I used two different size pallets to make the dominoes. The first was a standard pallet with slats that were ~ 4" wide by 36" long and 5/8" thick. I used this pallet to make the complete set of dominoes which are referred to as Large Dominoes from here out. The second version, referred to as XLarge Dominoes were made from the pallet shown in this step.

Step 3: Game Pieces

You will be building this 28 piece set. If you are not familiar with Dominoes, check out these Links for more information:

Domino Games

Dominoes from Wikipedia

Step 4: Sizes

The standard game piece sizes are as shown in the graphic. As you can see, the ratio of length-to-width is 2:1. Therefore, you can easily use this scaling factor for your custom size dominoes. I built a full set (28 pieces) using 3" x 1.5" size which took up less than 2 slats from a pallet.

For the large size, I used the beefy pallet shown in Step 2. Roughly, the boards started out as a 2x6. Since they were pretty banged up, I cut the width down to 4". Using the same ratio as before, the length came out to be 8".

Step 5: Length and Guide Lines

Thinking ahead will save you some time. For the Large Version (3" x 1.5"), I cut the pallet board to 3" wide. I then measured off where the dots would be located in the long direction. I used a long straight-edge and pencil to connect the dots.

Step 6: Add Center Notch

Set the table saw blade height to 1/8" high. Cut a groove in the center of the 3" dimension, see previous step for drawing. This cut should run the entire length of the pallet slat. Note that I'm showing the picture of the XLarge version here.

Step 7: Cut Pieces

Cut the pieces to 1.5" long. I used a table saw and repeated this 28 times. I used a miter saw for the Xlarge pieces as shown.

Step 8: Add Dot Locations

You should already have half the reference lines completed as described in Step 5. You will now make the cross points per this drawing. Go ahead and mark all 18 spots. Sorry, this step is tedious.

Step 9: Dot Locations

There are 28 game pieces, each with a different dot pattern. Follow the drawing in Step 3 to mark to the holes that need to be drilled.

Step 10: Drill Holes

I found it's easier to use a punch tool to help with drill alignment. For the Large version, I used a 1/4" drill bit and drilled the holes to 1/4" deep at the correct locations. For the XLarge version, I used a 7/8" spade bit and made 3/8" deep holes. Note that spade bit leaves a center hole. I used wood filler to hide this hole.

Step 11: Sand

At this point you might want to sand the dominoes to clean up the holes.

Step 12: Colored Dots

At this point, you have bare wood with holes drill at the dot locations. Unfortunately, I messed up a few times at this step. I first tried painting the blocks (bones) white. That looked pretty good but I had a hard time painting the black dots in the small holes. It looked pretty messy so I scrapped that idea and painted the entire top side black with the intention of sanding off the top layer to just leave the black dots. A planer would have worked much better but I don't own one. Anyway, the sanding was hard and it took off too much material. I had to re-drill the holes (used a larger counter-sink bit) and painted the entire block black. By then, I begged my better half to paint the white dots which took a while.

In conclusion, there are multiple ways to make contrasting colors between the domino and dots.


  1. Paint the dominoes all one color (say white). After the paint dries, go back and manually paint the dots. Again, this is the method I used for the large versions and it was painfully slow.
  2. Glue in decorative beads (kids jewelry type things). If I had these, I would have glued them in after dealing with the dot painting.
  3. Paint the dot holes with a brush (don't worry about being neat). Next, run the board over a sander or planer to remove any paint not in the hole. I didn't want bare wood in the end so I gave the board a coating of light oak stain. I did this for the XLarge versions and I think they turned out pretty nice.

Step 13: Finished Dominoes - Large Versions

I made a full set of 28. As discussed in the previous step, the holes are a little bigger than the 1/4 diameter since I made a few mistakes during the painting step.

Step 14: More Pictures - Larger Version

Funny, I had never played Dominoes so I had a look up the directions. Wife and I split the two games we played.

Step 15: Finished Dominoes - XLarge Version

Ok, I only made 3 of these since it was just a proof of concept. Note that some of the pictures are bare wood (prior to stain/poly). I think they look pretty cool but are not very portable due to the size. I could see something this size maybe being used in a school or at a spectator event. However, they will most likely just be used for rustic decoration.

Step 16: More Pictures - XLarge Version

Banana for Scale :). BTW, the pictures show the dominoes with a couple of my other Instructables, see here, here and here if interested.

Step 17: Size Comparison

Again, for reference, the sizes are as follows:

  • Large (3" x 1.5")
  • XLarge (8" x 4")

Thanks for reading this far and enjoy your dominoes.

Remix Contest 2016

Participated in the
Remix Contest 2016

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016