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.



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18 Discussions


Question 11 months ago on Introduction

This looks like a great project on several levels. Can't wait to make a set but a quick request; would you mind if I used the information in your PDF to create a math lesson for 6th and 7th grade students? What you have done here is perfect for several of the concepts that they need to master.


1 answer

Answer 11 months ago

Thanks. Sure, use anything you like. Let me know if you need any other graphics.


2 years ago

The giant ones look great and could be incoporated into lots of projects


2 years ago

They are really very nicely done. I think that I would make a small lamp from the XL dominoes for one of my kids room or even for a table in my office. Just a thought.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks. I see an instructable in your future :).


2 years ago

Great project! Thanks for posting it!

A template to mark the dots would be a real time saver. Maybe made from acrylic?

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Yeah, marking and painting the dots was a pain in the a**. I would definitely make a template if I ever built more than one set. BTW, I'm thinking about 3D printing a template for another project.


2 years ago

this will be one of my first spring projects. It needs to be warm enough to work outside--the table saw is in the garage.

4 replies

Reply 2 years ago

I totally understand. I hate the cold. My workshop is in the basement.


Reply 2 years ago

I am planning a set of nine spot dominoes for the yard. We have a nice little beach. It will be fun.


Reply 2 years ago

My husband is supposed to teach me how to use the table saw. I have given up on the drill. I am pretty good at the drill press but I do not have the strength for a heavy tool.


2 years ago

I love this idea (especially the XL version)! I might have to give it a shot. I wonder about using a bowl/tray router bit or similar shaped grinding bit. Voted!

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks. I router bit is a good idea - saves you from filling the spade bit hole