Making wooden domino blocks

I needed some suitably sized "domino blocks" to test my improved domino row building machine. Seeing that I didn't ever intend to play dominoes with these blocks, I was at liberty to make them any size and shape I wanted to. As it is, they are a bit shorter than real dominoes, which I think makes them better for building domino rows.

To make my wooden "dominoes", I ripped some wood into sections about 23.5 x 7.5 mm on the table saw. I used a very thin 7 1/4" (185 mm) circular saw blade to avoid wasting too much wood.

I cut a notch into a thin piece of scrap to use as a narrow push stick behind the blade. I often end up cutting into the push stick doing this sort of thing so its best to make a temporary one.

Also note that I'm using a zero clearance insert on my table saw. That sort of thing is essential when cutting thin strips between the fence and the blade. Otherwise, the cut pieces end up getting sucked into the gap next to the blade.

I slightly rounded the long edges of my strips of wood before cutting them to length. Its less work sanding the long edges on the strips than it is to sand the individual blocks once they are cut apart.

To cut the dominoes to length I clamped a small block of wood to my table saw sled as a stop. The block of wood is wide enough to act as a stop for a stack of five dominoes at a time.

When cutting small pieces of hardwood the table saw blade often starts vibrating while making a cut. This happens much less with thicker stock, so stacking up five strips at a time not only saves time but also makes for a cleaner cut in the effectively larger piece. Stacking five pieces also means that four of the five pieces have another piece behind them, so only the last domino suffers from any tearout at the back.

Note how close my fingers are to the blade. For cuts like that it's important to position one's hands so that the fingers, even if fully extended, don't reach the blade. That way, if something unpredictable were to happen and the pieces thrown out of my hands somehow, my fingers would still not get caught in the blade.

After cutting all the dominoes to length, I round the edges and corners. I do this on my belt sander. I made over 300 dominoes, so it helps to figure out the most expedient way to it. I got into a routine where I could do all the edges on both ends of a domino in about five seconds per domino. I'm using both hands so I can flip them over faster. I flipped it while still in contact with the belt so that I'd cover the corners in the process of flipping it.

I don't have to be as careful with a belt sander. In fact, doing stuff like that, I almost always at some point or other end up touching the sanding belt. But it's usually such a quick and light touch when it does happen, that its hard to find the scuffed spot when it does happen.

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