Thursday, December 29, 2011

Other Uses for the Domino

While chatting with someone about the Domino, I realized a brief tour of other uses of the Domino might be interesting.  Here goes:

This shelf in my shop currently has three things hanging from it.  There used to be a few more jigs there, too.

The top of the shelf has a series of equally spaced Domino mortises...

The underside of the hung items also has mortises.  As you can see, the shelf is where I pop an unglued Domino in whichever mortise I need to hang items.  For awhile, I also had a moisture meter hung by a Domino since it had a wrist strap I could hook over it.  But the Domino isn't just used for stowing things on this shelf.  Next to the shelf is a large box that protects the water softener and water filter from clumsy woodworkers.  On the top of that, are 3 mortises (left, right, and one about 2/3 more to the right); each has an unglued Domino.

In this photo, you can see that the spray gun stand that was hung on the shelf can be hung from this box when I'm spraying outside the garage; the stand doesn't stand up well on its own with the long tail and whip on the gun so this is really handy.

In this photo, the "ladders" that were on the shelf are now deployed onto the box; they are used to hold panels as they dry with dye or finish (they can be much wider as they cantilever off the frontmost nail).  I made this while preparing 10 shelves for a cabinet and it has been very useful.  It is also the reason for the "2/3 more to right" Domino so it can handle shorter shelves or drawer parts.  As you can see in the picture, the exotic MDF is ready for French polishing :)

Ah, the back junk wall above my bench.  That horizontal stick of Oak is there for mounting mini shelves like the shelf for the scrapers (or the clamping squares to its left).

Push the Domino flush to the wall and plunge, which puts the Dominos 10mm from the wall.  Use that spacing to make the mortises on the bottom of the shelf and you have a quick way to make a removable shelf; easy to scoot over, too.  If you change your mind on a shelf's location, glue the Dominos in place and cut them flush.

I had a laptop in the shop for a long time.  I wanted a stand to hold it, but also wanted it removable.  I ran across the stand today in a hidden corner of the shop (in the garbage now as you've seen I have a wall-mounted monitor now).  Where my monitor is today, there was a horizontal strip of oak like the one for the scraper tray where this laptop holder could be quickly inserted or removed (as it stuck out over the bench a little, I'd often remove it when assembling something tall enough to hit it).

The laptop sat on the incline to make the keyboard more accessible; the oak front sticks up high enough to stop the laptop from sliding down!  Notice the two Dominos in the back.

On the back of my "Sysport" drawers, I use a Domino to register in the Systainers' locking slot to keep them in place.  I've used this trick on non-Systainers, too, as just a nub that sticks up is enough to keep a box from sliding around, but also easily removed.

If you remember the entry about the Moxon vice, I made a 'jig' mortise with the Domino using its registration pins so I could make mating mortises in jig accessories that attach to the vice.  First one I made and love is one for locating a drawer side plumb while cutting dovetails.

Out of the shop, I use a couple Domino tricks as well.  My dad made this ceramic bald Eagle long ago.  I borrowed it when I first moved in :)  That shelf is actually my first woodworking project in hardwood.  It is shaped from a tracing of that bird's shadow.  Now, I think the shelf needs more shaping, but I like it anyway.  It is mounted to the wall with 3 Dominos into the bracket (the bracket itself is screwed into wall bracing):

The two slots to the left are the "middle" size giving a bit of play; the other is elongated: 2 of the "wide" mortises in a row.  The shelf attaches by putting one Domino into the elongated slot then sliding the shelf into the other two:

Once inserted, a small screw goes through the top of the bracket to pin the Domino closest the corner.  It's rock solid, but easily removed.  Note that this shelf doesn't have to hold a lot of weight; 3 Dominos in shear like this would actually be pretty strong, but not enough for a hand-crafted anvil or anything.  Also, for the curious, there's a recess in the middle of the shelf that matches the base of the eagle so it can't vibrate off the shelf and also it places the eagle in the correct orientation it was in when the shadow was traced.

As a final example, this built-in cabinet is in my master closet.  The mirror in the back is held in place by 5mm Dominos.  No, no, I didn't mortise into the mirror :)  The Domino holes are set back from the front molding enough to hold the mirror in place; should I ever move, I can pretty easily remove the cabinet and take out the mirror for transport (no mirror mastic!)

Oh, yeah, I use the Domino for joinery, too :)


  • Anonymous said...

    I like your Eagle shelf. That little trick to mount a shelf blindly is one that I should have thought of on my own.


  • Marty said...

    Great post. I remember your Moxon post regards the domino. That post started me down the path of looking for similar uses. You've just added more.

    You know, if the Shakers were doing their thing today, the chair rails would have used dominos instead of pegs, if they read your post that is ;-)

  • Marty said...

    I forgot a question that I had for you.

    The dominos are usually a tight fit. For these applications, do you do anything (sanding, waxing, etc.) to make the components that use them easier to remove and install?


  • JimsPlace said...

    Good storage idea for extra dominos, make them useful when they just sitting around doing nothing but taking up space.

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Thanks, Marty,

    Around here, things are pretty dry so the Dominos don't plump up and become too tight of a fit (exact fit, yes, overly-tight fit, no). That said, though, in August and September they can plump up a bit if you leave the bag out of the Systainer on the bench.

    For these applications, I do nothing in particular with the Dominos. For the Eagle shelf, I want them snug even though I have a pin in one. Seeing that you life in a more humid climate, maybe sanding the Dominos you use on a shelf like mine with the jigs would be useful. For the regular shelves (scraper shelf for example), tight is fine cuz you have no glue so a mallet hit works well. For the jig shelf, maybe sand them a bit so when you remove the item from the 'hook', the hook doesn't come with it.

    About plump Dominos...

    What I've done in the past is collect those desiccant packages you get in crackers and Japanese senbei (you buy those, too, right?). Put them in the Systainer with the Dominos and they'll absorb excess moisture. If you keep the Systainer closed all the time, it works out great.

  • SometimeWoodWorker said...

    I like to see the ways people use to attach small bits. I'm currently using small french cleats for some of my storage but hadn't thought of using the Domino for temporary attachments but you've given me some inspiration.

  • tliebel said...

    Paul, now that you've had some experience with the Domino DF500 does it fulfill your woodworking needs or are you going to purchase the Domino XL when it becomes available?

  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Tliebel,

    The Domino DF500 is excellent. As you could see from this post, you can easily make some large tenon stock one rainy day and use it on larger projects. The Domino 700XL is really targeted for larger projects like large tables (things with big apron/leg joints), framing, doors (household, not cabinet!), and windows. I sometimes see people say it will find a niche in timber framing, but there are whole suites of really cool tools for that industry; the 700XL would be useful there, but they have crazy things like chain mortisers.

    The 700XL starts at 8mm Dominos and goes up. The DF500 goes up to 10mm Dominos. I use 8mm Dominos the vast majority of the time so the 700XL could be useful where I'd use the DF500. Problem is that I do use a fair number of 5mm Dominos for alignment. The 700XL wouldn't help there.

    Without having tried a 700XL... if I could have only one, for what I build, the DF500 is perfect and I'd buy that again (well, I don't need two, but you know what I mean...) For the few larger projects I do, I can oversize the Domino tenons for the DF500. If I had only the 700XL, structural joints could still be done (typically 8mm or 10mm), but I'd lose the utility of alignment with smaller 5mm.

    But even if all that seems like clear, sound reasoning, I'll likely have a 700XL someday :) ( addition to the DF500)

  • Len Henkel said...

    Hey Paul, when attaching a cushion rail to a chest top how do I determine the depth setting for the domino fence? Problem is the rail is cut with a 10 degree slop. (compound miters) Somehow it is not the same as when attaching with a 90 degree joint. Hope this makes sense.


  • HalfInchShy said...

    Hi, Len,

    Do you have a photo you could email me? Look on my About page for the email address (I avoid typing it or spam-bots will get it :) Click to see the address image: Click to see the address image

    You can certainly do compound joints; I did those all over Angle Madness with the Domino. The key is using the correct reference point or the mortises will splay out due to the compound angle.

    With a quick photo I could mark it up to show you where the reference is and explain why.