Even during the offseason, we have football on the brain. The combine, draft and preseason are great distractions, but sometimes you want to do more than just watch and wait. Fill your time with a unique DIY project – yard dominos. Whether teaming up in pairs or going full-on cutthroat, dominos is a great way to bring an old classic back into play while tailgating.
Go beyond the table game your grandpa played and build a set of custom DIY yard dominos. The larger scale dominos are ideal for being played outside – a perfect addition to the tailgating game collection. Really want to spice it up? Pick a theme for the dominos by using your favorite team’s colors.
Understand the Basics
A typical domino set includes 28 dominos, also known as a double-six set. This means the largest domino tile in the set has six dots, or pips, on both ends. The pips on a tile are identified from smallest to largest. For instance, a tile with three dots on one end and five dots on the other is a “3/5” tile.
It is key to know how big you want the tiles to be, and they need to be the same width and length. The example here involves dominos that measure 2” x 6”. Just be sure to think of both storage travel when choosing the length of your tiles.
- Hand or miter saw
- Safety Glasses
- Paint in your favorite team’s colors
- Sandpaper or hand sander
- Non-treated wooden boards (details below)
Some people are perfectionists and take their DIY projects on with more than just pride and a pair of gloves. For those who want thrive on the details, here are some extras for your yard dominos game.
If you plan on making more than one set, or want to have a more polished looking deck, creating stencils with pieces of cardboard is the way to go. Using them keeps your designs more consistent and helps avoid skipping or duplicating tiles and messing up the set.
For the perfectionist, draw pre-measured circles and use a ruler to keep them in line with each other. After drawing the stencil on cardboard, use a small blade (like an xacto knife) to make small, precision cuts and the pips will be pristine each time.
The Flip Side
Don’t ignore the back of the tiles. Snag this perfect opportunity to go the extra mile in support of your team! Instead of just painting the dominos one solid color, get a template of your team’s logo or mascot to solidify your status as a top fan.
Like every other tailgating game, the purpose is inclusion for all of your guests. Print a copy of the rules and have it laminated for repeated use. Don’t let someone sit out from the fun just because they do not know how to play – yet.
To avoid making duplicates or skipping number combinations on the tiles, have a checklist ready to go starting with the doubles. Here is your list:
- Double Zero (0/0)
- 0/1; 0/2; 0/3; 0/4; 0/5; 0/6
- Double One (1/1)
- 1/2; 1/3; 1/4; 1/5; 1/6
- Double Two (2/2)
- 2/3; 2/4; 2/5; 2/6
- Double Three (3/3)
- 3/4; 3/5; 3/6
- Double Four (4/4)
- 4/5; 4/6
- Double Five (5/5)
- Double Six (6/6)
What “Wood” You Do Next?
Domino tiles are rectangular, so decide in advance what size you want and make sure to purchase enough wood in advance for consistency. Professional dominos have a 1:2 ratio and these figures are based on 6″ x 1′ tiles. For 28 dominos, you need at least 28 feet of 2″ x 6″ boards. Purchasing four 8′ boards will provide 32 total feet – giving some room for error.
After gathering the materials needed, follow these simple steps to make your set:
- Make straight cuts using the miter saw (for speed) or a hand saw). Cut 28 one-foot sections of wood. (Sometimes the store where the wood is will make the cuts for you too).
- If desired, cut all of the wood into one-foot sections just in case there are issues later.
- Sand the edges of the boards down smooth using a hand sander or sandpaper
- Paint or stain each tile on one side
- Let dry, then paint on the opposite side
- After completely dry, add embellishments to the backs of the tiles
- Use a pencil to draw out the patterns needed based on the list above
- If applicable, put the patterns on pieces of cardboard instead for use in making more than one set
- Paint the pip patterns on each tile
- Let dry
- Have FUN!
Keeping the tiles in good shape for future use is important. After working hard to create a personalized tailgating game, don’t waste the efforts with poor storing practices. For temporary storage or use on the lawn, heavy duty laundry baskets are easy and inexpensive. Long-term storage is better for large plastic containers with lids that lockdown. This is also an efficient way to keep all the tiles together for travel.
Since yard dominos require as little as two people, there is great flexibility with this game when tailgating. If there are smaller children, they may even want to use the colorful tiles to make a domino line – and everyone will want to watch when it is time to knock ‘em down! Add this game to the party and when your friends learn it was a DIY project – don’t be surprised if requests come for personalized sets. They would make a great gift for the big football fan in your life.
Feature Image via Belknap Hill Trading Post