free plans  home    gallery
 projects    philosophy    faq

domino effect
free plans: how to create the
Domino Effect
Basic Description

watch the
domino effect
video clip
This project takes the domino effect to the extreme. Many of us have seen a large domino topple where hundreds if not thousands of dominoes are set up only to be tipped over in succession. In line with our uniqueprojects style, we wondered what would happen if we made our own dominoes; with a little creativity we stumbled across a series of unique shapes and sizes along with simple mechanical devices used to enhance the topple. The resulting topples are quite spectacular, and if you like, you can view a short video clip of a relatively simple topple.

step:                     review  

Setting Up a Domino Topple

Setting up a domino topple is relatively straightforward but it will take patience and some practice. Its best to set up a few short topples to get a sense of how the dominoes act and how far apart they need to be set. Also note that dominoes act a little differently on different surfaces: the ideal surface is flat, firm, clean and not too slippery. A hardwood floor is perfect, but many other surfaces work fine; experimentation is key. Executing turns with a line of dominoes takes some practice, but again, practice and try out a few different methods to determine which works best.

One of the most frustrating things that can occur is to have some (or all) of the dominoes fall over inadvertently. This can occur if the table is mistakenly shaken, or if you accidently knock over one of the dominoes. The best remedy for this is to operate in distraction free locations and to use stoppers as shown on the right; a stopper is simply two pieces of wood glued or nailed together to prevent unwanted topples. These can be placed every 30 or 40 dominoes so that if a line is struck, the damage will be limited. You can also remove every 30th or 40th domino which will also prevent all of your work falling down before you. Just make sure that before you begin an intentional topple, you remove the stoppers or add the omitted dominoes so you have a uninterrupted display.
use of a stopper can prevent frustrating inadvertent topples

Design Considerations


You can use any type of wood, but we were satisfied with the 3/8" (9mm) thick plywood. We tested 1/2" (13mm)thick plywood and it also works fine.


The size of the dominoes is relatively important. We made ours larger than standard dominoes and were pleased with the result. Taller dominoes become more difficult to balance unless you use thicker wood but they can be placed further apart. The best policy is to try several different combinations and use them all. You can set up a line that begins with short dominoes and progresses to taller and taller dominoes which are spaced further and further apart; this setup slows down the clapping sounds between domino impacts and creates and interesting effect.
completely free!
clear answers to common questions

Other ideas

The possibilities are boundless and we have just tried to illustrate the wide variety of interesting elements that you can introduce into a domino topple. The image on the right shows an additional idea created by integrating this project with a previous one: the impossible stack project.
an integration of the domino effect and one of our previous projects: the impossible stack

◄ step 8

free plans © 2000-2008
terms   privacy policy
 home    gallery
 projects    philosophy    faq