Laser Engraved Personalized Dominoes - A Domino set personalized just for you.

Dominoes that add something special to your game experience. With laser etching and hand painting,

the engraving on the dominoes is permanent and elegant.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Domino cleanup and restoration - Painting

Domino cleanup and restoration - Painting

We are now at the final step of the process.  For this step you will need the Acrylic paint of your color choice, cotton swabs, paper towels and window cleaner.  I also like to have a small pointy object handy like toothpick or tweezers tip to apply tiny dots of paint or touch-ups.  A fine paintbrush will also work for this.  A plastic razor blade for scraping off excess paint is a very handy thing to have on hand for this project also, it will save you cleanup time.

Recommended Paints: I prefer a gloss paint or a metallic gold/silver paint because it has a bit of a sheen when dry.  

You can accomplish the same effect with an acrylic varnish.  When using the varnish, I prefer the kind you mix in with the paint rather than the kind you put on afterwards.  It simply saves a step.  

These paints can be found in the hobby isle of most box stores and fabric stores.
The painting is a lot easier than you may think.  You do not have to stay in the lines.  The closer you stay near the lines, the easier it will be to cleanup so try not to cover the whole domino with paint.

For the engraved area, I rub the swab back and forth over the engraving to make sure the paint catches on the edges of every letter.  This saves on touching up paint later.

For the fronts of the dominoes where there are large areas, I use a pointy object to dab paint into the areas leaving very little area to cleanup.

This process has been perfected from years of painting dominoes so do not expect to get a perfect result the very first time.  The good thing is that you can go right back to using the cotton swab with paint and try again if your timing is off.

The timing and technique:
The process that I use is to dampen a paper towel with window cleaner and wipe the surface of the domino to remove the paint not in the engraved area.
Here is where technique and timing come into play:If you press too hard with the wet paper towel, you will take paint out of the engraved area, if the paint is too wet it will just smear, of the towel is too damp it will also smear, too dry it will do nothing.  If you do this too soon, the paint will be too wet, too late and it will take more effort to cleanup.  

Here is what I do; adjust timing to your liking.  First I paint the dominoes with the swab.  Then I use a plastic razor blade to scrape off the excess.  You get something like what is on the right.  You are just moving the excess paint away from the engraving and you can also see if you missed any spots easily.
Then I let them set for 10-20 minutes.  When I am in a rush, I put them in front of a fan or heater to make the paint dry faster.  After they have sat for a while, I dampen a paper towel with window cleaner and do a wipe across the top.  No pressure, just getting the bulk of the paint off.  

The picture to the left is what I get when I have not waited long enough and some of the paint from the engraving smears.  If you take out too much paint, add some more and wait longer, otherwise just give it another 5-10 minutes and wipe again.

What will happen quickly is that you wipe and paint stays in the engraving and the rest of the domino is clean - you are done with that domino!

Let dry overnight before sealing domino in any container or stacking them.  At the shop here we stack the open rack/boxes overnight so that by morning all dominoes are completely dry.  

You can wait until the paint is completely dry - either before or after scraping with a razor blade.  The only difference is that it will take more wiping with the window cleaner to get the paint off.  

Quite a transformation.

Before and after of sample domino set cleanup

Friday, October 27, 2017

Domino cleanup and restoration - Sanding

Domino cleanup and restoration - Sanding

 Continuing on the domino cleanup and restoration series.  Sanding your dominoes is next. This step really should be refereed to more as polishing or buffing since the grit of abrasive pads used is not enough to take off much surface.

This is by far the most important step to SKIP if you do not need to do it.  Once something is sanded off, it cannot be put back on.  Whatever you do in sanding is permanent.  

 What I use in this process is either the sanding pads from 4000-12000 grit I purchased at a Hobby Lobby, or a fingernail buffing block (with different grit on each side).

In the package shown on the left, I only tend to use the 8000-12000 grit pads.  

What these sanding pads do is basically polish your dominoes.  The lower grits can remove minor scratches but the end goal of this step is to get a smooth surface.

You want to have a smooth surface at the end because the next step is painting.  

If you have ever spilled something on a wood surface that was not varnished you know that liquids soak into every crack and crevace they can find.  The same is true when you paint the dominoes.  If you have lots of tiny crevices then paint will be stubborn in those spots and if you allow the paint to dry completely before cleaning out those spots then you could have permanent speckles.

How to polish/sand/buff:
Make sure the domino can lay flat on a table.  If you have spinners on your dominoes, cut a hole in a piece of cardboard and put the domino on the cardboard so the spinner sits in the hole.  This just keeps the domino from spinning or wobbling while you are sanding.

Using your sanding or buffing pad, sand the surface of the domino with the buffing side of the nail block or the 12000 grit pad.  This will take a couple minutes per domino if you have surface issues.  Again - if you do not have issues - skip the sanding

If you do have a small scratch that you are trying to remove and the 12000 doesn't seem to be working, go to the 8000 pad.  Be patient, this may take a while.  This is where you do not want to rush it or go to something like the 4000 and end up with more scratches.  If a full 2 minutes on the 8000 does not work, try 6000 and so on.
NOTE: If you use any other pad than the 12000 you will need to go back over the area with EVERY pad between the one you used and the 12000 IN ORDER 

This means that if you use the 4000 pad, you will then need to use the 6000 pad, 8000 pad and 12000 pad in that order to get the domino back to a smooth surface from the scratches a 4000 pad will put in.

Next post: Painting

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Domino cleanup and restoration - Cleaning

Domino cleanup and restoration - Cleaning

So you have a set of dominoes that look like this.  All hope is not lost.  The first step is to get any dirt and grime that has accumulated through the years off.

This set of dominoes came to me after someone tried to clean off the paint in the engraving and whatever was used loosed the paint on the pips.  The paint was completely gone in the engraved areas on the backs.
Clean dirt off dominoes:
Our secret ingredient for this is window cleaner.  Any brand will do, the generic brands are just as good as the name brands when it comes to cleaning dominoes. 

We have only used the generic blue stuff.  I have no knowledge of whether the other color cleaners work just as well or better on dominoes.   Once we discovered one that worked we stuck with it.

Simply spray a bit on a paper towel and wipe the dirt off the dominoes.  You will be surprised how quickly and easily it will come off any surfaces.

Remove flecking paint:
The next thing I did with this set was to pick off any flecking paint. 

I used a small pointy tweezers end to just lightly scrape around all the dots and center lines in the dominoes.  Loose paint just caught onto the end of the tweezers and flecked off completely.

This process can be used in the engraving on the backs also; for this set it was unnecessary as the set engraving paint was completely removed before I saw them.

You do want to make sure you get all loose paint off.  If there is a spot left that is loose and you paint over that with new paint, it will just end up coming off sooner rather than later.

Next post:
Keep an eye open for our next post on cleaning up the domino surface imperfections.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Domino cleanup and restoration

Domino cleanup and restoration

After years of use your dominoes may not look as vibrant as they did when you first took them out of the shrink wrap.  Recently I had a set come in for re-painting after someone tried to clean them with a bit of intensity.  They called because they went a little too far and did not know what to do next.

The result was that paint that was on them either chipped or came off completely while still leaving a fair amount of the dirt on the faces.

In the next few blog posts, I hope to take you through the steps that I used to get from the left picture to the right picture.  

Basic summary of the steps:
1) Clean the surfaces and scrape off any flecking paint
2) Sanding and smoothing (which was not done on this set)
3) Painting

Disclaimer: I use no harsh products or detergents in this process, however I cannot take any responsibility if you damage your dominoes.  Please take care in this process and do not do anything you think might permanently harm your dominoes.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Do you like Glitter Dominoes?

Do you like Glitter Dominoes?  

We have the potential of getting in silver glitter dominoes but when looking at them I am not sure if they really speak to me.

They are a professional size which is a bit smaller than the usual Tournament size we carry.  The white is creamy white on the faces and the dots are multi-colored.

I am being thrown off by the multi-colored dots personally and I know many of our customers say they prefer the larger tournament size.  But I thought I would put it out there to see if there was an interest before I just put them on a shelf and said we do not want to carry them.

Are dominoes like this something you want to see at EngravedDominoes.com?  Even if they are not, what should we be keeping an eye out for that would peak your interest?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

#Dominology - Chinese Dominoes

#Dominology - Chinese Dominoes

What are Chinese dominoes and how do they differ from Western domino sets?

Chinese dominoes are sets that contain 32 dominoes.  The dominoes are numbered with the numbers that can be thrown by two dice with no blanks or zeros.  There are 21 roll combinations plus duplicates.

When Western sets were created the duplicate tiles were removed and 7 additional tiles with blanks were added.

A Chinese set is used to play games such as Tien Gow, Che Dang, and Pai Gow.  Pai Gow means “make nine” in Cantonese.

Even though the majority of the domino sets we carry are western double 6 through double 15 sets, we do also have one Chinese set that is quite stunning and elegant.  It is composed of 32 high gloss black lacquered tiles and comes in a carved wood box.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#Dominology - Pip? What is that? Some made-up word?

Nope, a Pip is actually defined as any small easily countable object. You will see the term in reference to seeds in a fruits like apples, the dots on dice, and the small suits on the numbered playing cards. 
However we prefer to use pips to describe the dots or spots on the dominoes.Only because we LOVE dominoes. 

Here is a 10-Pip domino; call it a 10 pip domino if you are playing a game where you are counting total domino pips.  Call it a double-5 or 5-5 pip domino if you are playing a game where you need to identify the two sides of the domino separately or are announcing a double.


Pips are found in your everyday life, even if you are not playing cards, dice or dominoes right now.  So how many identifiable pips can you spot from where you are reading this right now? Don't forget to count the buttons on your remote, rivets on your jeans or maybe the bottle caps laying around from your last round with friends. 
Games are meant to be fun; tell a child that these are not just dots, they are pips - and see how many pips they can find in the room.  I will bet they find more than any adult would ever think of - and it may even keep them busy for a while - kids are funny that way.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Going for the Gold? (Gold Metallic painted dominoes)

Going for the Gold?  

What does that gold metallic paint really look like?  We get asked that a lot.  When I say a lot, at least once a week there is someone who calls and would like us to describe it over the phone.

To describe a color is really hard.  How do you say it is metallic, not too brown, not too yellow, kind of like a gold ring color, but not too aged.  So we tried taking pictures - lets just say not too successful?  My photography skills need work.

So, I was reading somewhere that we could get some good pictures with an iPhone and a 4x lens for less than $10 so decided to give it a try.  I found that the extreme closeup of the gold painting really shows a true coloring and the lens may fisheye a bit but is pretty darn good at showing the detail.

The domino shown is a couple years old, the engraving is 1.5” wide and .62” in height on a 1.1” x 2.2” black backed domino.  No retouching or enhancement of the video was done.  I was surprised to see how true the coloring looked so am using this video to show you what the gold metallic paint looks like up close.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dominology - the Spinner; going for a spin.

Ready to go for a spin?  

Hook up with some spinner dominoes and add a little spin to your game.  Read the rest of this post and be able to tell your friends why there is a spinner on your dominoes.

There are multiple definitions for the term Spinner in the world of dominoes. 
  1. It can mean the center domino played that has 4 dominoes played off of it forming a plus sign shape.  
  2. It also is a name of a particular domino game that has wild dominoes.  
  3. It is the brass dot in the center of the face of a domino tile

We use the third definition at EngravedDominoes.com most often.  One of the first questions we ask when someone calls is whether they want spinners or not on their dominoes.

Spinners are funny - they have a love/hate relationship with so many people.  Even though 75% of our dominoes are sold with spinners, our customers have very strong feeling about them.  Either you must have them, cannot live without them and will never consider a set that does not have them, or just the opposite.  They are truly a personal preference.

So what exactly are these magical little dots?  

Back in the history of dominoes, they were made of bone and wood.  A method was needed to make sure the backs (usually wood) stayed attached to the fronts (usually bone).  The spinner was created simply to hold the front to the back.

Now that we have methods to keep the dominoes in one piece that do not involve small nails, the spinner is not necessary anymore.

So why do we still have them?

There are many reasons people like them.  Maybe every domino set you ever played with had them and now you cannot imagine playing with a flat domino.  I have a number of people saying that they remind them of grandpas set or an antique set they once had or saw.  Could be that you just like the appearance of it and believe that dominoes should have that extra bling.

Whatever your reason, you cannot beat the fact that with a spinner, you can do something that your friend without spinners cannot do.  You can take your dominoes for a spin just like in this video.

#Dominology - the study of all things Domino

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How to use the Domino Creator on www.EngravedDominoes.com

How to use the Domino Creator on www.EngravedDominoes.com

This is probably the most asked question we get.  How to use the Domino Creator on our website to personalize your dominoes just the way you want them.  This video should cover how to do that step-by-step and answer questions such as:
  • What is happening when I hit the enter key?
  • What do the small/medium/large radio buttons do?
If you have questions you would like to see future how-to videos or blog posts on relating to dominoes, please let me know.  This can be playing the game or game rules, care and cleanup of older sets of dominoes, or more like this on how-to do something on the web. 

This is the very first video I have ever made, so I know it may be rough around the edges.  Suggestions for improvements always welcome.