The Power of the Domino Unleashed

Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Reader Comments | How-To | Joiners | Reviews

Domino Unleashed

Building custom wine racks, by Chris Hughes

One of the most critical elements in furniture design is the placement of joinery. We have often been left with the choice of complicated joints to carry loads particular design or to expose fasteners.

The Domino is a huge relief to the building process both in time and design. It places both a mortise and tenon exactly where I need them, without having to think about added length for tenon and building jigs for mortising with my router.

The project featured here is a simple series of wine racks to accommodate my customers wine selection. The racks themselves are simple enough, using a super structure that consists of the top and bottom rings and the vertical members that hold and carry the weight. The smaller vertical panels that hold the bulk of the wine is the core. These are attached to horizontal components that carry part of the core's weight, but act as stretchers to maintain the overall width of the individual rack units. The first obvious problem that I saw, was the connection of all the parts that made core individual units positive placement. My boss's first inclination was to use screws. I showed him the Domino's ability to accurately mortise anywhere I wanted, allowing this project to be built in a modular system. This would allow for finishing before the assembly. He allowed me to tweak the racks to accommodate the use of floating tenons.

Chris Hughes Wine Rack Project

Once the design was set, we spent the next few days making our components so we could start the process of laying out the structure, labeling, and indicating face sides for the domino process. This was critical for final assembly. To indicate direction and to be positive that the mortise and tenon would align in the future, I used a system that indicated which rack the part was for; indicated what section the piece was in, and a simple "X" indicated face side for domino orientation.

We assembled our prefabricated panel, inserted tenons, and gave one last once over before we sent our pile of parts to the finishers. Our parts returned to us after several weeks. I was quite excited about putting this project together to see that many parts all align plum and square.

As I alluded to before, we looked at this structure as two main parts, the core and the super structure. This is the tactic we pursued during the glue up. With such a large assembly we were concerned with open time for glue set up. We knew we would have to completely assemble the racks, even if not glued in order to properly align and clamp the components. To accomplish this we isolated smaller sections. This worked great! The first day of the glue up we glued and clamped about 80% of our cores and had finished assembly of the first unit. The next day 90% of our assembly process was complete and we were waiting for the remaining clamps to become available.

All in all there were a few things that I would do differently. One thing is for sure, without the Domino we could not have built these lovely wine racks with as much ease, strength in a joint and positive placement: there is no equal.

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