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Festool will soon release their new “domino” joiner system, and as we’re always pretty excited to see new power tool systems on the market, this is no exception.  Festool is kind enough to provide some great info about the new joiner right on their website, so we took a gander. 

The new domino system uses a router bit which both spins and sweeps from side to side to carve out a mortise in which you insert a solid beech tenon.  There are three width settings which allow you to use the Domino for exact registration or a looser fit for easier assembly.  It can join members that are as small as 7/8” by 5/8”, and you can use the largest tenon or combinations of tenons for larger furniture pieces.

The big news, though, is that unlike normal “biscuit” joints, the joint in this case is square, domino-shaped solid beech tenon, which Festool claims has a greater sheer strength and larger glue surface for a more solid joint.

There are a few draw backs, though.  The domino system has three preset mortise widths and is not set up to cut other mortise widths.  Obviously you’ll have to buy Festool’s dominoes as they’re non-standard — which might be an issue on the jobsite where you can normally use any given-sized biscuit.
Sharpening the bits is made more difficult as well because the required cut is very precise.  The smaller size of the new sharpened blade can throw things off a bit.

The real idea here is that the domino joiner has a built in indexing feature with guides and fences that allow you to use the machine itself to run and align your work piece instead of the manual setup of the biscuit joining process.  In short, it’s built for speed and accuracy and it looks like it’ll deliver.  If you’re looking for a tool that is a Jack of all trades, however, this might not be your rig.

Festool says that when it goes on sale in April they’ll offer an introductory price of $660 until 05/31/2007.  So save up if you’re in the market.

Domino Joiner [Festool]


7 Responses to Preview: Festool Domino Joiner

  1. Jim says:

    I recently used this tool in the 220V version in a friend’s commercial shop in Switzerland. It is a nicely designed tool. It was louder than I had expected from a European designed product and it was slower cutting than I expected. But, great results. It is accurate and provides position registration, with no rotational or lateral movement as with a dowel or biscuit. Spring loaded pins in the face allow quick and repeatable fence positioning. Within the shop, it received high praises and dramatically increases productivity and accuracy. Clamping setup is much easier and it creates a strong joint. It is not cheap and the tenons must be single sourced from Festool, but again it increases productivity, is highly accurate and produces a strong joint.

  2. Rob says:

    I like the sound of this tool. Sounds a lot like loose tenon joinery. In a pinch, I’d bet you could make your own. On the other hand I don’t see where this would work much faster than my current biscuit joiner.

  3. Rick says:

    Yeah, I don’t see the point here..
    Seems like an excuse to sell the domino biscuits at a premium price (only one source) – Now, if it could cut any size mortise, to accept a tenon you cut from the piece you’re joining to it, that might be good.. and well worth the price if you could set it up to say – cut a 2.5″ deep mortise 1.5″ long and 3/8s of an inch wide. Then cut it multiple times in multiple pieces..
    Then go back and cut your tenons on a table saw or whatever your preferred method to fit. But for this domino biscuit racket – I don’t think so.

    For a dedicated mortising solution, for use without biscuits, and cutting tenons instead I’d rather just spend less money on a dedicated mortiser like this one from Delta – assuming you have the room for it in your shop.

  4. nrChris says:

    Proprietary tenons? Square ones at that? Uh, how come no one pointed out that with such a high end tool you are surely capable of making your own shop made hardwood tenons? Or did I miss something on this one?

  5. Michael says:

    Basically it’s just a way to speed up making a floating tenoned joint. It might seem to be expensive, but it’s a production machine, not a hobbyist tool. That’s about half a weeks pay for a guy good enough to do decent mortise and tenoned joints.

    FYI, the Dominos are pretty cheap (ranging from about .13 cents to .04 cents a piece) when bought in bulk, so I don’t know if you could (or would want to) make ’em cheaper for yourself.

    Seems like a great tool for production furniture making. I prefer old fashioned mortise and tenoned joints, but I’ve been blessed to be able to find customers that will pay the extra bucks for them. If I had guys working for me I would definitely look into one of these to increase speed and accuracy.

  6. Chris Murray says:

    The Domino is one of those tools I see increasing in value over time, the more you use it, the more time you save, and you will end up reaching for it more often.

    A reliable, easy way to do floating tenon joinery, hmm it sounds like an easy decision to me.

    I would not compare this tool to a biscuit joiner, a floating tenon is much stronger!

  7. I just used this tool to make a mantel shelf for a two-sided fireplace. The shelf itself was 1.25″ thick, 6″ deep, and one leg was 5′ and the other was 3.5′. The two pieces were mitered. Now, what kind of joint to use here? Biscuits are great, but not strong enough for pieces of this size, and (by design) they have side-to-side play, so they don’t work so well to align a miter along the joint. Splines and pocket holes are less than optimal in this application.

    A loose tenon is perfect, and the Domino was just the ticket for cutting the mortises in the end of the long pieces. Very tight fit – with the glue swelling, it took a nice amount of force to push the joint together. Perfect tool for the job. Yes, its just a loose or floating tenon joint, but as easy to make as a biscuit joint. I suppose you don’t have to buy the Festool dominos dowels – you could make them just like you make loose tenons. But the Festool parts are less than $0.10 each, and there is no way I can make them for that cheaply, or to those tolerances with the glue flutes, etc.

    Now, is the whole system worth the price? I don’t know – to be frank, I borrowed my friend’s. And what a friend – he hadn’t even used it himself, yet.

    You’d have to use it quite a lot to make it worthwhile, but I can see a number of other uses I’m looking forward to trying it out with. In particular, I’ve never been happy with standard cope-and-stick (aka rail and stile) cabinet doors, and I’m going to try to use the Domino to make that into a cope/stick + tenon joint.

    In response to Rick: I don’t see why you couldn’t use the Domino to cut a mortise, then cut your own tenon in the mating piece, though I’d question why one wouldn’t just go ahead and use a loose tennon instead. And the disadvantage to a dedicated mortiser (or even a router mortising jig) is that it is very hard if not impossible to use them to cut mortises in the end of very long pieces like table aprons (or mantels).

    NrChris: the tenons aren’t square – they have a rounded edge. Also, they have a bit of fluting, like purchased dowels, to alleviate hydraulic lock in the joint.

    Like all Festool product (I have several, and have used many more), this is an extremely well engineered and built product, with a price to match.

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