Domino or Drum Sander.....WWYD


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With everyones help on here, I have a good solid shop up and running in basement, going on about 8 months now.  To pay for the shop, I make custom frames for artists.  Well with my last frame order I paid off my initial shop setup investment!  And I have 1500 left over budgeted to go back into some new tools.  I am going for some time saving luxury now, and looking to either get a Festool Domino XL or a drum sander.   Just seeing what people think.  The drum sander seams like a time saver and nice way to fine dimension stock.  I build simple furniture and cabinetry for my house which I could see using the Domino for and  I am building two sets of carriage doors for my garage which the domino would make quick work of.  If anyone has both, or I guess one or the other, what do you guys think?

 

 

 

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Boy will you get advice on this.  Those that have gone the Domino route come to plan their joinery around it so, it can become very integral to your work.  I do the same with more traditional mortise and tenons and sliding dovetails.  Your favored methods factor into your designs.  The domino will speed things along if that is your goal.

A drum sander takes up a large foot print but, depending on what you do, it is worth it.  I work with a lot of highly figured or reversing figure type material so the drum sander is a real time saver.  It does not come near a finish ready surface (no machine does in my shop) but, for tricky material it really moves the process along so it too, is a time-saver.

Let the festivities begin . . . .

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I had a drum sander before I bought the XL so I can't help with that decision. I bought the XL for the same reason, to make a couple of large doors.  I bought the Seneca plate and bit adapter in an attempt to make the XL work for the smaller everyday stuff, but for me it's just to large.  So I ended up buying the 500.   If your doors are the only large project you anticipate, and making frames is everyday, buy the 500 and drum sander.  Win win.   To be honest I use the domino far more than the drum sander.

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I had my drum sander years before the domino came out . But once I got my Domino my top of the line Lamello biscuit machine sits in its drawer. I use my Domino almost daily and my drum sander a couple times a week so it's close. There are other ways to dress stock but Domino joints are quick and very strong.

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10 minutes ago, Woodenskye said:

I would second this.  Unless these frames are the size of barn doors, the DF500 will be fine for what you do.  

Actually, my next frames (which I will probably ask for help on them too) are for a triptych, where each piece is 6'x7'.  And have to hold a 150lb sheet of glass. :) Eek.  But yeah, the DF 500 would work on probably 98.7% percent of projects, except these damn carriage doors!  I guess I could just do floating tenons and use my router?

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Invest in some suction cups , wear gloves and draft some help. I would use at least 2 dominos per corner. I hope the design allows for a frame about 3 1/2 " wide out of 5/4 hardwood. Under that the strength of that corner joint is going to need some help like a flat steel "L" brace in my opinion. But I do tend to overbuild when size is bigger than normal.

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Include some photos of your work and the work you intend to do. What I am visualizing, the domino is a big win for you over the drum sander. For me, i started out funding my shop with cutting boards, and naturally a DS was really high on my list. Now that i do less and less end grain work, the DS sits idle most of the time. However, when i do fire it up, it is indispensable. I do 1,000-2,000 in end grain boards a year, which is business i wouldnt touch without a DS. Also, it is a nice tool to dress panels prior to joinery. To me, it truly shines now that i have the domino 500. Panel alignment is incredible with the domino. This weekend i had a 22x15 end grain walnut board and a bunch of 22" wide by 42" long walnut panels i glued up and processed through my sander. I had some wide boards to make each panel out of two boards, which the domino had to within 1/32" or better. 1/32" off each face on my 37x2 is no time at all. Second bonus is no tearout, as Gee-dub mentioned. I have a byrd head in my PM planer, but it still roughed up the crotchy/curly figured parts of these two boards. Maybe 1/32"-1/16" of tearout? Close to the latter measurement. Anyways, ROS sanding out that much tearout would be a real SOB. Not to mention my surface would be wavy from that much hand sanding. DS gave me a dead flat surface ready for final hand sanding. It then took me 20 mins to lay out and complete all the joinery for my case and shelving using the domino. The point of my dumb weekend recap is the drum sander is hard/impossible to duplicate. Flattening the end grain board through other means would have sucked, and I doubt i would still be making boards without a DS. Cleaning up the panels post glue up wouldnt have been bad using a scraper/sander, but the top bookmatched panel would have required a lot of time with unsatisfactory results. The domino just does things faster, but it doesnt necessarily do things better. The DS does specific tasks better and faster. 

 

Owning the df500, i wholeheartedly support the XL buy. 10mm dominoes are the largest the 500 handles, and they feel borderline small for medium/large chair/table furniture. I know, i know, you can stack 15 dominoes into a joint, but for furniture i really wish i had the xl. So far, the 500 is superb for panel alignment(70% of my use), and work with thinner stock. It is quick, but most of all the results make you smile each and every time. It is that perfect 9 times out of 10. If your stock is flat and square, domino joinery is something special. I havent used drugs in my lifetime, but i associate the latter scenario to a heroin high.  

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It's also not mentioned if you have a CT vac.  Adding this with the small (DF500) domino would tax your budget pretty hard!  Of course with shipping, a Supermax would tax your budget pretty hard as well.

I have both domonos and Rarely use the XL.  The 500 is plenty for 99% of what most shops do. From you post, I'd guess it's the same in your shop as well.

So, which to get first?  As nice as the drum sander is, based on what you said you were building, my choice would be the DF500 and a CT to go with it.  

Eric's post is spot on as well! 

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2 hours ago, estesbubba said:

That's 3-6 every day! I don't think I'll do 3-6 cutting boards before I die even owning a drum sander! 

My bad, left the currency sign off the front. And it's probably more than that. I do 15-20 boards a year and then the random 1-2 big end grain islands. Flattening a 3x5 end grain island is not something you want to wrestle without a sander. Even with a drum sander it sucks. 

 

Anyways, these were very specific reasons on why you would want a drum sander over the domino. In certain situations, it can make or break you. Working with very thin laminations or figured material are other scenarios. 

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Thanks everyone. I do have the main five table saw, router table, jointer, planer and bs. But don't have a CT  just a shop vac  and D.C. .

One issue I have when I make frames is having to sand the frame faces which majority of time are between 5/8 and 1 in width. And this side usually comes off my tables saw.  So ROS is not good bc of rounding over my edges. 

I thought maybe I could pick up my handtool game and either scrape the faces or some sort of plane?  But the DS would just help move an order through.  I am usually doing between 8-20 frames on an order for an exhibition. Which range from 16x20 to like 40x50. And currently I just ROS 8in wide boards before cutting down to size      Also I apparently suck at setting up my planer bc I just can't get her to give me clean cuts that don't need multiple grits if sanding  

The Domino just seems like a flexible tool and would be able to be used on many different projects including my planned door project. In the end I will probably get both but the maybe have to wait a year for the second tool. 

9 hours ago, wdwerker said:

Invest in some suction cups , wear gloves and draft some help. I would use at least 2 dominos per corner. I hope the design allows for a frame about 3 1/2 " wide out of 5/4 hardwood. Under that the strength of that corner joint is going to need some help like a flat steel "L" brace in my opinion. But I do tend to overbuild when size is bigger than normal.

 

Thats pretty much what my profile I'm thinking about making  3 1/2 x around 1 - 1 1/4 face  Maple (as it will be sprayed white )    And definitely some sort of angle bracket on the bottom .   I need to find a source for the angle piece and some weight ratings.  

 

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Because you use your tools and make money at it, I'd say invest in what will make you more efficient first, then you can get whichever is the icing. I use my Domino whenever I can and throughly enjoy. But I can also see where a drum sander could make your whole process that much better. 

Side note -- yours is a nice problem to have, lol. 

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30 minutes ago, Mike. said:

Planer knives dull quickly.   If you need that much sanding your knives might be dull.   

Im devoting this week to get the planer figured.  I put knew blades in and was still getting these ghost like thin tearouts everywhere. The pic is right after I installed fresh blades. IMG_3647.JPG Im going to double check everything is parallel and even and the chip breaker is properly set, so hopefully I can get it back to making smooth cuts.  Driving me mad.  

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I got a similar result on a couple out of maybe 10 pieces after changing to a new set of knives on my DW735. Reversing the direction on those pieces eliminated it. On a sidenote, the knives I put in were from Powertec through Amazon. The surface finish on figured cherry was far better than what I got off the $15,000 planer at school with brand new inserts. I don't think I could hand plane it any smoother. I don't yet know how they'll hold the edge, but man are they sharp now.

To the OP question - I have a Supermax and a 500 Domino. Much as I love the sander, and I really do, I have to go with the Domino. It not only saves countless hours of time, the quality of the finished pieces is better (for me). I say this taking into consideration the difficulty of maintaining square shoulders, perfect mortises, etc. The Domino does it right every time. Cut to finished length, plunge, plunge, glue up. I can't improve on that on a consistent basis.

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