JasonS

Domino Time

Recommended Posts

I'm going to have some spare cash this spring and I've decided it's finally time to get myself a domino. I'll be able to afford either one, but I'm just not sure which one to get. I have projects I'd like to do that would make use of both of them so I was thinking that I'd get the DF700 and couple of accessories that would allow use of the smaller bits. Then I got to thinking for all the added expense over the DF500 I could just take a bit more time and use a either a router mortising jig or the mortising unit on my Hammer planer/thicknesser for the larger projects. But if I can do that, why get the domino at all?

I don't get into the shop nearly as much as I want to and the speed and accuracy of the domino help with that a lot. I took a few semesters of classes at a local community college a couple of years ago, one of them being specifically about mortise and tenon joinery. I made M&T joints with hammer, chisel and saw; a slot mortiser; a router; the DF700. I enjoyed all the methods except the router - the shop jig wasn't great among other things (why are decent workbenches/surfaces the last thing these shops care about?). The domino helped me move along at a good pace, gave me faster results, thus enjoying my limited time more.

So we've come full circle. Help me out with my decision making disorder. What are your thoughts on which domino? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd go with the 500, for a few reasons;

Cost, always great to save some bucks.

The 500 goes up to the 10mm domino, which I find to be a good size, the 700 only goes 2 sizes larger, 12 and 14mm.

The depth of the mortise is not as great with the 500, I believe it goes up to about 1 1/4" deep while the 700 goes up to about 2 3/4". I do wish it went deeper, but I find the depth of the 500 adequate AND you can increase the width of your mortise with the width settings on the 500. So if you make custom "dominos" you can go much wider than the factory dominos.

Say you need more support, well you can always use the 500 to stack or do multiple dominos in thicker stock. 

But for me, hands down when the 500 is used for gluing up panels the accuracy of the domino has given me the best and flattest panels. The ability to easily size down to small dominos for panel gluing is something I do with almost every project. So in my mind this one factor makes the 500 the best all around choice. I guess you could use the 700 to do this with accessories, but then you've lost the speed and simplicity that you get with the domino. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use my 500 a LOT but I've been thinking about adding the 700. It is worth noting, I mostly use my own tenon stock. The reason for this is the tenons that festool provides are just too narrow. I'll plunge 3 mortises in a row for a 2.5" wide mortise and then use a home made floating tenon. The flexibility of using home made stock is worth the 30 min i spent feeding material through my drum sander.

Here are my thoughts.

In favor of the 500:

The DF500 is small can be used somewhat 1 handed where i hold the tool with one hand and the work piece with the other. The 700 may be a bit too large to do that.

I use 8mm tenons 95% of the time so the extra thick tenons don't offer me much. If i work with 8/4 wood I stack 2 8mm tenons in there which gives more glue than a larger tenon and in theory a stronger joint anyway. 8mm and 10mm tenons are pushing the upper limit for tenon size in 4/4 stock.

4mm tenons are far more useful than you might initially think. They are cheap and good enough for panel glue ups and make life easy.

Less expensive so you can get started with a tenon kit and it's cheaper than the 700.

In favor of the 700:

Additional mortise depth. I've ran into this only 1 or 2 times times where the depth on the 500 isn't quite what I wanted. A 28mm deep mortise is the deepest you could go on a 1.25" square leg. Most of the furniture I'm making is around that size so the additional depth isn't as critical. M&T is all about glue area so if you can't go deep go wide.

Additional stops on the machine. I never use the stops. I mark a pencil line and use the targeting mark on the unit. Very few mortises are on edges anyway most are towards the center of a board any way.

Larger mortise sizes. For large projects like doors or massive tables the larger tenon size could be a benefit. My solution with the 500 has been to stack tenons in larger material. again M&T is mostly about glue area so  2 1.25" long and 1" wide 8mm tenon offers more glue area than a 1.25" long 1" wide 14mm tenon. (there is a lot more to this as well separating the 2 8mm tenons provides a better pull out resistance and better sheer performance than a single 14mm tenon.

I may have just talked myself out of ever buying the 700....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

I may have just talked myself out of ever buying the 700....

I realized with talk of a router jig I almost talked myself out a domino at all; that's why I added the brian dump about classes and timing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, JasonS said:

I realized with talk of a router jig I almost talked myself out a domino at all; that's why I added the brian dump about classes and timing.

 

2 hours ago, JasonS said:

I made M&T joints with hammer, chisel and saw; a slot mortiser; a router; the DF700. I enjoyed all the methods except the router -

I feel the same about making M & T with routers. To me they are versatile, but they are not enjoyable. It's my least favorite tool in the shop. Some people love them but they are noisy and very messy. 

Another reason for the Domino, and you won't have a tool that creates less mess than the Domino

Let me reemphasize, @Chestnut said the same thing, the small dominos are more useful than you think and are GREAT for panel glueups. Can't really do that easily at all with a router and a router jig. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, JasonS said:

I realized with talk of a router jig I almost talked myself out a domino at all; that's why I added the brian dump about classes and timing.

I did some router based M&T and forget that.... the domino is SOOO fast. I cut M&T's for all the joints in 6 chairs in about 2 hours including setup and mistakes. I really doubt i could have come close with a router.

Also don't get locked into thinking the domino is ONLY floating tenon. There is nothing stopping you from using it as a handheld mortiser and then doing an integral tenon. I've done this many many times as well. I'll plunge 2 mortises side by side so they are 1 large mortise and make a part with an integral tenon. I should keep a portfolio of projects where I use the domino atypically to share with people the tool is VERY versatile. Some people use it to attach table tops to aprons.

I even used it to make through tenons in some locations. I just used a chisel to square off the rounds and cut a tenon to fit. Router with a bottom bearing bit is still my favorite way to do through tenons though.

24 minutes ago, Bmac said:

I feel the same about making M & T with routers. To me they are versatile, but they are not enjoyable. It's my least favorite tool in the shop. Some people love them but they are noisy and very messy. 

It's made worse by the fact that the cords and hoses come off the router in the worst spots. Though the DC on my PC890 series router is dang good for mortises all things considered. Not as clean as the domino but that's not a fair comparison.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

500 due to the fact that its cheaper, lighter, less bulky and covers 98% of what I do. Before you buy a 700 go handle one they are rather bulky heavy something that can be much more apparent when you actually get your hands on the machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have both. I use the small one much more. Get the one you think you will use the most. Based on your projects. Or your next project. A way to save is to make your own dominoes. I have had the small one since it was first introduced. And that is when I stopped making M & T joints. A time saver with high accuracy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You buy a 500 only later wishing you had bought the 700. I don't care to use either and still do dowels but it's like any other tool ...Spend it now and be done....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I did some router based M&T and forget that.... the domino is SOOO fast. I cut M&T's for all the joints in 6 chairs in about 2 hours including setup and mistakes. I really doubt i could have come close with a router.

For comparisons sake, I just did 8 mortises with a plunge router using a straight 1/2" bit, 1.5" long and about .75" deep in pine and I think it took me at least 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours. Then I still had to make the tenons, round them off and finesse them to fit. It was my first time doing mortises and I already understand the appeal of a domino. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, legenddc said:

For comparisons sake, I just did 8 mortises with a plunge router using a straight 1/2" bit, 1.5" long and about .75" deep in pine and I think it took me at least 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours. Then I still had to make the tenons, round them off and finesse them to fit. It was my first time doing mortises and I already understand the appeal of a domino. 

Not goign to lie I didn't even include the time it'd take to make the tenon.... now that you mention that yes way longer. If I didn't include setup it wouldn't be that drastic of a difference. Though to make a tenon i use a dado stack and have to get my router setup that right there is most of the time required.

I find rounding tenons to be a practice in futility. The rounded corner does not add any strength too the joint so to make tenons faster I just chop the tenon square down to the cheek size that fits within the non rounded portion of the mortise. The rounded portion of a standard mortise is all end grain and it's unlikely to get a good surface off the tenon and end of a mortise to get any sore of solid glue bond. This is made apparent by the domino and the fact that you will generally cut a wider mortise than the domino stock most of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good time-saving tip. The 1/2" bit made it worse then the 1/4" spiral bit, both for cutting and rounding the tenons. Not having a shoulder plane slowed me down getting the tenons to fit so that's why I left off that time.

Like the OP, I don't get enough time in the shop to justify a Domino but not getting enough time in the shop justifies getting a Domino.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, legenddc said:

Like the OP, I don't get enough time in the shop to justify a Domino but not getting enough time in the shop justifies getting a Domino.

Right? That's the same reason I use sharpening jigs - I don't dull tools often enough to need to sharpen enough to build muscle memory to free-hand sharpen. So jigs it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I find rounding tenons to be a practice in futility. The rounded corner does not add any strength too the joint so to make tenons faster I just chop the tenon square down to the cheek size that fits within the non rounded portion of the mortise. The rounded portion of a standard mortise is all end grain and it's unlikely to get a good surface off the tenon and end of a mortise to get any sore of solid glue bond. This is made apparent by the domino and the fact that you will generally cut a wider mortise than the domino stock most of the time.

 

5 hours ago, legenddc said:

That's a good time-saving tip.

Good glue coverage on face and edge grain will give you most of your strength in a mortise and tenon joint.  But there are times when you may want to take the time to fit the tenon more closely to the mortise all the way around.  Any project that will under go stress or racking in the course of its lifetime could suffer premature failure with larger gaps at the end of the mortise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I can see the logic behind @Chestnut's comment about the tenon to mortise fit, I'll have to side with @Chet on this one. Typical mortise and tenon joints are cross-grained, which is not the strongest arrangement for glue bonds. Leaving the tenon shy of the mortise ends removes the mechanical support in that direction, so that the tenon must rely solely on the shear strength of the glue when it is under strain. I believe this would tend to reduce the lifespan of the joint. I doubt that rounding the tenon or squaring the mortise to a perfect fit is critical, but I think the edges of the tenon should at least make contact with the mortise. 

Remember - glue is NOT the joint. A good joint holds itself together in every direction except the direction from which it assembled. Glue is only there to keep it from reversing its way back out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There’s that saying, once you go Domino, you’ll never go back. But I don’t always find that to be true. When I have plenty of time on my hands and the project is not a rush, I will do m&t’s. Love my 500 though. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trouble is glue isn't flexible. You can say that having a tight mortise offers strength but if the tenon moves inside the joint at all to take advantage of that "strength" the glue inside that joint has already failed and the shoulder will separate from the base causing a gap.

All joint strength tests are flawed but in them they all generally get 1 thing consistent. Glue area is the key for a strong joint. If you take 2 boards and glue them together at 90 degrees (a half lap with out the lap). There is no shoulder or anything supporting that board and I'd be willing to be that is stronger than most if not all M&T joints. If you want to set up a Mattias Wandel testing rig and prove me wrong I'd love to examine the results.

If the above bothers you never use a domino. The systems success hinges around making a mortise that is larger than the tenon to allow for accurate alignment in 1 direction.

11 hours ago, Coop said:

There’s that saying, once you go Domino, you’ll never go back. But I don’t always find that to be true. When I have plenty of time on my hands and the project is not a rush, I will do m&t’s. Love my 500 though. 

The Domino is just a mortise maker similar to a drill bit and chisel, a router, or a hallow chisel mortiser. I make traditional M&T joinery with the domino all the time. You use a router or chisel to cut a mortise i use the domino. Even using floating tenons you are still technically creating a M&T joint. Don't think of it as something different or a different joint because it isn't. It's just another tool to make a mortise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Chestnut said:

The trouble is glue isn't flexible.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with this part of your statement, at least for PVA glue. That stuff remains flexible to some degree for a long time, as evidenced by bent laminations that creep back toward flat over time, unless supported by the structure.  And in any case, flexible or not, the glue alone can not be as strong as a glue + a fully-supported joint.

I certainly can not argue that the method you describe isn't strong enough for typical use. It very likely is still stronger than necessary. I'm just pointing out that the fully-supported joint should be a good deal stronger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I'll have to respectfully disagree with this part of your statement, at least for PVA glue. That stuff remains flexible to some degree for a long time, as evidenced by bent laminations that creep back toward flat over time, unless supported by the structure.  And in any case, flexible or not, the glue alone can not be as strong as a glue + a fully-supported joint.

I certainly can not argue that the method you describe isn't strong enough for typical use. It very likely is still stronger than necessary. I'm just pointing out that the fully-supported joint should be a good deal stronger.

Some day I shall test it and have an answer. If i ever exhaust my project list i shall create a testing rig. I've wanted to do some strength testing for a long time just to see how far a person can go with designs to make more delicate furniture.

The bent lamination is a drastic comparison. That is a large area compared to a tenon, and is not really a fair comparison. By that argument I could say that everything is flexible including rocks and glass (as that is ultimately true to one extent or another).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the DF500 it is. I'll skip the kit and get the trim stop if I find I need it. I've used the cross stop and don't really see a need for it.

Next question: Did you get the Domino assortment kit with the additional cutters?

Buying the other 4 cutters and dominos separately costs about $2 less than the kit with 5 cutters, the dominos and the systainer. Of course, the kit has 200 fewer dominos than buying them separately (at an average cost of $.12/ea - I do love me a good spreadsheet) but who's doing that kind of math?

I'm leaning toward the assortment option since I'd have all the sizes on hand and can just work on whatever I want instead of waiting around for cutter and such to arrive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The assortment kit is a good way to keep stuff organized. By my math the assortment saves you $10 over buying separately. The systainer is $99 so you really save $109.

The cheapest way to buy tenons is to buy the big packs if you use that price per tenon it doesn't make as much sense to buy the assortment. Using the big packs you get the $99 systainer for $23 still not a bad deal. Though you don't really need 2 5mm cutters so If you buy seperatly you could save that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, JasonS said:

Next question: Did you get the Domino assortment kit with the additional cutters?

I did and I find it nice to have an assortment. I think once you get into a groove on what size you use most you can just buy those but starting out I found it to be a nice kit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Who's Online   1 Member, 0 Anonymous, 159 Guests (See full list)

  • Forum Statistics

    28779
    Total Topics
    388748
    Total Posts
  • Member Statistics

    21736
    Total Members
    1529
    Most Online
    Guest
    Newest Member
    Guest
    Joined