Our woodworking projects go in cycles. A burst of enthusiasm overcomes us, and we rush to the shop for the next project. Or, a particular need arises, whether it’s a desk for one of the kids or a new platform bed for another.
Most of our projects have particular joinery needs of one type or another, and the choice of joints becomes part of the planning process.
Specialized tools play something of a part in the art of joinery, and among our favorites is the Festool Domino joiner. Yes, it’s one of our favorites, but we must admit it isn’t one of the tools in our shop.
Someday is our hope, and the price is the challenge. Kids, food, mortgage, and college fund, are all higher on the list than high-priced tools, and so we make do with what we have for now. But, someday…
The Festool Domino joiner, though, is a power tool to aspire to, for sure. It’s not the only tool Festool makes, but it is well-known among professional woodworkers. So is its track saw. But today, we’ll focus our attention on the Festool Domino joiner and suitable alternatives.
We’ve written about Festool Dominos in the past, and you can find out how they work in detail here. We’ve also written of alternative joinery methods, including dowel vs biscuits.
- For mortise and tenon wood joints, the premier tool is the Festool Domino Joiner. While there are alternatives, most professional woodworkers would give the nod to the Festool. It is expensive, though.
- The Mafell Domino is a high-quality mortising machine that is similar to the Festool Domino. It is also expensive, but it is known for its precision and durability.
- For alternative joinery methods and the tools used to create them, there are the dowel joint, biscuit joints, lap joints, and butt joints (in descending joint strength). Hand-held power tools and jigs are available for these joinery methods.
What Is Festool?
Festool is a brand of high-end power tools from Germany. It is known for its system-based approach to power tools and its focus on dust extraction. Festool tools are used by professional tradespeople in a variety of industries, including woodworking, construction, and metalworking.
Festool tools are designed to be high-quality, durable, and easy to use. They are also designed to be very efficient, with features such as dust extraction and brushless motors that help to reduce noise and vibration.
Festool offers a wide range of power tools, including saws, drills, sanders, and planers. They also offer a variety of accessories and consumables, such as blades, bits, and sanding belts.
Festool tools are typically more expensive than other brands of power tools. However, many users believe that the quality and performance of Festool tools justify the higher price tag.
Here are some of the uses of Festool tools:
- Sawing: Festool offers a variety of saws for cutting wood, metal, and other materials.
- Drilling: Festool drills are available in a variety of sizes and power levels for a variety of tasks.
- Screwdriving: Festool screwdrivers are designed for precision work and come with a variety of bits.
- Planing: Festool planers are used to smooth and flatten wood.
- Mortising: Festool mortisers are used to create mortises in wood.
- Cutting: Festool offers a variety of cutting tools for a variety of materials.
Festool is also known for its innovative features, such as:
- Dust extraction: Festool tools are designed to collect dust, which helps to keep the work area clean and safe.
- Brushless motors: Festool tools use brushless motors, which are more efficient and durable than traditional brushed motors.
- Systainers: Festool tools are stored and transported in modular plastic containers called systainers. Systainers are stackable and lockable, making them easy to transport and store.
Festool is a well-respected brand of power tools that is known for its quality, performance, and innovation. If you are looking for high-end power tools that will last, Festool is a good option to consider.
It’s a good option to consider, but it comes at a great cost.
The Festool Domino Joiner
Festool Domino power tools are a line of mortising machines that are used to create strong and precise joints in wood. They are known for their versatility, ease of use, and high quality.
- NOTE: The DF 500 only come with the 5MM cutter which is installed.
- Unique, patented cutting action that rotates and oscillates to create perfect, clean, and repeatable…
- Mortise width adjustment with the turn of a dial allows for easier alignment when joining panels.
- Pivoting Fence allows you to create angled mortises from 0-90° with positive stops at 22.5°, 45°,…
- Unique, patented cutting action that rotates and oscillates to create perfect, clean, and repeatable…
- Mortise width adjustment with the turn of a dial allows for easier alignment when joining panels
- Indexing pins for quick alignment against the edge of the work piece for accurate placement
- Tenons up to approximately 5-1/2-Inch in length for large scale projects
The Festool Domino DF 500 is the smaller of the two Domino machines. It is designed for use with 5 mm and 8 mm Domino cutters. It is also compatible with a variety of accessories, such as a dust extraction adapter and a workpiece clamp.
The Festool Domino XL DF 700 is the larger of the two Domino machines. It is designed for use with 10 mm, 12 mm, and 14 mm Domino cutters. It is also compatible with a variety of accessories, such as a dust extraction adapter and a workpiece clamp.
Both Domino machines are equipped with a powerful motor that allows them to cut through hard woods with ease. They also have a variable speed control that allows you to adjust the speed of the machine to the type of wood you are working with.
The Domino machines are easy to use and can be set up in minutes. They also have a built-in dust extraction system that helps to keep your work area clean.
The Festool Domino power tools are a great option for woodworkers who need to create strong and precise joints. They are versatile, easy to use, and high quality. If you are looking for a mortise machine that will last, the Festool Domino is a good option to consider.
Here are some of the benefits of using Festool Domino power tools:
- Strong and precise joints: Domino joints are very strong and can withstand a lot of force. They are also very precise, which makes them ideal for cabinetry and furniture making.
- Versatility: The Domino machines can be used to create a variety of joints, including through joints, edge joints, and corner joints.
- Easy to use: The Domino machines are very easy to use, even for beginners. They have a simple design and a user-friendly interface.
- High quality: Festool is a well-respected brand that is known for its quality products. The Domino machines are built to last and will provide years of service.
The Festool Domino Joiner Adjustable Fence
Festool Domino has an adjustable fence. The fence can be adjusted to create mortises in a variety of locations, including edge joints, through joints, and corner joints.
The fence is located on the front of the Domino machine, and it is held in place by a lever. To adjust the fence, you simply loosen the lever and slide the fence to the desired location. Once the fence is in the desired location, you tighten the lever to secure it in place.
The fence is also equipped with a stop that prevents the Domino machine from moving past the desired location. This is useful for creating consistent mortises in a series of joints.
The adjustable fence is a great feature of the Festool Domino. It allows you to create mortises in a variety of locations, which makes it a versatile tool for a variety of woodworking projects.
Here are some of the benefits of using the adjustable fence on the Festool Domino:
- Versatility: The adjustable fence allows you to create mortises in a variety of locations, including edge joints, through joints, and corner joints. This makes the Domino a versatile tool for a variety of woodworking projects.
- Precision: The adjustable fence allows you to create precise mortises that are the same size and location every time. This is important for creating strong and durable joints.
- Ease of use: The adjustable fence is easy to use, and it can be adjusted quickly and easily. This makes it a great tool for both professionals and hobbyists.
The Festool Domino Joiner In Action
The Festool Domino joiner is a mortising machine that uses a rotating cutter to create a precise and consistent mortise in wood. The cutter is also equipped with a side-to-side oscillating motion, which allows it to cut a full-round mortise in a single pass.
To use the Festool Domino, you first need to select the correct cutter for the size of the mortise you want to create. The cutters come in a variety of sizes, from 5 mm to 14 mm.
Once you have selected the correct cutter, you need to attach it to the Domino machine. The cutter is held in place by a collet, which is tightened with a wrench.
Next, you need to set the depth of the mortise. The Domino machine has a depth stop that allows you to set the depth accurately.
Now you are ready to start mortising. To do this, you simply place the Domino machine on the workpiece and plunge the cutter into the wood. The cutter will cut a precise and consistent mortise in a single pass.
Once the mortise is cut, you can remove the Domino machine and insert a Domino tenon into the mortise. The Domino tenon is a precision-made wooden dowel that fits perfectly into the mortise. The Domino tenon is glued into the mortise, creating a strong and secure joint.
The Festool Domino is a versatile and powerful mortising machine that is easy to use. It is a great option for woodworkers who need to create strong and precise joints.
Here are some of the features of the Festool Domino that make it a great mortising machine:
- Powerful motor: The Domino has a powerful motor that allows it to cut through hard woods with ease.
- Variable speed control: The Domino has a variable speed control that allows you to adjust the speed of the machine to the type of wood you are working with.
- Built-in dust extraction system: The Domino has a built-in dust extraction system that helps to keep your work area clean.
- Easy to use: The Domino is easy to use, even for beginners. It has a simple design and a user-friendly interface.
Festool Domino Sizes
As mentioned, Festool produces tenons to match the capabilities of its Festool Domino, called, as you might expect, Festool dominos.
Festool Dominos come in a variety of sizes, from 4 mm to 14 mm. The size of the Festool dominos you need will depend on the thickness of the wood you are working with.
Here is a table that summarizes the different sizes of Festool Dominos:
|Domino size||Thickness of wood|
The Festool Domino XL DF 700 can also use larger Dominos, up to 16 mm in size.
It is important to note that the Domino size refers to the thickness of the tenon that is inserted into the mortise. The mortise itself will need to be slightly larger than the tenon to allow for the thickness of the Domino cutter.
Loose tenons can lead to a loose joint. The Festool Domino joiner creates the right size mortise to accommodate the right size domino to help avoid loose tenons. When making furniture of any kind or cabinets, where a mortise and tenon joint is your joinery choice, your concern is joint strength.
Loose tenons will diminish joint strength and are to be avoided. The Festool Domino joiner can help in that regard.
Loose tenons in this sense, though, should not be confused with loose tenons in the sense that they are not cut from one of the pieces of wood being joined: you purchase a bag of “loose” Festool dominos, so loose in that sense.
Among the tools to consider is the Woodpecker Loose Tenon Joinery Jig, which will work with your power drill.
- INCLUDES – Morty Loose Tenon Joinery Jig, (4) Guide Bushings, (2) Flip Stops, Centering and Template…
- BUILT TO LAST – Machined from stainless steel and anodized aluminum for a lifetime of reliable…
- FLAWLESS JOINTS – Index pins centered on the mortise template make it simple to keep the ends of…
- MADE IN USA – Like all Woodpeckers products, the Morty Loose Tenon Jig is precisely machined and…
For example, if you are using a 5 mm Domino, you will need to make a mortise that is 6 mm deep. This will allow for the 5 mm thickness of the Domino cutter and the 1 mm thickness of the tenon.
When choosing a Domino size, it is important to consider the thickness of the wood you are working with and the amount of strength you need in the joint. If you are working with thick wood or you need a very strong joint, then you will need to use a larger Domino.
It is also important to note that the Dominos are not interchangeable. The Domino 500 can only use Dominos that are 4 mm to 8 mm in size, and the Domino XL DF 700 can only use Dominos that are 8 mm to 14 mm in size.
Mortise and Tenon Joints
A mortise and tenon joint is a woodworking joint that is made up of two parts: a mortise and a tenon. The mortise is a hole that is cut into one piece of wood, and the tenon is a tongue that is cut into another piece of wood. The tenon fits into the mortise, and the two pieces of wood are then glued together.
Mortise and tenon joints are very strong joints and can withstand a lot of force. They are also very precise, which makes them ideal for cabinetry and furniture making, a very reliable joint.
Here are the steps on how a mortise and tenon joint was made:
- Cut the mortise. Use a mortising machine or a chisel to cut a mortise into one piece of wood. The mortise should be the same width as the tenon, and it should be slightly deeper than the tenon.
- Cut the tenon. Use a tenon saw or a table saw to cut a tenon into the end of another piece of wood. The tenon should be the same width as the mortise, and it should be slightly longer than the mortise.
- Glue the joint. Apply glue to the tenon and the mortise. Then, fit the tenon into the mortise and clamp the joint together.
- Allow the glue to dry. Once the glue has dried, the joint will be strong and secure.
Notice we said “was made,” although there are those who still use the older methods to make them. Today, there is the Festool Domino, among alternatives to those old ways.
Here are some tips for making a mortise and tenon joint:
- Make sure that the mortise and the tenon are the same size. This will ensure that the joint is tight and secure.
- Use a sharp chisel or saw to cut the mortise and tenon. This will help to ensure that the joint is smooth and precise.
- Apply a generous amount of glue to the tenon and the mortise. This will help to create a strong bond between the two pieces of wood.
- Clamp the joint together tightly. This will help to prevent the joint from coming apart while the glue dries.
- Allow the glue to dry completely. This will ensure that the joint is strong and durable.
Mortise and tenon joints are a very strong and versatile type of woodworking joint. They are ideal for cabinetry, furniture making, and other projects where strength and precision are important.
What Are Alternatives to Mortise and Tenon Joints?
There are many alternatives to a mortise and tenon joint. Some of the most common alternatives include:
- Dowels: Dowels are small, cylindrical pieces of wood that are glued into holes drilled in two pieces of wood. Dowels are a relatively easy way to join two pieces of wood, but they are not as strong as mortise and tenon joints. When used for the right projects, dowel joints are reliable joints.
- Biscuits: Biscuits are small, flat pieces of wood that are glued into slots cut into two pieces of wood. Biscuits are similar to dowels, but they are easier to use, and they provide a little more strength. When used for the right projects, biscuit joinery will create a reliable joint. We’ve used them in making a table top and a desk top, and they will hold the boards in proper alignment, as well as serve as a reliable joint.
- Lap joints: Lap joints are made by overlapping two pieces of wood and then attaching them with screws or nails. Lap joints are not as strong as mortise and tenon joints, but they are easier to make and they can be used in a variety of projects. As with dowel joints and biscuit joints, when used for the right projects, they can provide a reasonably reliable joint.
- Butt joints: Butt joints are made by simply butting two pieces of wood together and then attaching them with screws or nails. Butt joints are the weakest type of woodworking joint, but they are also the easiest to make.
The best alternative to a mortise and tenon joint will depend on the specific project you are working on. If you need a strong and durable joint, then a mortise and tenon joint is the best option.
However, if you are looking for a quick and easy joint, then one of the other alternatives may be a better choice.
Here is a table that summarizes the pros and cons of each type of joint:
|Joint type||Strength||Precision||Ease of use||Cost|
|Mortise and tenon||Very strong||Very precise||Difficult to make||Expensive|
|Dowels||Not as strong||Not as precise||Easy to make||Inexpensive|
|Biscuits||Similar strength to dowels||Similar precision to dowels||Easy to make||Inexpensive|
|Lap joints||Not as strong||Not as precise||Easy to make||Inexpensive|
|Butt joints||Very weak||Not as precise||Very easy to make||Inexpensive|
Ultimately, the best way to choose a joint for your project is to consider the strength, precision, ease of use and cost of each option.
What Are Alternatives To The Festool Domino?
Different joint types call for different tools, as you might expect. The Festool Domino is a terrific tool, and if a mortise and tenon joint is your preference for your project, you can’t do better than the Festool Domino.
But what about the alternatives?
There are a few alternatives to the Festool Domino. Some of the most popular alternatives include:
- Mafell Domino: The Mafell Domino is a high-quality mortising machine that is similar to the Festool Domino. It is also expensive, but it is known for its precision and durability.
- Kreg Jig K4: The Kreg Jig K4 is a doweling jig that is much less expensive than the Festool Domino. It is not as precise, but it is a great option for hobbyists and DIYers.
- Biscuit joiner: A biscuit joiner is a tool that uses biscuits to join two pieces of wood. Biscuits are small, flat pieces of wood that are glued into slots cut into the wood. Biscuit joiners are less expensive than the Festool Domino, but they are not as strong.
- Pocket hole jig: A pocket hole jig is a tool that uses pocket holes to join two pieces of wood. Pocket holes are small holes that are drilled into the wood at an angle. A pocket hole screw is then inserted into the hole and glued in place. Pocket hole jigs are very easy to use, and they are relatively inexpensive.
- Easy Woodworking Tools: Kreg pocket-hole joinery is the fast, strong, easy way to join wood-drill,…
- Adjustable Pocket-Hole Jig: The Pocket-Hole Jig K4 gives you the precision and adjustability of a…
- Customizable Setup: This pocket-hole jig has a 3-hole drill guide for pocket holes, perfect for use…
- Versatile Application: The large clamping recess helps to secure your pocket-hole jig, while the…
The best alternative to the Festool Domino will depend on your budget, your needs, and your skill level. If you need a high-precision mortising machine, then the Festool Domino is the best option.
However, if you are on a budget or you are a hobbyist, then one of the other alternatives may be a better choice.
Biscuit Joiners As An Alternative
A biscuit joiner is a woodworking tool that uses biscuits to join two pieces of wood. Biscuits are small, oval-shaped pieces of compressed wood that are glued into slots cut into the wood. The slots are cut using the biscuit joiner.
The biscuit joiner method is a quick and easy way to join two pieces of wood. They are not as strong as other types of joints, such as mortise and tenon joints, but they are strong enough for many projects. Biscuit joiners are also relatively inexpensive, making them a good option for hobbyists and DIYers.
- 6.5 amp, 10,000 rpm motor of the joiner tool provides power for working in the hardest woods
- Dual rack and pinion fence of the plate joiner ensure blade and fence are always parallel for…
- Integral one-piece fence of DEWALT joiner is adjustable and tilts 0-90 degree
- Flush cuts can be made at 0 degree without removing fence
For the biscuit joiner method, you first need to select the correct size biscuit for the project you are working on. Biscuits come in a variety of sizes, from 1/4″ to 1″. Once you have selected the correct size biscuit, you need to cut slots into the wood using the biscuit joiner.
The slots should be the same depth as the biscuit.
Once the slots are cut, you can glue the biscuits into the slots. The biscuits will expand slightly when they are glued, creating a strong bond between the two pieces of wood.
Biscuit joiners are a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of projects, such as:
- Making boxes
- Joining cabinet parts
- Building furniture
- Making picture frames
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to join two pieces of wood, the biscuit joiner method is a great option. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, making them a good choice for hobbyists and DIYers.
A dowel jig is a woodworking tool that is used to drill holes for dowels in two pieces of wood that will be joined together. Dowel joints are a strong and versatile type of joint that is often used in woodworking projects.
- APPLICATION: Create 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2-inch dowel holes on the end or face of your work piece
- MULTIPLE DOWEL HOLE CONFIGURATION: Locations of dowels can be pre-set in 1/8-inch increments,…
- BUILT-IN ALIGNMENT SLOTS: Built-in alignment slot allows you to match up dowel holes that are spaced…
- STURDY CONSTRUCTION: Constructed of precision CNC machined aluminum, anodized for durability and…
There are many different types of dowel jigs available, but they all work on the same basic principle. The jig has a guide that aligns the drill bit so that the holes are drilled in the correct place. The jig also has a stop that prevents the drill bit from drilling too deep.
To use a dowel jig, you first need to select the correct size dowel for the project you are working on. Dowels come in a variety of sizes, from 1/4″ to 1″. Once you have selected the correct size dowel, you need to set the stop on the jig to the correct depth. The depth should be the same as the length of the dowel.
Next, you need to clamp the jig to the two pieces of wood that you want to join. The jig should be centered on the joint. Once the jig is clamped, you can drill the holes using the drill bit that is included with the jig.
Once the holes are drilled, you can insert the dowels into the holes and glue them in place. The dowels will expand slightly when they are glued, creating a strong bond between the two pieces of wood.
Dowel jigs are a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of projects, such as:
- Making boxes
- Joining cabinet parts
- Building furniture
- Making picture frames
- Making toys
If you are looking for a strong and versatile way to join two pieces of wood, a dowel jig is a great option. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, making them a good choice for hobbyists and DIYers.
Video Short On Another Alternative
A plunge router can be a very handy tool. With a little ingenuity and imagination, it can replace a Festool Domino joiner in a pinch, and this video shows how. For that matter, this method can also replace a biscuit jointer and a doweling jointer, and is a cheaper alternative.
Cheaper alternatives is what this article is about, actually. A Festool Domino will set you back 4 figures for the ability to creat domino joints; biscuit joiners, doweling jointers, jigs, and such, will cost much less, and will help you create a stable joint.
A little creativity with power tools already in your shop can also offer alternatives that will save you money.
But, if you can afford one, the Festool Domino would still be our first choice.
Last update on 2023-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API