Sunday, December 9, 2007

Review of the Festool Domino


Twin Domino tenons
Originally uploaded by Mark Juliana

My case piece project in the 9 month program here at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship has been largely assembled using dominoes.


After using the Domino system for a bit of time, here are a few points I'd like to share:

1. The quality of the Domino screams Festool--it is a precision tool that's well built with all of the bits and bobs you'd expect on such a tool and none of the plastic, turbo, neon-BS that the marketing guys talk everyone into including on so many of today's handheld power tools.

2. The speed of using the Domino is truly amazing. You can cut a mortise in the two mating pieces, spread some glue, slip in a domino all in just a few seconds.

3. Putting in two or more dominoes into a rail that meets a leg can be tricky if the spacing doesn't allow you to use the built-in registration pins. You need to make a registration jig to use on both parts.

4. Twisting has been an issue--pieces don't always line up exactly as you'd like. I've had to smooth over several parts to get the surfaces flush. I think this is more to do with my inexperience with the machine rather than an idiosyncrasy of the Domino system. I'm going to do more experimentation to figure it out.

5. The Domino cutters cut very clean mortises. In fact I've used it to cut through mortises with great success. They were cleanly cut, both front and back with no break-out whatsoever.

6. The Domino has other uses! I drilled hinge screw holes in the wrong location and needed to plug them. Rather than stuff a small piece of wood in the hole and hope the end grain would hold up, I cut a mortise using the Domino, rounded the ends of a domino, slipped it in the mortise, let the glue dry and then pared it with a chisel. Worked great and I had nice long-grain beech to drill into for my hinges.

7. Work in metric. It will make things much easier--every little thing about the Domino is measured out in metric. It makes laying out joints so much easier to just give in and use the metric system. I did and after this one project I can say I'm staying with metric--it's much easier than fractional inches!



After building several minor projects and now this one big project here at school with the Domino I feel I have a pretty good understanding of what it can do. First I have to reiterate that working in metric makes working with the Domino system much easier. The speed of laying out and cutting simple single mortise joints can't be beat. Using the Domino on a panel instead of biscuits is also very easy and fast. Laying out and cutting complex joints requires a bit of planing and often some creative jigging--but no more than cutting a traditional M&T or to use a slot mortiser.


So, is it worth the price? If you are planning on making a lot of M&T joints it's definitely worth the price.