Portable Mortising Tools

Furnituremakers look at handy mortise-cutting power tools that work on the same principle as a biscuit-slot cutter. November 27, 2007

I just wanted to talk about this new tool, the Domino, by Festool. I am a small time carpenter, but it takes me one day to rout mortise and tenons for a set of 12 chairs. Geez! With this tool, could I do it in an hour? Anyone used one in action? I think it's going to be like a grand startup cost, maybe more - I don't know how much the accessories will be yet. They won't sell it till April 2007.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor R:
Been using similar technology for over 25 years... Slot mortiser. I am surprised that the Domino is generating such interest and the slot mortiser has been one of the best kept secrets out there. The Grizzly G0540 runs about $400 and the Robland/Laguna comes in at about $600 barebones. You add a router and build a stand. Basically it's the mortise table off a combo machine. I prefer the stationary slot mortiser, as I can use any size slot I want and can make my own tenon material. Of course I can use the Domino tenons now that they are available. The only advantage I see to the Domino is portability to bring to the jobsite and I suppose it's another cheaper option for folks who aren't aware of the more affordable slot mortisers. Funny how it took something like this to make people aware of the slot mortiser, which has been around since the 50's in Europe, of course, where all the real innovation is coming from.

From contributor M:
It looks nice - makes a mortise as fast as a biscuit slot. Could it be purchased overseas and work here? Not sure of the electrical aspect.

From the original questioner:
I think they will sell it in the states as well, I hope.

I like the slot mortiser. I am working on a supply of parts to build one like the Grizzly you mentioned.

About the Domino, what interests me is the ergonomics. What I mean is, for example, I have a biscuit joiner, and I can hold a small to medium piece of wood against my bench with one hand and the biscuit joiner in the other hand and make fast work. I know it's not 100% accurate - it's slightly sloppy - but not enough to matter to me.

So, can I do this with the Domino as well? Or will it get too sloppy? This is my concern. If it works like my biscuit joiner, gee whiz, I could do all the joinery for a set of 12 chairs in no time.

From contributor A:
Reports I've heard indicate that this is one heck of a tool. It's reportedly been in the Euro woodworking market for a few months and the demand exceeds supply by about a 2:1 margin right now. Festool's apparently got something of a winner on their hands if what I'm hearing is accurate.

I'd presume that the US supply for the Domino will be sporadic during Q2 and Q3 of this year. You'll need to either reserve one or get to the store at just the right time to snatch a new one off of the shelves. Expect the same supply/demand problem that Euro woodworkers are experiencing now.

And I understand that the price tag will be somewhere between $750 and $800 for the core tool, not including add-ons and the actual dominoes, themselves. I'm already planning on trying to get one by around Q3, presuming that that's when the supply/demand issues will start to level out just a bit. Then once the industry magazines test and report on them in print, you can probably expect them to be a bit like hens' teeth by next Christmas.

From contributor I:
The FWW article is informative. When this tool comes out, I'm going to buy it. I have a horizontal mortiser from Vega that will cut a round edge tenon in one smooth operation, but this tool will beat the pants off any other machine because of the ease of setup and ready-made loose tenons.

From contributor G:
Wow! Cool tool. I’m assuming that these dominos work like a biscuit in that they’re made from compressed wood, and will swell from moisture in the glue to fill in any slop. This would be an advantage over making your own tenons from scrap wood.

From the original questioner:
Yes, the material is the same, dried compressed wood, as a biscuit.

From contributor E:
I have been looking at the promo materials for the Domino system. We'll consider it at some point, but have no burning need for it at the moment. I will say that that Festool machines are terrific and certainly worth the extra cost. We have the 5" sander and the CDD; both are worth what we paid and then some. In particular the sander has proved to be a stand-out performer.

From contributor J:
I saw a demo on one at a wood working show; it looks like a very well thought out machine.