Ooohhh....shiny. Is the Festool Domino right for me?

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(Warning - large rambling post ahead)
One day after watching one too many DIY shows, I decided to get into woodworking. I built a shop, bought some tools, and can now honestly say I've experienced the joy of router tear-out. I haven't been at it for very long, long enough to know you can never have too many clamps, but not long enough to actually build my own clamp rack. That's going to take _at least_ two more months.
I have a table saw and a router, plus a variety of portable power tools (jig saw, sanders etc.). On my list of things to get were a biscuit joiner and a drill press. The biscuit joiner seems like it would be really helpful when building furniture - bookcases, cabinets, clamp racks etc. It would certainly cut down on filling nail- and screw holes. The drill press would be used for making mortises, among other things.
So I Google for "absolutely the best biscuit joiner for cheap" and "complete comprehensive review of all biscuit joiners ever made" and read all 12,235 returned documents. Porter-Cable, DeWalt, all the usual suspects are there. Emotional arguments about whether PC's Face Frame biscuits is more important than the DeWalt easy adjustment.
Hours pass.
I then come across this thing called a Domino. It's a bird! It's a plane! It's....well, green. And expensive. It's a Bijolotemo (biscuit joiner loose tenon mortiser)!
Ooohhh....shiny.
I was intrigued by a comment in one of the reviews. I didn't bookmark it, but it basically said "Don't let this tool fall into the hands of novices, because they can do seriously professional stuff with it". I like the fact that it's more difficult to mess up the "little things". Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I could make some very creative mistakes with this tool, but it sounds like you have to worry less about having to make small adjustments because you mis measured by 1/32".
The question is not whether I want this tool. If it was $99, I'd already have one (and so would you!). Even if it was $399, I'd already have ordered it. But the kit, with the accessories, cutters and Domino's is a thousand dollars. That's close to what I've spent on all my other power tools combined! For that kind of money I can get a good biscuit joiner, replacement blade, biscuits, (simple) drill press and mortising set, _and_ a few clamps.
There was a point to this story....or a question. Yes, a question. Three questions even: (1) Given that I'm pretty much a complete beginner (Look what I made tonight honey! Sawdust!), will I get enough value out of this tool? (2) Domino owners: are your biscuit joiners and mortising tools gathering (saw)dust now? (3) Non-domino owners: If your biscuit joiner and mortising tools (MR, drill press etc.) broke tomorrow, would you be more inclined to get a Domino instead?
I know, I know, these questions are like throwing a grenade into a dust collection system. Or a homeowner asking a question in alt.hvac. But I _want_ the Domino, I just need some people to tell me it's the right thing to do.
Bas.
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I'd buy the Domino early if I were starting out and didn't have the other tools.
--------------------------------------------- ** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html ** ---------------------------------------------
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Bas wrote:
| (3) Non-domino owners: If your biscuit joiner and mortising tools | (MR, drill press etc.) broke tomorrow, would you be more inclined | to get a Domino instead?
Not a chance! I already have a tool that'll do everything the Domino can do and about 100x more - and it's not even glitzy-looking. I've already used it to build it's own (more accurate) little brother. I'd be inclined to use the 'Little Brother' to recreate a new version of its big brother. (Kinda like Norm's panel cutter evolution.)
:-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto /
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Bas, I don't own a domino, so I won't weigh in on that part of the discussion, but I'm sure you'll get plenty of opinions there. (search the archives here for plenty of reviews,tips,etc. by charlieb and others, if you haven't already). Regarding the drill press, if mine broke, I would ABSOLUTELY get another drill press, no matter how many schnazzy new tools were available. I'd say that's the one tool that gets used on every single project (well, maybe the block plane too). But I use my drill press VERY frequently - whenever I can take work to it, rather than taking a drill to the work, I do. And not just for mortising - I have a mortising machine and a plunge router mortising jig, and still use the DP all the time. That said, if someone gave me a Domino, I'd probably use that a lot too. But despite all it's glowing reviews, I can't imagine it would be a replacement for even a fraction of the things I put under the DP. That's all - just my opinions, Andy
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In practice I've found the biscuit joiner to get little use relative to almost any other tool. For one, I can't image how it would "cut down on filling nail- and screw holes." Maybe you can explain that one.
I've found biscuits helpful when applying a face frame to a big box to help with alignment. Even then if I had only one box to do I could probably do some other method faster than setting up the tool, marking and cutting the slots. And if they are off alignment then the work was useless.
They can also be helpful in panel glue up to keep boards in the same plane or minimize slipping but I've found lots of better\faster ways to do that. If I need a tennon and mortise then that's what I need. I wouldn't replace that with a biscuit. I really consider them for alignment purposes only. I know they add "some" strength but nothing you should calculate into the the strength you need from a joint.
I HAD to have the tool and hardly ended up using it. For $1,000 for a fancy floating tennon mortiser I would much rather buy a drill press and mortising attachment.Heck you can get a Grizzly mortiser on a stand with mill style table for $1044 delivered! http://grizzly.com/products/G0448

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shop. But I guess we all have different styles and preferences.
Sometimes the fact that it only gives alignment in one axis is very helpful. I am a bit put off the domino because I dislike dowels so; but that might not be a reasonable comparison.
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Toller wrote:
(re: biscuits providing alignment on only one axis - and preventing rotation about one axis)

Having a little room for parts movement can be handy - edge joining bookmatched boards for a panel and you want the grain to align as closely as possible. Or a mitered corners edging for a ply door would be another place where a little sliding slop could come in handy. The DOMINO permits you to "dial in" either 6 or 10 mm (about 1/4" to almost 0.4") - or just shift it left and or right while cutting a mortise.

Because the DOMINO looks a lot like a biscuit cutter, and the loose tenons appear in photos like fat dowels - and because the brain works with associations - it's natural that folks will think of the DOMINO in terms of something they already are familiar with - biscuit cutters and biscuits and/or dowel jigs and dowels. And those associations are useful - to a point. If you've used a biscuit cutter you know that they don't require a lot of layout lines - actually only one layout line. And you know they're fast and pretty easy to use. Both of those pre- conceived notions are true with the DOMINO. And if you've used a horizontal boring machine or a doweling jig, drill bit and drill, you understand that in addition to their joining end grain to side grain they also align the two parts on two axis. You also know that you need TWO dowels if you want to prevent rotation. And dowels were used to edge join boards for panels long before the arrival of Lamello's biscuit cutter/joiner.
The problem with "if it looks like a duck and/or sounds like a duck - then it's probably a duck" may be the DOMINO's biggest obstacle because people will see it and make assumptions which are not true. There's a reason there's an old adage ' "Assume" can make an ASS out of U and ME.'
Yes, the DOMINO cuts a slot. But unlike a biscuit slot, which has parallel sides, but curved ends and bottom, the DOMINO cuts a "slot" with parallel sides, parallel ends AND a flat bottom.
Yes, the DOMINO cuts a hole. But unlike a dowel hole, the hole is rectangular, not round.
Let me use another old adage - A camel is a horse designed by a committee.. That normally has a negative connotation. But what if you were designing a horse that would be used in a dessert environment - where food and water, along with good footing, are hard to come by - and flies weren't something that needed to be swatted - with a long haired tail? (I've got to wonder if the folks in dessert environments have an equivalent adage - "A horse is a camel designed by a committee."?)
Though I've been accused of being a shill for Festool and their DOMINO, I'll keep saying that the DOMINO is a revolutionary new woodworking tool which can bring loose tenon mortise and tenon joinery to both the amateur / hobbyist AND small production shops. I'll add - I have NO connection with Festool or any dealers of Festool equiptment/machines/tools - other than owning some - which I paid the going price for - out of my own pocket. My opinions are my own - based on MY experience with tools, machines and jigs that cut mortises. Your mileage may vary.
charlie b
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SonomaProducts.com wrote: ...

...
One way is if doing face frames and has been nailing them. As in anything else, all depends on a given type of work and work practice...
--
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SonomaProducts.com wrote:

I had to attach some pieces of trim to a bookcase. Glue is sufficient to hold it under normal circumstances, there is no stress on it. But, if someone ever decides to pick it up by the trim to move the bookcase, it could easily break off. A few biscuits would have provided the necessary strength, but lacking a biscuit joiner I put in some finish nails.
A face frame is another good example.
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OK, I can see that but if I wanted strength I would use something more substantial like a real spline or add a dado or modify the joint somehow. But I guess a few biscuits can add some strength but I don't think much.

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wrote:
My b-jointer got LOTS of use for a month or so... *g*

mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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Two questions:
1) If you spent the grand, would you end up in a van down by the river with no power or high speed internet?
2) And would the significant other in your life go with you?
You're a hobby woodworker. Why does economics of a tool purchase matter? It's all fun and vanity. Does it matter that someone here may have spent $2k on a shiny new tablesaw to make cutting boards? Not to me.
If the money is there, spend it. Then write a long and rambling post on why it makes a really neat garbage can screen fence, with sapwood matched fence boards handculled from the stacks at the local Orange Borg.
<g>
I enjoyed that, charlieb.
Patriarch, owner of a few such purchases...
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Patriarch wrote:

You know, that's a very good point. Apart from all the technical considerations (which Charlie B did a fantastic job of describing), this _is_ a hobby. Sometimes, I just need to turn off the rational side of my brain.
So, I think I'm going to get a Domino. AND a drill press. And a few other items....
Bas.
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Bas wrote:

Probably more than you want to know - but here goes.
I've got and have used a Porter Cable biscuit cutter. It began gathering dust not long after its initial use. The newer PC 557 (I think that's the newer model) is more refined and more accurate - but still does just biscuits. Biscuits are self aligning on only one axis and allow some movement on one axis - unlike a M&T joint or a loose tenon M&T joint which fixes 5 of the 6 types of movement a joint can experience.
None of the mortising methods to follow do what a drill press does - so I've still got and still regularly use the JET floor model.
First - the value of the mortise and tenon joint (the loose tenon mortise and tenon joint having the same benefits - and only slightly less strenght than a M&T joint)
http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/MT/MTPrimer0.html
I've used several of the machine methods of cutting mortises
"Mortising Accessory" that came with my drill press. The fence is a joke as are the hold down/hold ins. The chisels and bits were ok with some clean up and honing. More trouble than it's worth.
Dedicated chisel and bit mortising machine, with XY table - and tilting head - acquired to cut blind and through mortises for my workbench - LOTS of them. The XY table makes setting up for cutting a mortise a lot easier than messing with a simple fence and table. The General International 75-750M and the Powermatic 719 are around $800- $850 - and weigh a couple of hundred pounds http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/GeneralMortiser/Mortiser.html
TREND M&T JIG which, used with a plunge router and their bits will do mortise and tenon joints - or loose tenon mortise and tenon joints (mortises in both parts, a separate piece to fit in both mortises). Has trouble with cutting some tenons due to accuracy of the bit diameter, the diameter of the guides and slop in the jig itself. Runs around $300, http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/TrendMTjig/TrendMTjig1.html
Horizontal boring/mortiser with XYZ table - one of the five functions of the Robland X31 combination machine - powered by a 3 hp motor. Great for cutting larger, deeper mortises used for making doors. Also can do mortises for chair - with a shop made jig. Someone earlier mentioned a Grizzly unit that works the same way. http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/X31/X31pg3.html And here's the jig mentinoed http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/X31/RaysMortiser1/RaysJIG1.html
Don't have one, nor have I used one, but the Leigh FMT jig and a plunge router will do mortise and tenon joints of a wide range of sizes. Very accurate. Basic Unit is around $800, pushes $1000 "fully loaded".
The MultiRouter is basically a horizontal mortiser - but unlike a basic horizontal mortiser, it can follow templates for mortises and tenons. Basic unit is in the $2,400 range and if you get all the accessories can go over $3000.
And then there's the DOMINO. http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/DOMINO/DOMINO_TableOfContent.html
With all other methods, you need layout lines to set up the mortising machine / jig - at a minimum, the centerline of the mortise and the ends of the mortise - and you must align the tool to the layout lines. And most methods require a test cut or two. The DOMINO requires - at most - one layout line - the centerline of the mortise. Unlike all the other methods of cutting mortises, in most instances it requires NO CLAMP(s). And unlike the router and jig method, will let you cut mortises in end grain - with the part laying on your bench - horizontal. It's also fast - to set up and to cut mortises with - as fast as a biscuit cutter.
If you've got the money, the DOMINO will get you using loose tenon mortise and tenon joints with almost no learning curve for the tool or jig. And you'll find all kinds of uses for M&T joints.
I believe the DOMINO will change how many make furniture sized pieces because of its speed, accuracy and ease of use.
charlie b
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"charlieb" wrote in message

I do believe you're right. After spending a couple of years looking for an efficient method to do production joinery in a small shop, I can't help but view the DOMINO as a revolutionary advance in "mortising tools" for small shops.
AAMOF, the concept has the potential to do for small shop joinery what the Japanese digital watch did to the watch making industry.
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And hopefully, the pricing will become more reasonable with demand, as the digital watch did...
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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Inaccurate analogy.
The tools used to make digital watches haven't dropped in price appreciably, only the end products, the digital watches have.
The Domino won't necessarily drop in price, but the cost of making things with a Domino could, at least in theory. More likely, prices will remain level or rise and the those using the Domino or it's off-brand equivalent will make a little bit more money by saving a little bit of time.
When was the last time you paid less for something cause it was produced by a less expensive tool?
That was the theory expounded by those who claimed that the age of the computer would make the 40 work week a thing of the past, that paperless offices would be the norm, they were right in one regard, people are now expected to do more in less time since they've been given those amazing labor saving devices...they're still working 40 plus hour weeks, they're just making less money doing so.
John E.
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Plus we generate way more paper now than ever before.

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"John E." wrote in message

Shallow thinking.
The cost of knowing the correct time has dropped dramatically, as will the cost of making the type of joints the DOMINO does.
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Not shallow at all, in fact you agreed with what I wrote.
The original poster was talking about the price of the TOOL dropping in price, not the price of the products made with the tool. I only brought that part up to illustrate my accurate analogy. Sorry you missed the point.
John E.

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