Some time ago, I had a few hand powertools stolen out of the garage.
One thing I never replaced was my PC plate joiner. For small to medium
blanks, I figured I could get by with a router slot cutter if needed
(proved to be a bit sloppy for me) - and careful clamping.
Works well enough for those smaller projects, but I've never been too
satisfied with my results - always some alignment issues - but nothing
a #7 can't resolve. However, for my dining room table project, I'm
tempted to get something to help with alignment.
Certainly I could glue up one section at a time - and am half tempted
to go that route given the visibility of the project. I've also been
investigating the Dowelmax - which looks to be a great thing. If it
were even just $200, I'd pull the trigger. But it's $270 base - over
$350 for the 1/4" guides. Given what I've read, it could be an "every
project" type tool... Even at $350 - I'd go that route before getting
Given the price though, it's 1/2 the cost of a Domino - another
ungodly expensive tool. Mix in the price of an FMT (which has called
to me for years) - I could get Dowelmax ($350) for now - and FMT
($600-700) when the chair project comes around after the table...
Struggling a bit with the options. I've learned to wait till the need
dictates a purchase - and buy once with no regret about cost; but
having trouble with this one. "Speed" isn't really a selling point to
be honest with you - I don't mind being in the shop woodworking (This
is a hobby - not a profession). If the DowelMax takes 5 minutes longer
for an apron joint or 10 minutes longer for a panel - I think I'm ok
with that. Precision, flexibility and strength in my joinery are the
top criteria. I'm trying to look ahead and see where I'd say - "Rats,
I should have gotten the Domino for this."
My heart says DowelMax and FMT, but my head has been conditioned to
lean towards the Domino for that combined dollar range. What's worse -
I've seen a few postings that seem to indicate that the Domino makes
everything else obsolete (FMT, Dowelmax, BeadLock, biscuits). Yet the
cynic in me thinks this is similar to a new restraunt that opens up;
the hottest thing for a while - and then is just another place to
Eh, back to the research....
jbd in Denver -
When it comes to making chairs (for which I wouldn't trade my Muti-Router
for all the above, including the Domino) I would most definitely choose the
Domino over the option above.
AAMOF, had the Domino had been available prior to my M-R purchase, I would
have had a hard time justifying the M-R, even though it is more versatile
and certainly not a 'one trick pony', like the Domino.
Just my tuppence ...
If I didn't have a ShopBot on the way, I'd be all over the M-R.
As my thinking seems to be constantly clouded by 'production'-type
thoughts, I felt the FMT and the Domino
didn't appeal to me on an industrial level.
Between the biscuits, a few hand-drilled dowels and a pocket screw set-
up, all the one-offs are dealt with adequately.
No doubt that the Domino is more elegant than a biscuit joiner, but as
Leon mentions, $1400 is starting to inch away towards the M-R and IMHO
the M-R is a far better long term investment. It is industrial grade.
( AAMOF, the M-R can do things the 'Bot can't.)
There is something to be said for having the axis on the horizontal.
Don't get me wrong, I like the Domino, but it's too much money, IMHO.
The M-R looks like it could be a tool hanging off the side of a
The M-R will certainly do dovetails, with the extra templates which I never
purchased because I own a Leigh D4 ... I just use the Leigh, not the M-R,
for dovetails out of path-of-least-resistance, lazy familiarity.
At some point maybe. Dovetails aren't my thing....not as long as
there's a product like Metabox.<G>
If a client wanted all dovetailed drawers, I would just buy them.
I think that if I was to seriously consider doing a lot of dovetails,
Leigh jigs would be the way to go.
Their promo DVD sure makes it look easy and should sustain some pretty
good production rates.
I want both MR and Domino. I'll get the MR first. I used to think the
FMT was next on my list but after seeing real demos of both MR and FMT
it was evident which one was the more pro tool. Of course I think I
could build some fine chairs with the FMT but the MR does so much more
and much more stable to use and way more consistent output.
I took a close look at the FMT at one point and, while it is a fine jig and
undoubtedly up to the task, the extremely well engineered x/y/z axis
capability of the M-R certainly lends itself to precise and consistent
output for small production work.
If you're going to get a M-R, and have a set of chairs in your future, take
a look at the jig I devised to cut mortises in curved chair rails with the
M-R. IMNSHO, it's an elegant solution to the task ... AAMOF, I was more
tickled coming up with it than most of the furniture pieces I've done. :)
Scroll down to "mortises in curved work - Method 1"
I am wondering if you have any experience with deep mortising. I am
considering how I would do through mortises with the MR. I want
squared corners, even though I have seen through mortises with rounded
tenons. I could cut square tennons easily enough with the MR but would
need to under cut the through mortises slightly and square them by
hand. My concern is I'd likely need to go a full 2" deep or more. Have
you found end mills long enough enough for that and do you think it
would be stable enough on the cuts if you were careful?
In the past, I've used my hollow chisel mortiser for squaring rounded,
through mortises cut on the M-R.
My concern is I'd likely need to go a full 2" deep or more. Have
A 2" cutting depth has never been a problem with any size end mill I'ved
used in oak, thus far
That said, with square, through tenons that are deeper, I usually route the
mortises from each side, both on the M-R, and then a squaring pass on each
side with the mortising machine, deep as I can to get a good reference edge
for the chisel cut.
The only caveat with the M-R is that you really need to measure your stock
thickness carefully so that the formula:
(bit diameter + stock thickness)/2
... works to allow you to position your cutter at the exact center of your
stock thickness ... you can't be too precise with this step, IME.
(apparently a lot of folks think 3/4" stock is 3/4", even when you milled it
yourself, which we know is not always the case, thus drilling from the
opposite side, using the opposing face down on the M-R table for the second
cut, won't guarantee the cuts meet precisely enough for the purposes of a
IOW, take the setup time, with some test cuts, to verify that both faces of
your stock are equal as a "reference edge/face".
Once you have that dialed in, the M-R can easily cut through mortises in
some pretty wide/thick stock precisely from either face when making the
opposing through cut.
I haven't had any trouble using a 5/16 or 3/8", four flute, end mills for
boring deep on the MR ... a long 1/4" end mill may give you a bit of flex in
some material at depth, but I've not really had any problem with routing
through tenons in 3/4" QSWO using a 1/4" end mill.
I buy mine from:
PDF of their catalog online at:
Cool info. Yeah, shooting from two sides is always difficult to get
precise. I think I would try to work from the same down face on the
table and change the end stop, so flipping the piece the long way
instead of rolling it over. I think some difference in the length of
the mortise would be an easier variable to deal with. Of course this
won't work on some types of parts like the back legs of a classic
Keep in mind that the Domino starts at about $700. Then you have the Domino
tennons to buy and it does need dust collection to keep the machine and
mortises cleaned out. My investment with all the stuff including the
Festool CT22 Vacuum and Domino Systainer assortment and accessory guides
was about $1400.
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