IF YOU COULD use any joinery you wanted for your next project, rabbets,
dados, through dovetails, half blind dovetails, sliding dovetails,
mortise and tenon, through mortise and tenon, tenoned triple miter
joints, . . . AND make perfect joints - without hours of precise
layouts, without an hour of practice joints and test cuts - and almost
without any tool set up(s). And let’s say that NONE of the joinery
will show - unless you want it to.
HOW would THAT change what your next piece would be and how it would be
Coming at it from another direction - because dovetail jigs make it
relatively easy to dovetail a set of drawers or join the sides of a
cabinet to its top and bottom with through or half blind dovetails - do
you find you use dovetail joinery more often?
Is the only thing that keeps you from using mortise and tenon joints, or
loose tenon mortise and tenon joints, the time and skill it takes to
make them by hand, or the price tag and the learning curve of the jigs
or machines that facilitate making them?
I ask this question because, as a result of getting and using the
Festool DOMINO, how I approach designing a project has changed
significantly. And it is also changing the projects I’m considering
Here’s an example of how a tool can change your whole approach to
To avoid starting my first “house furniture” project(s), I’m working on
something to hide the garbage can and recycling baskets. The quick and
dirty method would be to build it like building a redwood fence - 4x4
posts, 2x4 upper and lower rail, with fence boards between them,
captured between 1x1 strips - all held together with nails. This
requires the upper and lower 2x4 rails to be used with the wide
dimension paralleling the ground in order to leave room for the fence
boards AND the 1x1 strips on either side of the fence boards.
But the rails would support more weight and be less apt to sag if they
were oriented with their narrower face horizontal. However, that
wouldn’t leave room for the 1x1s. To capture the fence boards, I could
cut dados in the rails for the ends of the fence boards to fit into -
but the lower dado would trap water when it rains - and eventually lead
SO - What If - the fence boards were held between the upper and lower
rail - with loose tenons - three per board? At the top of each fence
board, the center mortise would be tight and glued, the outer mortises
wider than the loose tenon and glued only to the rail, allowing for wood
movement while discouraging cupping. On the lower rail, the loose
tenons would fit tight in the top of the lower rail and be glued, the
corresponding mortises in the bottom of the fence board would be glued
only In the middle, the outer mortises being wider to allow for wood
To firm things up a bit, more loose tenon mortise and tenons on the
sides of the two “post end” fence boards to join them to the post. This
would help prevent wracking and firm up the corners.
For the gate, why not miter the corners of the frame - and put two loose
tenons in each mitered joint? Like the “fence sections” fill the field
with fence boards using the same loose tenon method as the fence
If the fence boards were straight grained CON HEART redwood, with a coat
or two of BLO to pop the grain, this thing would look really nice.
Wait a minute - 3 mortises for each end of maybe 20 fence boards, and
corresponding mortises in the rails - that alone would be 240 mortises
to cut. And that’s not including the mortises for the rails to post
joints or the mitered corners for the gate. And half, or better, of
those mortises will be in end grain, 120 being on the ends of 6 foot
fence boards. Just laying out the mortises will take forever, to say
nothing of actually cutting them all.
UNLESS - there were a way to cut all those mortises with the part laying
flat - and with only one layout line for every third mortise - the
center mortise for each fence board. The rail to post mortises and the
mitered corners won’t need ANY layout lines at all. AND What If the
mortises could be cut as fast as cutting a biscuit slot?
This sounds like a job for DOMINO MAN! With his trusty metric ruler, a
pair of Festool Green and gray SYSTAINERS stacked neatly on, and secured
to, his wheeled sidekick “Dust Extractor” he’s ready to tackle this
daunting task and have the job done in an hour - or two (excluding glue
up and clamping time - after all, he is only human. albeit an Empowered
Maybe I should design a super hero suit for this woodworking super
hero. Hmmmmm - Norms already got plaid, and Roy has the funny hat and
suspenders copyrighted. Maybe a gray shop frock, a pocket protector
with 0.5mm mechanical pencil and a place for the 100 mm stainless steel
metric mini ruler - and safety glasses - with Festool Green frames - a
hint of a German accent perhaps. . .
But I digress - as usual.
Back to my original question - How would your designs and the projects
you select change if you had a tool which allowed you to do The Hard
Part without having to do a lot of layout out, tool set up, test cuts,
ps - If you think the Flip and Slide and Rotate and Rearrange Game of
stock selection and orientation is fun for a pair of cabinet doors - try
it with 5 to 7 boards - six feet long - and do it three times.