I followed Clarke's thread on mortices and tenons with interest but note
that Mathias Randel's pantarouter wasn't mentioned. He is a very clever
fellow who makes all sort of woodworking machines and the pantarouter is
near the top in utility.
It is basically a horizontal router with the router mounted on a pantagraph;
he uses a bearing to follow a template to cut the mortice or whatever and it
can be home made inexpensively. It could give Leon's domino a run for its
Someone took his idea and pretty much duplicated it in aluminum using,
primarily, 80/20 aluminum channels. They added a couple of improvements,
one of which is tapering the template slightly thus allowing minor
adjustment in fit by moving the bearing in or out; also by mounting the
bearing on a pin so that the pin can ride on a slot in the template to cut
the mortice. It costs about $1000.
While I'm at it, the aluminum extrusions available from 80/20 can be very
useful in jig making.
I don't think it can compete with the Domino as it is not portable. The
Domino's strength is that it can be used on any sized piece, it being
portable. His panagraph is cool but this, below link, has been around
for quite some time, Swingman has one.
It is indeed an extremely versatile joinery tool, much more versatile
than the Domino; but the Domino's beats it in spades in one major aspect:
You must bring the job to the Multi-Router, but you bring the Domino to
Depending upon your task, that one aspect can become a major factor in
time savings and convenience, and therefore a cost effectiveness that
speaks to the bottom line.
As much as I talk about it, I don't think I would ever give up my
Multi-Router ... it is furniture maker's dream.
But I really don't use it that much in my cabinetry work, and that is
where a Domino would shine, for the above stated aspect.
I thought about a shop-built machine--the one I was considering was
Wandel's slot mortiser though. Decided against it because of the time
involved to make the thing.
That and the multirouter would certainly be viable for tenons--I might
very well end up making a Pantarouter at some point because it looks to
be a very useful adjunct to the Domino--if I can make it cut tenons that
fit the mortises the Domino cuts I would have a nice combination. The
downside on all router based machines though is that they can't cut
deeper than the step between cut diameter and shank diameter on the bit.
For a half-inch mortise that's not an issue but for smaller diameters it
is. I was concerned about that with the Domino as well and the reason I
went for the XL is that it cuts nearly 3 inches deep with 8, 10, 12, and
14mm bits--that gives me a range from about 3/16 to about 9/16 in
The Multirouter was just more than I wanted to spend when I started
However with the Domino in hand, I'm really happy I went that route.
Actually the 8mm, if that was what you were referring to, on the small
end of the range is closer to 5/16". 5mm which, I use a lot, is a touch
more than 3/16.
And where I am going with that, I think you mentioned that there was an
adapter to enable your Domino to use the smaller Domino cutters bits.
Keep in mind that you are limited with the 5mm and smaller bits, the
4mm, that you have a limited amount of plunge depth. The shank is
larger in diameter than the cutter. Just something to keep in mind.
Some of the Multi-Router's versatility lies is its ability to cut both
mortises and tenons, but I really don't use the tenon cutting ability
Mainly due to an aspect that the Domino provides by default, loose tenon
joinery, and loose tenon joinery's huge benefit:
... the ability to batch cut components, like rails, to a precise
project dimension; eliminating the inherent possibility of variations in
rail length due to cutting tenons in both ends of a rail ... thereby
insuring that groups of components made from them stay square and
precisely dimensioned as designed.
That's a benefit that pays dividends in the success of most projects in
soooo many ways, from fabrication to installation ... and one of the
reason's Leon is able to turn out those eye popping, highly functional
pieces he does, and at an affordable price.
You made an excellent decision. The value, and utility of the Domino is
a no brainer.
Besides being somewhat of a "one trick pony", it's one helluva valuable
trick, and pony. ;)
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