Charlie, thanks to you I'm about $800. lighter but have a Domino on
its way to me. About the beech dominos, would it be plausible to make
your own? Let's say make out of walnut for walnut projects. Make out
of cypress for cypress projects, etc etc. What are your thoughts on
Other than doing through tennons, why spend the extra money on exotic
tennons if you are not going to see them. They will be sealed up and not
exposed to the elements therefore expansion differences if any at all would
not come into play. Further, some of the woods would make weaker tennons
than the Beech tennons. i.e.. Poplar or Pine.
IMHO the Domino is suppose to be a time saver. How much time would it take
to make 20 or 600 tennons to the exact dimensions of the originals? And
then there is the textured surface on the tennons that the Domino tennons
have. While the original assortment of 1100+plus the 4 extra cutters and
Systainer is about $200, placing the average tennon price at about 18 cents
each, buying in replacement bulk quantities averages out in the .04 to .14
cent range depending on the size you get.
Unless of course you just want to putter around making them. ;~)
not come into play. Further, some of the >woods would make weaker tennons than
the Beech >tennons. i.e.. Poplar or Pine.
Hey Roy... you have the "remove this message" button clicked.
C'mon... be a part of the archive!
Even some of the harder woods become brittle "when cut down to size.
Beech is an excellent choice on this application.
Amen! Note the terminology - "exact dimensions". It is apparent from
Charlie's posts that this is a system, not just a different method of
joining wood. I'll bet dimensions are critical here, as well as the
material they are made from. And are you remembering the four
radiused edges when you are thinking of making your own? As much
apparent thought as has expended on this system to make this machine,
I wouldn't believe my fellow squareheads would overlook the
opportunity to obsess over the main joining component.
Surely your shop time is worth that. You aren't going to use all of
them on one project, either.
I am with Leon on this one... why on earth would you want to make a
replacement part for a finely tuned (see all of charlieb's well
documented essays) system.
Somewhere, years ago, I read about a highly regarded furniture/cabinet
maker that made his own tenons. He used a slide fit tenon in his
joints, with both sides of the joint being mortised. The reason was
that he felt like the wood joints would be stronger with a more
structurally sound wood than the wood he was making the project
He made an excellent case at his own expense of testing his theories
out in his shop. Rudimentary tests, but they certainly made the
point. The tenons were made at the table saw from beech (!) or hard
His type and style connection was exactly what you get from the
Domino, but he used his as one large tenon in the joints on his
So why not use the Domino products, especially at the prices Leon
quoted and get it right every time?
I don't have much fun shop time at all anymore, so if I was looking at
the end of the project (so I could start another!) .20 a tenon sounds
pretty cheap to me. How many would you use on a project? 8? 10?
no fair !!
How many people will make a chair with 64 loose tenons.... each!?!?
I protest! Unfair example!
I still wouldn't make my own... and at 64 a chair, where would I find
the time? How in the world did you find the time?
So is there a Domino in your future?
I have a Multi-Router and, while it is much more versatile with regard to
joinery than the Domino, it is also proportionately more expensive ... about
3 times the cost of the Domino system ... but it will do traditional tenons,
dovetails and other joinery also, if you wish.
That said, I would estimate that +/- 95% of MR owner's use it only for loose
tenon joinery, something the Domino appears to do handily at 1/3rd the
price, obviously a worthwhile difference to take into account if that is
your intended use.
In addition, I would think that using a cutter blade to cut mortises, as the
Domino does, instead of the MR's router bit/end mill, would, over time, also
give you more consistent results in mortise thickness, and therefore a less
time consuming tenon-to-mortise fit, particularly when using their
proprietary "loose tenons".
The more you do loose/floating tenon joinery, the more you will appreciate
You're right about making loose tenons. The print articles expounding on the
advantages of "loose tenon" joinery always seem to pass over the actual
difficulties of getting a good fit.
Actually, "time consuming" is probably a better word than "difficult", but,
as you can see as one who does have good deal of experience milling loose
tenons, I can attest to the fact that you don't just throw the appropriate
round-over bit on the router, dimension some stock to 3/8", and go merrily
on your way.
It generally takes a good deal of trial and error, along with the
proportionate amount of waste, in both time and material, to get that
precise fit essential to a good joint.
Shop time, as you correctly imply, is money, and buying 'ready made' often
makes much more sense in the long run.
I would suspect that the Domino system is very advantageous over the MR in
As a side note: I would also like to take the opportunity to add my thanks
to CharlieB for his efforts in making this firsthand experience with all the
Domino pro's and con's available to us ... this archive will become a
valuable resource and is the exact kind of information I was searching for a
year or so ago before embarking upon that chair project.
Thank you, Charlie!
snip of first hand experience with the MultiRouter, making loose
tenons, time vs money and so on
It's not all alturism. I put together this stuff in order to
the How's and Why's. Because I jump around in the type of
I do it may be weeks, months or even a year or more before I might
get back to using a tool or machine (I've got a LOT of toys - er -
and machines). With my Notes To Self, I don't have to relearn how
to use a tool or machine and can read rather than discover the tips
and tricks for it.
The amount of time it takes to put my Notes To Self on the web
is negligible (very odd word when you look at the spelling and
each sylible (sp?)). What I might get back by doing that is another
set of eyes going over the stuff, finding holes, ambiguities or -
forbid - something I've got that's completely WRONG!
So if any of the stuff I've put together helps someone else - great.
If I get some feedback and suggestions of ways to improve the
info or the way it's presented - better yet.
No problem. And when you can, pass it on.
THAT'S ONE OF THE POINTS I'M TRYING TO MAKE!
If the time you THINK it will take seems too long then
you won't even consider a design idea - too much of a
hassle and too time consuming to make. BUT - if it
in fact is a lot easier to do than you think - and - a lot
quicker than you think - well maybe you might make
a piece that would otherwise not even be on your list.
You're still thinking in terms of a chisel and bit mortiser
or a router and jig.
Let's take the chisel and bit mortiser first.
You'd have to layout at least the mortise ends and
one side - the fence side. Unless you center your
mortises, which requires laying out the centerline
then using it to layout the fence side layout line of
Once you've to the layout lines for one end of one
part of a set of parts you have to set the chisels
to the fence so the fence side is parallel to the fence.
Now if you have an XY table, it's not hard, but does
take some squinting to get the fence side layout line
aligned to the fence side of the chisel and either the
left or right mortise stop layout line aligned with
the correct side of the chisel. NOW you can set one
of your mortise length stops.
You must repeat that process to align the other side
of the chisel to the other end of the mortise in order
to set its stop.
You're 10 minutes into it before you actually cut any
You're finally ready to start cutting the mortise - and
that means doing it in steps since your mortise is likely
to be longer than your mortise chisel. Say it's 15 to
20 seconds per plunge times for plunges (don't want to
overheat the bit or get the chisel stuck in the mortise).
Let's say 15 seconds per plunge time just 4 plunges.
Now you're eleven minutes into it and you've done one
mortise - and can use the same set up for one more piece
say the diagonal table leg for example. Another minute
Now you're 12 minutes into it and you've got half the
mortises on two table legs.
You can't use the same set up for the other pair of table
legs - they're mirror images of the first pair. Another
set up required - chisel to fence side of the mortise and
the left/right stops setting. Add another 3 minutes.
You're 15 minutes into it
Cut the second set of leg mortises - on just one face.
Add another 3 minutes to get to 18 minutes in.
Repeat the whole process for the other mortise on each
pair of legs - add another 6 minutes to get to 24 minutes.
Repeat the apron - leg leg mortise process for the stretcher
mortises. Add another 15 minutes to bring your time
spent so far to about 40 minutes.
Then - you hit the snag - you can't use a chisel and bit
mortiser to do end grain mortises. Bye-Bye loose tenons
- you'll have to make the tenons - stacked dado, fence
settings, blade heights, test cuts - ADD ANOTHER 30
MINUTES - at least. To mortise and tenon the table
apron and the stretchers is - at an absolute minimum
- an hour or a bit more. THAT's assuming you didn't
have a Think-O - the mental equivalent of a Type-O -
and cut at least one of the four leg mortises on the
While a Mortise and Tenon router jig DOES let you cut
mortises in end grain - it too requires layout lines
- typically a centerline and mortise end lineen. It also
requires setting the jig's centerline and mortise stops
to the part. Then there's actually routing the mortise.
You typically can't cut them to full depth in one pass and
probably will have to do three or more passes for each
With the minimum layout lines for each mortise (say
30 seconds per), the jig set up to the layout lines
(another 30 to 45 seconds - optimistically ) and say
6 seconds per pass times three passes add another
18 seconds per mortise.
Switch to end grain mortising and you have the set up
for the fence to keep the part square to the top of the
jig's table. Note that unless your mortise is centered
on the part, you have more jig to part's mortise set
up to do when you do the mortise on the other end.
Add 30 seconds for that fence / alignment of the
jig to the mortise center line and setting the new left
and right stops.
If you've used either a chisel and bit mortiser or a
router and mortise jig you understand what I'm trying
to describe. If none of any of the above makes sense
to you because you haven't used either method for
doing mortises - well maybe the stuff I'm putting together
will clear things up a bit.
Let's just say that either method involves laying out
lines on parts, alignments of things to other things
(reference faces, offsets from them, left and right
end point controls) BEFORE the first actual tool to
wood contact. And when the tool to wood contact
occurs there's several plunges / passes before you've
got ONE mortise done.
With the DOMINO you don't need ANY layout lines, almost
no tool set up and the mortise is cut in one plunge that
might take 3 seconds, 5 seconds tops. If you have another
mortise to cut farther down the part you may be able to
do it by merely registering a pin on the DOMINO to either
the left or right end of the mortise you just cut. Move the
tool, feel the pin pop into the previous mortise - slide the
tool left or right 'til it automatically stops - and plunge
in one motion to cut the next mortise, referencing of the
end of the previous mortise you choose to use.
With the DOMINO you can use the presets' numeric values
to decide where you want the mortise's long axis centerline
to be, both relative to the part's reference face AND
relative to the reference face of the part this part will
be joined to.
The simplicity of the use of this tool is surprising, especially
given what's required using other methods of cutting mortise.
The underlying details of how much thought went into designing
this thing - as well as the guts of the machine you will probably
never see or understand - demonstrate the principal that
Making Things Simple And Easy is anything but Simple or Easy.
(who is feeling totally inadequate when it comes to conveying
what and how this thing does what it does)
That A&C / Greene&Greene/ Stickley et al stuff has
tons of M&T joints. The DOMINO is the Holy Grail for
folks that do A&C designs - especially in sets -like
dining chairs, or end tables. Even doing One Offs (
why isn't it One Ofs?) can befit from the DOMINO.
The bonsai tables I've been doing - wide apron to leave room
for "clouds" on the bottom edge and bottom stretchers.
So for each table face it's 2 tenons on each end of the apron
part and one on each end of the stretcher. Total, 6 tenons
per face. Four faces, 24 tenons. GRanted they're the "little
ones" but they do disappear at a brisk pace.
As I noted earlier, I have milled stock and made my own loose
tenons - thickness the spiral router bit used for cutting the
mortises, widths cut arbitrarily to meet the needs of the project
and round over done with round over bit. Very time consuming
if you run out of tenon stock and have to go back and make
It's funny how folks view "consumables" ROS sander disks
run $15 to $16 a box and you often get a couple of boxes
of two or three grits - 120, 180 and 220 say. That's around
$90 in one shot. A week later or a month later you don't
think of the price per disk an, if you're smart, SAND LIKE
THE SANDPAPER IS FREE, and save going back to start all
over when scratches appear under your finish. THEN you
have to sand off the finish BEFORE you can get to the
scratch you missed the first time.
Now if you use Abranet instead of sand paper your looking
at $30+ per box. Works better than sandpaper and lasts
longer - AND can be soaked in solvent when they load up
then reused. Once you get over the Sticker Shock and
use Abranet the price seems like a good deal.
But the underlying question is the value system used to
evaluate the price of things vs the affect on your shop
time. Some see Time Is Money, some see pleasant
productive time in the shop as priceless - especially
when compared to the cost per hour for a psychiatrist
When considering the purchase of a tool or jig I want to
know if it will allow me to do something I don't have the
knowledge, skills, ability - or patience - to do some other
way. If it lowers the frustration and irritation level enough
to where it's tolerable - or even easy and fun - to do then
I'm probably going to try it first and if that works then
I'm working on some illustrations of how an aproned table
with stretchers can be done on the DOMINO. I hope I can
show just how simple - and ALMOST idiot proof - it can be.
Then I want to do the same project and show the steps
and potential pitfalls of a loose tenon mortising jig -
the TREND M&T Jig the simple example of this approach.
Finally, I want to illustrate the process using a bench top
chisel and bit mortising machine. Keeping track of parts
orientation is critical to the project, regardless of which
method is used to make the mortises. But the amount
of mortise layout and set up time is significantly different
for each method - as are the less than obvious ways
to screw up.
It'll be a while before that gets done though so don't hold
your breath. I will have the DOMINO method web pages up
in the next few days.
Shouldn't be a problem - just need to mill the stock to 5,6, 8 or
10mm thickness (the bit diameters) and then find and use
a corresponding roundover bit on a router table - with a fence
you can position fairly accurately - you don't want to reduce the
length of the tenon your making. I did just that when I was
doing loose tenon mortise and tenon joints with the TREND M&T
jig. If you have a planer, bench top or floor model, getting the
thickness is no problem - but you need to check the thickness
often in order to not overshoot - thinner tenons won't give you
a snug fit.
The Festool tenons are interesting - small grooves on the rounded
sides - space for glue and air - and they're small enough to
just a little bit to insure a snug fit in the mortise.
But you do want to get your hands no some samples, one of each
of the available thicknesses. Much easier to make loose tenons
to match an existing one than to make loose tenons starting with
just the mortise.
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