Great new ideas are hard to come by. The lever, wheel, fire - these are ideas that have been around for awhile and are hard to top. In the power tool industry, new ideas are really infrequent. So it's really exciting to be able to say that Festool has invented what might be the most important new tool since the cordless drill and the most important advance in woodworking joinery ever.
The Domino is the first hand-held machine that can precisely locate and mill well-fitting mortises for floating tenons. The mortise and tenon joint is the strongest way of joining a rail and stile, and a well-filling floating tenon has the same strength as a fixed tenon. But the precision aspect of the machine is as important as the fact it can machine a mortise quickly. It's as important to locate the mortises on both pieces of wood precisely and with speed. Unlike other mortising machinery, it can do this with no real layout and very accurate repeatability.
For a review of the Domino by Popular Woodworking: Click here How the Domino Works:
The Domino works using a rotating spiral cutter (of the thickness of the tenon) that moves back and forth in a swath, cutting the width of the tenon. You push the Domino forward to the depth set by a stop on the machine. There is no kickback. An integrated vacuum port makes it possible to easily attach an optional vacuum cleaner which will suck the chips away as they are generated, giving a clean hole with rapid feed and no mess.
The main reason the Domino works so well is that the results are repeatable. The machine has lots of built in stops, guides, and fences at allow you to do adapt to any situation to cut an accurate mortise, all of them easy to see and clamp down rock solid. There are retractable stop pins on the face of the tool so that you can index from an edge or a guide. The fence can solidly lock at any angle from 0 - 90 degrees, but it has stops at 0, 22.5, 45, 67,5, and 90 degrees for quickly setting the tool. A mortise height adjustment sets the distance of the cut from the top reference edge. There are 5 depth adjustments for tenons of different lengths. Of course, a clear viewing window with precise markings will let also layout a mortise from guide lines on the work.
One area where you might have questions is how to locate multiple mortises. The first pair of matching mortises must be precisely located on the work. However, with human error and wood movement, a snug fitting mortise may not align correctly in successive tenons. The Domino's solution is ingenious. With a single adjustment, you can make the mortise, fit tight to the tenon or allow for various amount of play.
Two very important accessories are the Trim Stop and the Cross Stop. The Trim stop is designed to hold narrow material between 7/8" - 2 3/4" so that you can easily put a mortise in the end of the material. This attachment is typically used for smaller rails. The Cross Stop is designed to let you easily space a series of mortises across a board. What you do is use the stop of the Domino to place the first mortise, and then use the Cross Stop to hook onto the just-made mortise to index the location to the next mortise. This gives you tremendous accuracy and saves having to lay out the mortise locations across the board. Mortise spacing can be adjusted from 3 7/8" - 8 1/16".
The Domino uses pre-made precision floating tenons made from beech. The tenons are ribbed so that glue does not get caught and will flow evenly in the joint. The tenons come in five thicknesses; 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm thick in a variety of lengths. The 4mm Domino is fairly short and recommended for 1/2" plywood only.
The Domino can be used with or without a vacuum. There is of course less mess with the vacuum, and it also lets you cut the mortise faster and more clearly. When done, the mortise will be clear and ready for glue up.Packages:
The basic package: a DF500Q Domino Tool with Trim and Cross Stops, packed in a Systainer 2 with a D5 cutter and Support Bracket. The kit is also available at a savings packed with any of the Festool vacuums. The Cutter and Tenon Assortment:
The cutter and tenon assortment is a very useful accessory for when you get started. Packed in a compartmented Systainer, this kit contains the 5 main cutters (D4, D5, D6, D8, and D10) and an assortment of tenons: 4x20: 450 pieces, 5x30: 225 pieces, 6x40: 150 pieces, 8x40 :100 pieces, 8x50: 75 pieces, and 10x50: 60 pieces. Packages of refills of any single size of tenon are available, but it makes sense to start out with a good range of all the sizes so you can figure out what the Domino can do for you. But even down the road, having other sizes are available for special situations is a good idea and will help you get the most use out of your machine.