Updated: Aug 21
Seventeen years ago, when I was just starting woodworking the Festool Domino came out. As a young student just having learned hand joinery, I turned my nose up at it thinking you had to make joinery the traditional way. A decade later I used it and it’s amazing.
As a fine furniture maker, it's essential to have tools that ensure precision, efficiency, and consistent quality in your work. The Festool Domino tenoning machine – or more specifically, the Festool Domino DF 500 – is one such tool that has gained popularity among woodworking professionals. It's a unique power tool that promises to change how you make mortise and tenon joints. But does it live up to the hype? In my experience, the answer is a resounding yes. Here's my detailed review.
Design and Build
First and foremost, the Domino tenoning machine is robust and well-built, as one would expect from Festool. It's designed for heavy-duty use, with a sturdy build that instills confidence. Despite its robustness, it's relatively light, making it comfortable to handle, even in extended use.
Ease of Use
The Festool Domino machine brings unprecedented ease to the process of creating mortise and tenon joints. There's a slight learning curve as you familiarize yourself with the adjustments and controls. Still, once you've got the hang of it, creating mortises becomes a remarkably straightforward and efficient process.
The machine is designed with excellent ergonomics in mind. It is comfortable to hold and maneuver, making it easier to work on complex projects or larger pieces of furniture.
The Domino machine is a game-changer when it comes to performance. It cuts incredibly precise mortises in record time. The machine's adjustability allows for mortises of different widths, which is a considerable advantage over traditional methods.
The Domino machine uses a spinning, oscillating cutter to create the mortises, resulting in clean, accurate cuts every time. The tenons, or 'Dominos', provided by Festool are also of high quality and fit perfectly into the mortises made by the machine.
Festool Domino Tenoning Machine Versatility
The Festool Domino machine is versatile, working excellently on both hardwoods and softwoods. It's equally effective in end grain and long grain, adding to its flexibility. It allows for easy alignment when creating multiple mortises, something that can be quite challenging when using traditional methods.
PRO Tip: The precision centering jigs are extremely useful. Make sure you get them with the machine as it will save you time and money.
One of the criticisms of the Festool Domino machine is its price. It's undeniably a high-end tool with a cost to match. For hobbyist woodworkers or those just starting out, it may seem hard to justify the price tag. However, for professional fine furniture makers, the Domino machine is a worthwhile investment. The time saved, the precision achieved, and the overall improvement in the quality of joinery make it a valuable addition to any serious woodworking shop.
The Festool Domino tenoning machine has made a significant impact on how I approach mortise and tenon joinery. While it may not replace traditional methods for every application, its efficiency, precision, and ease of use make it a fantastic tool to have in a fine furniture maker's arsenal. Its high cost may be a barrier for some, but for those willing to invest, it is likely to prove its worth in the quality and efficiency of your work.