Joiner or Domino

Wannabe

New User
Vic
Good morning y'all. I need one more tool guys. First of all, at present I'm not into building fancy or large furniture. In the future, I may get into that segment as my skills progress. However, I'm a 75 year old "wannabe" so I don't have forever to accomplish the trade. Anyways, I've given some thought about the possibility of either of the above mentioned tools/machinery. Strength wise I see plenty of furniture/projects, old and new, that is made from mortise and tenon joints. Recently, while touring the shop of a member, he gave me a demonstration of his full size Domino. All I can say is for accuracy and speed, that thing was amazing. On the other hand, I don't want to pay extra to have my lumber jointed. My shop is 180 square feet so I was thinking of a 6 inch bench joiner to add to my mid range tool/machine collection. Opinions, thoughts, comments would all be appreciated.
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
There is no doubt that the Domino is an excellent tool (albeit expensive). Wish I could afford one.

About 15 years ago I invested in the Dowelmax doweling jig. I have built a multitude of cabinets, end/coffee tables, desks, dressers, headboard etc. Using the jig and 3/8" dowels. Always very accurate and never had a joint fail! ( As a matter of fact I am currently in the process of refinishing a coffee table I built 14 years ago for my oldest daughter. Table has seen plenty of abuse from her three kids and all of the joints are still rock solid.) This jig is not inexpensive -~$200 itself but well worth the investment. Check out the demos at their website......

Two Minute Real Time Wood Joint Demo | Dowelmax

A 6" jointer coupled with a Dewalt 735 planer saves a lot of $ processing your own lumber too!

Wayne
 
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tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
I found a benchtop jointer to be just about useless. With a very small shop, one might consider staying with hand tools.
Dowels work. Not impressed with my Bisket tool. Back to mortise and tenon. You can do them entirely with a router. I use a combination of TS, BS, DP and hand depending on what I feel like. I'm just not a big router guy.
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
A router with with an up spiral bit, a guide busing, and a shop made template will let you cut mortises in both pieces, then you can make "floating" tenon stock on your table saw and cut it to just shy of the 2X mortise depth and you will have floating tenons that will be every bit as strong as a Domino or tenon made on the end of your work piece, at a much cheaper price. You don't need to make the half round ends on the floating tenons either. Just make them fit the flat sides of the mortise so they fit without using high forces or pounding,and yet on't fall out when dry fitting and you hold them upside down. That's the perfect thickness. The glue on the mortise and tenon flat sides provides the strength. Leave the half round ends of the mortise open for the excess glue. This is both the easiest and lowest cost way of making mortise and tenon joinery. Of course, if you have a planer, you can make the tenon stock thickness more accurately, but a table saw works fine, if you keep your settings accurate.

Charley
 

Cuprousworks

Mike
User
I started on the cheap with a DW planner and 'jointability' work fixture that allowed me to joint edges on boards up to 8' with a router. With the right sled I was able to thickness plane flat and square edge, then make parallel on my tablesaw. Inexpensive and with flexible tools that worked well in a small space. Buy some experience to decide what you really need.

Someone mentioned, you'll save some money preparing material from rough stock or S2S material. The right lumberyard can S2S for a fee.
Mike
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
Good morning y'all. I need one more tool guys. First of all, at present I'm not into building fancy or large furniture. In the future, I may get into that segment as my skills progress. However, I'm a 75 year old "wannabe" so I don't have forever to accomplish the trade. Anyways, I've given some thought about the possibility of either of the above mentioned tools/machinery. Strength wise I see plenty of furniture/projects, old and new, that is made from mortise and tenon joints. Recently, while touring the shop of a member, he gave me a demonstration of his full size Domino. All I can say is for accuracy and speed, that thing was amazing. On the other hand, I don't want to pay extra to have my lumber jointed. My shop is 180 square feet so I was thinking of a 6 inch bench joiner to add to my mid range tool/machine collection. Opinions, thoughts, comments would all be appreciated.
180 square feet is not a lot of room. To process your lumber, you need a jointer, a planer, and a dust collector (or a door to the outside and a leaf blower...). That's a lot to invest, both in terms of money as well as real estate. If you were younger, say 74, I'd say make the investment, but at 75, my advise would be to pay for having your lumber surfaced, and buy a domino :) Since you're not making large pieces of furniture, paying the extra few dollars is probably going to be less or equal to the cost of the machinery I mentioned before.

A small bench jointer is great for quickly getting a flat, straight edge on a piece of (short) stock, but you can do that with a table saw, track saw, or router just as easily.
 

RedBeard

Burns
Corporate Member
There’s no doubt the domino is a great tool but they serve different purposes. Even getting someone else to mill the lumber once you get it to your shop it will likely twist or bow to some extent while it’s waiting to be used and opens up a whole other can of worms when trying to assemble. If it were me, working with that limited of a space, I would get a planer and make a flattening jig for it, then use your table saw (assuming you have one) to square edges. If your were looking to buy a new domino you can usually find one for sale used and take that leftover money and get a jointer and/or planer. My 2 cents is skip the bench top jointer. Never had good luck with them and if you don’t have much experience with it and run into issues you get left wondering if it’s the tool or user error. I found myself spending more time trying to figure out what was wrong than actually using it. But if you get just the domino, enjoy it’s an amazing tool and wish I had one.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Good morning y'all. I need one more tool guys. First of all, at present I'm not into building fancy or large furniture. In the future, I may get into that segment as my skills progress. However, I'm a 75 year old "wannabe" so I don't have forever to accomplish the trade. Anyways, I've given some thought about the possibility of either of the above mentioned tools/machinery. Strength wise I see plenty of furniture/projects, old and new, that is made from mortise and tenon joints. Recently, while touring the shop of a member, he gave me a demonstration of his full size Domino. All I can say is for accuracy and speed, that thing was amazing. On the other hand, I don't want to pay extra to have my lumber jointed. My shop is 180 square feet so I was thinking of a 6 inch bench joiner to add to my mid range tool/machine collection. Opinions, thoughts, comments would all be appreciated.
I had a 6" jointer. Sold it. I also have a Dewalt 735 planer. I'm 2 years younger than you and found that for the kind of light woodworking I do the jointer was simply taking up more room in my 400 sq ft shop than it was worth to me. Yes, I could save some money on rough lumber. And I'd have to over-buy to realize significant savings. Then I'd have to store it somewhere until I got around to using it. And, of course, you wouldn't just buy one type of wood, would you? More storage space needed. I've been to shops owned by posters on this group who have more space tied up storing their wood than my whole shop. They say they're saving money. ;)

Then there's dealing with the dust collection needed for jointing and planing. That takes more than a little space and money too. I have nowhere to put a large dust collection system in my 400 sq ft. Can't even imagine it at all in 180 sq ft.

I use my shop for more than just woodworking, so there are other larger non-woodworking tools sharing the space. A welder. A cutting torch and tanks. A horizontal metal cutting band saw. Two drill presses. Space is at a premium. Throw in a lathe, table saw, router table and a couple of work tables and it's like moving around in a closet.

There's also the time you spend prepping rough lumber instead of getting on with the build.

For anyone making and selling furniture and such for a living there's no question that having the equipment to surface rough lumber is a financial necessity, as well as significant shop space and dust collection. As a hobbiest I know I've never built enough stuff that I would have actually saved enough to justify the cost of the space and equipment over buying dimensioned lumber. Between my table saw, planer, and hand planes I can dimension what I need to economically.

On the other hand I don't "justify" much of anything I actually want "just because". The 3D printer I bought last month is a good example of that. :p
 
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bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
My shop is 180 square feet so I was thinking of a 6 inch bench joiner to add to my mid range tool/machine collection. Opinions, thoughts, comments would all be appreciated.
I think that a 6" floor model jointer will be your best bet. Bench top jointers are little more than portable power tools and not very good ones at that.
A straight edge for glue-up is essential, but consider what you're doing Jointing an edge on a 36" piece of wood will require about seven feet clear room regardless of the size of the jointer. A rule of thumb is that the maximum length one can comfortably join is three times the length of the outfeed table. A 6" jointer with a 42" bed will have an outfeed table of 21"± giving you a maximum comfortable jointing length of 63" That's maximum, so working with three to four feet lengths will be manageable. Look carefully at the length of the outfeed tables of those bench top jointers. It isn't much. A 6" jointer can be scooted and twisted to run at a diagonal in your shop giving the room you need to process lumber.

There are often 6" jointers for sale used. They usually come with dull knives, so there's that up front learning experience. Used bench top planers are more rare because they don't last that long if they are used much. A second hand bench top jointer for sale that is in mint condition will tell you that the owner didn't like it all that much.
 

Matt Furjanic

Matt
Senior User
I have a domino, and it is a great tool, especially for making chairs. The domino makes short work of all those mortises and tenons, and is probably near as strong. I have made many chairs and none of the joints have failed over many years.
If you are intending to use the domino for edge gluing planks, I would recommend you spend your money on something else. For edge gluing, the dominos really provide nothing is terms of strength, just alignment, and you can get this with a much cheaper tool, like a biscuit jointer, or dowels. Edge glued boards with nothing between them (like dominos or biscuits or dowels) are just as strong. Prove this yourself by jointing and edge gluing boards - just the butt joint, then try to break the joint at the glue line. You won’t.
 

DKA

Kelly
User
Put in my vote for the Dowelmax, like Wayne said. I am doing final assembly today on a map cabinet for a friend.
After layout, I cut/drilled all the joints on the piece in less than an hour, and that is with 4 dowels in each joint, overkill but easy when line up is done.
Last week I sold my bench top mortiser. This Dowelmax is just too easy.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
at present I'm not into building fancy or large furniture.
You don't need a jointer or domino joiner (2 entirely different machines with different uses). The standard mortise & tenon joint is easy to make with a router and table saw but they take more time. Why be in a big hurry and spend a lot of $$$ to save time in a small shop making one or two small pieces at a time?

A new Festool domino joiner is almost $1000.

I buy rough lumber and pay a little extra/board foot to have it finished and ready to go when it arrives here.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I have a jointer, an old Inca with 8 5/8 width but only about a 36 inch length. I do not try to straighten long boards on it because I have tried before and it did not work for me. I use my track saw to get a straight glue up ready edge. Works well. I have a small lunchbox planner and dust collection and usually buy rough lumber.

I also have a domino xl. I agree with the comment that a router and jig works well. I have a hollow chisel mortiser which works pretty well. The domino just speeds things up and takes up little space. It is by far my favorite way to make mortises due to the speed and precision. I got some 12mm tenons with the tool but have used them up now. I've mostly made my own tenons, often much wider than the festool ones. Cost and storage space is why I make them.
 

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