Utilizing Domino Tenons Without a Domino Joiner

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Blog entry by maniac424 posted 01-19-2010 11:28 PM 3727 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently saw a Domino joiner for the first time and was amazed at what it could do, but being a hobby woodworker, I’m not about to shell out that kind of money, especially when I already own a DeWalt biscuit cutter.
Then I began to wonder if I could still somehow utilize the Domino tenons. My idea is this, if I mount my router on a horizontal router table, that I can make from plans in issue# 147 of Fine Woodworking and using an 8mm spiral bit and a jig I can cut the neccesary mortises in the end grain of the cross members of a cherry vanity face and those in the legs. I don’t expect to be able come any where near the accuracy of the Domino joiner when it comes to the length of the mortise, but I’m not concerned about the Domino tenon ensuring that the pieces properly line up vertically (when the vanity is upright), with the amount of play I would have, I can adjust that during the glue up. I’m more interested in the strength of the joint I would get from the Domino tenon. I’ve used dowels and biscuits on similar joints, but have never done a mortise and tenon joint. Since, as I said I’m using cherry, I’m a little hesitent to start experimenting with mortise and tenon joints on this project. So what do you think? Can it be done or am I crazy? Also, I have another good reason for building the horizontal router table, I have a CMT vertical raised panel bit and I would like to be able to make raised panels with the wood laying flat on the table, instead of standing it vertically. Thanks for taking the time to read this and remember I’m a hobbiest so be easy on me if I used any incorrect terms.

5 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2538 days

#1 posted 01-19-2010 11:55 PM

A horisontal router and loose tenons why not
it´s basicly what Domino and festool is horisontel
portebel routers


View newTim's profile


596 posts in 3029 days

#2 posted 01-20-2010 12:41 AM

I use the Mortise Pal with a metric template. You get a nice fit and it is very accurate in matching the mortises. You can also use it to mortise into endgrain like the end of a long rail. I use a step stool to reach the top of long boards. I know, I know, some will not like the idea of the step stool, but I’ve done this many times and feel perfectly save with the MP jig. If I had a long production run or was a pro I’d probably get a horizontal mortiser, but for my work I do not see the need. Here's a link to Gord Graff's review.

You can find lots of examples by searching ‘Mortise Pal’ on LJs.

-- tim hill

View maniac424's profile


6 posts in 2472 days

#3 posted 01-20-2010 12:55 AM

Thanks for the info Brian and your video was very informative and had some great tips. When I first saw the Domino tenons and found out how much the machine was, I actually
did think about making my own floating tenons, I didn’t know that’s what they were called.
I’m considering buying the tenons to use for a couple of reasons. First,if I made my mortices with the
corresponding size spiral bit I know I’ll have tenons that will be the perfect thickness. The
second reason is I like the fact that the Domino tenons are covered with tiny pockets
compressed into their surface to hold the glue similar to biscuits. At $15.50 per 100 tenons,
we’re talking about 15 cents per tenon and since this is a hobby and not a production line, I figured I can live with that. What type of wood do you use to make your floating tenons out of, do you use the same type of wood as your project? Also do you use the same jig to cut the corresponding mortice, to insure that the surface of the 2 pieces of wood are flush? If not what method do you use? Finally is that jig your own design or are there plans you followed. Again thanks for your time.

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

477 posts in 2939 days

#4 posted 01-20-2010 03:49 AM

I did spend those dollars and yes, it really hurt. What I wound up doing was making some high end window trim. This was for my doctor’s wife and it paid for the Domino. Speed was the main issue with her, that and a near perfect job. She was ecstatic. In fact, I was shocked by how good it looked and frankly, I just found some excellent white oak. I did not have my camera with me and although I mentioned a couple of times coming back and taking pictures, she really ignored me so I dropped it. I still think it was the wood itself that she loved. The joints were really tight and having it assembled and just installing it courtesy of the Domino was key. I think I could have done it using kreg screws or my biscuit joiner, but I was worried about that thing coming apart and the added security gave me peace of mine anyway.

-- jstegall

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3823 days

#5 posted 01-30-2010 06:34 AM

There is another tool. A Beadlock. You drill overlapping holes with the jig and then put in the shaped tenons. They are very effective. I had my own router bit made to cut my own tenons.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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