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Which Joinery Technique is Best? Time, Strength, Repeatability

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Review by WoodWorkLIFE posted 02-09-2018 09:51 PM 2129 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Which Joinery Technique is Best? Time, Strength, Repeatability No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Hey Guys,

So, I wasn’t REALLY just looking at the domino, but that is how reviews are posted on this site. What I really wanted to do is compare popular joinery techniques and test speed, consistency, and strength. I looked at the Festool Domino, the Kreg K5 system, Biscuit joints, hand cut and machine cut mortise and tenon joints. I looked at them from the perspective of a professional batching out pieces and a hobbyist throwing together one piece of furniture to see how it would scale.

I timed making each joint at the speed I would use to ensure reliable and consistent results. I tested strength with a force gauge on identical joints with identical placement of the load, and I tested consistency by the eye test really. All of the results and methods can be seen in the video below, but here is a table summarizing my findings.


View on YouTube

Overall I can TOTALLY see why you see so many pieces of pro furniture made with the Festool Domino and Kreg Joinery. The strength of each of these joints would only be stronger in a better wood species or plywood, but I think this is representative although not scientific proof of the results. The one clear observation about the Domino vs. the Kreg jig is the way that a domino joint fails is much more graceful and repairable than a Pockethole joint, but the cost is significantly higher.

If you enjoyed this test and this video be sure to like, comment and subscribe to my channel,

I will be following up this video looking at some viewers choice options including the beadlock system, dowels, half laps and a few others.

Thanks for watching and remember,
Keep your tools sharp, and keep your mind sharper

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Rick
WoodWorkLIFE

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com




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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days



18 comments so far

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Rich

2295 posts in 498 days


#1 posted 02-10-2018 12:13 AM

Interesting video. I do question the validity of testing cantilever butt joints. Most assemblies are going to have joints on two ends of the rail or apron, so the load will put the joint in a shear mode, and not torqued like a cantilever (or are going to use a stronger joint like a half-lap or bridle). In your statement about a chair and the 400-plus pound load, the load needed to cause that joint to fail in a real situation, where the board is joined to the legs at each end, would far exceed 400 lbs because, again, the failure would be due to shear stress, and not torque. Even a biscuit would stand up to that because the long grain to long grain glue up inside the joint down the full length of the biscuit would be far stronger than torquing out the biscuit along the narrow face. Not that I’d build a chair with biscuits however, just making a point.

When I do have a cantilever-type of load found in residential doors, where the hinge stile and rail joints are supporting the rest of the weight of the door, I use exclusively long tenons. I’ve torn apart commercially made doors that used dowels, and I suppose they are adequate, and heard of people using dominos (though you’d need the $1400 XL 700 to use the long dominos you’d need for the job).

Finally, why didn’t you include dowels? I’m pretty confident that dowels would be as strong as, or stronger than, dominos, considering you could put multiple dowels in a joint the size you were using for testing.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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copythat

80 posts in 515 days


#2 posted 02-10-2018 06:35 PM

I’ve seen a similar video where the Kreg jig came out on top. Interesting.

Here is the video I mentioned above: https://youtu.be/DhBcnUXWJEQ

-- Rob

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EarlS

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#3 posted 02-11-2018 05:21 PM

It looks like you didn’t include the Leigh Mortise and Tenon jig. Any way you could blow up the text on the table?

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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Ted78

363 posts in 1909 days


#4 posted 02-13-2018 07:53 PM

I’d be curious about dowels too. They seem to be used a lot in older factory made chairs, and they also seem to be a really common failure point. I cant’ say if that’s down to execution of the dowel joints or the quality of the glue, or maybe just dowels joints were so ubiquitous that dowel joints are what I see when furniture falls apart. In my experience pocket screw joints get loose over time and the joints gets wobbly, though fixing it for another decade or so only involves a minute to snug up the screws. I am curious but don’t know if the screws back out or it the wood shrinks or compresses. Mortise and tenon seem to hold up extremely well as one might expect. I assume dominoes or floating tenons would hold up just as well, but not sure they have been around long enough (or at least commonly used until recently) to make a determination on their longevity.

-- Ted

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Rich

2295 posts in 498 days


#5 posted 02-13-2018 08:26 PM

It’s pretty obvious the OP has no interest in dialog regarding any of this. He clearly was using LJ simply as a means to boost his view count on YouTube.

I won’t be falling for it again.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#6 posted 02-13-2018 08:32 PM



It s pretty obvious the OP has no interest in dialog regarding any of this. He clearly was using LJ simply as a means to boost his view count on YouTube.

I won t be falling for it again.

- Rich

So a dude has to respond right away? I have a life and job and stuff you know, I monitor the conversation via email alerts then pick a time to come back an respond. Your comment made that time now, so I guess thanks for the nudge.

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#7 posted 02-13-2018 08:40 PM



Interesting video. I do question the validity of testing cantilever butt joints. Most assemblies are going to have joints on two ends of the rail or apron, so the load will put the joint in a shear mode, and not torqued like a cantilever (or are going to use a stronger joint like a half-lap or bridle). In your statement about a chair and the 400-plus pound load, the load needed to cause that joint to fail in a real situation, where the board is joined to the legs at each end, would far exceed 400 lbs because, again, the failure would be due to shear stress, and not torque. Even a biscuit would stand up to that because the long grain to long grain glue up inside the joint down the full length of the biscuit would be far stronger than torquing out the biscuit along the narrow face. Not that I d build a chair with biscuits however, just making a point.

When I do have a cantilever-type of load found in residential doors, where the hinge stile and rail joints are supporting the rest of the weight of the door, I use exclusively long tenons. I ve torn apart commercially made doors that used dowels, and I suppose they are adequate, and heard of people using dominos (though you d need the $1400 XL 700 to use the long dominos you d need for the job).

Finally, why didn t you include dowels? I m pretty confident that dowels would be as strong as, or stronger than, dominos, considering you could put multiple dowels in a joint the size you were using for testing.

- Rich

I plan on doing a follow up video with joinery from the comments and dowels were #1 on everyone’s mind. Regarding the cantilevered testing methodology, I agree with you it is not entirely real world as shearing is not the only way furniture can break. I used this technique to isolate the joint and get a consistent methodology that could be repeated if I ever wanted to. Building a whole chair proxy and adding load to it would have been a more accurate representation.

I tend to trust M&T like joints for load whenever possible and the proper amount of material removed from the mortise and left on the tenon will give you the optimal strength (without weakening the walls of the mortise and the base of the tenon.) The art of joinery, especially in a production or professional type application is what is the best cheapest (time is MUCH more expensive than tools) joint, that is strong enough for the task at hand. I suppose dowels will stand strong on this logic in the follow up, but I guess we will find out.

Someone once told me engineering is not making something as strong as possible, it is making something strong enough.

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#8 posted 02-13-2018 08:41 PM



I ve seen a similar video where the Kreg jig came out on top. Interesting.

Here is the video I mentioned above: https://youtu.be/DhBcnUXWJEQ

- copythat

Ya I have seen a lot of different shoot outs like this, pocket holes are usually up there as far as speed and strength. I think the splintery nature of this old fir played into the performance in this test. Maybe after I get through all of the joints I can revisit with different species of wood?

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#9 posted 02-13-2018 08:44 PM


It looks like you didn t include the Leigh Mortise and Tenon jig. Any way you could blow up the text on the table?

- EarlS

Leigh Mortise and Tenon Jig? I had never heard of it until just now. I will have to check it out, looks interesting. Might shave some time off the machine cut M&T without having to use multiple tools.

The chart is bigger in the article on my website, I was limited in what I could post on this site.

Article on my Website

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#10 posted 02-13-2018 08:46 PM



I d be curious about dowels too. They seem to be used a lot in older factory made chairs, and they also seem to be a really common failure point. I cant say if that s down to execution of the dowel joints or the quality of the glue, or maybe just dowels joints were so ubiquitous that dowel joints are what I see when furniture falls apart. In my experience pocket screw joints get loose over time and the joints gets wobbly, though fixing it for another decade or so only involves a minute to snug up the screws. I am curious but don t know if the screws back out or it the wood shrinks or compresses. Mortise and tenon seem to hold up extremely well as one might expect. I assume dominoes or floating tenons would hold up just as well, but not sure they have been around long enough (or at least commonly used until recently) to make a determination on their longevity.

- Ted78

I have had so many pieces of cheap furniture joined with dowels fail catastrophically, I think it is due to the lack of surface area of the glue surface. I have also seen the dowels themselves fail over time, that is probably due to cheap woods used in some dowels. I am going to be looking at dowels in a follow up here pretty soon.

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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EarlS

751 posts in 2257 days


#11 posted 02-16-2018 01:11 PM

I, for one, would like to see what you come up with in your subsequent tests. I’m always interested in seeing how well the various “go-to” joints really perform in a direct comparison.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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dhazelton

2689 posts in 2206 days


#12 posted 02-16-2018 02:34 PM

I remember a woodworking magazine article pre-Festool days where a biscuit joint came out on top – the wood failed before the joint did. I’ve built screen doors out of 5/4 pine with a double biscuit at each joint and they hold up just fine.

I’ll probably add a domino system – when Dewalt or Makita gets to make one.

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#13 posted 02-16-2018 03:02 PM



I, for one, would like to see what you come up with in your subsequent tests. I m always interested in seeing how well the various “go-to” joints really perform in a direct comparison.

- EarlS

What go-to joints do you have in mind? I was going to look at half laps, and maybe later lapped dovetails and other joints, but everyone has a different idea of what their go to joints are.

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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WoodWorkLIFE

88 posts in 479 days


#14 posted 02-16-2018 03:05 PM



I remember a woodworking magazine article pre-Festool days where a biscuit joint came out on top – the wood failed before the joint did. I ve built screen doors out of 5/4 pine with a double biscuit at each joint and they hold up just fine.

I ll probably add a domino system – when Dewalt or Makita gets to make one.

- dhazelton

I assume you meant Dowels and not biscuits? I have never seen anything say that biscuits are the strongest joints…

I will be interested to see how different companies get around that patents, one of the systems I am testing in the next video is the Rockler beadlock system, basically another floating tenon joint but using your drill instead of a dedicated tool.

-- Rick, Keep your tools sharp and your mind sharper, www.Wood-Work-LIFE.com

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dhazelton

2689 posts in 2206 days


#15 posted 02-17-2018 03:04 PM

No, I meant biscuits – might have been Fine Woodworking back in the early to mid 90s.

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